Thursday, October 1, 2009

Continuing Education: How to Make Yourself More Valuable

As a copywriter, you have to market yourself, land clients, work on projects, and make yourself more valuable to your clients--all the time. This justifies your yearly rate increases (you do increase your rates yearly, right?). Here are a few ways I'm looking at to make my work more valuable--and my business more profitable.

Take online classes. I know, the promotional copy is a bit over-hyped. But AWAI has some really effective courses, if you're willing to put in the time and effort. They're distance-ed, but the courses generally come with in-person critiques of your work at different project stages. I took their Six Figure Copywriting course a while back--it's mostly geared toward direct mail, which I don't do a lot of, but it taught me some valuable basics in sales writing. Now I've got their Copywriting for the Web program on my wish list. Many of their programs have a steep price, but others are quite affordable--I recently bought the Resume Writing program for an affordable $49 (it's usually $99, but there was a sale).

Take in-person classes. Where I live in New York, the local Freelancer's Union provides low-cost classes on business topics to members and nonmembers alike. There are also continuing education organizations for business including New York City Business Solutions, which provides classes on marketing that could easily translate into better skills for your clients; and the New York School of Visual Arts has some interesting classes on copywriting and marketing. It' s a traditional college, but with a continuing education section--so it's no problem for adults to sign up. What in-person classes are available where you live?

Read a book. Bob Bly's The Copywriter's Handbook is still the industry standard if you want to learn the basics, in my opinion. I just picked up Dan S. Kennedy's Ultimate Sales Letter--I'm planning a marketing initiative to local businesses in New York, and thought I'd give direct mail a try. What books could help your own marketing--and marketing for your clients?

What are you doing to increase your skills?


Mike Chen said...

You took the AWAI course and you don't end everything in BOLD ALL CAPS WITH TONS OF EXCLAMATION POINTS?!?!!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!

(Ah, I'm just bitter. I've had some bad run-ins with some AWAI "graduates" who believed they'd really earn six figures immediately after taking the class, despite their complete lack of writing skills.)

Unknown said...

If you hadn't sent us to that site, Jen, I'd have clicked off it instantly. Their presentation sucks! They're obviously not into paying a designer to put together something more appealing, either. And I agree with Mike - they should have titled their group THE BOLD AND THE CAPPED!! ;)

I agree that education is sensible. It's such a tough market these days that any credentials beyond the BA or the time in the industry is welcome.

Jennifer Williamson said...

I know, they're over the top when it comes to their site--the really salesy copy is a turnoff for a lot of writers. Their courses aren't bad, though--or at least the one I took wasn't. BUT you gotta be realistic--you aren't going to make six figures off the bat just from taking a course.

Mike Chen said...

Am I the only writer who hears Billy Mays screaming about Oxi-Clean every time I read direct-response writing a la the AWAI "SIX FIGURE!!!!!!!" style?