If you have a knack for words and a passion for persuasive writing, becoming a freelance copywriter might be the perfect career path for you. But what exactly do freelance copywriters do? And how can you become one?
In this in-depth guide, I’ll go through everything you need to know about becoming a freelance copywriter so you can decide if it’s the right career path for you! You can skip to the end to see my list of useful copywriting resources.
Note: This is a long one, so check the table of contents below to jump around to the sections most relevant to you!
What Do Freelance Copywriters Do?
As a freelance copywriter, your primary role is to create engaging and persuasive content that captivates readers and drives them to take action. Whether it’s writing catchy headlines, compelling product descriptions, or captivating sales letters, your words have the power to sway opinions and influence decisions.
Research & Understanding
To excel in the world of freelance copywriting, you’ll need to become a master of research. Before you even put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard), it’s crucial to delve into the subject matter at hand.
By thoroughly researching your target audience, industry trends, and the specific product or service you’re writing about, you can craft copy that resonates with readers on a deeper level. If you can’t perform effective research, it’s going to be tough to make it as a freelance copywriter.
Understanding The Importance Of Brand Voice
Another essential aspect of being a freelance copywriter is understanding and adopting the brand’s voice. Each client you work with will have a unique brand personality and tone they want to convey to their audience.
It’s your job to capture that essence and infuse it into every word you write. Whether it’s a playful and humorous tone or a professional and authoritative one, mastering the brand’s voice is key to delivering effective copy. You’ll get better at this as you gain more experience with clients.
Tailoring Content To Different Mediums
In today’s digital age, copywriters are often tasked with creating content for a variety of mediums. From website copy and social media posts to email newsletters and video scripts, you’ll need to adapt your writing style to suit each platform.
Each medium comes with its own set of ‘rules’ and limitations, so being flexible and versatile is a valuable skill for a freelance copywriter. You can also specialize in a specific medium as you find one you like most.
Collaboration & Feedback
While freelance copywriting often offers the freedom of working independently, collaboration is still a vital aspect of the job. You’ll often find yourself working closely with clients, marketing teams, designers, and other people to ensure the final product meets everyone’s expectations.
Be open to feedback and be willing to iterate on your work based on constructive criticism.
Before we dive into more of the specifics of copywriting, it’s worth comparing it to content writing, as the two terms are often used interchangeably. However, there are a few key differences to be aware of.
Copywriting vs Content Writing
Copywriting: The Art Of Persuasion
Copywriting is the art of persuasive writing with the ultimate goal of driving readers to take action. As a copywriter, your primary focus is on creating compelling content that prompts readers to make a purchase, subscribe to a service, or take any other desired action.
You’ll often find copywriters crafting attention-grabbing headlines, persuasive sales pages, enticing advertisements, and captivating product descriptions.
Copywriting is all about using language to influence and persuade. It requires a deep understanding of the target audience, their desires, pain points, and motivations. Your words should not only engage and captivate but also convince readers that they need what you’re offering.
Content Writing: Informative & Engaging
Content writing on the other hand is focused on providing valuable information and engaging readers through educational or entertaining content. While copywriting aims to drive specific actions, content writing aims to inform, entertain, or inspire the audience.
Content writers often produce blog posts, articles, guides, social media content, and other forms of non-promotional content.
Content writing involves thorough research, organizing information in a logical manner, and presenting it in a compelling and readable style. The primary goal is to engage readers, build trust, and establish authority in a particular niche or industry.
Instead of explicitly selling a product or service, content writing aims to provide value and establish a connection with the audience. However, content writing often involves an element of copywriting, as many pieces will indeed contain a call to action (CTA) at the end or multiple throughout the content.
Finding The Right Balance
Both copywriting and content writing have their place in the freelance writing world. While copywriting focuses on persuasion and driving specific actions, content writing is about providing valuable information and building relationships with readers. As a freelance writer, you can choose to specialize in one or excel in both areas, depending on your interests and strengths.
Remember that in today’s digital landscape, the line between copywriting and content writing can sometimes blur. A successful freelance writer often possesses skills in both areas and can adapt their style based on the specific project and client requirements.
