Haris Halkic: Hi Cyndyl, thanks a lot for agreeing to share your best tips copywriting and your background. Let’s start with how you got started in copywriting. Please, tell us more about your story.
Cyndyl McCutcheon: Hi Haris! Thanks for the opportunity. Copywriting has always been a craft that I’ve dabbled in at some of my previous full-time jobs, though I can’t say that I considered myself an expert back then. Whenever I mentioned to an employer that I could write, copy somehow always found its way into my lap.
I suppose my transition to a focus on freelance copywriting began with the Six-Figure Freelancer. I joined the Facebook community to connect with other freelancers, and it turned out that the group admins were copywriters earning over six figures. I remember signing up for the group, and one of the questions they asked was why I wanted to join. I said, “Because I want to know how you make six figures doing this!” And everything else is history.
Haris Halkic: How did you transition to freelance copywriting from your previous job? What’s your best piece of advice to someone who is employed and wants to become a freelance copywriter?
Cyndyl McCutcheon: I actually started freelancing in the film industry before I moved into copywriting. I had a great job working as an academic advisor for a big university, but I didn’t find any fulfillment in it. So, I quit before I could reason my way out of it and moved closer to the big city of Atlanta, Georgia. I made my break into the industry working as a Set Production Assistant, and I even worked on big name titles like Spider-Man: Homecoming and The Originals.
Still, I wanted to write, so when I wasn’t working on set, I was trying to find someone who’d pay me to write. I found my first writing gig through Upwork where I was hired to ghostwrite a YA Fantasy novel for a couple grand. I ghostwrote two more novels after that before deciding to go into copywriting as I felt the client base was a bit stronger there.
To anyone looking to make that transition, do it smart! I quit without a plan, and I stacked up a pretty big sum of debt before I got my first gig.
I’d definitely say build a nest egg that you can survive on for at least three months before making the big break from your 9-5. But don’t let the fear of freelance life keep you from pursuing your dreams. Do what it takes.
Even if you hit rock bottom, those rock bottom moments always make the best success stories.
Haris Halkic: Getting clients is one of the greatest challenges for freelance copywriters. Could you tell us more about how you get clients?
Cyndyl McCutcheon: Despite what a lot of people say, Upwork is a great place to get started if you’re new to the writing world and have the patience to sift through hundreds of crap gigs to find the one gem. That’s how I found my first ghostwriting gig I mentioned before. But cold-pitching is definitely the go-to method for getting high paying clients.
Whether you cold-pitch CEOs, editors, your favorite blog, etc., cold-pitching seems to have the most success when you do it right.
And not to advertise, but the Six-Figure Freelancer is where I learned how to cold-pitch like a boss. LinkedIn is another HUGE asset that many writers overlook.
Haris Halkic: How did you learn to write copy? Are there teachers, books or resources you can recommend?
Cyndyl McCutcheon: I honestly believe that some people have a natural instinct for writing. As a child, I had a knack for poetry and an appetite for a good story, and that put me on the path to where I am today. As I made my transition into focusing more on copywriting, Google became my best friend. I read tons of articles and blogs about copywriting to hone those natural skills.
I also joined a few Facebook groups so that I could be in a community of freelance copywriters to get advice and sometimes just vent my frustrations. I also signed up for Copyblogger which is a great learning resource. Podcasts were great, too. I particularly liked David Garfinkel’s podcast.
Haris Halkic: How do you prepare for a writing session?
Cyndyl McCutcheon: I usually start by reviewing the task and the client’s background. For instance, if I’m writing web copy, I’ll go to the client’s website and see what’s already there. I’ll do a bit of research to see what their competitors are like and how my client can stand out. I’ll then open a new window so that I don’t have any other distracting tabs and start writing whatever comes to mind.
The first couple of things are usually garbage, but as I build on my ideas, some real gems start to take form. On rare occasions I’ll actually nail a good line of copy on the first few tries. But that’s rare. I also get random inspiration throughout the day of good lines to use “one day” and jot them down in a document or on a sticky note for later use.
Haris Halkic: Who’s your favorite copywriter or piece of copywriting?
Cyndyl McCutcheon: Probably David Garfinkel. I really like his approach to copywriting, and his Copywriters Podcast is great!
Haris Halkic: In your opinion, what are the greatest advantages of being a freelance copywriter? What makes this lifestyle so special?
Cyndyl McCutcheon: I love the freedom. It’s funny, I actually work more as a copywriter than I did as an academic advisor, but I feel like I have way more freedom and fulfillment now.
I take on the projects I want, and every day is different. Nothing ever feels redundant or boring. And best of all, I can work in my PJs!
Haris Halkic: What one daily habit has contributed to your success more than any other?
Cyndyl McCutcheon: Prayer. I’m a Christian, and prayer is a huge form of spiritual and professional mindset for me. It’s kept me sane when things got really tough. Also, committing to sitting down and opening my computer every day no matter how I felt was pivotal. It was kind of like telling myself that I was going to make this lifestyle work.
I considered it a lifestyle and not a career, and whether I had a client project waiting for me or not, I opened my computer and found something to do that day, and ultimately it paid off.
Haris Halkic: Are there areas you focus on as a copywriter and if someone wants to hire you, what is the best way to get in touch?
Cyndyl McCutcheon: I write in a wide variety of areas, but my favorite niches are Christian, Video Games/Nerd Stuff, Writer/Freelance Life, and Lifestyle. I also still write Fantasy and Romance when time allows.
If you’re interested in hiring me or even just chatting about the freelance life (I’m a storyteller at heart, and boy do I have some stories!) the best way to get in touch with me is via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.