Many people associate professionals who work in the television industry as being on a pedestal that’s only shared by those who are glamorous, wealthy, beautiful, or at the very least – college educated with a degree that’s suitable for framing!
Unfortunately, this mindset deters a lot of very creative individuals from pursuing their dreams. And the truth is, there is an unlimited amount of opportunity in the television industry, especially in the field of creative writing.
I didn’t intentionally set out to write television commercials on a professional level. After all, I was a high school drop out who barely squeaked by with a GED. But like so many people, I dreamed of living the life of a creative artist while quietly working from 9 to 5 in a tiny office cubical.
I was employed at a large real estate corporation for several years as a paper pusher in the human resources department. But one particular day changed my life forever.
I was eating lunch in the break room – and one of the company Realtors happened to walk in, and looked extremely frustrated, distraught, and perplexed. So, naturally I asked what was wrong – and she proceeded to tell me how the deadline was drawing near to submit verbiage for the local cable station the office advertised on every week, featuring our showcase of homes available for sale. This Realtor only had two days left to submit a final proof, and hadn’t even managed to scribble out a rough draft! She then proceeded to asked me if I knew of anyone who was a good writer, and since I enjoyed writing as a hobby, I volunteered to write a 15 second spot on the cable station for a home she had listed. We negotiated a price, and I wrote the ad for her in less than fifteen minutes. My first ad went a little something like this:
“If you have more projects to finish than Martha Stewart, it’s a good thing this place has tons of storage room! … Take a look at this three bedroom, two bath, lake home which boasts two living areas, a billiard room, and walk in closets … There’s a huge deck in the back yard, great for summer barbeques! Entertain guests after dinner with cocktails on the balcony …Call today to find out why we call this home “The Affordable Lake Home Luxury.”
Needless to say, my first client LOVED the ad, and was so relieved when it was submitted before the deadline. I made a few extra bucks doing something I loved to do anyway. But I never thought about creative writing as a serious profession until another Realtor in our office approached to ask if I would write THEIR ad!
Word spread like wild fire that I was an excellent ad writer who charged a reasonable price. As a matter of fact, I acquired 10 new Realtors to write television commercials for the second month I started! I could plainly see I had a rapidly growing business on my hands, which was easy to market. I also realized how unlimited the opportunities in the creative writing field were – because there are over 10,000 Realtors in my city alone who not only needed television commercials written, but also, verbiage for flyers, brochures, and websites! But I decided stay with writing television commercials, because I’ll have to admit – it was really cool hearing commercials that I wrote enthusiastically announced over the television every Saturday morning.
In order to market my service to other professionals in the real estate industry, I recorded a video resume of the television commercials I created. I also asked my Realtor clients to write a glowing letter of recommendation, which most of them were glad to do. Then I laminated the letters and kept them in a three ringed binder as an impressive reference. With these two marketing tools in hand, suddenly, anyone who advertised on television was a potential prospect! From car dealerships, insurance agencies, and attorneys – to chiropractors, florists, and catering companies! But best of all, I had what no graduate fresh out of college had – which was years of field experience, and documented proof of the hundreds of commercials I had written. I also had a tremendous base of clientele who swore by the quality of my service – both verbally and in writing. Not too shabby for a high school drop out!
If you are interested at this point about what it takes to get started, I can assure you it is not at all complicated. Here are four points to consider before starting your own ad writing business:
1. Get an idea of what industry you would like to target. My industry happened to be real estate, but there are hundreds of others out there. Check local cable shows to see what businesses are out there advertising on a continuous basis. Don’t be afraid to call these professionals or approach their business in order to tell them what you do. You’ll be amazed at how many of them will be RELIEVED you walked through the door and offered to take the daunting task of creative writing off their hands! People who love to write take their skills for granted. Just because writing comes easily and naturally to you doesn’t mean that it does for everyone.
2. What is the name of your company? Make sure it is something easy to remember, and the title reflects the profession you are in, such as, “Creative Writing Services Incorporated” (CWSI)
3. What do you charge for your services? I personally charge $20.00 for a 15 second Television spot, which is about 25 to 35 words long, give or take a little. It takes me about 15 minutes to write an ad of this caliber, which means I can write four 15 second television commercial spots in an hour at $20.00 each, or four ads an hour. That’s roughly $80.00 an hour!
4. Practice setting boundaries. The reason why is because some people by nature are procrastinators. If you have 10 clients call you at once to tell you their ad is due by tomorrow, you’ve just set yourself up for a stressful situation, if you accept the task. Even if you aren’t very busy in the beginning, it’s never wise to let a client get into the habit of springing last minute deadlines on you. Request your clients give you a three day notice (or more) depending on your schedule.
Now, let’s look at the start up cost of your ad writing business. Fortunately, this business costs peanuts to get started! As a matter of fact, if you are reading this article now – changes are, you have almost everything you need already. But here is a list of everything you’ll need, plus the cost involved, if applicable:
1. Computer with a printer and internet access(Or at the very least, a typewriter)
Cost: $50 to $1,000
2. Dictionary (Paperback)
Cost: $5 (Online, it’s free)
3. Invoice book (To keep track of accounts receivable)
4. Thesaurus (Paperback)
Cost: $5 (Online, it’s free)
5. VHS or DVD recorder(To record your commercial spots for video resumes) Not needed, but strongly recommended.
Cost: $25 to $100
6. Incorporation for tax incentives.
Cost: $50 to $150
7. Three ringed binder(For those glowing letters of recommendations, remember?)
8. Business cards
Cost: $15 to $30
As I mentioned before, most of you who are reading this article have most of these items at home. But if not, these are things you can add as you develop your business. The library is a great resource for internet access, which is absolutely free. There may be a very minimum charge for printing, but you are sure to make it back once you complete your final proof.
It is always extremely important to type your final proof and make a copy for yourself and your client. Even if your handwriting is attractive and legible, it just looks more professional to type. Be sure to put your company name and address with your phone number on the final proof. It makes it easy for your clients to reach you if they have questions, or if they need to place another order! Always keep a record of your final proof. Remember, you are documenting your experience – which is absolutely invaluable to you as far as growing your business.
Best of luck to you in the exciting field of creative writing! Not that you will need much luck, because there are professionals out there who are desperate for your help. So, go create the artistic career of your dreams!