Perhaps you’re a wordsmith, and you’re hoping to adopt a freelance lifestyle — consider copywriting! Copywriting is an in-demand skill that helps drive forward the wheel of business. A copywriter is someone who writes persuasively with the goal of prompting action (like a sale or subscription). It is different from content writing, which focuses on writing to entertain or inform (though copywriters may dabble in this style as well).
Is copywriting a good career move? Consider this: copywriting can pay up to six figures (if you're great at it), it’s often done remotely, and it doesn’t require a formal education to be successful. But how do you actually get started? Here’s a step by step guide to launch your freelance copywriting career.
Take a Class
You’ll want to start by setting your foundation. Consider taking a writing course at community college or online! As copywriting doesn’t require formal training, lots of people leap right in without their basics in place. While you don’t need to pursue a degree, taking classes will give you the baseline for your writing career. Many writing courses focus on persuasive essays about all sorts of topics. You’ll learn the structure of persuasive writing, and how to back up your arguments with convincing details. Persuasive writing is the crux of copywriting, and some training can set you ahead of the competition.
Choose Your Niche
As you’re getting started, having a niche helps. What’s something that you feel like you can write about with enthusiasm and from a place of existing knowledge? Rather than burning countless hours in research mode, focus on something that you already know about so you can focus on the writing itself. For me, I liked writing about travel and tourism. It’s my hobby and I enjoy documenting my experiences; writing about it isn’t a chore. If it’s something you're passionate about, having a body of work on the matter will come in handy down the line as you start pitching.
Establish Your Portfolio
As you continue to develop a body of work, you’ll want to build it into a portfolio to show to potential clients. Gather up a collection of writings that reflect the quality of your work and that you’re proud of. If you apply for any writing job, they’ll inevitably ask you to submit some writing samples. An existing portfolio to draw from will aid in your application process and help clients take you seriously.
Set Up Your Website
As you begin working in freelance, you’ll need a hub to conduct your business. Your website will help streamline the client’s research into one pristine location, where you can control the narrative. You can effectively market yourself, using your portfolio, blog posts, your professional background, and testimonials from clients. Taking on a freelance copywriter is a risk, and a website helps build up a trusting relationship with your client.
Pitch Your Work
Once you have these components in place, you’ll want to start reaching out and pitching your work. If you already know what you’d like to write, you can develop the content first and shop it around to different platforms. Alternatively, you can find project proposals online and pitch your services. Here are some popular ways to pitch your copywriting:
- Guest Blogging: you could write guest posts for blogs. This grows your network and could expose you to a curated target audience.
- Online Publications: there are countless online publications that are always looking for new copy.
- Job Boards: these job-hunting websites, like Upwork or Fiverr, market specifically to freelancers. They regularly post new projects that need freelance copywriters.
- Alternative Press: In every town there’s some sort of local alternative press. The type of work might be writing about new business openings, local events, or restaurant reviews.
- Networking: building connections with other freelancers or potential clients will inevitably lead to more business, so be sure to put the time in to make connections. Read more about freelance networking here.
References and Referrals
As you begin to amass a history of work, be sure to collect feedback from your clients and ask for referrals! If you’ve provided your client with a positive experience, it’s likely they’ll want to recommend your work to others in their network. Having their positive feedback featured on your website will help convince future clients of the quality of your work and the experience they can have with you. I personally never make a buying decision without first looking at the reviews. If a business had no reviews, I wouldn’t be sure if it was a good investment; I may even question their authenticity. If the feedback you get is negative, you’ve been given a valuable opportunity to improve your work. Take the message as constructive criticism and work on improving your craft.
The exciting thing about freelance copywriting is that you can make it what you want. There’s so much freedom in the freelance lifestyle, and writing is a type of work that is infinitely variable; you can always take up a different subject or style to keep it fresh. By establishing these baseline activities, you’ll be able to launch your freelance business and grow into a prosperous writing career.