This post is for the nosy bitches.
Or the strategic businesspeople.
You know, whichever.
If you’re interested in which systems, programs, products, and people are required in order to successfully run a consistently growing 6-figure freelance copywriting business, then you’re in luck — I’m about to tell you.
Great question, I’m so glad you asked. The answer is probably a different one than you’re thinking.
Contrary to popular belief, starting a freelance copywriting business is actually quite affordable. There aren’t many things I’d consider a NEED in your first few months, or even your first year.
Some of the tools I’m about to tell you about I didn’t even know about in my first few months or first year. I survived with Google Docs, Google Calendar, and GMail for an embarrassing amount of time.
I’d like for you to avoid some of that embarrassment.
I’m gonna tell you what they are, what I use them for, how much they cost, how much I like the platform, and whether I think YOU need them or not / at which point it makes sense for you to invest in them.
USE: Calendar management. It’s an easy, FREE tool that I use every second of every day. It’s my literal lifeline.
COST: $0. Love that for us.
NEED IT OR NOT: YES. And you need to color-code it. Here’s a video of how I organize mine.
USE: Everything under the sun. No joke.
COST: $95 a year, but you probably don’t need the paid version—I’m just dramatic and upload wayyyy too many things to the platform, making it necessary for me to upgrade to the plan that has more storage.
NEED IT OR NOT: You do need SOME way to manage your notes, yeah. But you don’t necessary need Milanote specifically.
This is the platform I use for ALL of my internal docs — legit every single thing I need to know / do / remember / plan / take notes for / keep somewhere safe, like:
…just to name a few.
I used to use Notion for this (another awesome platform you’ll hear me talk about a little later on this list) but my ADHD couldn’t handle its level of customization.
I spent way too much time trying to make things perfect and pretty, and I kept finding myself worrying about aesthetics instead of actually being productive, so… I forced myself to switch to a platform that had slightly less customizability.
Now, don’t get me wrong, if I *allowed* myself to spend time customizing Milanote, it would look almost as sexy as my Notion, but because the background of the platform is a gray grid with little dots (and not beautifully blank white space like Notion), I subconsciously feel less obligated to make it fit my aesthetic.
I spent some time setting up templates for myself that work for me, and I’ve stuck with them. I’m straight up banned from trying to make things look cute.
USE: Spreadsheets. But pretty.
COST: $0. I have the free version, and I’ve had it for years.
NEED IT OR NOT: Nah, you don’t need it. I’m just dramatic. I do looove planning my newsletter content in there, though, and I use it to plan clients’ newsletters when they work with me on an Email Marketing VIP Week or Email Strategy Session.
>> Click here to get my AirTable Newsletter Content Planner! It comes with 62 ideas for your weekly newsletter (aka newsletters planned out for you for an entire year) in addition to the exact spreadsheet I use to plan my email content.
USE: Email marketing! (I’m using exclamation points because I’m obsessed with email marketing! And it’s the best content marketing tool for growing your business!)
COST: $19/mo with code “BTLCOPY”
NEED IT OR NOT: YES, you do. But I’m only saying that because I’m bullying you to start email marketing.
USE: To manage my relationships with my clients. Dubsado is the perfect CMS (client management system) for service-based business owners.
I use Dubsado to schedule calls, send proposals, contracts, and invoices, share my welcome handbook and questionnaires, request feedback and testimonials…
COST: $280/year with the code “BTLCOPY” 🤠
NEED IT OR NOT: 10000% yes, you need it. Get it right now. It’s free for your first 3 clients, and there’s no credit card required to sign up. Click here to get 20% off!
(Because what’s the point of having Dubsado without Dubsado templates?!)
USE: To create the necessary forms inside Dubsado:
Now, I will say: you CAN create forms inside your Dubsado account for free, without purchasing any templates to customize. But they don’t look as good. At all.
Dubsado is not a platform that inherently has good design options / capabilities. If you ever encounter someone whose Dubsado forms look cute, it’s because they either a) bought a template or b) hired someone like her or like her.)