Okay, let’s now get back to the specifics of copywriting, starting with how much freelance copywriters can earn.
How Much Do Freelance Copywriters Make?
Freelance copywriters can make a lot of money, largely because copywriting is all about getting results for your clients. The average copywriter salary in the US is around $60,000, while in the UK it’s closer to £30,000.
Setting your rates as a freelance copywriter can be a challenging task, especially when you’re just starting out. It’s essential to strike a balance between charging enough to make a living and being competitive in the market. It’s a good idea to research the industry standards and rates in your area or niche to get a sense of what other copywriters charge.
Note: While not specific to copywriting, we have a guide on setting your content writing rates, and a lot of the information in there can be translated to freelance copywriting.
Factors That Affect Your Rates
Several factors can influence the rates you can command as a freelance copywriter. Here are a few key considerations to make:
- Experience: Typically, more experienced copywriters can charge higher rates due to their expertise and proven track record of delivering results.
- Specialization: If you specialize in a particular niche or industry, such as healthcare or technology, you may be able to charge premium rates due to your specialized knowledge and understanding of that field.
- Portfolio: Your portfolio of past work plays a significant role in determining your rates. Having a strong portfolio showcasing your skills and successful projects can justify higher rates.
- Client Base: Working with high-profile clients or established brands can often lead to higher rates, as they value the expertise and credibility you bring to the table.
Average Copywriting Rates
While rates can vary significantly, it’s common to see freelance copywriters charge anywhere from $50 to $150 or more per hour. Some copywriters may opt for project-based rates instead, charging a fixed fee for specific deliverables like website copy, sales pages, or email campaigns.
Project rates can range from a few hundred dollars to several thousand, depending on the scope and complexity of the project. The method you use to charge will depend on your preferences and those of your clients.
Building Your Reputation & Growing Your Earning Potential
As you gain experience and build a solid reputation as a skilled copywriter, you can command higher rates and attract clients willing to pay a premium for your services. The key to increasing your earning potential is consistently delivering high-quality work, exceeding client expectations, and continuously improving your skills.
Freelance Copywriter Hourly Rates By Country
What Qualifications Do You Need To Be A Freelance Copywriter?
You don’t need any qualifications to be a freelance copywriter. One of the great things about freelance copywriting is that it’s a field that values skill and talent more than formal qualifications. While having a relevant degree or certification can be beneficial, it’s not a strict requirement for becoming a successful freelance copywriter.
Instead, what matters most is your ability to write persuasively and captivate an audience. However, there are certain skills, qualities, and experiences that can set you apart and boost your chances of thriving in this competitive industry. Some clients might also require you to have a degree or other qualification for specific projects, but this is not the case with everyone.
Note: You also don’t need a degree to be any kind of freelance writer! The only time you’d need a degree or other qualifications is if the specific client you’re writing for requires it for the project.
7 Steps To Become A Freelance Copywriter
1. Hone Your Writing Skills
To become a freelance copywriter, start by honing your writing skills. Practice regularly, experiment with different writing styles, and explore various genres. Read books on copywriting and persuasive writing to understand the principles and techniques behind effective copy.
This isn’t necessarily just the first step of becoming a freelance copywriter though. You need to continuously hone your writing skills, and the best way to do this is to write things! If you don’t have clients yet, pick a product and write copy for it. If possible, show it to someone else and see what they think, asking if what you’ve written would be able to convince them to buy that product.
Repeat this until you get a grasp for the basics of copywriting. From there, just keep writing!
2. Define Your Niche
Next, identify your niche or areas of expertise. Specializing in a specific industry or type of copywriting can help you stand out and attract targeted clients. It’ll also take the pressure off you trying to be a jack-of-all-trades.
Consider your interests, experiences, and strengths, and align them with market demand. For example, you might choose to specialize in technology copywriting or direct response sales copy.
3. Build Your Portfolio
Create a portfolio showcasing your best work. Include a variety of samples that highlight your versatility and ability to write for different mediums and industries. If you’re just starting, consider taking on pro bono projects or offering discounted rates to build your portfolio and gain practical experience.
