Making a career change is a marketing problem – and one that has a solution.

While it might feel initially like a stretch to make this claim, I encourage you to embrace this notion and approach your new journey with a marketer’s mindset.

Problem: People need good writers. There is an abundance of content being created each day and this is the minimum that businesses need to do to be present on the web. They need good writers to help them create effective “leave behinds” for potential customers on in-person visits, to have engaging social media accounts, and to construct concise narration in video scripts. Now, more than ever, every business needs good writers.

Solution: You love writing. People love reading what you write. Why would they pay some bored zombie to churn out clinical crap when they can have someone with passion write interesting stories that grab attention from their audiences? They wouldn’t if they knew about you and felt confidence in your abilities. But, they don’t know about you and they wouldn’t trust you if they did. Not yet, at least.

No wonder you’re stressed out.

These are two problems that we’re going to solve by the time you get to the end of this blog post.

One of our mottos at 4B is “Everything Is Marketing”, and that includes your current desire to change professions. Let’s connect your solution with someone’s problem so we can all have a better tomorrow.

A friend, we’ll call him Jim, recently confided that this year was going to be the year that he made some significant life changes, including transitioning from his drone-like government job into something new.

“What is it that you want to do?”, I asked Jim during the text conversation we were engaged in.

“Well, ideally write or ANYTHING creative. But realistically…anything outside of menial customer service work. Thought about PIMA for radiology tech certification, but that’s 40k a year. Coding boot camp…outrageous costs.”, he replied

Jim also intimated that he felt like he needed some kind of certification at minimum, and very likely, a degree, neither of which (he assumed) he was able to afford.

Luckily, I was able to sympathize because…. well, I’ve been there. When I moved on from being the Vice President of a web hosting company, circumstance practically demanded that I refine my career, which I viewed as a career change. While I had enjoyed a lot of success in that capacity, I had also felt like that role and industry chose me. If you had asked any version of Tyler, including that version, if that’s what I wanted to do with my life, the answer would’ve been ‘No.’ Beyond my own personal desire to occupy my time differently, no one is looking for someone who says that they can do everything from server maintenance to product management to running inbound call centers to writing help documentation to making advertisements. The market wants to hire someone with a specific set of skills at which they excel.

Personally, I’ve always found finding a new job, outside of my entry level days, a defeating journey. Compound that with switching industries AND trying to prove you’re worthy of a job that you don’t have experience doing full time… that’s enough to depress anyone.

While I considered Jim’s request, I thought back to a video from TheFutur that discussed the interviewee’s desired goals and the abundance of resources she had to realize them. (At least, I think that’s the video I mean to reference.) The conversation reminded her, and me, the viewer, that no matter the outcome she desired, there was a path to it.

With that in mind and knowing that my friend was already a talented writer, I was able to envision a path he could take to reach the destination he sought.

I began to draw the line from where he was to where he said he wanted to be. “So, consider copywriting for an agency like mine.,” I wrote. “I don’t want to be your boss – but the world needs more great copywriters. You’d be researching and writing blogs and website copy – shit like that. It’s not creative writing, but it would be closer to what you need. “

Jim seemed interested. So began a deluge of further advice.

Free and Low-Cost Resources to becoming a Copywriter

Now that I’d defined a clearer version of what I saw as Jim’s next steps, I first considered the lack of financial resources that he’d said he had. Luckily, we live in the age of information. If you want to take courses from MIT, you can start that today and for free. Are you kidding me? With no money and no process of acceptance, with a little bit of self paced learning, you can walk into an interview and honestly say these words: “I successfully completed an MIT Sociology course last year.” or “I completed a course on Literature from Harvard.

With resources like that available to everyone with access to a computer, your excuses for failure are dramatically lessened. If you want it, there’s a path to it.

While I did ultimately recommend the Harvard course to him, I wanted to start with an easier goal to complete. I wanted Jim to prove to himself that he was willing to do the bare minimum to better his life. If he wasn’t willing to do that, I wanted him to stop wasting everyone’s time.

So, what requires minimal effort to take those first steps?

I began with Udemy copywriting courses. I’ve used Udemy in the past and find to be an amazing resource. These courses are taught by self-identified experts in whatever field they’re teaching. The courses are usually based around video content and exercises to put the content into practice. Upon completion, you’re awarded a certificate. Whether having a Udemy certificate on your resume is a positive or negative badge is in the eyes of the beholder, but you’ll know you did it – and confidence may be, in the end, everything.

When evaluating which Udemy course(s) to take, be sure to not only look at the relevance to your goal, but also consider the star rating and volume of reviews that the course has received. Also, not that you likely will ever have to, but never pay full price for their courses. It’s not that they aren’t worth hundreds of dollars – but there are always blanket sales that allow you to get almost any course for around $12. Also, every once in a while, you may even find some free access to courses in sub-reddits around copywriting.

