Think of the number of schools, colleges, universities and businesses in the world ... They all need written material. Learn how to get started writing for the academic and commercial markets.
Always start with your local College and University courses. Normally they will offer extensive courses in writing techniques. You may consult our file on Graduate Schools or seek help through many private school offerings.
What IS Commercial Writing?
By Audrey Shaffer
Commercial writing, otherwise known as copywriting, consists of more than advertising. To many writers, copywriting evades accurate description. Michael Meanwell shows this clearly in his book, “The Wealthy Writer: How To Earn a Six-Figure Income As A Freelance Writer”
( http://www.meanwellstore.com/p2.htm ).
Basically, copy is used to create income, bring in more sales, attract new clients, and increase market share. But businesses need many kinds of copy including business proposals, press releases, speeches, training manuals, research reports, annual business reports, market survey results, websites, newsletters, and outlines for seminars or workshops.
Commercial writing is one of the most lucrative fields for a writer. As a beginner, you would start at $20-60 per hour, depending on your geographic area and experience. Expert, well-known copywriters can make up to $1,000 per hour. Just like any other type of writing, the people who can make copy interesting will rise to the top.
You don’t have to have a degree to get into commercial writing, but experience is a big plus. If you have office experience, you may have written some copy without realizing it. Progress reports for your boss? Meeting minutes? Emails to clients, to keep them up-to-date on projects? All copy.
An online search will turn up dozens of commercial and copywriter courses. Most are rather expensive. The information they teach is available in books and on the net. You can find it yourself, but it will take some time. If you are looking for a way to fast-track into the business you may be interested in a course.
If you have samples of copy you have written, it’s a lot easier to convince a business to hire you. Many small businesses don’t understand what commercial writing is. You may have to educate them, to get their business. Show them what you can do for them.
Start by reading all the junk mail that you normally throw away. Pick up the newspaper and read the advertisements. Learn to find the stories in the paper that are from press releases. Write press releases for businesses you know as an elementary start. New products or services, a change in the business, or an up-coming event are all press release topics. Use what you already know, and make it attention-grabbing. You can find plenty of press release guides on the Internet with a simple search.
Practice your craft by finding ads that don’t hold your attention, and rewriting them in a way that will hook the reader. You can use this exercise to get new business. Take the original ad and your rewrite, and hand them to the business owner. Then ask him which one he wants to spend his money on.
Now write a flyer explaining your services. What are the benefits of hiring you? No payroll taxes for the company to pay, no paid leave, no medical benefits, no unemployment when your job is done. They get someone who is focused on getting results. All without taking an existing employee off his regular job.
A six-figure income? Yes, there are many commercial writers out there making that much money. It doesn’t happen overnight, and it isn’t easy. But the potential is there if you work hard and give it your best. Businesses are starving for copy. Be the one who feeds them.
In the last decade, thanks to prolific downsizing and outsourcing across the business landscape, Corporate America is doing more with less. Fewer people, less resources, smaller budgets. The creative, marketing and communication departments are being scaled back or eliminated altogether. As a result, many organizations rely heavily on well-paid freelancers to get their work done – and not just because they have to.
Corporations outsource for good solid business reasons: They pay for what they need, only when they need it. They get fresh “outsider” perspectives. No salaries, vacations or benefits to pay (as a freelancer, I’m more than willing to take care of those things myself). And given the wide variety of writing projects, a stable of talented freelancers, each with different strengths, ensures the best writer for the job. Contrary to what you might read in the paper, downsizing and outsourcing have created some phenomenal opportunities for the independent and entrepreneurial-minded out there.
Add the countless opportunities with smaller companies that don’t have budgets for either those creative departments or high-priced agencies, but nonetheless, still need to create a wide variety of marketing materials. Put it all together and it spells rich opportunities for freelancers.
Gotham Writers’ Workshop……………………..Rated Number one online by Forbes
Free tutorials on copywriting:
Articles on copywriting:
Free tips on writing better copy:
This is a sales website, but does give a good description of different types of commercial writing: http://www.8999.org/biz.htm
Many well-known commercial writers offer free newsletters with tips, such as:
Peter Bowman http://www.wellfedwriter.com/ezine.shtml
(scroll down for past issues)
Bob Bly http://www.bly.com/newsite/home.html
John Forde http://www.jackforde.com/
Michael Meanwell http://www.enterprisingwriter.com/ezine.htm
===CORPORATE AMERICA WANTS YOUR WRITING SKILLS!
There's a scarcity of good writers out there. But don't take my word for it. I contacted a number of commercial writing buyers in Atlanta and asked them to share their thoughts on finding good writing talent in this field. As you'll see from their comments, there's plenty of room for good writers!
"Although I manage a staff of three professional writers and do a lot of writing myself, we occasionally get covered up and need freelance help. Unfortunately, it seems I always have to scramble to find someone. That's because I rarely receive a call or letter from a writer asking for work. Apparently, the freelancers in Atlanta either have all the work they can handle or aren't actively marketing themselves."
Michael J. Baker Sr.
Writer/Editor and Copy Team Manager
MCI WorldCom Marketing Communications
Finding good copywriters is probably one of the toughest challenges we have. We're a small agency, but I bet we try 3-4 new writers a year. Most experiences are very disappointing -- for many different reasons. So we usually end up rewriting most copy in-house.