If you don’t have any clients yet, put together some samples anyway! Pick some products and copywriting styles and create some samples specifically for your portfolio. This way you’ll have something to show potential clients, even if you have no experience.
4. Network & Connect
You should also network with other professionals in the industry. Attend copywriting conferences, join online communities and forums, and connect with fellow copywriters and potential clients on social media platforms like LinkedIn.
Building relationships can lead to valuable connections, referrals, and collaborations that can propel your freelance copywriting career forward.
5. Start Marketing Yourself
Establish your online presence by creating a professional website that showcases your services, portfolio, and contact information. Optimize your website for search engines to increase your visibility, and leverage social media platforms to share valuable content, engage with your audience, and promote your expertise.
If you don’t want to create your own website, social media on its own can be a viable way to get clients. However, you could also consider writing on Medium, which is a free way to get some writing samples out there. It’s not a copywriting-focused website, but you can still use it as a tool to generate some published samples of your writing.
6. Seek Freelance Opportunities
Start seeking freelance opportunities by reaching out to potential clients, responding to job postings, or joining freelancing platforms and job boards. Tailor your pitches and proposals to showcase how your skills and expertise can solve their specific needs. Be persistent and proactive in pursuing opportunities.
Some great freelance copywriting job boards to check out include:
7. Deliver Exceptional Work and Build Relationships
When you land a project, do your best to deliver exceptional work that exceeds the client’s expectations. Meet deadlines, communicate effectively, and be open to feedback. Building strong client relationships can lead to repeat business, referrals, and positive testimonials that will help you grow your freelance copywriting career!
Can You Become A Freelance Copywriter With No Experience?
You can become a freelance copywriter with no experience, but you likely do have some experience, you just don’t realize it. If you have zero writing experience, sure, it might not be the best career path to pursue. But if you are a good writer and have some familiarity with the ability to persuade others to take action, freelance copywriting could be the ideal career!
If you’re passionate about copywriting but have no professional experience, don’t worry! Everyone has to start somewhere. Below are a few tips to help you gain traction and build your copywriting career, even without prior experience.
Start With Spec Work
Consider creating “spec work” to showcase your skills. Choose a company or brand you admire and create sample copy tailored to their needs. Although these samples may not be used by the actual company (and you’re not being paid for it), they serve as valuable additions to your portfolio and demonstrate your ability to write compelling copy.
These can be particularly useful for pitching to specific clients. If you create great copy ahead of time, and use it to show that client what you’re capable of, they may be more willing to take you on. However, don’t rely on this, as you can end up spending a lot time getting very little in return, and they might try to use your copy without paying you!
Offer Discounted Work
Look for nonprofit organizations, local businesses, or individuals who could benefit from your copywriting services. Offer to create copy for their website, social media posts, or marketing materials at a discounted rate or even free of charge.
This allows you to gain practical experience, receive feedback, and establish a track record of delivering results. Don’t do too much of this work, and definitely don’t offer too much work for free. This simply is not sustainable.
Take Online Courses
Invest in your education by enrolling in online courses or attending workshops focused on copywriting and persuasive writing. These resources can provide valuable insights, teach you industry best practices, and help you develop your skills and confidence as a copywriter.
Create Personal Projects
Finally, develop your own personal projects that allow you to practice and showcase your copywriting abilities. Start a blog, create social media content, or write guest posts for relevant publications.
These initiatives not only provide a platform for your writing, but they also demonstrate your commitment and passion for the craft.
I mentioned above that investing in your education is a key part of becoming a successful copywriter. But what are the skills you should invest the most time in?
Skills You Need As A Freelance Copywriter
As a freelance copywriter, there are several essential skills that can help you thrive in this dynamic and competitive field. Mastering these skills will not only enhance your writing abilities, but they’ll also enable you to deliver compelling and effective copy for your clients.
Excellent Writing Skills
Let’s start with the obvious one shall we! Strong writing skills are at the core of copywriting. You should have a solid grasp of grammar, punctuation, and sentence structure. Your writing should be clear, concise, and engaging, capturing the attention of readers and compelling them to take action.
