Businesses need high-quality copy, but attracting clients can feel like an insurmountable challenge for emerging freelancers. This copywriting cheat sheet breaks down the three key steps, plus tips and tools you need to land copywriting jobs and launch your professional writing career.
Score copywriting jobs—regardless of your level of experience
If you love writing and want to make a living doing it but don’t know how to start, you’re not alone. Countless copywriters before you have had to learn the hard way—but lucky for you, this handy guide will show you how to use your talent and drive to set yourself up for success, reach clients, and grow your copywriting hustle. Pair these three simple steps with your commitment to your goals, and you’ll soon have the first of many freelance copywriting jobs.
Step 1: Think like a business owner
Congratulations, freelancer, you’re actually a business owner!
As exciting as it is to be the boss, freelancers have a lot more responsibilities than just writing.
Flying solo as the lone salesperson, customer success coordinator, marketing expert, project manager, operations director, and bookkeeper of your business sounds like a lot, but don’t let doubt stop you; simply adjust your thinking.
The copywriter’s mindset
Embrace a creative entrepreneurial mindset to stay motivated, focused, and creative.
- Have an abundance mindset. There’s plenty of business for you and all the other talented copywriters already working in this industry.
- Appreciate your talent and tenacity to put in the hard work, do the research, and deliver outstanding results.
- Establish reasonable expectations for yourself, your time, and your boundaries.
- Remember the SMART goal structure.
- Failure is an option—as long as you use what you learned to improve.
- Organize your workflow and use motivational methods that are effective for you.
Never stop learning
- Use the endless free and paid online resources to improve your writing. Use them to generate better copy.
- Research what successful freelancers do to succeed.
Consider your client
You need to anticipate and meet your future clients’ needs. Help them answer the question, “Why should we hire you?”.
Organize writing samples
- Build a portfolio of your best work. Create work for your portfolio through a copywriting course or do it independently and add client work as you progress.
- Start your own blog and publish your work on platforms like Medium. You can share these links with prospective clients.
Make a good impression
- Set up an impressive and professional LinkedIn profile to stand out to prospective clients and tell your professional network what you do
- Make a Google Doc “landing page” to share information and relevant links with potential clients—you don’t need to invest in a website to legitimize yourself.
Don’t forget that every business succeeds because of great exposure, hard work, and a fantastic end product. You’ll succeed if you stay positive, set goals, take accountability, and stay committed to your copywriting career. Be patient with yourself while you adjust to a business owner’s mindset.
Step 2: Where to look for copywriting jobs
So, where are these businesses that need your copywriting skills?
They’re everywhere, including in your social circle. You just have to know where to look.
Look within your network
Your network is your most valuable asset as a copywriter. Every handshake, every introduction, and every conversation has the potential to grow your business. And as you do more business, the wider your network grows.
Use your inner circle
Think about your most interesting friend or most successful family member. Their projects, businesses, and lives can all benefit from great copy.
For example, the bakery owner in the family needs:
- Engaging social media copy to connect with and increase their followers.
- Fantastic website copy that shares the bakery’s story and makes online ordering easy.
Your friend that works for the cool tech startup needs:
- Marketing e-blasts and sales emails with great click-through rates.
- Well-researched white papers and informative blog posts.
Expand your outer circle
How can you provide services to the people in your community?
- Join your neighborhood groups like Nextdoor.
- Check out Facebook pages for copywriters, marketing professionals, and about your niche.
- Connect with the owner of your favorite coffee shop or your local school’s PTA president and ask to write newsletters, flyers, landing pages, and blogs.
Grow your network by meeting new people whenever and wherever you can. Ask new connections about their jobs, their current projects, and what exciting long-term goals they’re setting for themselves.
Maybe one day, you can even use your strong network to connect them to opportunities that support their long-term goals. Establishing yourself as a dependable source your network can rely on to meet their needs strengthens your reputation, friendships, and business.
Copywriting jobs are plentiful online. Whatever site you choose, make sure you build a high-quality profile. It should be simple, persuasive, and professional and show clients why they need to work with you.
Popular gig sites
The gig route is great for developing your portfolio, gaining experience, and sharpening your skills, but be careful to avoid burnout. Don’t overextend yourself by chasing copywriting jobs on every one of these websites—focus on one and establish your reputation and ranking. Always read the fine print. Some job sites shave off a percentage of your earnings, while others charge membership fees.
Job search sites
If the gig market isn’t your thing, job search sites are a great place to find full-time or part-time copywriting work. When looking for copywriting jobs, having a great profile or tailored resume is equally important.
Remember–never work for free
You might work for less money to get the ball rolling, but you should never work for nothing. If the proposed job doesn’t offer something you’re willing to accept, it’s OK to walk away. There is another job out there that meets your requirements.
But if you are interested in an unpaid job, make sure you at least get something out of the experience like
- A glowing client-written (or video!) testimonial.
- A new type of writing to add to your portfolio.
- A recognizable brand to add to your client list.
- A feeling of sentiment because some jobs just seem fun or tug on your heartstrings!
Step 3: Succeed and scale
Remember that you provide a relevant service, and the cost of your service must increase as your experience and portfolio expand.
Know when to raise your rates
In the beginning, your rates might be lower than the market average. That’s okay!
Once you have a solid portfolio and a steady stream of clients–raise your rates. Sure, you might lose a few clients along the way, but it’s worth it to make more money. You make room for even better clients by losing a few lower-quality clients.
Invest in your business
As you grow, reinvest in your business. Hire an accountant to help handle your self-employment taxes (they’re notoriously tricky), a junior copywriter, or an editor. Invest in specialized software to help with your workload. Maintain a business mindset and prepare a plan for scaling your business.
As easy as 1, 2, 3!
Copywriters are in high demand, and your future clients are within reach. Believe in your business, grow your network, and successfully scale your company, and you’ll soon have the copywriting career you’ve always wanted.
Jo Gore-Wright is a copywriter and marketing strategy consultant based in Atlanta. She spent years working in business development, operations management, and marketing strategy in the corporate sector but was ready to make a splash on her own. Jo launched Copysplatter and hasn’t looked back since.
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