"As a broker for both technical and marketing writers, I have found that good talented creative writers are in short supply. A combination of talent and good disposition is rare and especially attractive to any employer. I most enjoy working with a writer who doesn't realize how good he/she really is."
Vice President Writers of Atlanta Associates, Inc.
Without question, it is hard to find a good freelance writer. We're not lacking for choices, but really good ones are rare. It's taken us several years to build up a stable of writers spread out over the country who are talented and reliable. There are probably currently 7 or 8 freelancers on our A list and we keep them very busy.
Vice-President, Public Relations
"We produce multiple publications, collateral and direct marketing materials. It's critical that we maintain a pool of talented writers who understand our business and can adhere to our deadlines. Once I find a writer who 'gets it,' they can rely on a steady customer."
Associate Director of Public Relations
Finding a talented writer can be a nightmare and trying to find one you 'connect' with is even worse. I have been fortunate enough to work with a team that is well networked and knows the right people. Once I located such a writer, I found myself giving him more and more assignments. It not only made the projects come to fruition faster, but presented a similar message and image.
VP International Marketing
FOCAS, Inc. (Fiber Optics Cable and Systems)
As a former award-winning journalist and current owner of a multi-media communications firm, I am struck by the scarcity of good writing in the business arena. Regardless of your background, there is huge corporate demand for good, solid, coherent writing. But how do you go about marketing yourself? Peter Bowerman's book is your road map to an exciting and lucrative career, whether you're a disgruntled, under paid, over worked, and unappreciated journalist or anyone looking to make a positive career change.
Multiple Associated Press Award-winner
President, In-Focus Communications
Once you find a copywriter who is talented, strategic, creative and reliable---hold on to them for dear life! The demand for these individuals is extremely high in the fast-paced world of corporate marketing and advertising. A writer who takes the time and initiative to really get to know your business becomes a valuable asset that you just can't afford to live without.
Marketing Director - Creative Development
Mercedes-Benz Credit Corporation
"Finding a writer in this market is fairly easy. Finding the right writer, one who know our industry, is the difficult part."
Mary Lee Geckler
Caribiner International (Event Production Company)
"In the coming years, the demand for good creative writing - and thinking - is really going to mushroom in all areas, though especially in the arena of web design. Currently, most web page copy is being written by technical people and it shows. As the competition for a 'net viewer's rapidly shrinking attention span grows even more intense, web designers are realizing the crucial importance of crisp, to-the-point copy and that bodes well for freelancers."
President, The Creative Circus, Inc. (A School for Copywriting, Art Direction, Photography, Design/Illustration)
Former Senior Vice-President/Group Creative Director
J. Walter Thompson
"In my business I need a wide variety of writers on call all the time. My writing needs vary from editorial, to technical, to business consulting, to promotional to more ad like. Rarely can one writer do all of these well. Good writers are hard to find. I'm willing to pay top dollar if I get top quality writing the first time and every time. That means getting the big idea fast, understanding the audience and nailing the style on the first pass."
Karlenne Hager Trimble
Partner - Creative Director
Deeley Trimble & Company
(Internal Marketing and Communications Company)
When it comes to writers, my motto is "Good, Fast, Affordable-pick any two." It's a challenge to find writers with strong grammatical skills, let alone those who can write well and adapt their style. And there's an incredible shortage of people who can write good technical copy. There is no way I'll work with a writer if I can't get good references, no matter how strong the samples are. That's where networking comes in. Most of the writers I work with I've found through other writers or other creative people.
Lisa Amdur Frazier
Marketing Communications Manager
Tensar Earth Technologies, Inc.
While I put myself through college writing video scripts, I decided that I really wanted to be a film and video producer and began to leave my writing credits and writing awards off my resume. When the offers weren't exactly pouring in, I called a client, the manager of a large corporate video production department, to get his advice. He said, "You're a great writer and you need to leverage that talent. I can pick up the phone and in ten minutes I can find ten video producers. But, I'll sometimes spend two weeks looking for a good writer. Good writers are rare, but when I find one, I use them over and over again."
The next day I began marketing myself as a writer/producer/director. The work began coming in and never stopped. While I've since phased out of the writing end of film and video projects, it was undoubtedly my writing skills that opened doors and gave me the greatest credibility. When I find good writers, I tell all of my colleagues about them. Word of mouth is priceless. So many people these days are graduating with degrees in communications and journalism, but simply do not have strong writing skills. In my college lectures to communication graduates, one of the first things I tell them is to hone their writing skills, no matter what their career choice is. Freelance writing, scripts or copywriting, is one of the few flexible jobs that can keep food on the table while you pursue other career interests.
Video Production Manager & Olympic Communications Manager
"Good creative writers are in short supply in the multimedia and Internet communities. The talented ones usually have an abundance of work, earning some of the highest rates paid among multimedia and Internet professionals. As the demand increases for better content and more concise communication in new media markets, especially the Internet, companies that want to stay competitive are realizing the importance of good writing. The idea that "whoever is available from the production team can write the copy" is quickly becoming an obsolete mentality for companies that expect to be in business three years from now."
President Multimedia Registry
(On-Line Resource linking creative professionals and employers)