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Attract Employers With 'No Fee' Copy Writing

By: Jennie Kermode - Updated: 12 Sep 2012 | comments*Discuss
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When you are searching for copy writing jobs you will often find employers asking people to work for them for free. Websites where writers offer copy writing services often include people marketing themselves as willing to work for free.

Why does this happen? How can you hope to make a living as a copywriter when this sort of thing is going on? And is there something these people are gaining, by providing free copy writing services, which you don't know about?

Building Your Portfolio

When you're first starting out as a copywriter, your greatest priority should be building your portfolio. You'll need to be able to list several different employers and, ideally, you'll need references from them. Many people offer no-fee copy writing services as a means of attracting these initial employers.

If you do this, it's important to note that the fact you're not being paid doesn't mean you can afford to be lazy about your work. You'll need to produce high quality material and meet all your deadlines, or you won't get the good word of mouth that you need and the you'll have wasted your time.

When you're offering free copy writing services in order to build your portfolio, be careful to select only short term contracts. You don't want to find yourself stuck in a position where you owe something to an employer who's paying you nothing after you've started to access paid opportunities.

You should also be wary of doing no-fee copywriting like this for too long. A little experience of this sort will help you to get low paid jobs, but you won't be considered for higher paid jobs until you can demonstrate that you have experience of paid work.

Improving Your Skills

Some employers can't offer you money for your copy writing services but can offer you support and training. This can be extremely helpful when you're just starting out. Employers like this will also, very often, help you to network within the industry and even assist you in marketing your skills elsewhere.

No-fee copy writing can also be a practical option if you're getting paid for some of your work but would like to break into another area. It can help you to persuade employers to give you a chance, so that you can get the hang of how things work in an unfamiliar field.

Status & Bylines

Sometimes, even well established copywriters offer their services for free. Why is this? As a rule, they're not doing it out of the kindness of their hearts - they're doing it in exchange for a different kind of currency. That currency is status.

Regardless of the kind of writing you do, status is essential to success. It determines how many jobs will come to you (rather than you having to chase them), and how much you'll get paid. Even within an industry like copywriting, where your name may not be attached to the finished product, some employers can provide you with more status than others. Offering free copy writing services to a leading employer for a limited-term project can be an excellent way of raising your market value.

Where you are offered a byline, no-fee copywriting is even more worthwhile. Bylines are key to marketing success in the writing business. Use them wisely to promote your skills, your website, and any products (such as books) which you have to sell.

Whenever you work with a new employer, you can expend your network of contacts and hence your opportunities for social marketing. Getting to know people is a vital part of the business and you may well find that your career is able to rise as your contacts' careers do.

Things to Watch Out For

Unsurprisingly, there are employers out there who are happy to take advantage of inexperienced copywriters offering no-fee work. Remember that the fact you're making such an offer gives you more freedom to choose who you work for, and use that freedom wisely.

Beware of employers who ask you to work for free at first but say that the position 'may become paid later on', often qualifying this by relating it to the quality of your work. Deals like this hardly ever do turn into paid positions.

Often the employers concerned know this from the start, so they're not the most reliable people to turn to when you need advice and references. You should only accept a position like this if you personally know another writer who can recommend it - don't trust testimonials either.

Ultimately, you are the only person who can look out for yourself. Make the most of your opportunities, but remember that the choice of who to work for, and how to work, is always your own.

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