Long post on How to Become a Freelance Copywriter. Written as a key organic driver of traffic that also gets prospects to opt into a lead magnet, ultimately converting them to the offer.
This blog post written is meant to increase position on Google organic search and connect with new copywriters just starting or thinking about starting their careers.
This content is geared towards new copywriters. This is a 101-level guide for the reader to get an understanding and become excited about establishing a freelance career successfully while offering resources to help them gain more confidence.
How to Become a Freelance Copywriter
When was the last time you felt happy in your job?
Do you think about why you’re still doing the same job that makes you cry/ache/want to never get out of bed?
That’s what I asked myself almost two years ago when I was forced to quit my job.
In the beginning, I was afraid to be a freelance copywriter because my family and I had sacrificed so much to move to France, not to mention that I had gotten used to a steady paycheck supporting my book addiction.
I didn’t want to give up the benefits and the stability. (Or the books)
But I’ve always wanted to be a writer, and I grew up at a time when you were encouraged to follow your dreams.
So, I took the giant leap into the freelance copywriting unknown.
And I’m happy to say I’ve never been happier.
If you’re scratching your head because you’re confused about what copywriting is, don’t fret. I was in the same boat.
So, keep reading.
What is copywriting?
Copywriters are trained professionals who write content for businesses such as websites, product descriptions, and other items such as brochures.
They are usually hired by companies that need content but don’t have the time or creativity to create what they need and use it as part of their marketing strategy.
If you like variety, then freelance copywriting is a great path to head down. I like being able to work on projects that vary, from newsletters to sales pages. I love the challenges and the diverse opportunities.
When creating copy, you, the copywriter, will use persuasive language to motivate a reader into taking a particular action. That action could be to buy something or sign up for a service/newsletter.
Good copy also helps to increase traffic and increase profits by bringing awareness to a brand, a product, or a service.
If you got the image of a greasy used car sales salesman, banish that thought from your head because that is not what you will be as a freelance copywriter.
So how do you get started?
Well, first off, take a deep breath!
It’s not as hard as it might seem at first glance.
Trust me; I thought copywriting meant I needed to head back to school to understand the basics.
Now don’t get me wrong, I am all about learning more, but I don’t have time for that. ( and I am sure you don’t either.)
As Awai.com lovingly pointed out, You do not need a college degree to be a successful copywriter.
I know I did when my research lead me to that answer. I have a college degree but just not in journalism or marketing or whatever a copywriter gets in college.
Regardless, as long as you can write, and I know you can, you can be a copywriter.
Here are a few things that will help you get started.
How do you become a copywriter?
First off: read this article! It’s all about copywriting and what it takes to be a copywriter.
Unlike other professions, just in case you missed the intro, your prior work experience or college degree doesn’t matter. I think this needs to be repeated.
Still, I recommend that you start some training courses, such as online tutorials, to help you understand the fundamentals of good writing.
As you begin your freelance journey, create a website to showcase your blog and portfolio.
Don’t worry about not being a professional website designer; make sure you add essentials such as an about me page, portfolio, services, and contact me.
My first website was a major headache; not only did I pick a theme that was not meant for a writer, much less a business, but I also didn’t realize I had a few typos. (eek!)
But I got through it after cursing Grammarly for days, and now the site is so pretty!
Once you have chosen to be a freelance copywriter, the next thing to focus on is creating a portfolio. (after you get your site up and running)
I discovered from thebalancecareers.com that an online portfolio offers you a simple way to provide easy access to your work. Clients would get a sense of what you can do without investing a lot of time and energy.
Regardless of pieces you have written in the past, you can and should post any school projects, internships, and whatever writing samples you did for previous jobs on your portfolio.
While I had a few guest posts under my belt, I still felt I needed more. Digging deeper into the black hole of the web, I discovered the best way to pad my samples was to create spec ads.
As my friends at Filthy Rich Writer explain, samples included in your portfolio help prove that you know how to write copy.
While it may seem daunting to create creative briefs and drool-worthy samples, remember the more you practice, the better you’ll get at creating a “real” project.
What does a Freelance Copywriter do?
I found that one of the exciting parts of copywriting is the variety of online and print work. It is easy to get bored with what you’re doing; it is predictable, the same thing all the time, and not challenging.
Finally, being able to use my college psychology learning, I like to think (since I wasted money on those classes) that I can get a better sense of my subject (the client), the audience, and the subject matter.
