being your own hype man
Have you ever wondered about this one?
Is it possible to go in-house if you haven’t had a copy job before?
The short answer is yes.
The slightly longer answer is… that’s exactly what I did.
And the good news? I didn’t have any kind of magical formula to follow… I was pretty much making everything up as I went along.
For example, this is essentially my career trajectory:
– wrote college papers for lazy/rich college students
– was an unpaid intern in the entertainment industry in development (the people who find and develop shows or movies for particular studio/network brands)
– took every UpWork job I could get my hands on (we’re talking editing screenplays, writing business plans, and creating the production script for the Miss Black USA pageant)
– failed at freelancing (didn’t know enough about running a business) and subsequently applied for every remotely marketing-related job I could find
– landed a PT junior copywriting role, leveraged that into a FT role and later a promotion to senior
– left that job and have spent the last several years freelance/running teams for big-name marketers
So how did I get the in-house gigs?
Let’s treat this as a creative exercise.
Instead of defining “experience” as a “job”, why not treat yourself like a product you’d have to sell for a client?
That’s the approach I took… it didn’t matter if it was one email, if I wrote something for a job in a past life, I brought that sucker to the forefront and highlighted every advantage it brought to the company.
This is not unlike what you do in writing copy, which is often about finding interesting new angles and showing people things they might not otherwise have thought of.
When you’re going for gigs, in-house or not, you are the product here. Sell it, honey.
And I’m gonna break down one of my favorite love-to-hate excuses right now: writing is writing.
It doesn’t matter if it was classwork or not, if it’s good and/or a representation of your capabilities.
It’s experience, whether it’s paid or not. It’s time you took to sit your ass in a chair and create, whether it was paid or not. You know how to produce when there’s a deadline. You have samples to show.
You’re already ahead of the curve.
Use the samples you’ve got to get what you can, right now. Then get better samples and leverage that into better gigs.
That’s literally all I’ve done for the past 10+ years.
Bonus tip: folks in hiring positions don’t know you’re new.
And you don’t actually have to announce it! I’ve been pleasantly fooled by people before, folks who I had no idea were fairly new. The main advantage they had going for them was a willingness to find solutions to problems (vs waiting for instructions) and to submit something that might not be 100% on the mark, in the name of getting the work done and getting feedback.
If you’re willing to do the work and figure out how to solve problems without it becoming a work stoppage every single time, then I’m HAPPY to have someone new on my team.
Be coachable, don’t be a diva. Be someone cool to work with. And be someone who doesn’t make excuses or drop the ball.
Believe it or not, people like that are incredibly HARD to find.
If you’re an aspiring freelancer who’s working up the courage to leave the day job… good news! I’m sharing all the things I WISH I’d known before making the leap so that hopefully your journey goes a little more smoothly than mine.