URGENT! Copywriters Needed: The Freelancer's Guide To Answering Help-Wanted AdsURGENT! Copywriters Needed: The Freelancer's Guide To Answering Help-Wanted Ads

One of the quickest ways for a freelance copywriter to land a gig is to respond to a help-wanted ad. But, this can also lead to the lowest-paying gigs.

So, is it worth it? And if so, when?

Let's look at the top seven reasons to answer "Copywriters Needed" help-wanted ads, and then how to answer them for the best results.

The Top 7 Reasons To Answer "Copywriters Needed" Ads

Most freelancers have the ultimate goal that all their work will come to them -- that they'll never need to chase the work. I'm going to assume you share that goal, even as you're reading this article right now on answering help-wanted ads. So then, why -- in the context of that goal -- would you want to respond to help-wanted ads?

Well, let's look at what I think are the top seven reasons to respond to a "Copywriters Needed" help-wanted ad:

1. Build your portfolio -- This is important, especially for copywriters just starting out. Often it's hard to get work until you have a solid portfolio of writing you've done for other clients. So, you may want to take on projects you wouldn't otherwise do, and chalk up "not the best arrangement" to needing to fill out your portfolio with different writing samples. In this case, "Copywriters Needed" ads for lower-paying work may be a good alternative to writing samples for fake clients, for no pay at all.

2. Need work now -- It's easy -- even when you've already experienced some success -- to hit a dry spot where the work is not rolling in fast enough. In this case, you may want to proactively look for work to help you fill in the gaps. And looking up "Copywriters Needed" ads to find work may help you do that.

3. It gets you in the door -- These opportunities don't come along frequently, though when they do, they're worth pursuing. Every once in a while, there may be a client you'd like to have, who you find advertising with a "Copywriters Needed" ad. In this case, you may have found your foot in the door to future work with that client.

4. Good pay -- It's about as rare as landing your ideal clients through "Copywriters Needed" ads, though this can happen. If you find an ad offering good pay for the right copywriter, it's worth pursuing. Because these are "special" opportunities, though, be prepared for a lot of competition among respondents.

5. Entering a new niche -- Many times entering a new niche as a freelance copywriter is about the same as starting a whole new career. Sure, there's the learning curve. But, what's more important to clients is for you to prove yourself within the niche. So, you may need to look for and respond to a few niche-specific "Copywriters Needed" ads just to get rolling in the new niche.

6. You like the client -- Let's say you're browsing "Copywriters Needed" ads and you stumble upon a company that really gets you excited. Something about the ad or the company itself draws your attention and makes you think you'd like to work with them. That's as good a reason as any to respond to their ad.

7. Unique opportunity -- Perhaps a company you've found in the "Copywriters Needed" ads wants you to travel with one of their employees to write about something going on in a city you'd love to visit. Or, the company offers educational opportunities free to copywriters as a free perk. Or, there's some other unique opportunity associated with working with them. If this opportunity is worth it to you, you may want to pursue it.

You may have your own reasons for responding to "Copywriters Needed" help-wanted ads. Though using this list as a starting point will help you evaluate if it's the right decision for you, right now, to respond to a specific help-wanted ad to land a copywriting gig.

How To Answer A "Copywriters Needed" Ad To Get Hired

The single-most important thing to focus on when responding to a "Copywriters Needed" help-wanted ad is your cover letter.

I have a history of writing effective cover letters. Letters that get people in for the interview at least, and predispose the person to getting hired.

Long ago, I got into marketing by writing a cover letter for myself that drew the comment, "I wouldn't hire you based on your resume, but your cover letter sold me." I've helped others tweak their cover letters and get hired for positions well beyond any jobs they'd held before. I know what makes cover letters work.

And, the same things that make a cover letter work for traditional employment are what make a cover letter work for "Copywriters Needed" help-wanted ads for freelance copywriters.

Here are some tips to writing an effective cover letter when responding to a "Copywriters Needed" ad:

• Think "WIIFM" -- The person hiring you doesn't care about all the reasons you want the gig, or what it will do for you. They want to know what hiring you in response to their "Copywriters Needed" ad will do for them. So, as you write and revise your cover letter, think from the reader's perspective, "What's In It For Me?" (Hence, "WIIFM.") By making your letter a constant response to that question, you'll immediately set yourself apart as someone who cares about the value you provide.

• Tailor it to this opportunity -- In a previous job, I spent a lot of time going over cover letters. What I quickly learned is that most people don't cater their cover letters to the position they're applying for -- they write one generic letter and send it in response to all ads. You can stand out instantly by tailoring your response to the "Copywriters Needed" ad you're applying for -- highlighting how you can fill the specific needs their ad states they have.

• Highlight your experience -- As you're catering your cover letter to the specific "Copywriters Needed" ad you're applying for, give your promises credibility by showing how you've accomplished similar goals before.

• Prove you can do it -- If you have anything such as past results from other copywriting gigs that proves you can do exactly what the client is asking for, be sure to include these.

• Ask for action -- Always conclude cover letters you write in response to a "Copywriters Needed" ad with a request for the reader to take a specific next step. Preferably, this is to call you. If you don't tell the reader what to do directly at the end of your letter, you're leaving the next step open-ended and you're less likely to get the result or action you want.

Beyond this, here are a couple more tips when replying to a "Copywriters Needed" help-wanted ad.

First, do what you can to personalize your response as much as possible. Find out who you're speaking with directly, so instead of, "To Whom It May Concern," your letter can be written, "Dear Joe." Especially if this information is not included in the "Copywriters Needed" ad, you can set yourself apart instantly by personalizing the letter to your specific target.

Second, be ready to hear "No." While following my advice above will increase the likelihood you'll be hired when you respond to "Copywriters Needed" ads, you won't land every gig, every time. Knowing that, you'll apply to more, have more work, and have less down time. And, you can be confident when you start hearing "Yes" enough times you have to turn down work.

And third, remember that not every project is for you. It's okay to not respond to some "Copywriters Wanted" ads that are close to what you'd like to do, but not quite there. And, if price is a contention, don't be afraid to ask for a higher fee and justify the heck out of it. Many times, the price listed is for a lowest common denominator -- but if you're better and deserve more, many clients will pay more. That doesn't mean you can get hired for 10 times the offered fee, though many times clients will appreciate professionalism and may pay as much as two times or more over their offered price for a good copywriter.

With all this in mind, don't be afraid to go after clients by looking through the "Copywriters Needed" help-wanted ads. You may find a long-term client and partner, or jump-start your freelance copywriting career.
by Richard Thompson
References and Bibliography
American Writers and Artists Inc. (AWAI), www.awaionline.com, has been publishing direct-response copywriters careers and graphic design home-study programs since 1997.
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