Even without psychology classes, by the way, you don’t need those; it is challenging to learn and understand any of those mentioned above without researching the client, their audience, and their brand.
On top of the diverse projects, you can decide what projects you want to accept and the client you want to work with.
Some projects you could work on include landing pages, emails or newsletters, brochures, product descriptions or white papers…and much more.
As a copywriter, you are responsible for reviewing data, research, reviewing and capturing the company’s voice, reviewing marketing materials, deep knowledge of the business’s brand, and much more.
With persuasive writing, copywriters help the business reach its target audience and increase traffic and conversion rates.
Ok, I know that all sounds overwhelming, and if you freak out as I do after reading something once, fear not because you can do it. Remember when I said there are diverse projects for your to work on?
Well, that is super true. Breaking it all down for you is nonprofitcopyweriter.com, the types of projects a copywriter works on include (but are not limited to);
- Planning projects- strategic planning, case statements, mission statements
- Sales Projects-direct mail, landing pages, ads
- Content newsletters, blogs, articles, websites
Ok, let’s double-check; writing is something you want to do. Check. Writing to persuade is a skill you will work on. Check.
We have covered everything you need to be a copywriter; now, let’s dig into the really good stuff.
What does a copywriter earn?
That’s right, you are the boss, which means you are in command, and you get to determine how much you should get paid and what your rates should be.
When I began setting my rates, I was stoked that I could be making six figures. And if you read articles as I did from Taco & Bean, you’ll realize that it is possible to make six figures as long as you work.
Ok, let’s let the fairy dust set and bring us back to reality. Yes, you can make that much, but as a new copywriter, you will not get away with charging premium prices for your work.
Keep in mind your experience when thinking about the rates you want to set.
Initially, when I started, I thought I could charge what would break down as $60 an hour. That worked for a couple of jobs, but then I was slapped with the reality bomb.
A client wanted to understand how I could charge so much when I didn’t have enough experience.
I turned to the industry standard when I set my rates. But even with that, I didn’t have the proof to back up the fees.
As procopywriters.co.uk highlighted in their article “Suggested rates for hiring copywriters,”
In a 2021 survey of 561 copywriters averaged a day rate of £387 or $467.
Daily rates for senior copywriters were between £800- £2000 or $966- $2415.
As I thought, researched, and banged my head a few times on the table, I remained firm in keeping my rates based on industry standards.
I will admit that sometimes I charge on the lower end, but to combat that, I provide personalized packages to charge premium rates. I’m not going to lie; the packages are a lot of work, but “You better work!” If you want to make six figures.
While building your portfolio, experience, and crafting pitches for potential clients, ensure you stand firm with your rates.
You deserve to be paid a decent amount; keep in mind that average blog posts for little to no experience are anywhere from $200 to $300 per post.
As your experience grows, that number goes up to $700-800 a blog post, depending on the complexity of the subject matter and research.
However, copywriters are not limited to making money with only clients.
Remember I created personalized packages?
To create these packages and make myself competitive, I looked at what other copywriters were doing. That helped me to determine what I should include and what was too much for me or not necessary for the client.
Use your website to help you make some extra money. A website is a great place where you can create and sell packages. This is great if you like a steady income to support your book habit. I mean, if you’ve gotten used to having a paycheck.
Freelance Copywriter Rates
The age-old question, “What should I charge?”
You could read a ton of books, and trust me; there are many of them out there that offer sound advice.
One piece of advice is to be reasonable when deciding how much you want to charge for your copy.
Also, remember that you can change your rates as your experience grows.
As mentioned above, I researched online for industry standards and did a little math. See, you will end up using your high school algebra.
I looked at sites such as Freelancers Union and Elna Cain to help me determine what is “fair.”
Elna Cain, who offers SEO blog post writing, and Email Sequence Copywriting, says, “With over seven yeast of digital marking experience and real-life experience, my copywriting service rate for 2022 is $175 per 500 words with a max of 2,000 words.”
For her to stay competitive and welcome new clients, she sets goals for herself to make $300 an email, which for her is cutting her prices, but with inflation, she is increasing her chances of constantly working.
The main thing I learned from her was to think about your profit.
How much does it cost to produce your product? Include tasks you don’t get paid for, such as emails, checking in with clients, etc.
Essentially break down how much you would get paid per hour if you were paid by the hour.
Keep track of how much time you spend on such things, even researching to help you decide what would be a fair rate.
Use tools such as a quote calculator to give you a better idea of what a reasonable rate looks like.
