Direct Response Copywriter on Writing for Free

By Scott Martin, direct response copywriter.

My father is a musician. In fact, he’s one of the world’s top classical musicians. As a professional, he gets paid to play his instrument – the double bass. But he’s attended many an audition where he has played for free in the hope of securing full-time employment with an orchestra. An audition is a speculative venture but with a big carrot.

Is that a mixed metaphor? I hope not.

As a direct response copywriter, should I write for free in order to get some work? I thought about this a few days ago when a company called MAGNETT asked me to join a Copywriting “Fight Club” where I would compete against other direct response copywriters … in front marketing decision makers.

From the email pitch …


I’m launching a friendly copywriting "fight club" where 2 experts individually write a short piece of sales copy for an existing entrepreneurial product/service. I then run an A/B split test to see which experts' copy converts better, with real-world sales & results.

As a skilled copywriter, I was curious if you might enjoy the fun challenge of a friendly matchup with another expert? It'll also be an opportunity to attract new clients/followers by showcasing your results with real data.

I understand if you’re too busy to answer in depth or would prefer not to discuss given we don't know each other. However, if the copywriter in you has any pearls of wisdom or specific thoughts, they would be greatly appreciated!

Noteworthy contenders already include Joanna Wiebe from Copy Hackers, Will Hoekenga from Copygrad and Peter Bowerman, The Well-Fed Writer.

Thanks in advance and I hope we can connect.




My reply …



Thanks, Pete, and you’re kind to consider me.


A couple of questions. What sort of products and services are we talking about? How does the pay work?








The reply




Thanks for the response! 


Some of the businesses interested include:

I see it more as an opportunity for the copywriters to grow their audiences than as a direct exchange of copywriting services. So the writers who have agreed so far are doing it free of charge.

I plan to create a leader board of sorts showcasing participating copywriters' performance statistics. I've already had interest in this concept from some online marketing peeps, with followers in the 6-digits, who have promised to share with their audiences when I launch. So there will likely be quite a few eyes on the writers' results, which will likely generate new work. 

And if the business which the copy is written for are happy with writers' results there may be opportunities for more work there too. 

Does that help?




Quite frankly it sounds like a totally crazed business model.


I write for free and a project could take several hours.

They test against copy from another writer … in real time.

The fight attracts attention for people who buy copy. I get exposure. But there are no guarantees I’ll escape with any leads or money. Sounds like this crowdsourcing junk.

And then we all know how fickle testing can be.

From my end, A v B testing is hard, as any direct response copywriter will tell you. You can get smacked in the face … even if you thought the copy was great.

If a legitimate company wants a spec piece and I’m interested in that company, I will write for free. I will write for charity for free. I will write a free resume for a friend. But I won’t write free copy for a site where I might lose – even though the copy is good -- especially when the guy who runs the site is trying to make money; his business model is based on not paying copywriters. THANKS!

Some companies offer low pay for copy. I won’t write for free in order to get poor pay. Makes sense? I wrote free copy for a contest at the AWAI Boot Camp because it gets me on the radar of a major financial publisher. I met the guy who sends big projects to writers.

To get a direct response copywriter to write for free, there has to be a clear route to tons of work from big names. It will be an audition. I’m OK with that.

But setting up copywriting death matches is a bit much and something I’ll avoid … mostly because I’m busy with paying clients.


I'm a direct response copywriter. I specialize in providing direct response copy for the direct marketing environment for clients around the planet. I specialize in sales page copy ... copy that persuades readers to pull out their credit card and buy. Enter your info to the right for my free series: Seven Steps to High Converting Copy. Or contact me here if you have a project you'd like me to quote.

I'm also a Dan Kennedy Certified Copywriter for Info-Marketers.


Disclaimer for the above.

The Dan Kennedy Copywriter for Info-Marketers Certification is awarded to professional copywriters who have successfully completed a course of study of preparation for such copywriting.  This Certification has not been provided by an accredited education institution.  It does not constitute endorsement of or liability for any individual copywriter by Mr. Kennedy or any companies or organizations affiliated with Mr. Kennedy. The client's relationship is solely with the individual copywriter retained via any agreement.