So, you want to be a copywriter? One prodigious piece of advice for aspiring scribes — video-style!

 

“After lots of thought and many emotional breakthroughs, I finally decided that I have to be a writer. I write short stories for fun but I’m trying to make a living by pursuing copywriting. I was wondering if you might have some advice for starting out.” –Ima

 
I don’t think any 5-year old girl or boy dreams of becoming a copywriter, when they grow up. (Personally, I had full intentions to be an opera-singer-ballerina-veterinarian-unicorn-handler. And still do.) But copywriting is a fascinating field — it’s the art of making an emotional connection with an audience, in order to persuade, entertain, inspire … and sell.

These days, top copywriters are expected to be more than just wordsmiths. We’re prosperity generators, transformational storytellers, branding virtuosos, and (at least in my world) unofficial, unlicensed therapists.

If you dig the idea of becoming a professional scribe — or frankly, a professional anything — I’ve made a lil’ video with one prodigious piece of advice that will set you on your way, with surprising ease.
 

 

Calling all smokin’ hot scribes!

 
Got a question about becoming a pro-wordsmith?

What to charge? How to build momentum? Where to find clients — or better yet, let them find you?

Drop a comment below & tell me what you’re wondering about, what’s bumming you out, and what you’ve always wanted to ask … well, someone like me. (I’m creating a micro-class for aspiring word-wranglers, and I’d love to weave your questions into the mix.)

XO.


 

And now, a brief word from our sponSOAR…

 
I’ll admit it — I’m a little obsessed with Nathalie Lussier. To call her a “website design expert” is just too limiting — she’s a virtuoso at unveiling where (and why) your web presence isn’t working, and what to do about it. Cha-ching.

I just took her 5-minute Website Checkup, and it was rather illuminating.

The Checkup shows you exactly which parts of your website need a little tweak-a-licious tuning, and then delivers customized, just-for-you training videos to make it happen.

Even if you don’t have a website or blog yet, The Checkup features a lil’ tutorial for getting started, and doing it right.

Get your Website Checkup pronto (it’s free). I know you’ll be swooning over Nathalie’s beautifully sensible tools, just like me.
 

business // acceleration creativity // inspiration

Comments

Just had to say… I love your hair. LOVE IT.
Curious if you plan to release more video content – it’s nice to see you SPEAKING your words :)

How do you find the balance between going deep enough in your story so people understand while still being concise? I never know how far back to go or how much detail to give.

P.S. You rock! You are the #1 person I follow online for inspiration and helpful tips. Thank you n

Love the cut! Fierce. So happy to hear your voice and watch your facial expressions. Looking forward to your LA workshop in ’13. Xx

I finally have an idea for a blog I want to write — not to make money, just to put it out there. I’m torn between just starting to write it –and then, with ten entries in hand, go to someone for a layout, etc. — or whether I should dive into the whole world of wordpress et al, and figure it out. Perhaps I should just start writing, and then (you would know) bring it to someone for shaping and clarifying and formatting? Duh, I sit with this, don’t write it, don’t stay with the juicy idea, because I get caught up in the details….

bo roth on Dec 14, 2012 Reply

p.s. your hair does look pretty fantastic!

bo roth on Dec 14, 2012 Reply

Hi Alexandra! I’m a writer and a life coach. My number one question: how do I build my client base?? I have a million ideas from the research I’ve done, but I’ve yet to find my right formula for success. I know I’ll find it. And it’s kind of exciting because it feels like a challenge—my main challenge right now. But I would be thrilled to hear your thoughts and ideas. :)

This makes me so unbelievably happy! I will so be signing up for said micro class when it exists. :)
The part that really stuck out to me in your video (which SERIOUSLY – YOU HAVE AMAZING EFFING HAIR AND YES THIS DESERVES ALL CAPS) was the, “Maybe you’re not a copywriter, maybe you’re a poet.” I think I may be just that. I also like to write FOR ME. I wonder if copywriting just isn’t my bag. Maybe writing I should keep as something sacred for myself. I guess my question then is how do you know if you should pursue something as a career? Is it enough to just be good at it and like doing it? Could I be better off NOT being a professional writer, and being a professional something else instead and a writer hobbyist? Ah!

Hey there!
First of all, I saw this video in my inbox and it was honestly like you read my damn mind! So, thank you for that! But anyway I have a lot of those same questions but the main problem I’m having is that I work nights, so I come home super early in the morning, and that’s the best time for me to write when I’m off is right when I get up in the morning, I feel most motivated then, but the mornings I work, I’m too exhausted to even think about writing.

