Here’s the first piece of good news: Not only are there not enough trained copywriters, but there are also millions of businesses in the world that need copywriting services. There’s really no need for any copywriting competition. (In fact, in the Comprehensive Copywriting Academy, we’ve seen students hire other students to work with them on projects because clients have more work than one copywriter can handle!) The ratio of copywriters to companies (large and small) in the country and in the world is low.
When you’re out there hustling to find as many clients as you can or land that dream job, it’s natural to be aware of (and maybe intimidated by) your competition. But should you worry about it? Or is there a better way to expend that energy?
This question often comes from copywriters who are just starting out and begin to see a LOT of other copywriters, ads for copy courses, and more (after all, search something once and the internet is really good about showing you more of what you searched).
Competition can feel very daunting. But there are three things you need to keep in mind and five key strategies to stand out from the copywriting competition.
Copywriting Competition Is a Good Thing
The fact that others are working as copywriters should be a signal to you that it’s absolutely possible for you to work as a copywriter. If someone else can make a living at it, you can, too. Plenty of people are making good money at copywriting—and plenty of people are doing it because there are plenty more people and companies that want to pay for good copywriting.
Everyone, Even Successful Copywriters, Struggles With Doubt
Remember, too, that social media is generally about putting your best foot forward. People want to be seen as winners, so, for the most part, they’re going to post only their successes.
I guarantee that all of the other copywriters in your group struggle with doubting themselves and working up the motivation and stamina to prospect for work. They’re just not telling you about it.
By and large, you shouldn’t worry about your competition…unless all of that worry immobilizes you and keeps you from building your business.
The only time you should worry about your competition is when you’re not doing anything to compete.
There Are More Companies That Need Copywriters Than There are Copywriters
Watch this video for more on the amount of opportunity there is for copywriters!
5 Ways to Set Yourself Apart from Copywriting Competition
It’s a fact that’s sad but true (and super useful to your success): Very few people, including copywriters, are willing to go the extra mile.
That’s good news for you because you’re one of the few who will go the distance. Here are a few ways to stand out from your copywriting competition.
1. Print a Custom Portfolio
You have your online portfolio and you have the print portfolio you carry with you to each interview. But if you really want a certain job and you really want to wow them, get a custom portfolio printed. There are plenty of websites that do it (Snapfish, CafePress, Shutterfly, etc.). Include your pieces that make the most sense for the position to which you’re applying and add a cover that says something like “[Your Name] for the position of Copywriter at [Company Name]” across the front. It’s sure to make a major first impression.
And if you’re interested enough to get a custom portfolio book printed for a job, are you interested enough to get one printed before you even get the interview? Of course you are! Instead of sending in just your cover letter and your resume, why not send in your cover letter, your resume, andyour custom-printed portfolio?
This shows the receiver just how serious you are about getting the interview. And bonus points if you get it all couriered over instead of sending it through the mail. Will this cost a little bit? Yes, so I don’t recommend you do it for every job. But for the ones you really want, the ones that really keep you up at night, this is the way to go. And don’t forget to ensure your portfolio showcases you and your work at your best.
2. Customize a Page on Your Website
Obviously if your goal is to go 100% freelance, you’re not going to print up a custom portfolio every time you have a discovery call with a client. But if there’s a project you especially want to land (one of those projects with a big-name client, a project that could net you ongoing copy work, or a project that you’d love to include in your portfolio), you can create a custom page on your website for this prospective client.
This page doesn’t have to be wildly fancy. But it can include some observations on the business (what ideas are you already bringing to the table?) as well as samples that are most relevant to the business and the opportunities you see. Share with prospects your thoughtful, insightful ideas about how they can improve their copy and increase their bottom lines.
Or maybe you have samples from other businesses in the same industry. Or samples in a similar voice. Your project write-ups should speak to why these are relevant to the particular business.
The custom webpage should include your unique USP—what makes you different from other copywriters and more valuable to potential clients. And don’t forget to update your LinkedIn profile, your professional Facebook page, and any other social media profiles to showcase your USP and your best work.
3. Research the Client
Comprehensive Copywriting Academy students know this, but it bears repeating: Know who your client (or prospective employer) is before you pitch them. Clients want your copywriting pitches. But they don’t want generic, this-could-have-gone-to-anyone pitches. They want to know you are interested in their business; that if you work with them, you’ll care about their business and will be invested in its success.
