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Where Have All the Good Copywriters Gone?

July 6th, 2009 by Bob Bly

Since I am highly selective on which projects I work on … and turn down 10 clients for every one I take on … I am frequently asked by these prospects, “Well, can you recommend a copywriter who can help us?”

You’d think it would be easy, but it’s not. Yes, there are more copywriters than ever today.

But most of these are beginners who, frankly, don’t really know what they are doing.

I don’t recommend cheap copywriters to my clients, because 99 times out of 100, the failure of their copy to work costs you much more than the savings you gained from their dirt-cheap fee.

I only recommend experienced copywriters with a track record of success.

Here is my short list of recommended copywriters:

Any you would add to the list? Yourself? Others? Any you would drop?


This entry was posted on Monday, July 6th, 2009 at 9:07 am and is filed under General. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

34 responses about “Where Have All the Good Copywriters Gone?”

  1. Sheryl Tuttle said:

    If you only recommend experienced copywriters, how does a copywriter go about getting that needed experience? I have experience writing newsletters for volunteer organizations (PTO, Girl Scouts, church), but no paid writing experience. What would you recommend?

  2. Hesster said:

    Yeah, for a lot of us newbs it’s the whole chicken and egg dilemma. How do you get experience without getting clients, and how do you get clients without experience? I read the blogs of several of the names on your list, and all of them have stated that they’re usually booked weeks or months in advance also. So sometimes clients don’t have any choice other than to take on an unknown or write their copy themselves.

    A lot of newbies fall into the trap of offering their services for cheap because they feel that’s the only way to get experience. The Warrior Sales Forum is full of $97 copywriting ‘deals’, much to the chagrin of those that post in the copywriting section of the board.

    I’ve been studying and reading a lot of books since March. I recently quit a job that I hated to write copy full time. I have yet to actually make any money, but I’m building my portfolio by rewriting clickbank affiliate letters. I hope to be making money from clients by the end of next month. I’ve also been looking into getting a mentor, but I’m still trying to find someone who has fees I can afford right now and matches my style.

    Anyway, as far as names for the list, I’d add Marcia Yudkin and Vin Montello.

  3. Linda Donahue said:

    When I was first starting out as a copywriter, your books became my bibles. I don’t think I would have had a clue what to do with my particular talent had it not been for “The Copywriter’s Handbook.” In the 16 years since, I’ve risen through the ranks of the ad agency world (to “Group Creative Director”) and made a pretty darned successful career as a freelance copywriter (and the “go-to writer for the travel industry). So how does one make your short list?

  4. Ron said:

    I don’t have a lot of freelance experience, but I’ve written professionally for close to 30 years. I’ve been a print and broadcast journalist, worked in higher education public relations and slaved for the past 12 in corporate marketing. I’m a solid, dependable writer with what I like to think are flashes of brilliance.

    I’m still working full time while trying to grow my freelance business. It’s the most prudent way to do it, but in some ways the hardest.

    If you think I’m worthy of the list, I would be both grateful and honored.

  5. Bob Bly said:

    Sheryl, Hesster: start with small local businesses whose assignments are not as demanding as the clients I work with — large corporations, big direct marketers, and successful Internet marketers.

    Linda, Ron: Get a lot of experience and write a lot of winning promotions.

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  9. Ken Norkin - Freelance Copywriter said:


    Just wanted to thank you for including me on the list.

    Two others I recommend are John Kador (freelance copywriter, speechwriter and book author) and Kristen King — freelance copywriter and award-winning blogger. (One of Writers Digest’s best writers blogs)


  10. dianacacy said:

    Good list.

    The good copywriters haven’t gone anywhere. Just the new generation of copywriters are learning from them and making their place in the world now. 🙂

  11. Hesster said:

    I agree with dianacacy…

    Plus Bob, since you practically wrote the book on how to get started as a copywriter, you’ve gotta take some responsibility for unleashing at least some of us newbie copywriters on the world. 😉

  12. Seh said:

    The difficulty in findint a good copywriter or be able to write effective copy has led me to online video. Without video I probably would have quit. Now I create short videos that lead viewers to a free offer on my site. Traffic to the video mostly comes from posting my video free to a video marketing site called where they boost targeted traffic with a targeted keyword campaign.

  13. Spencer said:

    If you want to be a great copywriter, start writing. The beauty of communication is that it is a completely accessible art.

    – A little self promotion –

    That being said, I’ve been copywriting for an ad agency for about 4 months now and am really enjoying the professional experience with real-world clients. However, I am always searching for freelance opportunities. Give me your clients Bob (hint).

  14. Edward said:

    We can’t deny the fact that some clients are looking for cheap writers without considering the possible outcome of a limited budget.

    Hopefully, we must give a new writer the opportunity to prove themselves. He/she can’t be an experienced writer without a client.

  15. Jaky Astk said:

    Vacation, maybe.

  16. Dianna Huff said:

    If I were a newbie now, I’d do a few things:

    1. Volunteer for a great non-profit that you love and take on any and all copywriting tasks that you can then place in your portfolio. For example, I founded my alumni association’s newsletter — developed it from scratch, in fact and oversaw production start to finish, plus wrote the thing. That project and a couple of others enabled me to transition to a corporate marcom position in my 30s.

    2. Develop a kick-butt OPTIMIZED professional Website that sells your expertise and services. Don’t do one of those over-hyped landing page things and don’t use a free low-rent template.

    3. DO NOT hang out with other writers. Find successful people in other industries and hang out with them. Take them out to lunch and get to know them. They’ll refer work to you.

    4. Write an e-newsletter and send it to your contacts. Don’t write about writing copy (boring). Pick a niche or industry and write about what’s going on in it. Use Bob’s model and link to articles and offer your insight. Offer lots of practical advice people can use in their jobs.

    After doing all of this, you should be pretty busy within six months to a year. I know, it worked for me when I started out.

  17. Bob Bly said:

    FYI: I would do everything Dianna Huff says above.

  18. Phil dunn said:

    Wish I was on your list!

    I have experience in a very specific niche (Enterprise Software/Hardware). It’s kept me busy and free for 15+ years.

    I quickly moved from a journalism career to marketing copywriter after reading your How to Make $85K as a Copywriter book.

    Got published myself in 2005 – The 7 Essential Steps to Successful eBay Marketing (McGraw-Hill)

  19. Sheri said:

    I would take Susanne Hutcheson off the list. I used to be a big fan of hers until my discovery that she runs a feed from GetaFreelancer with the most disgusting rates for copywriting jobs you’ve ever seen!

    One ad asks for 26 articles of 500 words each about limousines. It specifies “excellent writing” and adds: “Don’t bid more than $30.”

    P.S. If I sent you one of my 13% results pulling, control beating direct mail letter, maybe I could make your list, Bob? :)lol joking but did you read copy by every single person on that list? just curious.

    Another ad wants “200-300 completely unique articles in less than 1 hour. If you are such a guy I’m looking to hire you.”

    I can’t see any experienced copywriter running that kind of crap. There are many possible affilates out there for links!

  20. Sheri said:

    Sorry for the typos in my post above. I thought I could edit it in this system, but found out I couldn’t.

  21. Bob Bly said:

    Sheri: I have read SOME copy from virtually every writer on the list — though obviously I am more familiar with some of these writers than others.

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