After writing for more than 5 years as a freelancer I’ve seen and experienced many good and bad sides in Malaysia in the field of copywriting.
Recently, I’ve been receiving few messages from different copywriters sharing their frustrations and thoughts about being a copywriter in Malaysia after reading my recent blog post about my trials and tribulations as a copywriter in Malaysia.
It’s heart wrecking to hear some of the stories they shared. I was fortunate enough to be able to establish some good foundation and gain much support from my partners to continue this passion of mine.
Many of the copywriters that I know struggle just to meet their ends which cause many of them to leave this field to pursue something that allows them to earn more money.
There are many reasons that sum up why copywriting is still a career in the struggle if you’re aiming for the local market in Malaysia. Most of them I’ve written on my previous post here.
So here comes the question, if you really love writing and copywriting is you calling per se, I’m here to share some of my experience on how to do better in this market.
Thinking out of the box
As a freelance copywriter, I’m often faced with challenges to find jobs to work on. There are just so little channels to look for freelance jobs in Malaysia. In recent years the most active place to look for an online bid for copywriting jobs in Malaysia is in Facebook groups.
So what do you do when there are limited jobs to look for?
The answer is to check up foreign sites that post up writing jobs.
From these two platforms, I’ve pitch countless jobs (good and bad) to keep my love for writing going and also earn some money in the process. However, be mindful of the job postings in these platforms. There are still cases of not receiving the right amount of payment after my completion of work. So be mindful while you apply for a job.
Recently I’ve been exploring the possibility of landing jobs in Linkedin as well. I’m pretty sure many of you know what Linkedin is. This is a social media platform for business professionals, there you can find connections and networks for people with various skills and work background. You can try to contact some potential companies that might want to hire a copywriter to work for them.
You can try to contact some potential companies that might want to hire a copywriter to work for them. Companies that build websites, do advertising & marketing would be a good place to start pitching your resume.
DO CONNECT and APPROACH your network as you add them to your connections in Linkedin. I’ve known people that are rather passive because of the fear of being rejected and ignored. As far as my experience took me, I learned that the best way to get something is to ASK for it.
Ask and you shall receive. Doesn’t matter if it’s a good reply or a bad reply, a good reply shows that you’re doing the right thing and you’re heading on the right track so keep it up. If you’ve gotten a bad reply, don’t beat yourself up for it. Find out WHY and HOW can you improve yourself to get a good reply in the future.
In the marketplace, it’s all about selling. Selling our products, services, brand, ideas and our own professional skill sets. In order to get seen on the radar, a copywriter MUST know how to market themselves to their potential clients.
Your resume is NOT your EVERYTHING
If you’ve worked long enough as a freelance copywriter you will know that the resume does not justify much other than telling your potential employers about your past experiences.
Some of our work can’t even be share due to the confidence contract that we signed with the previous clients which could provide a handicap for us while applying for new jobs.
We need to think ahead and find an alternative to market our credentials. So what can we do instead?
Start a blog
I’ve seen famous copywriters create their own content and share it with others. Neil Patel is one of my favorite copywriters that I personally look up and learn so much from his blogs.
He is a true believer of evergreen contents. Contents that are long yet compacted with good information that will last for a very long time. In his blogs, he teaches one on how to create content that influencers to link to. This is essentially good for those who want to market their profile and getting make known in the digital market.
Blogs like these create quality and high value for readers, as it is informative and useful over the long course of time. This will allow future readers to link your pages to their sites and possibly generate a high search index in search engines.
Starting a blog is not just about filling the blog with an enormous amount of information. The information has to be useful, up-to-date, credible, and relevant to your target audience.
As a copywriter, you would want your target market to know how good you are in your work. So it will be the best to create content that can help you justify those. Write content that will generate ideas or articles that give out tips and educate them the importance of creative content.
Research has shown that blog that is 2000-3000 words long will give much more of an impact to the readers compared to short blogs that are only 500-1000 words long. As a creative process, on it is important to squeeze in good information into your contents.
ALWAYS provide references!
Backlinks are important if you’re writing about facts and analysis. A good backlink will help to make your content more credible. This is also one of the ways for you to generate your own digital network.
How backlinks will help in your networking?
Whenever I backlink a certain content from the web, I would always send in an email to the author of the content either via their email found on their website.
The email would be something like this.
I find your content/article/website [hyperlink the page] to be a great source of information for my content writing (the title of your content)[hyperlink the page].
This email is just to inform and give credit to your great content, so there is no need to reply should you’re busy.
But if you get a spare moment, check out the post. If you like it, feel free to tweet it or share it out.
There is no definite format to provide a backlink credit to the author of the content, just make it polite and professional.
Social media for digital presence!