COST: $300, but only $250 if you use my code “BTLCOPY” for $50 off.
NEED IT OR NOT: It’s not a need, but… you want your client experience to be streamlined and sexy, don’t you? So, yeah, I’d call it an eventual need, in that: it’s not necessary to succeed, but it will drastically improve your likelihood of succeeding.
Great Dubsado templates = great client experience.
Great client experience = very happy clients.
Very happy clients = very good testimonials.
Very good testimonials = more very good clients.
More very good clients = more money.
More money = whatever the hell you want.
You see where I’m going with this? You can use code “BTLCOPY” to get $50 off of my preferred Dubsado templates (created by my preferred Dubsado Certified Specialist, Fran from The Passions Collective.)
USE: To communicate with my clients, students, and mentees. I love being able to easily DM people (and I love giving people easy access to me without having to sift through our inboxes to chat).
COST: A lot. I don’t even know. You have to pay $$ per person, per month. Between all of my Slack channels, I probably pay at least $200 per month, maybe more. It’s worth it for me, though.
(If you’re wondering “but Sara, why the hell don’t you know how much you pay for Slack Pro?” – scroll to the ‘people who help my business’ section, and read about my CPA + bookkeeper, Ansley. She’s why.)
NEED IT OR NOT: No, you don’t need it.
I only have it because I have one client on retainer that has a lot of people on their team that I like to talk to often, and because I host my groups of mentees / students in chats on there. It’s not necessary for the average freelance copywriter working on a per-project basis with their clients.
USE: To sell digital products.
COST: One-time payment of $720.
NEED IT OR NOT: You only need it if you’re going to sell digital products. Or, if you have Flodesk, you could use that — it has a ‘checkouts’ feature — but Thrivecart is more robust, because it has things like affiliate marketing capabilities, and payment plan options, etc.
USE: To build, host, and sell my online course.
COST: $1920/year. Yikes.
NEED IT OR NOT: Only if you’re planning on becoming a very serious online course salesman. It’s expensive as shit, and only worth it if your online course is a big pillar of your business.
USE: To host webinars.
COST: $99/mo. But I cancel and re-sign up all the time, like an asshole. But I only host webinars, liiiike, 2-3 times a year. Sue me.
NEED IT OR NOT: Nope, you don’t, Zoom would work.
(I just prefer Demio because of the capabilities it has, like pop-up links on your presentation, and a replay automatically sent to users who attended, etc.)
USE: To host calls with my clients, students, and mentees.
COST: I pay $10/mo for Zoom plus (I think?) an additional yearly fee, so I can use some of the upgraded features.
NEED IT OR NOT: Yeah, everyone needs Zoom, because everyone uses Zoom. You can probably get by on the free version for a while, though.
(Don’t use Google Meet as an alternative, it’s trash. It’s slow and laggy.)
USE: To host + design my website.
COST: Depending on the plan, it’s a either a monthly price of $19, $24, or #$4, OR a yearly price of $228, $288, or $408.
The difference in price is due to the difference in Showit user plan, and the only difference in the plan is how many capabilities you need for your blog.
I have the “Showit & advanced blog” plan, because I’m dramatic.
NEED IT OR NOT: YES, YES, YES. You need Showit.
Okay, maybe I’m biased because they’re a client of mine, and I’m yelling because I love them, but actually, you don’t technically *need* Showit.
You NEED a website builder, but it doesn’t need to be Showit.
(But, like, yeah it does…)
I have a whole entire (very in-depth!) post about the difference between Squarespace and Showit, if you’re interested.
In my opinion, those two platforms (Showit vs Squarespace) are really the only website builders worth deciding between (unless you’re an e-commerce shop and you’re planning on using Shopify, or you have a great designer who wants to build your site on Webflow).
As a rule of thumb: Squarespace is for beginner copywriters who don’t want to pay a lot of money for a website builder (or a template, or a designer), and Showit is for the copywriters who want to upgrade their websites to be a little more show-off-worthy.