Second of all I really want to do both blogging and publish a book, and with blogging I get stuck on the layout (cause I love designing) but also I just want it to look good and then the content isn’t the important part. But I also want to figure out how I can do both and be successful. My goal is for this to become my source of income; and I’m hoping to work hard enough that I can quit a ‘day job’ even though in my case it’s night lol.

Lastly, that cut is amazing and I always love what you have to say. :) Thank you for being you!

I’m at the frustrating beginner’s stage of knowing the audience I want to serve (creative entrepreneurs in start-up or level-up stage), knowing what I want to offer (personality-fuelled website copy that celebrates and connects) and I’ve worked with a few ‘test’ clients to check that I’ve got the mojo… but while I was very popular when I was free, now that I want to charge my inbox is collecting cobwebs. How do you transition into the ‘pay-me’ stage?

Hannah on Dec 14, 2012 Reply

Hey hey Alex – I have to say, 4 days out and I still miss you & all the wonderful women from the workshop at Laurie’s!! Obviously, I love to write. But I don’t really have any professional experience in copywriting, per say, though it is a field that I would love to get into, even if only to improve my craft. So I guess my question is – how to get professional experience when you’re not in college anymore? Help.

P.S. Your hair – as you well know – is fierce.

So wicked to *see* you! (I’m simmering on a Q)
smokin’ hot=your look. Love the hair.

Thank you for the wake up call! Time for me to get out there and really do my thing :)

Love the hair! Any advice on moving from writing coach/editor to ghostwriter? I’ve always worked from someone’s shitty first draft. Now must generate the first round from audio transcripts. New process, not so hot about it but am in love with my client’s voice/story …

Cathryn Castle Whitman on Dec 14, 2012 Reply

What does it really mean to write copy for someone? What’s a good way to practice your writing regularly to stay creative and sharp for clients?

I just landed my first client yesterday, which is incredibly exciting. You’re really a big inspiration for me and I def want to get in on that mellow micro class.

I know my system to get clients, I just want to perfect an ever-perfectable craft.

And that video is really the best advice you can give someone. Watch what you’re feeling. As long as this keeps exciting me and feeling wonderful, it’ll be my mission.

Such a lovely video! Thanks for sharing it :) I guess my question is (not sure if it’s ‘copywriting-centric’ although it is about becoming a professional write) how do you get repeat writing gigs. So I know some writers write, for example, a monthly article for a website (or whatever). Are those things that can be applied for, or are the writers usually reached out to by the website?

Wow. This is really timely. I’ve recently made the decision to pursue my dream of writing after spending months figuring out exactly what I want to do. I’d had so many different ideas, but they were all based on what I saw other people doing rather than what I felt compelled to do from my core. Writing’s been there since I was little, guzzling down books in my bedroom and letting my imagination run wild. I have to try and make this happen or it’ll always be something I regret.

Anyway, I suppose my main stumbling block is simply believing that this is possible. The reason I never pursued writing in the first place is because I thought it was unrealistic. I thought being published only happened to the lucky few. I was told by university lecturers that it’s a competitive industry and only the toughest will make it. That immediately put me off, and I decided that it was destined not to be. Now that I’ve entered the online space and seen what other people are up to in the world, I see that making a living from writing really is possible, but I still have trouble removing myself from the ‘unrealistic’ mindset. I know I need to have more confidence if I’m to really own my work.

Ooh, this IS the biggest, juiciest piece of advice EVAH!
After dropping into some unexpected writer-ly jobs, my resentment was by far my biggest teacher.
But now that I know what I do NOT want to do, finding that “signature service” that I won’t resent has proved tricky. I flop between focusing on my *own* writing, which is educational for my community and current customers, and flip to wanting to offer to write FOR them.
I do both, but with an unanswered question in my heart: Am I Scribe For HIre? Or a Writer/Teacher?
(and underneath all that? This creeping doubt that it’s easier to write to promote someone else than to support my own voice)

This is so awesome and timely for me right now! While I have always been a good writer, I didn’t consider writing as a profession until last year. Now that I know this is what I want to do, I worry that I need more professional development to refine my copywriting skills. In addition to some guidance on what education/training would be most beneficial, I’d love your insight on how to set pricing, identifying your ideal customer, and connecting with them!