Besides getting your profile up on your very own blog page, you can start up some profile in few social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and also Linkedin.
Hence, it is important for one to choose the right platform to market oneself.
I don’t use all of the social media platforms that are available. Instead, I did a good research on which social media platform would be more suitable to create a digital presence locally.
Facebook is one of the most used social media platforms in Malaysia, so having a Facebook page is an essential need if you want to get a digital presence in Malaysia.
LinkedIn is also quite favored by Malaysians and it is a better platform to share your business ideas and get good contacts compared to Facebook.
Using good visuals is important to create a good digital presence as well, platforms like Instagram and Pinterest would be a good choice to post up some good visuals content.
The best part of social media platform is that all platforms are somehow connected. You can share content with each platform which makes content managing a much less hassle process.
You can explore some other social media platforms that are not mentioned here as well. Who knows you might find a platform that is suitable to display our style of work.
This is such an important thing to do as copywriters. If you want to be better and rose up in the market, you need to read more and learn more.
During my startup as a freelancer, I constantly spend an average of 3-4 hours per day browsing through the web page, reading and learning new things on how to over improve my skillsets to make me a better copywriter.
Finding the right content to read helps me to know what is the latest trend in the creative field and how can I learn it and use it in my work to improve my work quality.
Overall, this is one of the best ways to keep yourself equipped in the market.
If you think that you know everthing, you actually know nothing at all.
I would recommend Content Marketing Institute as one of the sources of reading for you. There are many articles written by renown content writers & copywriters on their web page. Take a peek into the some of the great minds in this field and see what can you learn from them.
Of course, there are still many channels that you can source your information from. You just need to dedicate time to do so.
Jump into the market.
Which ideas shared above, you should pretty much know what to do to increase your portfolio and market presence. So, now we process to the real task of exploring the local market.
Where to start?
This is the question that I’ve asked myself all the time,
where do I start to look for jobs?
Should I start knocking on doors?
If yes, what kind of doors should I be knocking at?
For me, I have more experience in brand startup & marketing strategy planning type of copywriting. Hence, I will sign up for quite a numbered of startup events in a month.
Startup events are a good place to expand your local market. Normally in these events, you’ll find local startups or expats that travel to Malaysia to work on their startup projects. Either way, these networks would be one of the potential ones to approach.
It’s all about sharing your vision and ideas.
Just a reminder not to oversell yourself whenever you’re in such event. Startup events are all about sharing your thoughts and ideas with new people that you know, and from there let the magic happen by itself.
Don’t rush into the expectation that you might land a job after knowing them. Instead, LISTEN and SHARE at the right timing. A good copywriter does best when he/she listens to what the potential client wants rather than pitching in too early.
Introduce yourself to the market.
As I’ve shared earlier about seeking web design and advertising companies on Linkedin, you can do that in the local market as well.
No matter how good your digital presence is, nothing beats the old school style of knocking on doors. (that applies only when you’ve found potential clients that will use your services)
What I did initially was to introduce myself to some of the potential companies that might want to use my service as a copywriter. I did not get any job within a few days time but down the road, I was contacted by some of these companies to get a quote of price for copywriting work.
With limited knowledge and need for copywriters in Malaysia, it is important for us that are in this field to market ourselves and do our best to educate our potential clients the need to hire one.
Like any other sales feat, follow-up is important not just for the sole purpose of getting a job, but to establish a relationship with your potential client.
Say there’s a job that needs a copywriter for hire. Which copywriter would the company likely hire?
A. The copywriter that has a wonderful portfolio on paper and digital presence but hardly communicates with anyone. People only know him/her through their social digital profile.
B. The copywriter with an average portfolio but makes the effort to establish presence face to face and connect with the potential clients.
I’d say the company will definitely hire someone that they know rather than someone that looks good only on a piece of paper or on the social media page.
This is the reason why majority company still hire sales personnel to conduct their sales and marketing. We still yearn for that human connection when dealing with one another, sales is pretty much still a very interpersonal field and as a copywriter, one must master this skills as well to increase one’s network.
Starting up something niche and with only a limited response in the market is pretty troublesome. But this is definitely a good opportunity to tap into this yet to mature market, and all you need to do is just work harder.
I will say this, this journey has been a tough yet fulfilling journey for me. I’ve been through ups and downs, approval and rejections, and there are countless days that I’d just stare at the blank asking myself am I doing the right thing.
But at the end of the day, those who persevere will see the silver lining ahead. So whoever you are out there, still struggling and thinking should you start a copywriting career or any form of startups, DON’T GIVE UP and DON’T SUCCUMB to the pressure and comments of the society.
Only you will know what is right for you, and you are responsible for you own life; not others.