In Aidan Bennett’s last post as Blogger in Residence he sums up the ins and outs of how to start a business as a copywriter.
If you are hoping to write for a living, and envisage you’ll need funds to support yourself before you strike it big, copywriting is a good option. The great thing about working as a copywriter and being an aspiring writer at the same time is that you can pretty much maintain the same long hours of solitude and introspection and drink the same amount of red wine. Copywriting, while incremental, contract-based work is great in its flexibility and ability to allow for more time spent writing than copywriting. Copywriting though is not so much of a great option when it comes to the pointy side of things, pleasing and appeasing your first audience and your first critic, your client.
Your client for individual contracts is your first for everything involving the piece of work they’ve commissioned, they’re your first reader, proofreader, your fist critic and your public all rolled into one. You have to make your client happy beyond all else as they’re holding your cheque. I’ve described this all in previous posts, I’m rehashing my materials from previous posts now because given this is my last post for this blog, I want to impart as clear a picture I can about what being a copywriter entails, mainly because the world needs more good copywriters.
Being a good copywriter entails having an established business with everything from the financials to the business logo in order, basically all the mundane considerations of the square world that many writers try to block out when trying to kick-start their creative processes. Business knowledge and acumen doesn’t come easy and a lot of what is needed in the copywriting business, namely impression management, self-awareness and tact, can’t be taught. What can be taught are the three main areas of concern in beginning any business: legal, accounting and marketing. These areas are important, not only for obvious compliance reasons, but because they all come together to hold a business together and facilitate its growth. Of course business growth to a copywriter is mainly tied to how many hours they can work and for what rate, but covering the essential base concerns of legal, accounting and marketing allow you to move towards more clients and higher rates.
Firstly, it is of paramount importance that you understand the implications of every business decision you make, and every decision you make affects the following decisions and so on. For example, what kind of business structure will you choose? Will you go it alone as a sole trader or share the responsibility between yourself and another in a partnership? Do you know what the difference is between misleading and deceptive statements and puffery in Australian Consumer Law, and how both terms can be applicable to copy materials?
There isn’t enough space in this post to take you through all the necessary concerns and tasks in running a successful copywriting business piecemeal. Truth be told, no one can really give an authoritative guide or checklist to being a copywriter, because as with most trades, on the job training is the best guide, that and trial and error. After you’ve gotten a few big contracts under your belt and squandered or lost a few others, you’ll begin to appreciate the tack involved and the necessity of a direct separation of practicality between copywriting and writing.
Good luck with your writing pursuits, and don’t forget that copywriting can be a viable sideline income and career path.
Aidan Bennett is a local writer who runs, along with Krishan Caldwell, The Canberra Entrepreneur, an online platform profiling entrepreneurship and innovation in the ACT region. Aidan also works for the CBR Innovation Network, as a Marketing and Administration Coordinator. Both Krishan and Aidan are also co-founders of a company, Start-Up Bloq Pty Ltd, which aims to get Australian schoolchildren involved in entrepreneurship and innovation. Aidan also works as a freelance copywriter. Recent notable achievements include interviewing the ACT Chief Minister, Andrew Barr MLA, about entrepreneurship and innovation in the ACT region.