Freelance copywriters are an interesting bunch. They practice the art of salesmanship in print, yet have difficulty selling themselves. They struggle when it comes to self-promotion.

So instead of being well-fed and content, they often go hungry. Why is this?

I believe it comes down to three fundamental deficiencies. I observed these in myself when I was getting started a few years ago. I have continued to observe them in other copywriters who are launching new freelance careers.

Deficiency #1: Confidence

Most copywriters and aspiring copywriters have no real-world experience. If they have experience, it often consists of a few spec assignments that were critiqued, but never tested.

As a result, most copywriters are unsure of themselves. They don’t know whether their copy is good or not. They don’t know if they are even worth hiring. Which makes it exceedingly difficult to attract clients.

How do you build confidence quickly and without risk?

The simplest answer is to practice writing sales copy. Hand-copy classic letters that have been proven to work. This will ingrain the DNA of sales copy into your brain.

Another easy way to build confidence is to measure the results of your copy. See for yourself if it works. Discover how well it works.

Google offers Website Optimizer for free to folks who have AdWords accounts. There are also quite a few A/B split-testers available for free.

A split-testing program will do two things for you. First, it will measure results for you. Second, it will help you improve your copy. It does this by comparing the results from two different versions of your copy.

Once you see real statistics about how your copy performs, you will not only have results you can use in your advertising, but you will also have greater confidence than ever before.

This confidence will be apparent to prospects. In most cases, it will translate into more business.

Deficiency #2: Sales Experience

It was the young John E. Kennedy who proclaimed in 1904 that advertising was “salesmanship in print.” His definition stuck. Copywriters understand the “print” part; they often overlook the “salesmanship” part.

Fact: Most successful copywriters have face-to-face sales experience in their past. They knocked on doors. They did sales presentations. They worked the showroom floor.

This real-world sales experience then translated easily into print. They had little difficulty making the transition between speaking an effective sales pitch and writing one.

On the other hand, people who love to write, but who have never had sales experience, are at a disadvantage. That’s because they do not know how to persuade people to buy.

If this describes you, then I suggest you get some sales experience. Find a part-time job where you can learn the ropes.

The possibilities are endless.

You could get a gig with CUTCO Knives (the same company where Zig Ziglar made his name). You could take a job at a car dealership. You could even help do some local fund raising.

I have personally sold snowboards, knocked on doors to raise money, and called leads to book them for financial presentations. All of this experience has served to strengthen my ability to write copy.

If your schedule prohibits you from taking a part-time sales job, then you can study sales books instead. One of my favorites is Frank Bettger’s How I Raised Myself from Failure to Success in Selling.

Deficiency #3: Marketing Know-How

To be a successful copywriter, you have to develop your copywriting skill, build confidence in your copywriting (so you can attract clients), and have marketing know-how.

This last piece is critical.

You see, if you don’t understand the marketing process, you can’t advise your client on his project. You can’t provide guidance. But by understanding marketing, you can offer suggestions for improving the sales process and capturing more customers.

The ability to demonstrate marketing knowledge is powerful. Potential clients will respond by hiring you over less savvy copywriters.

Not only that, by helping your client improve his marketing, you increase the chances that your copy will work.

What better way to learn marketing than read up on the subject and apply it to your own marketing process? After all, copywriters must market themselves to get clients.

Develop your marketing system now and it will feed you for years to come.

Any freelance copywriter who aspires to success will do well to address each of these three areas. Turn these common deficiencies into strengths as quickly as possible.

By doing so, you will not go hungry. Rather, you will find yourself among the minority of copywriters who earn a full-time income from freelance copywriting.