In recent years, more and more people worldwide are choosing to work on a freelance basis instead of taking the more traditional option of a full-time job, and there are a lot of reasons to do so.
Freelance work allows freedom and flexibility, giving you the opportunity to work whenever you’d like, from wherever you’d like.
If you happen to do your best work at 3 in the morning in your pajamas, freelancing allows you to do so.
Copywriting, in particular, lends itself well to freelance and remote work because it can generally be done alone and requires less cooperation or coordination than many other types of work.
Beyond that, companies and clients are happy to hire freelancers for copywriting needs, often because they have a limited, short-term project that doesn’t warrant hiring a full-time employee.
Or they just want to save on all of the costs associated with hiring a traditional employee.
So if you’re good at writing (or have the time and will to study and improve) and want a flexible job, freelance copywriting is a great option for you.
I know because I’ve been doing it for nearly a decade, and it’s been my primary source of income for over three years now. This work has given me the freedom to move across the world to a new country and work toward getting my master’s degree.
It’s changed my life, and I’m here to give you a guide to how you can use it to change yours.
So if you’re wondering what freelance copywriting is, whether or not it’s for you, and how to get started with it, keep reading.
The first thing you need to know if you want to become a freelance copywriter is what copywriting is.
In the business and advertising world, copy is the text that you might find in an ad, on a website, in an email, or anywhere, really.
It’s defined in contrast to the graphics or images that you can find in any of these types of media.
The term “copy” is used most often in reference to advertising copy, which is text that is meant to help sell a product or service, but there are actually a lot of different types of copy.
For example, all of the written content that you might find on the internet, like in a blog post, white paper, or on social media, falls under the umbrella of web copy.
Then there is also body copy, which is the main text in a piece of writing. Body copy is the newspaper article itself, as opposed to the image captions and headlines, which are also copy.
Copywriting is the act of creating all of the text that falls under the huge umbrella of copy.
While some companies may define copywriting as only creating advertising copy, others will use the same term to reference the creation of all types of copy.
Simply (and obviously) put, a copywriter is anybody who writes copy.
Perhaps the most famous copywriter is Donald Draper, the fictional protagonist of Mad Menwho works at an advertising agency writing commercials for companies like Coca Cola.
But don’t be fooled by this archetype, because a copywriter can look like a lot of different things, especially today.
When it comes to my case, a copywriter is a female grad student writing on a freelance basis for dozens of different companies from the comfort of my studio apartment.
For you, a copywriter might be a former soldier or an empty nest parent or a high school student trying to earn some extra cash.
With freelancing, anybody can be a copywriter.
There are a lot of different ways copywriters can find work.
Traditionally, they might be employed by an advertising agency, a copywriting agency, a public relations company, or in the marketing department of companies big or small.
On the other hand, freelance copywriters work for themselves, finding and choosing their own clients and setting their own rates.
There are pros and cons to both options.
A traditional copywriting job has the distinct advantage of a consistent salary, benefits, and structure.
You know you can count on the same income every month, and you can just focus your energies on writing.
On the other hand, freelance writers are essentially small business owners.
They have to advertise their services, find their own clients, and figure out paying taxes as an independent contractor.
Their work may be inconsistent, with some months seeing a much higher income than others.
To that end, it’s not just enough for a freelance writer to be a great writer; you also have to be a manager, a marketer, an agent, and an entrepreneur.
But with the extra responsibility comes extra freedom.
While it might be difficult to find junior copywriting jobs at a company without a four-year degree in a related field and some work experience, you can start freelance copywriting regardless of what your educational and work background is in.
You get to take charge of your career and create your own opportunities.
You set your own rates and can give yourself a raise any time you want just by charging your clients more.
And, of course, as we’ve covered, you can work from anywhere, wearing anything.
Like I said earlier, copywriters work on a large variety of different types of text.
This can include any of the following (and more):
You get the idea: copywriters work on a lot of different types of text.
You get the idea: copywriters work on a lot of different types of text.
And though the job itself is called “writing,” it actually consists of a lot more than just putting your fingers to a keyboard.
Before you can write, you have to communicate with clients, do research, and develop a clear understanding of what you are trying to achieve with each piece of writing.
As part of the writing process, you also have to edit, revise, proofread, format, find images, and often do SEO research.
And, as a freelance copywriter, you have to do way more, including finding, choosing, and managing copywriting jobs and projects as well as all of the other work of running your own little business.
If you’ve gotten this far and still want to be a freelance copywriter, then you’re probably wondering how you can get started with this career path.
Let me break it down for you.
First, you want to make sure you have the skills to perform at a high level as a copywriter because, if you don’t, you’re going to have a really hard time finding jobs.
If you’ve done a lot of writing in your life and found that you have a natural talent for it, you might be able to just jump right in. But if not, it can be a great idea to take a writing course - or two, or three.
You can do this online or find an in-person class somewhere, it’s up to you; there are a lot of resources available.
You can also get certifications that can prove to new clients that you know what you’re doing.
If you don’t want to go through the formal process of taking a course, at the very least I recommend you browse some online resources, look at copywriting examples, and practice writing different types of copy.
As an early step, you’ll also have to put together a portfolio of examples of your writing that you can share with potential clients.
This is a must; nobody will hire you without first being able to get a sense of your work.
So gather up examples of your writing, ideally of work that has been published. If you don’t have any published writing, consider starting a blog so you can use that in a portfolio.
You can also work for free, guest post on other people’s blogs, or just make up some writing samples if you don’t have enough examples yet to fill a portfolio.
As you start working more consistently, you’ll be able to curate a portfolio of your best work that represents what you can do as a writer.
Ideally, you want your portfolio to show your range both in tone and in types of copy.
Then, you want to set your copywriting rate.
Do your research and try to find a rate that you think is high enough to be fair for you but low enough to be attractive to clients and appropriate to your level of experience.
Depending on the type of copy you write, you might have to quote per hour or per word.
Finally, do yourself a favor and do some marketing and self-promotion. Make yourself a business website that includes a short biography, your portfolio, and your contact information.
I made mine on Squarespace in just a few hours and have been offered jobs by clients multiple times who have somehow found my website.
You might also want to create social media accounts for your freelance copywriting business.
Do a bit of networking and try to make connections with people in the field. Make sure your friends and family know you’re looking for freelance copywriting work.
You’ll be surprised by how often people will send you leads on a job opportunity that they happened to hear about or see on Facebook.
Finally, I recommend looking into resources for people who are starting a new business, like systeme.io, which can help you navigate all of the email marketing and sales funnels that go into launching an online business.
With all of that done, you’re ready for the hard part: finding jobs.
But don’t worry, this isn’t nearly as difficult as it sounds.
There are a ton of resources out there where clients post looking for freelance copywriters, so make it a habit to peruse these and try to apply to the opportunities you’re interested in as early on as you can.
One of my earliest freelance copywriting jobs was doing blog posts for an educational company, and that brought me consistent work for a few years.
You can also apply for one of many different freelance writer marketplaces, which will allow clients to find you - and you to find clients.
Another option is to work for a freelance copywriting agency, which will bring jobs to you, allowing you to choose what projects you want to work on.
The only downside is that you’ll probably make less money through these avenues.
As long as you have the work ethic to keep looking for jobs, you’ll eventually stumble onto something, and then something else, until you have as much work as you’re looking for.
Then, over time, you can be more selective about clients and charge a higher rate.
That’s what’s so great about freelance copywriting; it can really be whatever you make of it.
I hope you make something great.