Being a strategic partner to your client—from when you first pitch them to when you are doing the work to after the project is over—is what sets successful copywriters apart from the ones that think copywriting is “too hard to get into.”
When you get on your first call with your client, it should be clear you’ve done your research. That doesn’t mean spending an entire day knowing all there is to know about your prospective client, but it does mean spending 30 minutes seeing what emails the client sends (you signed up for their email list, right?), what pages are on their website, and what they’re doing on various social media platforms.
4. Follow Up
You’d be surprised how many copywriters pitch or apply for jobs and never follow up (it’s A LOT). Anecdotally, when I oversaw building a copy team for a multimillion-dollar company, someone on my team received a pitch from a would-be copywriter. She forwarded it to me (so don’t worry if you’re not sure if you’re sending your pitch to the right person—take your best guess). He didn’t have any direct response copywriting experience, only content writing experience, so we didn’t pursue it.
However, that would-be copywriter sent a follow-up about a week later. Impressed with his initiative, we set up an interview. Now that copywriter has written for several multimillion-dollar brands and has a thriving full-time job (and side hustle freelance business) of his own.
If you want a potential job, proving you want it can be as simple as following up.
5. Handwrite Thank You Notes
First, it’s already classy to handwrite thank you notes instead of emailing them (and if you’re not already sending a thank you note of any kind after an interview, you need to make that part of your process).
But if you send them through the mail, it might take them several days to get to the rightful receiver. (I once got a thank you note from an applicant who showed up weeks later because our mailroom was inefficient.) So, if you want to make an impression, I recommend handwriting thank you notes and having them delivered the next day instead of sending them through the mail. That way, they’re guaranteed to get there, and get there fast. Classy!
Of course, with many offices being fully remote, you may not have a physical address of the person you want to thank. If that’s the case, make your thank you email stand out from a generic “thank you; it was so great talking with you and learning about X company.” Briefly include something fun you discussed in your meeting or some other connection you made with the interviewer.
Not sure if you have the person’s email? Check your meeting invitation for the interview. Even if an assistant or recruiter set up the interview, the email of all meeting attendees should be there. If it’s not there, look for their email on LinkedIn or Hunter.io. Or see if you can find the email address convention that the company uses. If you find one person’s email, you can guess anyone else’s. It’s often FirstNameLastName@company.com, FirstInitialLastName@company.com, or FirstName@company.com.
Thank the Team (Even if You Don’t Land the Work)
Whether you’re applying for a job or pitching a freelance project and you don’t get it, you want to leave on a high note. After all, you never know when these potential clients may need additional help or where your paths may cross in the future. Copywriters, particularly those who concentrate the bulk of their work in their nearby town or city, quickly realize that the creative community is small. Your chances of crossing paths may be greater than you think.
So, in the name of building bridges, send a thank you note to the HR representative you met with. In it, you can restate some of the things you particularly liked about the company and let the HR rep know that you hope to get another opportunity at some point in the future. Essentially, you’re saying that there are no hard feelings and you’d take their call in the future. You’re a professional. And some day, if not today, they’re going to want you on their staff.
If you didn’t meet with an HR rep or the hiring manager is the one who breaks the news to you, you still want to reply with a thank you. In it, you can also ask if they and/or their team (depending on who you met with) is willing to share any feedback that will help you grow as a copywriter.
The best copywriters learn to love feedback (it’s what got them to be at the top of their game in the first place!). Showing you’re not only open to feedback but actively requesting it, demonstrates your professionalism and drive to constantly improve.
Don’t Let Fear of Copywriting Competition Derail You
The best way to overcome your fear of competition is with focused, effective action to set yourself apart, create a strong client base, and build a steady referral stream. You’ll also worry a lot less about competition when your schedule is full of copywriting work. Instead of worrying about your competition, make sure you set yourself apart from it.
Which of these techniques have you implemented and how did it work out? Do you have any advice to other copywriters on how to stand out from the competition? Share in the comments below!
Last Updated on May 10, 2023
Joe Rose says
This is a LOT of good information, and it’s free. Thank you so much. I am “re-booting” my writing career. I have been retired for five years and miss the thrill of learning new products, finding the salient points and of course, the deadlines. Keep up your good work and thanks again. Joe
I am confused. You said to deliver a note the next day, but don’t send by mail? How are you sending them?
The Filthy Rich Writer Team says
Good question! If it’s local to you a courier is a good option, you can also hand deliver it! The post does also touch on how to handle it if it’s a virtual interview. It’s just best to avoid a delay in your follow-up!