Every beginning is difficult and everything has a learning and onboarding curve. So does copywriting. Especially once you figure out that copywriting, as a profession is not only about writing.
Of course, for a lot of people it’d be easier to start off a career in a copywriting agency as full-time employees. Perfectly fine. It removes a lot of the friction and the pain of the beggining. But that decision has a lot to do with how our day is organized, what else we do other than working, how we socialize with other colleagues, etc.
Photo by Christin Hume
That’s why for some people freelance copywriting is the way to go and that should be respected. And honestly, freelance copywriting can be a rewarding career, as long as you have a passion for writing and a desire to work on your own terms.
But what is freelance copywriting?
Freelance copywriting is the practice of writing promotional or informational text for various media platforms on a self-employed basis. The accent here is on ‘self-employed basis’.
A freelance copywriter typically works on projects like advertisements, websites, emails, brochures, and more, creating content that aims to persuade or inform a target audience. Unlike an in-house copywriter, a freelancer usually works on a project-to-project basis and may have multiple clients.
Many people mistakenly believe that they need years of experience or a degree in English to become freelance copywriters. However, this is simply not true. It’s 2023 afterall, and what you really need is: some preparations, a lot of writing, and some cleaning afterward.
With a bit of knowledge, determination, and the right tools, anyone can start their journey as a freelance copywriter.
With this post I want to answer the great question of “How do I start freelance copywriting for beginners” or “How do beginners start their freelance copywriting journey”. I hope it’ll tickle your interest even more.
Let’s see what preparations you will need to do in order to kick off your journey as a freelance copywriter.
Sharpen up your writing skills 🔗
Do not go on the scene unprepared. Once you start working for clients that at the end you will have to charge, there is a big chance they will not be as tolerable for your level of experience as you’d imagine. And there is a way to avoid this: by sharpening up your skills and covering the core of what is expected from you to deliver.
So how does one sharpen up their writing skills?
A Writing course 🔗
Buy a course or get yourself involved in a cohort. Check out Twitter, Reddit, Udemy, everything. Trust me on this, an experience exchange with people who have been in the niche and industry for a while, is the shortcut to success. And this applies to a lot other professions.
Look for courses that specifically focus on copywriting and persuasive writing techniques.
By honing your writing skills and learning the art of persuasive copy, you will be better equipped to create compelling content for your clients.
Read a lot on the topic 🔗
This goes unsaid, but if you want to shine, there should be a short period during which you will get obsessed with improvement, and reading is essential part of that process.
Find a limited number of books that cover copywriting and read them. I emphasize ’limited number’ as you don’t want to bury yourself in literature and get paralyzed by not being able to choose what to read next.
For example, these books offer a great start:
- “On Writing Well” by William Zinsser
- “The Copywriter’s Handbook” by Robert Bly
- “Hey, Whipple, Squeeze This” by Luke Sullivan
If they work good for you - dig deeper, ask the community and talk to other people for recommendations.
Write, write, write 🔗
Write in your dreams, write when you’re awake, write when you walk. Think about the concepts that inspire you and elaborate them on canvas (meaning, paper or digital app). Think of what can provide value for the others, and write content about it.
Also, build a portfolio of your work.
Build a Small Blog as a Portfolio 🔗
Having a portfolio is essential for any freelance copywriter. However, if you don’t have any previous clients to showcase, building a blog can be a great way to demonstrate your writing abilities.
Choose a niche that interests you and start writing blog posts that showcase your style and ability to engage readers. This can be in paralel with your self-education process explained above, just as an exercise.
Your blog will not only serve as a portfolio but also as a tool to improve your writing skills and attract potential clients.
Network with Other Writers 🔗
Networking is crucial in any industry, and freelance copywriting is no exception. There will be a lot of questions, a lot of administrations, a lot of unknowns that you will need to talk about with a human being. Find and join writing communities like Discord or Slack groups, social media groups, Subreddits, etc. to connect with other writers.
Engage in discussions, share your knowledge, and learn from others.
By building relationships with fellow writers, you can gain insights, receive feedback, and potentially even collaborate on projects.
Networking can also lead to referrals, which can help kickstart your freelance copywriting career.
Establish a Niche for Yourself 🔗
While it may be tempting to offer your services as a generalist, specializing in a particular niche can set you apart from the competition. Identify an area that you are passionate about or have expertise in, such as technology, health, or finance.
There are a lot of promising areas that people need constant advice about. Think about it. For example health or finance. The problems are always there, it’s just the medium that changes.
Have in mind one thing though. The weight that a niche has is a big differentiator in your long-term presence in that niche. It will be different for you if you decide to write about a passion of yours like auto-industry for example, or something as random as quantum mechanics.
By focusing on a niche, you can position yourself as an expert in that field and attract demand that’s seeking specialized knowledge.
Establishing a niche will make it easier for you to market your services and differentiate yourself from other freelance copywriters.
Reach Out to Potential Clients Yourself 🔗
Don’t wait for clients to come to you; take a proactive approach by reaching out to potential clients directly. Research companies or individuals who may require your copywriting services and send them personalized pitches. Show them how your skills and expertise can benefit their business.
While it may take some time and effort, reaching out to potential clients can result in valuable connections and projects.
Remember, when you are new to something, the key is to expose yourself. There will be a lot of rejections, which will definitely be frustrating, but do not be shy to be embarrassed, that is your growth zone.
The tools you need 🔗
You will definitely need a minimal set of copywriting tools that you can either juggle between or find a solution that centralizes them in one place. Having a centralized tool for copywriting can greatly enhance your productivity and organization. With a single platform, you can easily manage your writing projects, track changes, collaborate with team members, and access a library of resources.
Whatever way you choose, up to you. At the end, you should feel comfortable to use these tools. The bare minimum we think you will need is:
- Grammar/Spelling checker for a correct copy.
- Image editor, you feel comfy to use.
- Royalty-free images service
- A simple writing app
- Project management tool
Explore the possibilities, the intention is not to lead the discussion here but just to specify that most probably you will need these tools. Keep in mind that sometimes, subscribing to some of the existing commercial solutions makes more sense if that removes the friction from your focus, growing as a writer, and the tools you use.
Let’s see the question: “How do I start freelance copywriting for beginners”. The answer is: by a writing a lot, growing your writing portfolio and stubbornly applying to a lot of opportunities until you land something you can get involved into. Of course, the networking and socializing with others alongside your personal learning process is self understood.
Becoming a successful freelance copywriter with no experience is not an impossible task. By taking a writing course, building a small blog as a portfolio, networking with other writers, establishing a niche, and reaching out to potential clients, you can lay a strong foundation for your freelance copywriting career.
Once you have established yourself, it’s important to focus on growing your visibility to attract new clients. Being visible online, on platforms like LinkedIn, and continuing to network with people in the industry can help you expand your client base and achieve long-term success as a freelance copywriter.
Ask questions, seek answers, and of course, do not stop writing.