Stefanie M. on Dec 14, 2012 Reply

Your brilliantly clear self revelations are stunningly illuminating! Yes, yes, and yes! As life unfolds, it’s easy to become wrapped around the axles that move us. Thank you.

Betsy McDowell on Dec 14, 2012 Reply

LOVE seeing your face and not just hearing your as a voice on the phone! And the cut is super fierce and fun. As you know, I write often but I sometimes struggle with finding the right inspiration on command. Sometimes, there’s 4 blog post ideas that come all at once. Sometimes…it’s crickets. How do you keep the inspiration pool consistently full to provide your audience with the valuable goods you provide? I know that there’s not going to be a formula, biut I’m on a quest to gather best practices from those I admire (ahem…you) and see what works for me. Thanks, doll!

Lady, that hair is fierce + fabulous. You look amazing. And P.S. I’m digging you on video. A LOT. More please.
xo

Hi Alexandra!

I think any insights at all into your processes for getting to all that juicy, tight imagery, and the way you grab people’s heart and soul would be wonderful. And , knowing what WILL grab others emotionally , that is also one’s own unique take …..

And yes it’s lovely to see’ you’ from another angle. Love the hair too!

(For myself, I’m hoping to combine part time freelance work of different sorts with a part time job…. but it’s not all that much more than ideas as yet ? so it’s uncertain for lots of reasons..) Thank you.

Jules on Dec 15, 2012 Reply

First, thanks so much for responding to my question. I feel super special to have had my question be the basis of a post.

Since then, I’ve started emailing editors to submit articles to and I talked to a freelance writer in my city about starting out. I still feel frustrated by the slow process. Sometimes I feel like I’m stuck at the starting line in a game of Mario Kart; I’m pushing the accelerator but I’m just making noise and not getting anywhere.

I really want to work freelance but I feel that my lack of formal experience is making that route nearly impossible. I guess my question now is, how can you convince editors and potential clients that you’re talented without a portfolio of previously accepted work?

Oh, Miss Franzen! Your timeliness, spot-on-the-money-ness and general hotness (!!) all make my innards sing.

My questions are abundant. But for starters:
– if you are ‘inventing’ your own signature niche (like, it’s kind of odd-ball and specific and no one else seems to be doing it), how do you go about explaining that and marketing that to an audience, when other people don’t even know what it is?
– how long did it take you to develop your signature niche, and how did it come about?
– do you really believe there is enough pie for everyone? Also: what flavor is your pie?

Am super excited to see this micro-class. You and your unicorns have made my Saturday afternoon!

xo

Oh I’m looking forward to your future micro-class offering. I was recently introduced to you via the always wonderful Danielle LaPorte and I’m loving your personality and motivational style.

My current “resentment” would definitely be how to break out of the current low-paying jobs I continually stick myself in and attract the type of clients I dream of working with (authentic, creative, HIGH-PAYING lol). So in other words how do I track down these clients that are going to show me the money! I can officially call myself a writer now that I’ve been doing this for two years but a profitable one? Not yet.

And, like commenter Jules mentioned above, any advice on how to be juicy, creative, and all-around bad-ass with your writing is always welcome. :)

Susie Contreras on Dec 16, 2012 Reply

Oh, hello my fierce, foxy friend. I so wish we could hang out and go I’ve skating and eat lemon merengue pie (I will eat your merengue if you don’t want it.)
Lovely to see you on video. And woah: I live your message. Very very good. And I should never be surprised because you are always so damn awesome.
I will definitely start tracking my resentment because I do have it. I understand that entrapment feeling soooooo well. And I never understood it until right now.
I just felt bad about it like it made me a horrible person.
My question would be: how do I find clients for this totally new part of m life’s journey?

Love @alex_franzen’s advice for writers – listen to your resentment. And she has KILLER hair. http://t.co/TtfLJ9X1

Hi Alexandra – why yes, your hair DOES look awesometastic, and it is indeed great to hear you speak. I think this is my first time hearing you, although I’ve been reading your stuff for more than a year now.

I will *totally* be at that micro-class if timezone adjustments allow (I’m all the way down in New Zealand, for what it’s worth)

I’d like to “me-too” the question about moving clients from initial one-off writing projects to ongoing ones like newsletter or blogging gigs.

Also, I have one about how and how often you follow up personally with previous clients after you’re finished a project for them.

Blessings

TANJA

Gah! So many excellent questions. Thank you, thank you.

Stay tuned, my writerly friends.

Alexandra Franzen on Dec 31, 2012 Reply

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