Obviously, that’s a total generalization… so, do your research & read my summary of the difference between the two platforms before making your decision.
(This is not a Squarespace hate account, just a Showit fan account. Don’t get it twisted.)
Don’t use WordPress, Wix, GoDaddy, Weebly, or anything else. Just trust me on this. I’m Website Queen for a living, k?
USE: To record videos of my face and my screen at the same time.
I use Loom all the time for recording overview videos for my copywriting clients, recording website copy audits, recording my webinars, masterclasses, and courses… basically, any time I want someone to see my screen and hear me talk about what’s on my screen, I’m recording a Loom.
COST: $8 per month, if you need to record more than 25 videos, and record beyond 5 minutes for each video.
You could totally get away with just downloading and then deleting your videos to stay under 25, and record under 5 minutes, but for only $8 per month per user… I think it’s worth just paying for. Business expense!
NEED IT OR NOT: Yes! I’d say it’s a need. When you’re just starting out, you may not have as many reasons to record Loom videos, but at least make yourself aware that Loom is an option for whenever you do have a reason to.
USE: To design literally everything.
Instagram posts, Pinterest pins, presentations, slide decks, invoices (if you’re not using a CRM—which you should be, scroll back up to #5!), course modules, webinars, business cards invitations for your son’s dinosaur-themed 4th birthday party… I’m not kidding when I say it’s for EVERYTHING.
You can even print things directly from Canva and have them mailed to your house. I’ve done this for biz cards, invites, and even posters.
(I once made a client’s logo into a poster to hang it in my office because I loved it so much.)
NEED IT OR NOT: YES, you need it. But you may not need the Pro version.
Buuuut… you might as well just get it. You’re gonna want it eventually. It’s not that expensive, and it’ll 100% pay off.
(Don’t feel like it’s a *need* to pay for it right now, though, if you’re trying to cut back on expenses. The free version is totally fine, and plus side: the best Canva social media templates ever work great with the free version.)
USE: To create social media posts (primarily for Instagram).
But, if you choose to purchase 3 packs of them (150+ templates), you’ll get them all for $390.
AND, if you use code “BTLCOPY” you’ll get 15% off of your entire purchase.
NEED IT OR NOT: I wouldn’t call this a “need” if you’re brand new to business, because I don’t think brand new business owners should be focusing on growing their Instagram — they should, instead, be focused on growing their BRAND.
If you focus on growing your Instagram account in the beginning, you’ll be too concerned with your follower count, and not concerned enough with the actual skills, relationships, and strategies for growing your business as a whole.
More on that speech in another post, though — back to TONIC’s Canva templates.
If you’re in a place where you’re ready to grow your Instagram account and consistently post on social media, then, YES, you absolutely need these Canva social media templates. They make content creation SO MUCH EASIER.
USE: To create educational material for my community in Canva.
COST: $495. Kinda steep, not gonna lie.
BUT I literally use them for every single thing I make on Canva that isn’t for social media, which, for me, is…
…and tons more.
So, while $495 feels kind of pricy for a slide deck template, I’ve created 50+ designs with it, and I’ll continue to use it for a longgg time to come, so… safe to say the investment been well worth it.
NEED IT OR NOT: No, it’s not a need. But, if you find yourself creating a lot of presentation-adjacent material in Canva, and you want those designs to look elevated AND take less time for you to create, I highly recommend them.
USE: Mentee dashboards.
(I offer 1:1 mentorship and VIP weeks for copywriters, and I create them a dashboard full of tons of resources custom curated for them. I like using Notion for this because most people are familiar with the platform, and a lot of new copywriters choose it as their go-to organizational dashboard.)
COST: $55/year, because I have the version of it that lets you have a shit ton of storage.
NEED IT OR NOT: If you’re in the market for an app to organize your whole ass life, yes.
Howeverrr, be mindful of the saga that I mentioned earlier, when we were talking about Milanote — Notion is drastically customizable, and it sent me into an aesthetics hole for sooo long that sucked out the productivity from my brain.
