HOW TO GET STARTED AS A FREELANCE COPYWRITER

So you think you can write, huh? Freelance copywriting is much more than writing for websites, companies, and organisations. It's about running a business whilst developing your contacts, skills, and clients. It's about coffee. Lots and lots of coffee.

Copywriter, content creator, writer, scribe, wordsmith, whatever you choose as your moniker, your services are in high demand. Copywriting is everywhere and is especially vital in all forms of marketing and advertising. It is required across all industries and businesses. Freelance copywriters will often work remotely, arranging projects and carrying out work for their roster of clients. It is a rewarding career choice for anyone with exceptional organisation skills and a way with words but can be confusing when it comes to how to make a start. When entering the world of freelance copywriting, here are some things to consider.

Types of Freelance Copywriting

Business-to-consumer (B2C)

This often entails writing marketing material that is directly aimed at the target consumer. Brands will require the copywriter to write engaging copy that advertises, sells and promotes the product or service to the consumer. Generally, there is a focus on descriptive writing and an element of creative thinking. 

Business-to-business (B2B)

Business to business copywriters focus on writing copy to sell and advertise products and services from one business to another. Copywriters will write documents that include press releases, newsletters and articles. 

Online copywriting

Online copywriting includes web articles, blog posts, how-tos, tutorials and more. Online content is written in a way that avoids heavily focusing on selling something to someone. This type of copywriting involves a lot of research and the art of seamlessly intertwining product with content to both engage and inform readers.

Social-media copywriting

Also known as short-form writing, this type of copywriting consists of creating content for social media channels such as Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. The main focus of a social media copywriter is to grab the reader’s attention and interest in a few short sentences. How? Be funny, informative or provocative. 

SEO copywriting

SEO or search engine optimisation focuses on getting web content to the top of search engines such as Google and Yahoo. It involves using particular keywords and sentences to get to the top of search results in a way that reads naturally. SEO is a skill in itself and we would advise taking a short course to add it to your skillset. Writers will often be asked to research keywords with a realistic chance of bumping an article to the first page of Google. No mean feat, particularly as Google is saturated with almost every topic out there. 

Technical writing

Technical copywriters focus on specialist areas in science, technology, health, medical, academic, finance and politics. The writer must have extensive knowledge in their subject area and usually write white papers or government reports and in-depth industry guides.

Make A Business Plan

One of the first steps in establishing a career as a freelance copywriter is to create a business plan. Not only will a simple business plan outline your business goals and strategy but it will help you understand your business in more detail, decide how much to charge and work out the next steps. It will also be vital in financial planning and monitoring. Download a Freelance Business Plan doc here.

The business plan can act as a constant reference for freelance copywriters to look back on and is an important tool in setting your rates and ensuring that you are always working towards your goals. It can also help you assess your target market and competition.

Consider Starting A Blog

Writers require a portfolio just like a photographer or a makeup artist. A personal blog is easy and free to set up and can be beneficial in showcasing your unique writing style. When starting out, it can be an ideal portfolio filler and allows potential clients and recruiters to see your talent.

When beginning a blog, it is a good idea to think of a niche or specialist subject area that you are familiar with as that’s when your passion and writing skill will shine through your work. Free blog building websites to consider include WordPress, Wix, Tumblr, Weebly, Blogger and many more.

Build A Portfolio

This is difficult as you tend to need experience in order to get work to put in your portfolio, but there are options. One of them is using your personal blog as your portfolio and treating it as if you are writing for a client and the work is intended to be viewed by hundreds or thousands of people.

Choose A Niche Or A Selection Of  Related Niches

When beginning a career as a freelance copywriter, it can be very useful to draw on your own existing areas of expertise or subjects that you already have a heavy interest in when it comes to deciding what to write about.

If you already have existing knowledge and experience in a subject area, it is best to start writing about that or searching for potential clients in that area. For example, if you have a background in arts, it is smart to seek out clients within this area, such as art galleries, art publications, and related industries.

Network

As well as building a portfolio, new copywriters will benefit from networking in person when the opportunity arises. Social networking companies such as Facebook and LinkedIn have groups dedicated to freelance writers and regularly arrange in-person networking events.

There are also websites including meetup.com and plenty of others like it where events are listed that incorporate a variety of different categories and subject areas. For a range of freelance events including networking events, check out our event directory. 

Set Your Rates

As a freelance copywriter begins to get work, they become more adept at setting appropriate rates for each job they take on. It is important to set rates early on in your copywriting career as once they have been set, it is hard to increase your rates until you gain more experience.

Setting rates allow you to establish how financially viable a career in copywriting is and how much work you need to take on in order to make a living. Most clients will ask for your rates when discussing potential jobs, so it is vital to undergo this before pursuing a serious career as a freelance copywriter.

Consider Working For Agencies

A copywriting agency is an organisation that provides writing, proofreading, and editing services to other organisations and businesses. Like any good agent, copywriting agencies do the legwork for the writer, allowing them to solely focus on their craft while potential clients are sought out for them. It can also act as a short term way of building your portfolio and making contacts.

Summary

Working as a freelance copywriter is an extremely rewarding career, allowing you to pursue your passion while setting your own working hours and working for a range of clients on diverse projects.

Starting out is perhaps one of the biggest challenges and can often seem like a catch 22 situation, with it being difficult to get your foot on the ladder. The key thing to remember is that you will always need writing samples to show to potential clients, so while working your way into writing full time, it is vital to write, write again and write some more. It is also attractive to clients when you are self-motivated and creative enough to produce work without being briefed. Research their markets, suggest ideas, and present options that you feel their audience will be interested in.

As time goes on, your portfolio will grow and allow you to access bigger jobs and projects. The key is to keep going and never stop writing as it is likely that there will always be someone who requires your words.

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