Be mindful of your experience, niche/specialty, fixed costs, and variable expenses.
Many copywriters will create packages or downloadable products for purchase to keep a steady income.
Another way to make steady pay is to help others set up their sales pages on their sites. A sales page is incredibly important, and as a copywriter who specializes in writing to persuade-you can create an excellent sales page!
Regardless of where you are in your freelance writing, consider it a good idea to diversify your services.
I just happen to be one of those highly flexible people who can work with anyone. Which sometimes makes my workload overwhelming because I want to cater to all the client’s demands; this is why I made sure to highlight the things I will include within my packages and what I will not do. (For my own safety!)
Here is the thing, the more I work, the more I learn. And I think every experience can be a learning experience. However, the more I learn about being a better writer, the more confident and courageous I feel about pitching to jobs.
I’ve also learned in order for you to build your business from the ground up, you have to quote high. When giving a client the price (set rate), I educate them by explaining what they are getting and provide my readers with value and quality writing.
I recently had a client who asked me for a quote on writing transcripts; after extracting more information regarding the project from him, I did some math. I figured how long it would take me to complete the project from outline to draft, to proofreading and delivering, etc.
The estimate I gave him was too much, and he demanded I give him a discount because he was “giving” me a lot of work. This time I had developed a backbone.
However hard it was for me to walk away from this “big ticket item,” it was a lot of work, and I quoted a fair price. (I am proud to say I stuck to my guns)
Need more inspiration on how to set your rates or the type of services you should provide?
You can learn how to brainstorm the type of services you want to provide by attending online courses or reading about your chosen niche or specialty.
Benefits of becoming a freelance copywriter
You decide whom you want to work with and whom you do not.
As a freelance copywriter, you also can balance your work and personal life.
You have a complete say over what hours you work and where you are working.
As a small business owner, you also have control over expanding your skills.
Keeping up on learning new trends, networking with other freelancers, or working on diverse projects will pad your portfolio and make you a valuable copywriter.
For me, it was these reasons and more why I decided to become a freelance copywriter. That and as I mentioned, I love writing.
I love the creativity involved with being a freelance copywriter, especially when creating my own funnels.
The opportunities also provide room to grow within the copywriting field. You get to work on new projects, such as providing social media content.
Another great benefit of copywriting is flexibility. I have the freedom of working from home with my cat and children, who are home during the summer break. I also get to work on my scheduled, which is early in the morning.
I am constantly learning. Suppose I haven’t mentioned this before. I love to learn. You will never run out of opportunities to grow and learn as a copywriter.
This leads me to another exciting topic; courses!
Freelance Copywriting Courses
Afraid you do not have the skills it takes to be a copywriter? Still, think you need to head to college and get that degree?
Or perhaps you suffer from imposter syndrome.
I know I do!
But that was before I realized a lot of freelance copywriters who came before me felt the same way I did.
And in doing some online research, you’ll discover this as well.
When I began my freelance journey, I decided to scour the internet in search of educational courses and readings. Not only was I overloaded with content, but I also got some terrible advice.
But hey, that’s a learning experience for you.
That was until I discovered some well-thought-out courses that offer valuable teaching.
To start, focus on learning or honing your writing skills. I used the courses (free and purchased) to learn as much information about copywriting as I could.
Then I challenged myself.
Below you will find a list of courses that will educate and challenge you to reach your goals.
Is freelancing a promising career?
One of the most incredible things about freelance copywriting is the diversity of work.
Having a variety of work at your disposal keeps you engaged, interested, and excited about your work.
Another significant aspect of freelancing is that you get to design your career path.
You are not locked into any fixed path, and as you grow more experienced, you can continue to learn more, building your authority in other niches or specialties.
I am not one to “put Baby in a corner,” meaning box myself into one niche. I prefer to specialize in many areas.
While giving yourself a niche, to begin with, is a great idea to get started with, it kind of narrows your audience. But then again, it helps you to grow your business as well.
How does it help you?
You are informing the world that you are very aware of who you are and what you are about.
Ok, as I was saying, I am not one to stick to one niche; I prefer to specialize. I figured this would be ideal for potential clients.
But I have come across as someone who is “eager to please.” While the work comes inis steady, it isn’t easy because the client and I seem to have set the expectations a little high.
Though, I get to work on a plethora of projects!
Now while I’m pretty back and forth on this, that’s ok because it is your career, and you get to make it what you want.
Just remember this nugget, every single business needs copywriting in some form. Especially now with costumes needing and wanting a more personalized approach to being persuaded to buy, join, or give money.
