?Looking to chuck that full-time job for a life of full-time writing? Or maybe you've already dumped the day job but aren't quite as busy as you'd like to be. Why not take a closer look at copywriting? Copywriting, also known as business or promotional writing, can do more than put a few extra bucks in your wallet — it can also help you develop as a writer. Here are ten reasons why: 1. Copywriting pays well. Actually it can pay very well. I know copywriters who easily make six figures in a year. That's because copywriters charge by the hour rather than the by the word or page. Beginning copywriters usually start at $25 or $30 an hour, but if they're good (or good at asking for what they're worth — a rare trait in writers but one definitely worth developing) they can quickly move to $45 to $75 an hour. Senior copywriters charge well over $100 an hour. Now you probably won't start at $100 an hour, but even a few small jobs at $30 an hour can really boost your bottom line. 2. Copywriting pays you before begin working. Yes, you heard right. You can actually ask for a deposit before you start writing. (What other kind of writing allows you to do that?) Moreover, your clients will EXPECT this. Deposits range from one-third to one-half of your estimated fee. You can also arrange it where you get paid throughout the process — i.e. one-third in the beginning, one-third with the first draft and one-third when you deliver the final product. 3. Copywriting fits into your schedule. Don't want to do it full-time? Just take on jobs when your other writing work is slow or you need the extra cash. Now to land those jobs you'll have to do some networking, but believe me, that's a good thing. As a full-time freelance writer, finding ways to connect with the rest of the human race is a constant challenge. Going out and networking can be the answer to the secluded, sometimes-cut-off life of a writer. 4. Copywriting helps your other writing. Writing good copy means writing clean, crisp and powerfully. It means explaining products and services clearly. It means organizing ideas to make the biggest impact. It means knowing how to edit your own work — including being able to recognize your writing flaws and fix them. Sound familiar? As you can see, the same rules to good copywriting also apply to other kinds of writing. But with copywriting, those rules are even more exaggerated. Your writing has to be lean and mean — there's absolutely no room for extra words. You need to get in, make your point, and get out. No matter what kind of writing you do, learning to write this tight will help you. I've discovered that copywriting has strengthened my fiction and other writing. It's forced me to trim out the fat, leaving only the powerful words that pull their own weight. In fact, trying a variety of writing styles has helped me discover and intensify my writing voice. 5. Copywriting helps you learn about marketing. What's the essence of copywriting? Using words to sell. You also have to learn about the different marketing vehicles and how to write for each of them (i.e. writing for the Web is very different than writing a 30-second radio spot). You learn about target markets, goals and marketing plans. This will all help you market yourself and your other writing. 6. Copywriting helps you develop regular writing habits. Clients give you deadlines. Deadlines mean you have to produce regardless of what your muse decides to do or even where your muse is. You want to get paid? You get the work done. Also, just by picking up a few extra copywriting jobs means you're writing more. The more you write, the better you'll get at writing AND the better you'll get at just sitting down and putting words on paper no matter what your mood is. 7. Copywriting helps you develop a professional attitude about writing. There's nothing that makes you feel more like a professional writer than having people pay you to write. It's a great boost to your ego (to say nothing for your bank account). Also, as a professional copywriter, you'll need business cards, a Web site, a desk, office supplies, etc. Plus you'll have to start introducing yourself as a professional writer. All these things will help you cultivate an image of a serious writer. 8. Copywriting can boost your ego. Unlike other forms of writing where kudos are few and far between, copywriting clients are usually pretty good about telling you how much they like what you wrote and how much they enjoy working with you. Many times you'll even get thanked (I know, amazing concept). Best yet, you can take advantage of all that goodwill and ask for testimonials, which you then put on your marketing materials for other people to see. (You can even read them on those really bad days when you wonder why it ever occurred to you that you could write). 9. Copywriting can help you learn how to handle criticism. Okay — I know I just got finished telling you about all the compliments you'll receive, which you will if you do a good job, but at the same time you will be asked to make changes. It's a fact of life. Sometimes those changes are very minor, but you almost always go through a second or third draft (and sometimes even a tenth draft, but we won't talk about those right now). However, and this is important to remember, your clients can and will still love your writing and still ask you to make changes. After all, you don't know their business or their customers the way they do, and there will be things you just won't know. Because these changes are usually completely separate from your writing style, they're a lot easier to hear and a lot easier to make then, say, someone hates one of your novel's subplots. And if clients do want to make a change you don't agree with, feel free to discuss it with them. You are the expert here. Clients are hiring you because you know how to write and they don't. They'll listen to you, and even if you end up making that change, at least you've discussed it. All of this is good practice. After awhile, you'll learn to separate constructive criticism from nasty criticism, and eventually learn not to take even the nasty criticism personally. I'm not saying criticism won't still hurt, I'm just saying all of this will help you develop a professional attitude about it. 10. Copywriting can increase your knowledge. Not only will you learn about different businesses, but different industries and different niches. You'll learn about problems, challenges and successes. All stuff you can use in future articles and novels. There's actually more than just ten ways copywriting can help you as a writer — it can sharpen your interviewing skills and beef up your contact list. But ten ways sounded good, so I thought I would stick with that. Regardless, the skills and information you learn as a copywriter can also help you become a better writer in general.
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