If you are new to copywriting, landing new clients and copywriting jobs can be both exciting and challenging. Crafting high-quality content that meets your client’s standards while also meeting deadlines and staying within budget is a bit overwhelming at first.
It can be difficult to find reliable information about how to break into the copywriting industry. You might find mini-courses and seminars offered by professional copywriters that serve to mentor newbies. These can be great resources for you, but there are plenty of free ways to get started. We asked veteran account managers and copywriting professionals with a wealth of experience for their advice on how to communicate with clients and understand their needs.
As a freelance copywriter, you will want to understand the expectations of your client, and what better way to find out than directly from the source? It is important to develop relationships and earn mentors as you begin your new copywriting journey. An account manager’s insight can provide you with the tools you need to build a solid foundation. Dive into your new career or side hustle with these top seven tips for navigating your freelance copywriting jobs.
Tip 1: Ask Questions to Choose the Right Job—and Walk Away from the Wrong Ones
Let’s face it, there are some potential opportunities out there that may not have your interests in mind. It can be fairly common for a beginner to encounter these types of situations. Be weary of copywriting job posts that ask for you to write a specific article for them, rather than share your previous work. Not every job post that asks for a specific writing sample has bad intentions, but asking questions before delivering content will help you navigate which jobs are valid and which might leave you empty handed.
Do not be afraid to discuss payment rate, payment methods, and tax forms. It does not have to be the first question you ask, but it is very important to be clear on these expectations.
Remember the needs of each client differ. Some clients may want you to work on one large project with them for a period of time, and others may want you to write monthly blog posts for an indefinite amount of time. Do your research on how to navigate these situations. Upwork is a website for freelancers to find work, and they offer videos and lessons on things like scam awareness and effective communication with a client.
Here are some questions you should keep in mind when entering into an agreement with a new client:
- How do they expect you to communicate?
- What is the frequency of communication?
- What is the client’s goal—are they more interested in visibility or subject matter authority?
- How long should the piece be, and how much will you be paid to write it?
- Who is their target/intended audience?
- Is the audience already familiar with the topic, or are they learning about the topic?
By knowing what your client expects and utilizing reliable research, you can set reasonable goals for yourself and deliver stellar copy that leads to more freelance copywriting jobs in the future.
Tip 2: Get Familiar With Your Client’s Favorite Tools
Working with a new client means you must learn and get familiar with the tools they use or expect you to use. For instance, if your client expects you to work on a Google Docs document, you must know how to use the features of that platform efficiently. If you become familiar with how to use various project management tools, then you will be a versatile and reliable candidate.
Some examples of project management tools that copywriters commonly use are Monday, Slack, and Asana. Technology is constantly changing. Keep up with the most common project management tools so you can know how to effectively communicate and coordinate with your team.
If you have never used tools like this before, there are many ways to earn certificates or complete training to become more transliterate for your client. Coursera and LinkedIn offer various lessons that will assist you with almost any skill in your field. Many of the courses or tests will earn you a certificate or badge that will make you stand out. If you need to learn about how to use a project management tool quickly, Coursera and LinkedIn will be your friend.
Tip 3: Familiarize Yourself With the Client’s CMS
Along with learning to use their tools, familiarize yourself with the client’s content management system (CMS). For instance, if the client uses WordPress, make sure you know how to navigate the CMS to create and edit posts. This way, you can create content that is consistent with their branding and style. If you have never used their CMS before but have used similar systems, then be ready to learn quickly.
Sometimes your previous abilities do not meet the exact needs of your client. Take initiative by learning new skills or earning certificates/badges, and demonstrate that you have the skills and experience to meet your client’s needs. Many of the CMS platforms offer courses on how to use their product. For example, WordPress offers a beginner’s course for blogging. It is important to make sure you do not limit yourself to one resource when it comes to learning something new. Look for reviews or blogs that discuss the pros and cons of different platforms.
The client wants to be confident in your abilities, but they also understand that each writer has a unique background. Provide evidence to your client that you can accomplish their tasks with proficiency. It may seem like a lot to learn, but if you apply yourself and do some research, then you will quickly build your skills and platform knowledge.
Tip 4: Know Assignments and Deadlines—and Stick to Them
Sticking to a deadline can make or break you as a copywriter. Make sure you keep track of your projects and submit invoices on time. Set reasonable goals for yourself, and communicate with the client if you need more time or if you’re struggling with a particular project. If you need more information or resources, don’t be afraid to ask for them. Sometimes account managers know the client so well that they inadvertently omit info that could be helpful for the writer. By communicating and asking for more information, you’ll demonstrate your willingness to understand and meet your client’s needs.
Tip 5: Leverage Internal Resources for Your Freelance Copywriting Jobs
When working with a new client, it’s essential to leverage internal resources to help you create content. Ask the client if they offer internal resources like microsites, ebooks, sales one-sheets, and sales decks, then take advantage of them! Understanding and using these existing resources will allow you to create copy that is consistent with the client’s branding and style. By using existing resources, you can save time instead of creating everything from scratch.
Tip 6: Communicate! Communicate! Communicate!
This is one of the most overlooked qualities for a newbie looking to score freelance copywriting jobs. When working with a new client, it’s key to communicate effectively. Whether the news or status is good or bad, clients hate being left out of the loop more than anything.
Be honest about your availability and boundaries, so you can fulfill your promises and earn their trust. If you’re working on multiple projects, let them know when you’ll be available to focus on their needs. Be honest with yourself about your capacity, and don’t take on more work than you can handle. If you’re struggling with a particular project, communicate with your client and ask for help.
Tip 7: Research! Research! Research! Research!
Without research, we are writing in the dark. Research is crucial to scoring and maintaining freelance copywriting jobs. Be sure to research not only the subject matter but also the tools and CMS the client uses. Technology is ever-changing, so even veteran writers must adapt and learn new things. Research will be your ally for this. If you can effectively research topics and trends, then you have the basic skills for developing outstanding copy.
Take Criticism, Be Confident, and Do Not Give Up!
A satisfied client will keep coming back for more, so remember to always put your best foot forward. It is okay to make mistakes, but one too many careless mistakes might damage your reputation. Make sure you are not too hard on yourself when you are rejected or criticized. Rejection and criticism are things that every writer faces.
Connect with other freelance writers and find out what they are doing to stay relevant. There are communities that are intended to advise you about scoring and maintaining freelance copywriting jobs. Take advantage of the Digital Age and join a community of like-minded peers. Insight from other people who are already in the industry can help you excel at this career.
Getting started on something new can be very intimidating. If you step back and properly prepare for your copywriting job hunt, you will quickly see things begin to fall into place for you. By following these seven tips, you can meet your deadlines, stay within your budget, and satisfy your clients.
Emily Limpert is a technical writer and creative copywriter. She has experience writing marketing literature for manufacturing companies that produce HVAC technology as well as electronic components. Some of her work has been published by Carrier Commercial HVAC, ICM Controls, and Tractor Supply Co.
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