professionalThe other day new writer asked me, “What makes a writer professional?”

I asked her why she wanted to know.

“Well, I earn supplement our household income by writing,” she responded. “I wondered if I can consider myself a professional writer if I’m only working part time?”

As we kicked this around a bit, I realized there is very little standard when it comes to writers. For example, Wikipedia says:

“A professional writer may be freelance, meaning he or she works on a self-employed basis, or fully employed in an occupation where a professional writing standard is a prerequisite, such as journalism, marketing, advertising, public relations, the military, or technical writing.”

Well sure, but that feels convoluted to me. First of all, I’m not sure what “a professional writing standard” actually is these days. And this definition leaves out novels and other works of fiction. It doesn’t mention blogging either.


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copywritingCopywriting can be a great way for freelance writers to make significant money. Dedicated and proven copywriters can command hourly rates in the $100-200 range or more. For those you’ll need a stellar portfolio, complete with at least some evidence that your copywriting is successful.  If you’ve got an interest in writing copy that sells it may make sense to develop your copywriting chops.

Even if you don’t want to make a career of writing copy, since you’ll need to sell yourself and your writing, learning a bit about the art makes sense.

Here are 5 articles on 5 websites about copywriting that I like. They certainly aren’t the only ones… copywriting is a popular term indeed and lots of people have lots of advice about it.

As you look at these and others, keep in mind that the goal of copywriting is simply to get someone to buy an offered product or service.

1 – 7 Scientifically-Backed Copywriting Tips

I was brought up with the canard that someone famous in advertising (it was never clear who) said “Fifty-percent of all advertising is wasted; it’s impossible to tell which fifty percent.” I suspect that’s more or less as true today as it was when I first heard it. Nonetheless, Gregory Ciotti over at Copyblogger, lists seven tips for copywriting he says are science backed, and he’s got sources to prove it.

I was particularly interest in his item 2 which says, among other things, “selling “time” is far more effective…. than selling money.” Food for some serious re-thinking on my part.

2 – 35 Copywriting Tips & Tricks from the Pros

This post from Writtent – and no, I have no idea what that means – lists 35 tips. Some are familiar,  others not so much. There are lots of quotes in this piece from well-known copywriters. My suggestion is read it through, then find one or two you like and study them.

My favorite tip there at the moment is number “26. Evaluate your copy’s ratio of “you” vs. “we.””I like it because it gives me a way to double check that I’m really speaking to the customer rather than trying to convince the customer I’m a good guy by focusing on me instead. 


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