Copywriting often requires in-depth research to understand the target audience, industry trends, and the product or service you’re promoting. Develop effective research skills to gather relevant information and insights that inform your writing and make your copy more persuasive.
Understanding Of Persuasive Techniques
Copywriting is about persuasion. Familiarize yourself with persuasive techniques such as storytelling, emotional appeal, social proof, and call-to-action strategies. Knowing how to employ these techniques effectively can help you create copy that influences and motivates readers.
Copywriters often work on a variety of projects across different industries and mediums. Be adaptable and flexible in your writing style, tone, and voice. Tailor your copy to suit the specific needs of each project and client, whether it’s web copy, email campaigns, social media content, or print advertisements.
Copywriting is closely tied to marketing. Develop a fundamental understanding of marketing principles, such as target audience analysis, branding, and positioning. This knowledge will help you create copy that aligns with the client’s marketing goals and resonates with their target audience.
Copywriting requires creative thinking to come up with fresh and engaging ideas. Cultivate your creativity by exploring different perspectives, brainstorming, and thinking outside the box. Creative copy can capture attention and make your clients’ brands stand out in a crowded market.
Attention To Detail
In copywriting, every word matters. Pay close attention to detail, ensuring accuracy in grammar, spelling, and punctuation. Proofread and edit your work thoroughly to eliminate errors and maintain a high level of professionalism.
Freelance copywriters often work with clients, marketing teams, designers, and other professionals. Effective communication and collaboration skills are vital for understanding client requirements, incorporating feedback, and delivering copy that meets everyone’s expectations.
Freelance copywriters juggle multiple projects and deadlines. Develop strong time management skills to prioritize tasks, meet deadlines, and deliver high-quality work efficiently. Use productivity tools and techniques to stay organized and maximize your productivity.
Creativity is a vital asset for any copywriter. You’ll often need to come up with engaging ideas, captivating headlines, and fresh approaches to presenting information. Let your imagination roam free and think outside the box. Developing a unique and distinctive voice as a writer will help you stand out in a crowded market.
So, you know what you need to learn, but what are the best ways to learn these skills to become a better freelance copywriter?
How To Learn Freelance Copywriting
If you’re eager to learn freelance copywriting, there are several effective strategies you can pursue. Whether you’re a beginner or looking to enhance your existing skills, these approaches can help you acquire the knowledge and expertise needed to excel in the world of freelance copywriting.
Study Copywriting Resources
Start by immersing yourself in copywriting resources. Read books on copywriting and persuasive writing by renowned experts like David Ogilvy, Eugene Schwartz, and Joe Sugarman.
Explore online blogs, tutorials, and courses dedicated to copywriting. See the end of this article for a list of helpful books and resources.
Take Copywriting Courses
You can also enroll in copywriting courses offered by reputable platforms and educational institutions. Online learning platforms like Udemy, Coursera, and Skillshare offer a range of copywriting courses taught by industry professionals.
Look for courses that cover topics such as persuasive writing, advertising copy, and digital marketing to gain a comprehensive understanding of the field. Copywriting isn’t just about the writing, it’s also about the selling, and so having an understanding of the basics of advertising and marketing is key.
Proper and regular practice is vital if you want to master copywriting. Set aside dedicated time for writing exercises and challenges. Practice writing headlines, product descriptions, email subject lines, and sales copy.
Experiment with different tones, styles, and approaches. Regular writing practice will help you refine your skills and develop your unique voice as a copywriter. If you can, send your pieces to someone else for feedback. They don’t have to be a copywriter, as after all it’s often the general public that will be reading your copy!
Analyze Successful Copy
Study successful copywriting examples across various mediums, including print ads, websites, email campaigns, and social media posts. Analyze what makes them effective, such as their use of persuasive techniques, storytelling, or compelling headlines. Learn from the best by dissecting and understanding their strategies.
Swiped.co is a great resource for this, where people have already analyzed things for you!
Seek Mentorship & Feedback
You can also connect with experienced copywriters and seek mentorship or guidance from them. Consider joining copywriting communities, forums, and social media groups to engage with industry professionals.
Ask for feedback on your work and learn from their expertise. Constructive criticism can help you identify areas for improvement and accelerate your learning process.
