How much writing talent do you need to succeed in the world of freelance copywriting (also known as corporate writing)? If you listen to the advice of some writers, you would think the only requirement is the ability to hit keys on a keyboard.
Okay, I'm exaggerating…a little. But a fair share of supposedly “expert" freelance writers proclaim that you don't need much writing talent or skill to make a lot of money writing for businesses and professionals. Some even say you’ll be raking in $100,000 annually almost right away–even without training or experience in copywriting. I've come across such claims in several books and web sites about freelance copywriting. These claims mislead many copywriters-to-be into thinking it's easy to break into the field. Here’s the truth: People who don't have at least a moderate amount of writing talent and skill will have difficulty getting copywriting assignments.
Business people and professionals who know they need a copywriter are also smart enough to recognize poor copy when they see it. Look at it this way: Would you hire a mechanic whose definition of a screwdriver was vodka and orange juice?
Easier, but not easy
It's true that freelance copywriting is an easier way to make a living than trying to write the Great American Novel and then convincing a publisher to pay you for it. Freelance copywriting is also easier and certainly more lucrative than sending countless queries to magazine editors and waiting for a reply that is statistically destined to be a rejection slip. (About 99 percent of all traditional queries and proposals are rejected. )
But freelance copywriting is not as easy as many self-proclaimed experts say. Copywriters really do need some amount of writing talent and skill. Otherwise, they won't get very far.
Business clients know what they want and like, and they eventually will know whether a copywriter's output meets their needs. Writers who can't deliver good copy won't get the repeat business and referrals that are so necessary for successful freelancing.
You can't “fake it until you make it" in this field. Many unskilled writers have tried and failed. However, if you're reading this article (which I've targeted to writers with some skills and a desire to gain more), you probably have what you need to get started as a freelance copywriter.
How much talent do you really need?
You don't have to be the Ernest Hemingway of the corporate world to succeed as a freelance copywriter. Besides, Papa's style probably wouldn't suit most business clients. Here's what counts:
The other keys to your success
To succeed and prosper as a freelance copywriter, you'll also need several non-writing-related talents, including:
I suspect that most people who want to be freelance copywriters already have at least some writing talent. The other essentials–copywriting and business skills–can be learned through self-education, formal education or the guidance of other writers. Just remember: Despite what some “copywriting gurus” say, you do need talent and skills to succeed in this exciting field. When you’re equipped with both, wonderful things will happen. Enjoy!
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Kathy Poole has had a highly profitable freelance writing business since 1985. As a Writer's Coach, she helps other writers prosper financially, create freely and live passionately. For more information, resources and inspiration, visit http://www.prosperouswriter.com or e-mail Kathy at firstname.lastname@example.org .