And that is not going away anytime soon.
Did I mention copywriting can be inflation-proof?
The beauty of copywriting is the need for businesses to be convincing. Your job is to help businesses convince people to take some kind of action, and you do that through storytelling.
Being able to tell stories, influence, and deliver a message of value to audiences is amazing!
Skills of a freelance copywriter
As with any career path you choose, you need specific skills.
When thinking about beginning my freelance copywriting journey, I felt I needed to have an MLA (Masters in Literature Arts), and I was wrong.
I also thought I needed to take some sales courses or whatever to help me be persuasive.
Again I was wrong.
To become the most sought-after copywriter, you will need skills beyond writing. One skill to focus on is persuasive writing.
While persuasive skills are incredibly important, the power to weave a tale together that evokes emotion is the golden skill.
As you learn the skills it takes to be a copywriter, think about hitting up the bookstore for copywriting books and, of course, taking copywriting courses.
Here are a few other skills you may already have or need to perfect:
- Have a good grasp of grammar and punctuation:
- Basic understanding of content management software
- Time Management
- Research and curating
- Business Management
How to Start Freelance Copywriting
Starting a freelance copywriting business is incredibly easy, even on a shoestring budget.
A great place to understand how you can start with little cost is by reading “The Ultimate Freelancers’ Guidebook: Learn how to Land the Best Jobs, Build your Brand, and Be Your Own Boss.”
From this book, you will learn how to determine what you want your business to look like and how to be an effective boss -to yourself.
Let me tell you, being your own boss is hard. I didn’t pay myself in my first few months (make sure you remember that I said first few months). I thought I needed to reinvest everything into the business.
After learning a bit more about running a business, I realized that was not how I should handle the business. I should, and you should too, get paid. Oh, and plan for taxes!
The takeaway, start with a business plan. Learn what you need to do to plan out your financials, create goals and then build from there.
Believe it or not, in this digital age, you are going to need some paperwork. Don’t worry you don’t always need to print them out.
First thing you want to do is to pitch or send a well-thought-out proposal to get your first clients. I love being able to find clients on different social media platforms such as Facebook and LinkedIn.
But what do you do after you have gotten that client?
You want to get as much information from your client as possible, helping you create a detailed creative brief.
Now that you have an idea about your client’s needs, it is time to create a proposal.
The proposal for a copywriter does a lot of things, one of them is details of the services you are going to provide as well as the prices you are charging.
In my experience, using a proposal to help you get a job makes me look very professional and helps me feel worthy of approaching my dream clients.
I love that everything is a learning curve, and sometimes you get feedback on your pitches or proposals. Crafting the perfect proposal will sell you efficiently!
My favorite part of creating the business is creating the “brand.”
Before you get excited about graphics, colors, and whatnot for your business, note there is much more to building a business than designing the logo, your brand colors, and how you want your letterhead to look.
The beauty of freelance copywriting is having the creative freedom to determine how your business will function and how you will run it.
But once you get your head out of the clouds and create the business that fits your personality, you will focus on the details that will help you stand out.
I recommend you put some thought into the name of your business.
When I created my business, I thought a cute name would be the best choice, but as the months passed, my husband asked me, “what is it that you offer?”
I hadn’t thought about that when I came up with the name.
When coming up with what you’ll call your business, think about if it explains what it is you actually do.
For instance, you don’t want to name your cat grooming services something like Water Babies.
That doesn’t let you know you groom cats.
Once you have woven through the administrative stuff, creating contracts, proposals, creative briefs, mission statements, and other things you need, it is time to get those clients.
How to Find Copywriting Clients
Freelancing is a client-driven business, so how do you find the clients? Or better yet, how do you attract clients to you?
You could turn to sites such as Upwork to find copywriting clients, but the issue there is there pay isn’t great.
In fact, it sucks.
So, what do you do?
Create your “dream client” list and then set an achievable goal to get those clients.
Pound the pavement, or in the digital age, go hunting on social media. Discover what your dream client is sharing.
Study other articles that have been published in your chosen niche or specialty. Decide what is missing and how you can bring value or solve a problem for that client.
Network, reach out to people you want to work with on the social media platforms you are comfortable with.
Such as LinkedIn or Facebook.
Send pitches to other blogs for guest posting to help you reach your target client.
Reach out to respected publications and build a relationship.