Stay Updated With Industry Trends
The field of copywriting is constantly evolving. Stay updated with the latest industry trends, emerging marketing techniques, and changes in consumer behavior. Follow influential copywriters, marketing blogs, and industry publications to stay informed and adapt your strategies accordingly!
Now the good part – where can you find freelance copywriting jobs?
Where To Find Freelance Copywriting Jobs
Freelance Job Boards
Browse reputable freelance job boards like Upwork, Freelancer, and Fiverr. These platforms allow you to create a profile, showcase your portfolio, and bid on copywriting projects posted by clients. Be sure to craft compelling proposals/gigs tailored to each project’s requirements to increase your chances of being hired.
Each platform works a little differently, so bear that in mind when you sign up. Some put a focus on clients coming to the freelancers (like Fiverr), while others focus on you bidding on projects (like Upwork).
Explore specialized marketplaces dedicated to content and copywriting, such as Constant Content and Writer Access. These platforms connect writers with businesses looking for copywriting services. Note that they do tend to have screening processes and you’ll need to submit an application.
Networking & Referrals
Leverage your professional network and let people know that you offer freelance copywriting services. Attend industry events, join copywriting or marketing associations, and engage with other professionals in the field. Building relationships can lead to referrals and opportunities for freelance projects later down the line.
Utilize LinkedIn as a powerful networking tool. Optimize your profile to highlight your copywriting skills and experience. Connect with potential clients, join relevant groups, and engage in discussions. You can also share valuable content to establish yourself as an authority in the field.
I’ve found that most potential clients ask for my LinkedIn profile as part of the application process, sometimes it’s optional but it’s often mandatory. So, you might want to spruce up your LinkedIn profile for no other reason than to show potential clients more about yourself.
Cold pitching is one of the most time consuming ways to find clients, but it can be one of the most rewarding too. Craft personalized pitches showcasing your copywriting expertise and how your services can benefit the other person’s business.
Reach out via email or through their website’s contact form. While cold pitching requires more effort, it can result in direct client relationships and long-term projects.
Freelance Copywriting Resources
Books on copywriting:
- The Copywriter’s Handbook by Robert W. Bly
- Cashvertizing by Drew Eric Whitman
- Ogilvy on Advertising by David Ogilvy
- Scientific Advertising by Claude C. Hopkins
- How To Launch A Freelance Copywriting Business by Jules Horne
- Copywriting Masterclass: Writing that Sells on Udemy
- Copywriting for Beginners: How to Write Web Copy that Sells on Skillshare
- The Complete Copywriting Course: Write to Sell Like a Pro on Udemy
- Accelerated Program for Seven-Figure Copywriting by AWAI
Copywriting blogs and websites:
- Copyblogger: A comprehensive resource for copywriting, content marketing, and digital marketing advice.
- The Copywriter Club: A community for copywriters, featuring interviews and resources. They also have a podcast (see below).
Copywriting communities and forums:
- Reddit: Check out the r/copywriting and r/freelancewriters subreddits for discussions, advice, and opportunities.
- The Copywriters’ Forum: An online community for copywriters to connect, share insights, and seek guidance.
Copywriting tools and software:
- Grammarly: A writing assistant that helps you eliminate grammar and spelling errors, improve clarity, and enhance your writing.
- Hemingway Editor: A tool that highlights complex sentences, excessive adverbs, and other issues to improve readability.
- Thesaurus.com: An online resource for finding synonyms, antonyms, and related words to enhance your vocabulary.
- Google Docs / Microsoft Word: Word processing software for writing and editing copy.
- The Copywriter Club Podcast: Features interviews with successful copywriters and valuable insights into the industry.
- Copyblogger FM: A podcast that covers copywriting, content marketing, and online business strategies.
- Hot Copy Podcast: Offers practical tips, advice, and discussions on various aspects of copywriting.
Is Freelance Copywriting The Right Career For You?
The only way to find out if freelance copywriting is for you is to try it! It can be tough to find clients at the start, but if you have a passion for persuading, and you have the writing skills, freelance copywriting could be a great career for you!