Guide To Becoming a Freelance Copywriter
- What Is Freelance Copywriting?
- Why Become a Freelance Copywriter?
- What Exactly Does a Copywriter Do?
- How Much Does a Freelance Copywriter Make?
- Who Do Copywriters Work For?
- How To Become a Freelance Copywriter
- How Can I Gain Freelance Copywriting Experience?
Many companies use freelance copywriting to promote their products and services, drive organic traffic to their website, and create a consistent brand. If you’re hoping to become a freelance copywriter, it can be helpful to understand the different services these professionals provide and the best way to make your skills stand out from the crowd. In this guide, we’ll walk you through a freelance copywriter’s primary responsibilities and the best way to start your copywriting career.
What Is Freelance Copywriting?
A freelance copywriter is someone who, on a contractual basis, develops content called “copy” for organizations and companies. Copy is any written material that encourages consumers to buy goods or services, and it can take the form of blog posts, articles, and more.
Though copywriters can work full-time for different clients, freelance copywriters are often hired to develop content on a short-term or project basis. They might work on multiple projects at a time or pursue new writing contracts as needed.
Why Become a Freelance Copywriter?
Becoming a freelance copywriter can provide you with certain benefits that full-time workers don’t always get to experience, including:
- Flexible schedule: Because they develop copy on a contractual basis, freelancers often have the ability to choose when they work and for how long. Say you finished your articles for the week and you’ve already met your income goal. You can take the rest of the week for yourself or focus it on other things, such as generating more freelance contracts.
- Creative thinking: Writing copy allows freelancers to work in a field that requires some creativity. Figuring out the best way to approach a topic or market a product can require both problem solving and critical thinking. These types of challenges can make each workday unique, which can increase your motivation and productivity.
- Variety of work: Freelance copywriters can generate content for a variety of industries and companies. Throughout their workweek, a copywriter might develop an article on the best types of dog food one day and write a product spotlight for dentistry equipment the next day. Creating content for different fields and businesses can help keep a copywriter’s daily workload fresh and exciting.
- Ability to choose: When working a freelance job, individuals have the ability to choose which jobs or projects they want to accept and which ones they want to decline. Having this freedom can help them to focus on the writing topics that interest them the most.
- Marketing knowledge: Becoming a freelance copywriter can help individuals develop impressive marketing skills and knowledge. This knowledge can help them market their own services more effectively and also prepare them to explore other positions and career opportunities in the future.
What Exactly Does a Copywriter Do?
Copywriters create content for a variety of mediums. Some of the most common mediums for copywriters to work with include:
Blog posts are web pieces that help attract and retain readers on company websites. Companies who focus on blogs often hire copywriters to help them create quality content on a continuous basis. The blog topics can be general and timeless, or “evergreen,” allowing readers to find the information helpful no matter when they’re reading it, or the topics can be trending, meaning that they address information based on current fads or styles. Readers can also comment on blog posts, which can increase consumer engagement with the company’s brand.
For example, say a company that sells guitars and guitar accessories uses a blog to develop their brand and promote their products. Some of their evergreen articles could include topics such as “How To Restring a Guitar” or “Best Chords To Learn for New Players.” Some of their trending articles could discuss popular bands, guitarists, or new guitar releases.
Email marketing is the act of sending advertisements to or requesting business from consumers through their email. Most often, when companies use email marketing, they send out emails en masse to their mailing lists, notifying them about promotions, asking for customer feedback, and highlighting new product releases. Attempting to attract business through email marketing can be a daunting task for some businesses, which is why it’s one area where copywriters are most useful.
Copywriters use their knowledge of wordplay, composition and emotional appeals to grab readers’ attention and create compelling calls to action. Some companies even use helpful marketing tools to automatically fill in names and purchasing history into each email so the consumer feels like the company is sending them a personal message.
Companies and organizations often interact with their customers through social media platforms, promoting their products and participating in current trends. Copywriters can craft posts that generate consumer interest and engage with the company’s customer base. Especially on social media sites that limit the amount of characters in a post, such as Twitter, these types of copywriters use their skills strategically to ensure their writing entices people despite any platform constraints.
Website copy can include things like writing to attract customers, articulating how to use a product or service, and creating informative product or service descriptions that persuade customers to make a purchase. Companies hire copywriters to perform each of these tasks, which can help create a more engaging website that improves their overall traffic, conversion rate, and branding.
White papers are long, in-depth articles that inform readers about a specific topic, problem, or challenge and how they can solve it. These types of copy are often much more professional and formal in tone, which is what separates them from blog articles, which are often more conversational. For white papers, copywriters generally need a strong understanding of the topic or subject they’re writing about, and they often still conduct thorough research to ensure they’re presenting accurate information.
White papers are known to be fairly dense and detailed because they’re used to educate readers. For example, a cyber security company might develop a white paper to inform its readers about phishing scams and how to avoid them. The paper might go into detail about what phishing scams are, how to identify them, and what to do if you’re the victim of one. Then, the company might use the white paper to advertise for their own services or software that could help the consumer identify phishing scams automatically.
CopyPress offers some white papers and informative eBooks, such as how to create effective content titles and headlines. Sign up for the eBook today to start creating better content that attracts more readers.
How Much Does a Freelance Copywriter Make?
Because freelancers develop the cost for their own services and determine how many hours a week they want to work, the average salary of a freelance copywriter can vary dramatically. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, writers and authors working for professional, scientific, and technical service industries make an average of $66,680 per year. However, that statistic includes data outside of the freelance copywriting world, possibly collecting results from salaried employees as well as other types of writers.
With that said, the average amount of money a freelance writer makes depends on a number of factors, including:
- Professional experience
- Skill level
- Marketing capabilities
- Writing experience
When an individual starts out as a freelance copywriter, it’s possible that their workdays will be mostly consumed by contacting potential clients or applying for freelance jobs, which means they won’t be making as much money right away. However, once they develop professional experience and a reputation for quality work, they can spend less time querying for projects and more time making money for their actual writing.
An individual’s skill level can also help set them apart from other copywriters and allow them to complete jobs more quickly. Writers who have copywriting experience and know how to hit keywords and attract customers can produce work more efficiently and make themselves available for more projects.
Some freelance copywriters can also work on direct-response copywriting jobs, which allows them to make additional money off of commissions. Direct-response copywriters often work in niche markets, such as health or finance, writing articles meant to motivate the reader to make a purchase immediately after reading. Direct-response copywriters are often paid a fee to write the article, and they may receive even more money if a customer makes a purchase after reading their copy.
Lastly, it’s important for freelance copywriters to understand how to market their skills and abilities. As they develop a portfolio and learn how to write more effective query letters to companies and businesses, freelance copywriters can snag more projects and assignments, helping to increase their overall salary.
Who Do Copywriters Work For?
Freelance copywriters can work for numerous clients and help them with a variety of tasks. Some freelance copywriters might market their services to specific businesses, helping them develop strong marketing strategies or content. Others might work with clients who provide content marketing services to other businesses and organizations.
Throughout their career, copywriters can work with clients on projects like:
- Content creation: Content creation includes blogs, commercial scripts, how-to guides, and other forms of content that help promote a business and its services. Companies often hire freelancers to help with these tasks because they can pay multiple writers at a time to quickly generate large amounts of content.
- Search engine optimization (SEO): SEO is the act of increasing organic traffic to a company’s website by targeting specific keywords and revamping websites and content to fit better with search engine algorithms. Though this service is similar to content creation, when companies hire freelance copywriters for this task, they often prefer individuals with additional experience and understanding of SEO practices to perform the job effectively.
- Advertising: Copywriters can perform several different tasks when working with advertising, such as drafting taglines and text for print advertisements, writing marketing emails, or helping a company develop its overall brand.
- Technical writing: Technical copywriters require an extensive knowledge of a certain topic or subject in science or technology. They then use that knowledge to create different documents, such as manuals or journal articles, to deliver important and precise information to readers. These copywriters often work with computer engineering or software development companies.
- Academic writing: Academic copywriters are very similar to technical writers, but their work might include non-scientific topics, such as literature, philosophy, and the arts. These copywriters often help individuals write and edit academic papers and journal articles, but they can also work with research organizations or academic book publishers.
How To Become a Freelance Copywriter
This list of simple steps can help you get started with your copywriting career:
1. Read copy
When starting a career as a copywriter, one of the most important things you can do is become an avid reader, specifically of other forms of copy. Reading blog posts, advertisements, direct response marketing books, and other forms of content can help you understand how other writers approach their work and how to differentiate good copy from bad.
When exploring copy from other companies, you can develop your own skills by analyzing the content you’re reading. Consider asking yourself a series of questions for each piece of copy you read, such as:
- Is this informative?
- Does this make me want to purchase something?
- Does this copy make me want to read more articles from this company?
- Does this do a good job of keeping my attention?
Determining the answers to these questions can help you think about copy more critically and pinpoint the elements that you might want to emulate yourself. For example, if you discover that the content was informative and kept your attention for the entire read, try to figure out why. Does the author use engaging word choice? Do they convey a natural and casual tone? Is there any fluff or repetitive language in the piece? Understanding what makes good copy can get you one step closer to creating your own effective content.
2. Conduct company research
Conducting company research can help you determine which businesses have an interest in your services. Two things to consider when researching different companies are their current marketing tactics and if they’re familiar with content marketing strategies.
For example, if you notice a company has a blog that’s continuously generating a lot of content, it’s possible they already have a team of writers or a marketing company helping them produce it. However, if the company has a smaller blog that posts inconsistently, or if it has a website that’s a little outdated, they might be more inclined to use your services and expertise. Most often, for new freelance copywriters, it’s helpful to target smaller or newer businesses that might not be as familiar with copywriting and content marketing.
It can also be helpful to research different content marketing companies that might need freelance writers to help them deliver quality products to their clients. Your research may reveal which companies accept freelance writer inquiries and indicate the best way to contact them for writing opportunities.
3. Develop a portfolio
Before submitting your resume and query letters to different companies, it’s important to develop a portfolio that showcases your talents and ability to deliver quality copywriting services. Your portfolio often consists of example writing material from previous jobs. If you’re brand new to copywriting, you can create spec pieces for your portfolio. Spec pieces are work that nobody has paid you to create, but they can help clients understand your technical skills and writing style before you land your first writing gig.
A great first step to writing spec pieces is to examine the blogs of different companies and businesses and write an article you think they would host on their website. You could also write spec pieces on topics you’re knowledgeable about. For example, if you love fishing, hunting, and camping, you can write spec work around these topics that other hunting and camping enthusiasts might like to read.
Once you’ve completed a few high-quality spec pieces, you can add them to your portfolio to present to potential clients. Just be sure to mention somewhere in the piece that the article is spec work so the client knows you’re not exaggerating your previous paid experience.
Image via Shanice Periatt
4. Choose a specialization
Though copywriters can often apply their skills to many fields and industries, choosing a specialization in one or two fields can help you market your services to companies more easily. That’s because it’s often easier to market your services if the company trusts your understanding of specific industry terms and knows that you have experience attracting clients for other businesses like their own.
For example, if you focus your writing in the agricultural sector, agricultural companies and businesses can read your previous work and feel more confident in hiring you and your services. However, if you try to market your services to an agricultural business while only having experience writing for IT companies, they might feel less inclined to hire you.
How Can I Gain Freelance Copywriting Experience?
This is one of the most commonly asked questions by freelancers because it can often seem like a Catch-22: to get freelance writing jobs you need experience, but to get freelance writing experience, you need to get hired for jobs.
Luckily, there are strategic ways to advertise yourself and your skills so you can find smaller writing jobs and eventually earn larger projects or more continuous work. Some of those strategies include:
- Post your portfolio online: Posting your writing portfolio online can help you attract potential clients because they can find you more easily through internet searches and review your work before contacting you. When posting your portfolio online, it can be helpful to include links to any work currently published on company websites, your most updated resume, and a way for new clients to contact you.
- Write your own blog: Consider creating a website and blog to showcase your writing skills and organically attract customers through their search engine results. Developing your own blog is especially helpful when just starting out as a freelance writer because it allows you to show that you’ve published work online. If you’re starting a blog, consider writing about services you provide, like copywriting and marketing, or develop content around your chosen specialization, such as technology, sports, or fashion.
- Visit freelance job boards: Freelance job boards and websites allow people to post job requests for a variety of freelance services, including copywriting. Freelancers can then apply to these positions, which don’t always require significant previous experience. However, these jobs may be difficult to earn because they receive many applications. Developing a strategic method of checking the boards and applying swiftly may help you advance to the next stage of applicant review.
- Send query letters: One of the most common and effective ways to generate clients is through query letters. Query letters are generally an email that individuals send to companies and businesses to inquire about possible job opportunities. For freelance copywriters, query letters often state their previous experience, a link to their online portfolio, and possible services they could offer to that specific company or organization.
Starting a career as a freelance copywriter might seem daunting at first. However, once you develop your portfolio and understand which companies or businesses could use your services, you can start to effectively market yourself and create a lucrative writing career.