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The written word makes the world go round. It's what businesses, associations and organizations of every description use to entice, inveigle and educate their target audiences, potential customers and existing clients. The problem is that most people view any sort of writing assignment with dread. But if you're a word wizard -- you thrive on the creative challenge that goes with turning out clever, compelling and concise copy on just about any subject -- then you can put your talents to work as a copywriter. You'll pen everything from direct-mail pieces to annual reports to product information pamphlets, press releases to grant proposals to radio commercials, mail order catalogs, marketing brochures and more. The advantages to this business are that you're always working on something different, each project gets wrapped up fairly quickly so there's no time for tedium, and finding new and interesting ways to communicate information about sometimes dull subjects can be creative and challenging. As a copywriter, you'll need a talent for putting together words in packages that are fresh and appealing. You should also have the ability to absorb new information and concepts and the skills to translate this material into copy that others can easily grasp. You'll need the mental stamina and agility to juggle projects without going into stress overload and of course, top-notch spelling, punctuation and grammar skills.
Your clients can come from all walks of business and nonprofit organizational life. Solicit projects by networking in professional and trade organizations -- especially in fields where you already have experience -- and by asking for work and/or references from present or former colleagues and employers.
Establish relationships with graphic designers, photographers, public relations agencies, marketing consultants and printers who can refer their clients to you. When you learn of new businesses opening in your neighborhood, chat them up about writing their grand opening and advertising material. To get proofreading work, call magazine, newsletter and journal editors and offer your services -- they're always looking for reliable assistance. If they don't need you immediately, check back every month or two.
You'll need a computer, a laser printer and a fax machine. You should also have a good word-processing package, desktop-publishing software, and a reference library including a heavy-duty dictionary, thesaurus, encyclopedia and style guides.