Disclosure: Some of the links on this post are affiliate links, which means I may receive a small commission if you click a link and purchase something I have recommended. While clicking these links won't cost you any extra money, they will help me keep this site up and running and keep it ad-free! Please check out my disclosure policy for more details. Thank you for your support!
What does a copywriter do?
I mean, besides make a lot of money. Let's face it, copywriting can be a very rewarding and profitable career. In fact, many copywriters make six figures without slugging through a full forty-hour-a-week work schedule. Why? Because good copywriters are always in demand. Businesses rely on copywriters to help them sell the things. And their skills allow them to charge higher rates than other freelance writers.
Okay, it's a little more in-depth than that.
Think about the last time you browsed the Internet (like, 20 minutes ago?) — what drew your eye to certain things? It doesn't even have to be the Internet: billboards on the side of the road, commercials on the radio. Almost every ad you come across has the same thing in common: they were all written by a copywriter.
What Does a Copywriter Do?
“Copy” is the term used for content in advertising, marketing, and related fields. Once upon a time, the copywriting industry felt closed off, but as more and more people go into business for themselves and the competition within business niches heats up, copywriting has taken off — making it a highly profitable and sought-after skill.
If you have a way with words and you feel like you could persuade just about anyone to follow you into battle, you may want to take a closer look at copywriting as a career. After all, there has never been a better time to do it.
Here are some steps you can take to break into the realm of freelance copywriting.
Step One: Educate Yourself!
No, you do not need a degree to be a copywriter. In fact, you don't really need any type of formal education at all. But, to be a good copywriter entails understanding more than spelling and grammar. Copywriting involves understanding the product, the market, and the psychology of the buyer. If you want to learn how to take your writing skills and add in the psychological aspect to be a copywriter, here are some of the best courses I've taken.
Courses on Udemy:
- Copywriting Secrets: How to Write Copy that Sells
- The Complete Copywriting Course: Learn How to Write to Sell
- Copywriting: Become a Freelance Copywriter, Your Own Boss
- Copywriting: Complete Copywriting 4 Blogging & Online Sales (–> Perfect if you want to use the secrets to writing great copy as the foundation for your own blog or website!!)
And, as you may have guessed, great copywriters also know how to write to the search engines. After all, having the best copy in the world on your blog isn't going to do you much good if no one can find it.
For that, Glenn Murray from Divine Write wrote out the perfect guide to SEO Copywriting. I love this book specifically because it taught me how to write content the search engines will index but is still readable by my mostly-human audience.
Of course, you don't have to take my word for it. If you're looking to get into copywriting, you'll find hundreds of books, sites, and workshops all raving to get you started.
Step Two: Specialize!
Yes, specialize. Believe me, saying “I can write anything” makes it harder to market your abilities as a writer, not easier.
Clients looking for the cheapest, most affordable solutions? They're the ones who don't care if you have a specialty. Chances are, they probably don't even care if you know anything about copywriting — they just want you to whip out words and put them into sentences.
The real clients are those who are looking for your specific set of skills. The ones who want to know if you have experience specifically with email marketing, landing pages, or social media. A client looking for a scientific writer probably won't settle for a writer whose only qualification is being able to spell “scientific.”
Deciding on a specialty also allows you to complete competitive research, SWOT analysis, and putting together a reasonable pay scale. Don't be so scared of excluding potential clients that you become completely hidden from the right clients.
Step Three: Get to Work!
Time to set up shop.
First things first, you'll need to put together a portfolio. Since you're likely starting this off without any clients, you'll probably need to create mockup samples to fill your portfolio for now. You can eventually replace those with real samples from clients once your business gets going. When I first started freelance writing, I grabbed samples of my own writing to include in my portfolio.
Whatever you do, don't work for free. And what I mean by that is don't write out samples for potential clients just because they ask for them. The point of a portfolio or writing sample is to help a potential client gage your writing ability and whether or not you would be a good fit. That should be doable just by your generic writing samples in your portfolio.
Finally, you'll need to decide where to start establishing your presence and looking for clients. Do you want to use a freelancing hub like UPWork, Fiverr, or Freelancer? Or would you prefer to go it alone?
For me, when I started freelance writing, I signed up on both UPWork and Freelancer. Both worked well for me for different types of projects. But it wasn't until I set up my own website and blog that I really started to find more clients…or should I say more clients started to find me?
That's also how I came to the conclusion that those sites really aren't interested in helping you succeed as a freelance writer — not even a little bit. Which is why I now tell people to steer clear of those sites if at all possible.
Once you have your portfolio and your website ready to go, it's time to start marketing your services. Get involved online with networking groups. Connect with people in your chosen niche. With a little pro-active work you will have customers knocking on your door.
Did you enjoy this article? Here are a few other blog posts you might like about freelance writing: