Having worked as a freelance copywriter for quite a few years now, I often receive emails from people asking me for advice on how to become a copywriter themselves.
It’s a question I certainly don’t mind answering, because when I was first starting out I received some very useful advice myself from a number of copywriters, and without it, I may not have had the courage to quit my job and start my own business.
So in this article I’m going to answer the four most common questions that I receive, in order to give you all the help and motivation you need to become a fully-fledged freelance copywriter…
1) How do I get started?
So then, how do you get started as a freelance copywriter? Well, the most important piece of advice that I could possibly give is this: have faith in your own ability and just do it! Don’t doubt yourself. Don’t be intimidated by the competition that you see on page 1 of Google.
If you feel that you’re a good writer and copywriting is something that you REALLY want to do for a living, then commit to it fully.
To begin with, write the website content yourself (I don’t think you’ll need to hire a copywriter for this!). A home page, about us page, services, testimonials, terms and conditions and a blog page (to help your website’s ranking through SEO) will suffice. Then choose a name for your business and select a domain name via GoDaddy.com.
Once you’ve done that, you’ll need to hire a website designer to put the site together. I paid around £420 for my site, which is a pretty good price. Be prepared to hunt around for a while though, and make sure that you get a number of quotes, just as you would do if you needed a plumber or a builder.
And remember to negotiate. There are a lot of web designers out there and competition is fierce, so don’t settle for the first price they give you.
And don’t worry about payment. Many people obsess a little too much about this issue, but the fact is, it doesn’t matter too much. I have a business bank account, but 95% of my transactions are done through PayPal, so just set up a PayPal account in your business name and you’re done…
You’re now ready to start!
2) How do I find clients?
Once again, finding clients isn’t as hard as you might think. The route that I took was to work on my website’s ranking via standard SEO methods. These included writing blog posts to add content to the site, and then using internal linking to optimise the site for my main keywords.
I also wrote a number of articles on article submission sites like EzineArticles, and created anchor text links in the resource box which directed readers back to my site, as well as helping to improve its ranking.
After a few months, my site started to rise higher and higher in the search engines, which then started to bring in business. My articles then began to be used on a number of other people’s blogs too (with my name and website being referenced at the bottom), which then created more queries and more business.
In the meantime, I used other, more direct methods to obtain further business. By signing up to freelance job sites like Freelancer, Elance and oDesk, I was able to bid on projects that employers had added to the site.
So if you’re worried that you won’t be able to obtain any clients, don’t be! Just follow this advice, read my blog posts, and within a few months you’ll have a flourishing copywriting business that you can be proud of.
3) How can I obtain clients with no portfolio?
This is a question that I’ve been asked a few times, and one that I worried about myself when I first started out. Obviously, in order to secure business, you need to show what you’ve done for clients in the past? Potential clients will want to see that you have experience in the service you’re offering. But what if you don’t have any track record to call upon?
Well, one tactic you can use is to offer your copywriting services for nothing!
Now, this isn’t something that I ever tried, but I know quite a few copywriters who did. And believe me, it works. All you need to do is contact websites that look as though they need a bit of help, and say that you’ll rewrite the content for them for nothing. Trust me, they’ll say yes! And if they choose to add the new content to their site (which they probably will), you’ve got yourself a brand new example for your portfolio!
Another tactic is to use freelance job sites like freelancer, Elance and oDesk, as I suggested earlier. Here you can bid on projects quickly and easily. You might not be able to make a massive amount of money this way (as many “copywriters” from abroad will underbid you), but if you do get the job, you’ll have something to use for your portfolio.
And crucially, if you do a good job, then the employer will no doubt come back and use you again.
So there you go! If you’ve been sitting there worrying about whether or not you have what it takes to become a freelance copywriter, or you’ve been repeatedly asking yourself those questions, then I hope the above answers have helped to motivate you and give you the confidence to get out there and go for it!