Writing for Ad Agencies & Design Firms (Part 2)

I was overwhelmed by the response to Part 1 of my teleclass on writing for ad agencies and design firms. More than 2,200 people downloaded the recording or listened to it on my blog.

Part two is now available.

You can listen (or download) it using the player button below.

As a reminder, this is a recording of the original live teleclass I did a couple of years ago.

If you have any questions on this topic, please post them as a comment. I’ll reply!



  1. I found Part I of the course very useful

    Thank you

    Roger Lipman

    • Thanks Roger! I hope you enjoy part 2.

  2. Hi Steve, Thanks for the helpful information. I was wondering about contacting ad agencies through email. Is that appropriate as a first contact or as a follow up? Typically, when I cold call and don’t reach the person I’m looking for, I leave a phone message and follow up with an email. Thanks, Elaine

    • Hi Eliane. Email is fine. Just don’t send them a cut and paste form-letter email. Instead, send a personal message — just like your post is a personal message to me.

  3. Thanks for all of the helpful information. You answered many of my questions. I am a technical writer and now I know how my services can be utilized by agencies.

    I am working on putting a few writing samples together for a marketing firm that hires technical writers six or seven times a year. Now I have a clear vision of what samples to send.

    I’m glad to hear that I can write original copy and also that there is a demand for rewriting client copy: writing articles, manuals or parts of manuals and reports are my specialties, with the outcome being simplicity, clarity and creativity.

    Thanks for all your ongoing help.
    Laureen James

    • I’m glad you found the teleclass helpful, Laureen. Good luck with that technical communications firm!

      • Hi: Just want to add my 2 Cents worth…:)

        In my experience, here, in Ottawa Canada, which is the high tech center of the country, I’ve found:

        1) The demand for technical writer, far exceeds that of copywriter, including high tech copywriters
        2) As an “in demand” writer, you would be in a strong negotiating position…

        So while it’s great to work with agencies, it’s also good to get direct clients…

        More work options that way…

        And, very important, not putting all your eggs in one basket.

        PLUS, I’ve found that agencies that know that you know how to market, and have other clients, treat you much better than if they think they are your only source of work…

        Don’t know if that helps, but you should know that you’re in a strong position here! 🙂

        • Hi Chet,

          I agree. In the Ottawa area of Ontario, Canada, as well as the Kitchener-Waterloo area, there is a high demand for freelance technical writers. However, technical writing is a specialized skill; and not everyone has the knack for it. (Just as not everyone knows how to use a semi-colon correctly.)

          I also agree that working with clients directly is more advantagous for a number of reasons. In fact, direct clients are my preference.

          As for how agencies treat freelance writers… in my opinion, they tend NOT to treat us very well. I don’t know why. I can tell you story after story about how awful I’ve been treated by agency clients.

          Like any writers market, there are pros and cons working with ad agencies.

  4. Steve,
    I have a question. When submitting writing samples how many should you submit with your letter of introduction? I have written everything from employee manuals to web copy and journalism pieces and so on.


    • My advice is to send a letter with an offer to have them REQUEST your samples. If you just send them cold your samples will likely end up in the trash. But if you invite prospects to request samples, those that do will be much more interested in reviewing your work and considering your services.

  5. Hi Steve. Thanks so much for sharing this helpful information. Really appreciate it.

    Two questions:

    1. I specialize in writing specifically for retirement industry professionals, ie, financial firms that offer 401ks, IRAs and the like, and financial and wealth management advisors. Would my niche be applicable to agencies? I would presume this would be a case by case question, depending on the agency.

    2. Do you plan to offer the handbook you reference on the call to the “replay” audience? Sounds like a great resource!

    Thanks again. Been following your work for a long time.

    • Hi Robyn,

      To answer your first question, yes, it would be on a case by case basis. You’d be looking for ad agencies that work with financial services clients. A quick review of an ad agency website will give you that information. (Agencies love to brag about the clients they have!)


  6. Hi Steve, and thanks again for this incredibly useful information.


    Does it look bad to offer both copyediting and writing services to an agency?

    Thank you!

    • Hi Melissa,

      I don’t see an issue in offering editing and writing services to an agency. In fact, getting both from the same sources would be an advantage to most agencies and design firms. It goes without saying, of course, that you must be VERY good at doing both.

  7. Hi Steve,

    This has been so helpful. Thank you for making it available. Do you have any suggestions for where a new writer can learn how to write “on spec” documents? Do you discuss this in any of your books? Thanks!


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