How to Become a Freelance Copywriter

String words together. Get paid. That pretty much sums it up! Except it’s not quite that easy. Let’s dig in and learn how to become a freelance copywriter.

How to Become a Freelance Copywriter

How to become a freelance copywriter

What is a Copywriter?

First, let’s talk about what a copywriter is and what it isn’t. Because if you’re going to do this, you need to know #allthethings. Can’t be going out of the gate sounding like a rookie! 

Believe it or not, most people don’t have a clue what a copywriter is. (So if this is you, you’re in good company — but not for long because you’re about to get educated!) 

Get the Digital Product Blueprint

People are often confused about the difference between copy and content. Copywriters write for action (sales); content is for entertainment or education. A content writer usually only writes content (blog posts, social media posts, etc), where a copywriter can write content plus copy. Frequently, copywriters start as content writers and learn the ropes to focus more on copy because, on average, copywriting pays a whole lot better. 

Now that we have that down, here is one method to start making a living as a writer. I started this way and still use a version of this process to find new clients. 

Find a Niche or Two

When you're trying to become a freelance copywriter, it’s important that you write for a company that you can resonate with. 

I remember when I was first trying to break into writing, I applied to write for a gal who was a beauty influencer based in New York City. Apparently my query was strong because I was given an interview but what I didn’t tell her was that I am a farm girl, through and through (she didn’t ask and I didn’t really think through that it would matter until the interview). I rarely wear makeup and I have absolutely no clue about the latest city fashions. She was very polite in the interview but I was clearly clueless about most of the things she talked about. Needless to say, she didn’t hire this old hick, but I learned a lot from the experience! You want to write for a niche that you know well.

Finding a niche is actually easier than it sounds. Here are three questions you can ask yourself to determine some areas where you could excel professionally. 

  • What do you enjoy? 
  • What do you have knowledge about? 
  • What are one or two subjects that you could easily talk about for 30 minutes, or would enjoy spending hours researching? 

Once you determine your niches, get to know the businesses within that niche. Especially smaller or local ones that don’t already have a team of writers. “Like” their Facebook pages, follow their Instagram accounts, subscribe to their blog, do whatever you need to do to get in their world and to get to know that world on a deeper level.

Interact to Warm Up for the Query

If you don’t have any experience as a writer, you’re going to have to work a little harder for those first gigs. But you can do it! You have to start somewhere, right? 

Now that you’re following several pages within your niche, it’s time to start making yourself known! Interact on their social media with comments, likes, and even offer help with customer questions as appropriate.

Now, listen up for a second. I have something important that you must take to heart. 

Don’t try to sound like a know-it-all, don’t overshare, and do not argue with the business or group owner to show just how “smart” you are. 

In other words, don’t be obnoxious. 

You already know that, right? Okay then, let’s move on.

If there are Facebook groups within your niche, join those as well. Bring value to the group. The point is to become known and to learn more about the subjects you hope to soon be writing about.

How to become a freelance copywriter

It’s go time!

Now that you’re no longer a stranger, it’s time to dig in and see who can use your content. Look for places to submit your work, even a free article, to get some practice and get your name out there. Remember, the more you write, the more confident you’ll become.

Look for companies that don’t have an active blog or are inconsistent with their content. If a website has typos or isn’t clear on their message, you could write them and offer to improve their web copy. Remember, they know you now, or at least recognize your name, because you’ve spent time interacting with them. So, you can come to them as a peer, which gives you credibility.

While you are looking for a company or two that need content or copy, also be on the lookout for magazines, newspapers, and businesses advertising within your niche that are looking for articles or a staff writer. 

Let me address a common misconception before we go much further. Contrary to what I see people saying on the interwebs, you actually do NOT need an extensive portfolio to become a freelance copywriter. Truth is, a couple of STELLAR pieces go much further than a handful of articles that are — meh. Find a business in your niche and offer to write an article for free. Then put together the best article you can. Do that a couple of times, and you’ve got yourself a solid start to your writing career.

Don’t Go It Alone

If you really want to get into the writing world, make friends in the writing world. We’re a friendly bunch, honest! There are a couple of benefits to having friends who are already making a living stringing words together. First, we are “in the know.” Oftentimes, I have writing leads that are outside of my niche or I’m too busy to take on more clients. If I know someone that might be a good fit, I love passing my recommendations to my potential clients. Second, people who are freelance copywriters can help you avoid the most common pitfalls. Rookie mistakes, as some might call them. We’ve all done them. But maybe we can spare you a minute. Third, we can help you with your craft. Trust me, no matter how good you think you are, we can polish you up. It’s a good thing. 

One More Thing…

Here’s my final piece of advice. Treat it like a job! Gosh darn it, don’t be a slacker — slackers give us ALL a bad name! I have picked up dozens of clients from so-called writers who have dropped the ball on a client and put them in a bind. Jeez. Don’t do that.

I’d love to help you take the first steps to become a freelance copywriter! If you’d like to book a free 15-minute call with me, we can quickly go over a couple of steps you can take to get started as a copywriter. If you’re ready to jump in with both feet, let’s do a full-on consultation and get a plan made for you right away so you can start 2021 off right! 

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