(Note: When reaching out to blogs for guest posting, do a google search of blogs your clients would read, such as DivvyHQ(for B2B) or other big commerce blogs, your goal isn’t to tap into another blogger’s audience but to drive clients to you.)
Build a real relationship with those you are connected with on social media without asking for “a favor.”
Once you have established a connection, reach out with a message that refers to an article they’ve written or something they’ve said on a podcast.
Agree or disagree with them, then tell them how you can help them.
Another great way to find clients is to talk to businesses you visit—the hard part of building a relationship is already established.
You don’t just walk into your dry cleaner, throw your clothes at them, and run out.
You chat, maybe about the weather?
Before asking if you could write something for them, do your research. Check out their website, and look over their landing pages, sales pages, or blog.
If they don’t have a blog, suggest one you can create for them.
Armed with this information, then approach them with how you can solve their low traffic or low conversion rates.
One of the many lessons I learned was to be myself and be genuine. The traditional marketing ways are pretty obsolete now. Marketing is steeped in storytelling and making connections.
For me, it is difficult to participate in conversations with strangers, but the more I put myself out there and connect with my audience, the better I can turn those likes into leads.
Freelance Copywriting Opportunities
Create your own opportunities while practicing your skills. Create an ad for social media, particularly Facebook.
LinkedIn is another excellent source for opportunities as a freelance copywriter. You can find and connect with your dream clients on LinkedIn.
Sometimes clients approach you on LinkedIn.
Add packages or productized services to your websites. Creating these products on your website is a great way to make extra income.
Learn new skills to expand what you can do to help determine the types of services you can offer your client.
For example, learn how to create landing pages, sales pages, and website audits.
A sharp set of skills will make you more valuable, give you the confidence to accomplish any task, and help you attract more clients.
Lastly, build your portfolio because it is basically your resume. The better it looks, the more clients want to work with you.
Ok, let’s backtrack for a minute. Remember when I said you could create sellable items on your site to create a steady stream? Well, it needs to be repeated. As you promote yourself on social media, you are drawing people’s attention to your site.
In looking at my traffic, I can tell you about 60% of my website visitors come from social media. That’s a lot!
Once you have people reading your site and learning from you because you’re providing value on your blog, they will stumble upon the sellables you’re offering.
I know you can find many items available online to buy or a free download with an email sign-up, but I have discovered some gaps in the digital market.
For instance, if you have an e-book you created that you know will help others in their journey, then sell it. That is value!
Here are ideas to help you get started with those sellable templates.
- Pitch packets
- Creative Briefs
- Landing page/sales pages templates
Freelance Copywriting Jobs for Beginners
Before pitching for jobs, be sure you have a nicely padded portfolio. Spec Ads and other articles are a great way to show what you can do.
Just label them as “Spec Ads” so the client understands these were practice pieces, not actual jobs.
Work for other bloggers and write guest posts.
A few of my first jobs were providing content to other blogs. While I loved the work and enjoyed the learning process, I used the guest post opportunities to perfect my pitch process.
I mentioned before that the best part of being a freelance copywriter is being provided opportunities to improve your skills. Applying for guest blog posts is a great way to do this.
Keep in mind that when you send a pitch, do your research.
Learn all you can about the company, blog, product, voice, and everything.
Keep your pitch short and sweet! Be confident and follow up.
Many pitches do not fall on deaf ears; they merely get forgotten.
I was heartbroken when my first few pitches were ignored. Of course, as an introvert, I didn’t follow up on those early pitches.
But the more I sent out pitches and discovered what worked and didn’t, I gained confidence, which helped me grow that backbone to follow up.
Be willing to take “some” jobs not for free but in exchange for references or testimonials.
Work is work, but marketing by word of mouth is priceless.
Remember when I said I didn’t pay myself for a few months? Always get paid.
As you begin your freelance journey, a few referral gigs aren’t going to hurt; if anything, you will gain experience.
Just know when it is worth it and when it is not. For instance, a lot of information on the web encourages you to contribute to Help a Reporter Out, the advice I personally follow.
When your ideas and thoughts are chosen, HARO provides you with backlinks which are free advertising to you, plus you are demonstrating your skills in writing at the same time. So, yeah, referrals are really good.
Another place to find clients is on job boards such as:
Freelance Copywriter Websites
Hungry for more? Look at these freelance copywriters’ websites.
- How to Earn Money on UpWork
- Tutorial Tuesdays for Freelancers
- Every Freelance Copywriter should use a Diva list. Here’s Why.
Read to be satisfied in your career..take the leap!