Haris: Hi Bisma, first of all, thanks a lot for agreeing to share your best tips on copywriting and your background. Let’s start with how you got started in copywriting? Please, tell us more about your story.
Bisma: My pleasure 🙂 Thank you for giving me the opportunity to share my story. Luckily, for me copywriting came along without any major plans or struggles.
I have had a passion for writing since I was little. I worked on the school newspaper at the age of 10. When I was 15 or 16, I used to contribute regularly to national and international magazines for kids. I wrote plays at school and later at university.
However, all throughout this time, writing was only an enjoyment for me, a break from the routine work. I studied to become an electrical engineer. Worked for a while, as an engineer. When I became a mum and took a career break, I again took up writing to get an escape from the busy and monotonous life. It was then that it dawned upon me. Turning my passion for writing into a career would be the ideal choice for me. I took my first copywriting job in 2010 and since then there was no looking back.
Haris: How did you transition to freelance copywriting from the job you had before? What specific challenge did you face and what advice would you give to someone in a similar situation?
Bisma: The more than full-time job that I had before I became a freelance copywriter was to be a mum.
I didn’t want my kids to be away from home from 8 am to 6 pm and I didn’t want to miss out on their special moments either. That’s why I found the perfect work-life balance in freelance copywriting.
Not having any proper guidance was one of the biggest challenges I faced initially. Google was my only mentor. I read a lot, then experimented and figured what works best.
My advice to anyone who wants to take up copywriting would be to first research, put in an effort and then enjoy the fruits of your hard work. You won’t start earning in a day. But remain consistent and you will get there.
A year or so ago, a young boy asked me for copywriting advice. I guided him as much as I could about how he should start with making his profile look good, pitch for work, etc. He then said can you now write a sample piece of writing, for me to put up on my profile? Honestly speaking, I was very disappointed. There is a limit to which you can and should take help. Lying on your profile/CV might get you the job but you won’t be able to retain it for long. Please be honest to yourself and to others.
Read lots of blogs and articles, take reasonable help from others (online forums are a good place to start), write samples YOURSELF, make your profile presentable enough, apply for simple jobs which you know you can complete easily and build your way up.
Haris: Getting clients is one of the greatest challenges for freelance copywriters. Could you talk about how you get clients?
Bisma: Indeed. Especially for newbie freelance copywriters. In the initial days, I applied for many jobs, always personalising the writing gig. Show the person that you read their entire job description and answer each question to prove how you can add value to their project.
Even to this day, I have a habit of researching about the organization/business before I contact them as if I’m going for a job interview. Mention a thing or two in your gig about what you know about their company. Flatter if you feel the need to (Just don’t sound too clingy though!)
If you ever have an opportunity to be on the hiring end, you would be surprised to see how bad most people are at pitching themselves. So put in a little effort and you’ll see the results.
Instead of sending out hundreds of emails, send out only a few personalised, good quality ones. And yes, always ask happy clients for their feedback and testimonials. Use these to show new clients why they should hire you.
Haris: How did you learn to write copy? Are there teachers, books or resources you can recommend?
Bisma: My clients were my teachers. I didn’t read any copywriting books. I did do a lot of reading though. But I only read articles and blogs written by others in the industry. I picked up tips from wherever I could.
One of the resources I would recommend to anyone seriously looking to break into freelance copywriting is to read Elna Cain’s blogs. She covers everything is good detail and shares great tips.
Haris: How do you prepare for a writing session?
Bisma: The first step, of course, is to get a project brief from the client. If something is unclear I ask rather than assuming or guessing. My clients always appreciate my communicative approach. The second step is to research the niche and see competitors’ websites to get a better picture of the subject. I research till I feel comfortable enough to start writing. I often jot down key points and then build on them to complete the copy. After writing the first draft, I always leave at least a couple of hours before proofreading and editing.
Haris: Who’s your favorite copywriter or piece of copywriting?
Bisma: I don’t want to name one person (and offend the others!) My favourite writing style, however, is casual, light-hearted and well-researched. I appreciate copywriters who always state facts with a reference from an authentic source, even if it’s the most casual of blogs they are writing. I believe this is a very professional approach.
Haris: In your opinion, what are the greatest advantages of being a freelance copywriter? What makes this lifestyle so special?
Bisma: I love the idea of helping others through my words. There are so many people who struggle to write basic stuff, let alone write effectively to promote a business.
It’s a great feeling to make someone genuinely happy with your writing.
I’d say freelance writing gives you the perfect work-life balance. You get to avoid the rush hours, be there for your family when they need you (and catch up on work later) and go shopping on a weekday morning (my personal favourite). No more returning late from a lunch break and getting glares from the boss and colleagues! As long as the work is done, it’s all good.
Haris: What one daily habit has contributed to your success more than any other?
Bisma: Making a to-do list at night for the next day! Oh! What a wonderful feeling it is to cross out tasks from my list 🙂 I usually make a rough plan of the entire week which helps me stay in control.
Haris: If someone wants to hire you, what is the best way to get in touch?