For people who want to make money creating content, becoming a freelance copywriter is a common route — and for a good reason! Any business with a website (which all businesses need) will need a strong copywriter to build out the content of that site.
This might seem like a really nebulous endeavor, though. So, let’s break down the first five steps you can take to get there.
What Does a Freelance Copywriter Do?
Good question! A freelance copywriter creates written content with a commercial aim — usually meaning getting people to buy or sign up for something.
Whereas general content writing might have the goal of educating people or nurturing relationships, copywriting is more about getting readers to take quicker action. Let’s run through an example. Say you’ve got a client that’s a sustainable apparel company.
Copywriting: You write the content for a landing page where people can purchase an eco-friendly t-shirt.
Content writing: You write a blog about the devastating effects that the apparel industry has on the environment.
Both types of writing are important, and there is indeed some overlap. But they’re still two different things.
Note: You can offer both services. I do. But I’ve also been doing this for 11 years. If you’re brand new to the field of writing, start small and focus on taking concrete action.)
How to Become a Freelance Copywriter in 5 Steps
Now that you have a general idea of what a freelance copywriter does, let’s talk about how to start your own career as one, one step at a time.
1. Figure Out the Specific Freelance Copywriting Services You Want to Offer
First up, you need to figure out what exact copywriting services you want to offer, because “copywriting” is quite a broad term.
A few examples are:
- Marketing copywriting
- SEO copywriting
- Technical copywriting
- Creative copywriting
- Blog copywriting
You could also choose to niche down by focusing on an industry (fitness copywriting, fashion copywriting, medical copywriting) or by the medium (Facebook ads copywriting, Google ads copywriting, landing page copywriting).
The point is to get specific.
I recommend you spend a little time looking into each of these and what they entail. You might find yourself naturally gravitating toward some over others. Can you tackle them all at once? You could certainly try, but I don’t recommend it. (If we haven’t met, I’m all about picking a niche. Remember what I said earlier about starting small!)
If you’re already panicking about this, don’t stress. Nothing is set in stone, and you can always switch your focus, should you feel the need/want to.
2. Optimize Your LinkedIn Page Around Your Services
I’ve got a free guide on how to optimize your LinkedIn page, so I’m not going to go into too much detail on that here. Just download that guide.
But here it is in a nutshell:
- Determine the keywords that reflect your services and niche.
- Sprinkle them throughout your profile.
Doing this will accomplish two things:
- It’s going to make it crystal clear what kind of professional you are.
- It’s going to make it easier for potential leads to find YOU, in addition to you tracking them down.
3. Build Your Portfolio
“But I don’t have any clients!” you might be saying.
We all start with nothing. We all start with no experience, no clients, no nothing. The richest, most successful people in the world started at zero. That’s life, and it’s okay.
If you don’t yet have samples of your work that you completed for paying clients, then you’re going to create your own samples from scratch. Are you focusing on writing copy for Facebook ads? Create samples of that. Landing pages? Create samples. Whatever avenue you’re deciding to go down, create at least three to five samples of your very best writing reflecting that.
You need to make these samples available for potential clients to view. Here are two suggestions:
- If you have a website, publish them there — either on your blog or on a designated portfolio page.
- If you don’t yet have a website, publish them on Google Drive so that you can send potential clients the link to the page(s).
The point is to put your samples somewhere online where people can see them! This will be your copywriter portfolio.
4. Set Your Rates
If you want to make money freelance copywriting, then you need to know what you’re going to charge! There are several ways to go about this, and a lot of it will depend on the type of copywriting services that you’re offering. Here are a few options:
Charge Per Word
Full transparency: I don’t often suggest this, because reducing your rate to a word count isn’t a great road to go down.
If you do decide to charge per word, it’ll really only make sense if you’re writing longer pieces of content, like a blog that focuses heavily on selling a product or service. You’re not going to want to charge per word for a Facebook ad that’s 30 words.
Plus, you have to remember the value of what you offer. If, as an example, you’re writing copy for a sales page that’s selling a $50 jacket, if that page drives one single sale, your client just made $50 off of your writing. So, make sure you’re charging not just for word but for value, too.
Charge Per Hour
This can work, but again, it makes sense for longer pieces of content because again, you want to charge for the value you bring, not just the time you spend. There will come a point when you might be able to write the copy for a Google ad in 10 minutes. Are you going to charge for 10 minutes? Of course not. You’re going to charge for the value you bring and the expertise that comes with being able to write amazing Google ad copy in 10 minutes.
Charge Per Project
I’ll go this route when it’s something like writing the copy for a website. Per page won’t make sense, because some pages will be super brief while others will be lengthier. This is also why it won’t make sense to charge per word or per hour.
Charge Per Batch
This method of charging as a freelance copywriter will really come in handy if a client asks you to do something like writing the copy for 10 ads or 50 product descriptions, or something like that.
Charging per ad or product description would be plain silly. Charge for the whole lot of ’em.
Charge Per Month
This is my favorite because it brings the most long-term stability.
The idea is to work with the same clients for months and years. This allows you to better control your income. If you put your clients on a monthly plan where you’re completing similar amounts of work each month, then you can charge them a flat monthly fee.
5. Start Approaching Potential Clients
Once you’ve decided what kinds of copywriting services you want to offer, optimized your LinkedIn page, created your portfolio, and set your rates, you need a solid approach for going out and pursuing leads (read: potential clients).
There are many ways to do this — too many to get into right now. I first built my business on cold emailing, and then narrowed my focus to LinkedIn cold outreach plus warm emailing.
Both were effective, but it was the latter process that really helped my business take off. My agency is now on track to do six figures in revenue this year.
If you’d like to learn more about this process and how you can copy it, check out Revenue Spark: A Proven Formula for Landing High-Paying Clients.
There really is no magic trick to landing clients. It simply comes down to having the right system. I did it, and so can you. See you on the inside.