The next resource I recommended was Lynda’s instructional courses on copywriting. Lynda’s courses are taught by Lynda appointed subject matter experts, which may provide you with more confidence that you’re getting a better education than on Udemy. Like Udemy, the Lynda courses will also provide you with a certificate of completion once you’ve finished a course. The deal gets even sweeter when you find out that many library cardholders have free access to Lynda courses. The disadvantage is that the courses you find aren’t as varied as they are on Udemy, so I recommend taking courses on both platforms. It certainly couldn’t hurt to have a more well-rounded education from multiple instructors, even if the subject matter isn’t as precisely dialed in as you’d like.

The next resource I recommended were local writers meetups on Meetup.net. This is a pretty important recommendation for a few reasons.

  • Firstly, what better way is there to break out of daydreaming about being a professional writer than to associate yourself with professional writers? They exist and you can pick their brains.
  • Secondly, I’ve seen strong evidence that suggests that your next job isn’t going to come from craigslist or Google, but from your own network. People like helping other people that they like. They appreciate seeing themselves in others and helping them to overcome hurdles. These groups are essential for finding people who have progressed deeply in the journey you’re just beginning, to learn from their mistakes and discover their shortcuts.
  • Third, you will not be any worse of a writer from attending these meetings. The only way to go is up.

Easy ways to get real-world experience as a marketing copywriter

Telling people that you can write and showing people that you can write are two different things. In order to land that next job and speak about your skills with confidence, you’ll need to know that you can make an impact for your clients or company. Here are a few ways I’d recommend doing that:

Step 1: Find someone who needs your help.

This is so easy. Do you know a business owner? Reach out to them and offer to write blog content for them. Does that sound daunting? You can rely on Hubspot’s blog topic generator to give you some solid ideas of what to write about.

What do you do if they don’t have a blog? Offer to re-write their product or services pages. Almost every business needs a good writer to improve their key pages. Neil Patel offers some amazing tips on writing a great product page here.

Offer to write or re-write their “About Us” page and make it absolutely slay. Susan Greene offer tips for doing that here.

The only things you’ll ask for in lieu of payment are:

  1. A reference from the client.
  2. The ability to use their business name and logo in marketing yourself.
  3. The opportunity to track your results.

I’m too afraid to ask a business owner if they need my help. Now what?

I recommend asking friends and family if they could use your help. Let them know that they’d be doing you an incredibly big favor in giving you a chance.

If that doesn’t produce results, post on Facebook or Twitter and offer to write for your friend’s businesses, free of charge. Again, tell the story of why you’re doing this so your friends understand that not only will you be helping them, but they’ll be helping you.

Still no one? Hop on these sub-Reddits and offer free copywriting:

https://www.reddit.com/r/business/

https://www.reddit.com/r/ecommerce/

https://www.reddit.com/r/Entrepreneur/

https://www.reddit.com/r/smallbusiness/

Be genuine in your request, don’t bloviate or get spammy. Be authentic in your offer and appreciative for the opportunity to help make someone else’s business better.

Final steps in making your career change become your writing career.

If you’ve followed our steps you should now have the following:

  • Training on becoming a copywriter.
    • This may include certificates of completion and/or education from Harvard.
  • At least one peer group that meets with some regularity.
  • Real world experience in developing effective content for businesses.
  • Results from that real world experience to show your effectiveness.

Congratulations! Think about what you’ve accomplished and feel proud about it. Add “self-starter” to your resume and reference all of this work in the interview. Remind them that you accomplished all of this just so you could help the company you’re interviewing with succeed.

Oh, right, I guess you’ve got to get an interview now. If you can think of 10 companies you’d like to work for, write the names of those companies down. Connect with their heads of marketing on LinkedIn and let them know you’d love nothing more than to be a part of their team. If they don’t accept your invite, send them a letter in the mail. It might not hurt to include a gift card to Starbucks and ask them to meet you for coffee. Run ads on social media targeting the company and make sure they know your name and what you do.

Review the websites of those companies and see if you can re-write key pages for better readability or conversions or search engine optimization. Send the updated copy as a freebie and let them know that you’re available if they’d like more.

Don’t wait until they have an opening to reach out to these decision makers.

Additionally, find out where these decision makers play. Are they checking in at marketing meetups on social or guest speaking at conferences? Are there industry events where you can begin to enter their network? Be where they are – but, you know, don’t be a creep.

Rely on your existing network.

Let your network (through social media and in-person interaction) know how hard you’ve been working on your writing career and that you’re looking for work. Ask for introductions to cool people who are doing cool things.

Your network already knows you. They already love you. They will be happy to give you a job or refer you to someone who needs your services.

My final bit of advice….

…is to treat all ups and downs as gifts. You know where you’re going. You know you’ll succeed. Believe in that. Expect adversity on this journey and make it your mission to find the silver linings. It has been scientifically proven that if you take this perspective, your outcomes are likely to be better than if you didn’t.

Hopefully, I’ve offered some direction so that you can improve your life. I now want to ask you for four favors:

  • Share this article with on social media.
  • Share your story with me about how this helped you in the comments. No matter how big or small.
  • If there are resources you’ve found that aren’t in here, please let me know.
  • Remember to refer 4B when you meet someone who needs an agency’s help with marketing.