Good Question: I want to get started as a copywriter. What should I do?

Hi Alex,
If I want to get started as a copywriter, you’d likely tell me to start writing, yes?
So, what should I be writing?
I blog and I write my own copy, but I feel like just doing that won’t help me go from “good” to “great,” especially not around writing other people’s copy.
Should I just ask some entrepreneur friends if they need new copy and just try it out?

Dear Iris,

You asked:

Should I just ask some entrepreneur friends if they need new copy and just try it out?

My answer is:


Your next move is to email a few friends and say something like:

Hey [name of friend]!

As you know, I’m working on honing my writing skills, because I’m exploring to see if copywriting might be a good profession for me.

I’m trying to get as much practice as I possibly can, especially with people who run seriously cool businesses that make my heart go “YEAH!” (Like yours.)

Would you like to be one of my “practice” clients? I could write [insert something that they need] for you — at no charge — and all I’d ask for in return would be your honest feedback on my work. Sound good to you?

Reach out.

Get a few “guinea pig” clients under your belt.

See what happens.

That’s my boring, honest advice.

This doesn’t just apply to copywriting, of course.

It applies to any trade or craft that you might want to learn, or even do as a profession.

We often tear our brains into anxious little bits, spinning ’round and ’round, tossing and turning, asking ourselves:

But HOW do I get started?

The answer is always the same:

You get started… by getting started. And then you get better… by practicing more.

Case in point: my older brother Ben (whom I respect and admire, deeply) didn’t become a Grammy-nominated composer and saxophonist by wondering, “Should I play the sax? Should I practice today? But how do I start??”

Ben picked up a sax, signed up for a basic class, and just started playing. Badly, at first. Then a bit better. Then a lot better. And then he kept going. And going. And going more.

As my friend Nicole puts it, “Big, sexy dreams are only accomplished one tiny, unsexy step at a time.”

Courage. Commitment. Tiny, unsexy steps. Less thinking and planning. More doing.

That’s how mastery is earned.


PS. Still not sure how to become successful in your chosen craft? Read this.

Good Question is an advice column about writing, communication, creativity, and how to be a decent human being in a complicated world. Looking for past columns? Go here.