I love Notion, and if I had endless hours to make it beautiful enough to suit me (and if I didn’t have ADHD and want to change said beautiful image on the reg), I’d be using that instead of Milanote.
My advice is this: choose an organization platform, and stick with it. You can get caught up in the features / looks of other platforms, and you’ll feel the itch to switch, but it’s not worth it.
You’ll spend so much damn time customizing your Notion / Milanote / ClickUp / Asana / Trello / Monday / whatever you choose… and you’ll forget all about the actual WORK you’re supposed to do.
Just pick one and roll with it.
USE: Payment processor (aka to get paid $$$).
COST: $0, but you pay 2.9%ish in fees.
NEED IT OR NOT: Yes, if you want to get paid, you need it. Especially if you’re going to be using a CRM like Dubsado, or a platform for selling online products like Thrivecart or Kajabi.
I prefer Stripe over PayPal, because it’s more intuitive, and feels more tailored to business owners.
(Plus, PayPal gives me sketchy vibes that I can’t explain.)
USE: To process payroll.
NEED IT OR NOT: If you have an S Corp and you need to process payroll, yes, you need it.
(But if you’re just getting started as a freelance copywriter, then, no, ignore this one for now.)
My CPA slash bookkeeper, Ansley of Peach Perfect Financials, is in charge of pretty much everything related to BTL finances—my financial advisor, Matt, is in charge of all the leftover that Ansley’s not on the hook for—and she made me get it.
(Side note: she is the BEST. More on her later.)
What I *will* say about Gusto, though, is that the platform is very user-friendly.
(It’s also the reason I became friends with the 22-year-old son of a famous Hollywood producer slash friend of Shonda Rhimes on a flight home from LA once. I was stalking his computer, because, like I said, nosy bitch, and saw he was on Gusto, said something about it to him, and we talked the whole 6 hours home. Full story here.)
USE: Bookkeeping software.
NEED IT OR NOT: You definitely need some sort of bookkeeping software, yeah. Spreadsheets won’t cut it forever.
Although, I will say, I made it pretty damn far with my sick ass spreadsheet in AirTable, but the second I became an S Corp, I got my ass on Quickbooks. I didn’t trust myself to keep track of all the things.
Which, actually, is the perfect transition into the next thing I wanted to tell you about…
For a long ass time, I was a complete one-woman show. Not a single contractor in sight. No help, just vibes.
…until I grew.
Then ur gurl needed some SUPPORT.
⭐️ PINTEREST MANAGER — The first person I ever hired to support my business was my Pinterest manager, Sarah Burk. And I’m SO thankful to say that I’m still working with her to this day! She has been such a star player on the BTL team since day 1, and she’s the most supportive person on the planet.
⭐️ ACCOUNTANT AND BOOKKEEPER — I cannot TELLLLL you how helpful it has been to have a CPA and bookkeeping team in my corner. Especially because Ansley & the Peach Perfect Financials crew literally specialize in working with online business owners. If you’re in the market for an accountant or a bookkeeper, you simply have to work with her. It’s a must.
(Honorable mention: Madison Dearly‘s team for bookkeeping. Being her client is such a rewarding experience.)
⭐️ SHOWIT WEBSITE DESIGNER — Even though Showit IS easy to learn, there was no way in hell I was custom designing a 60+ page website by myself. My website is giant, and I am dramatic, and I needed the best Showit website designer on the planet. Her name is Sarah Kleist, and if you’re in the market for a Showit website designer, she’s your girl. Inquire today. I mean it.
⭐️ KAJABI DESIGNER — Unlike Showit, Kajabi is hard as hell to figure out. Like, I’m not playing when I tell you the platform gives me a conniption when it comes to design. I used my client, Cahlia, to design mine for me and THANK GOD, my course is no longer crusty and ugly.
⭐️ FINANCIAL ADVISOR — As soon as I started making real $$$, I knew I wanted to enlist someone to help me with the management of my finances, investing, and saving for retirement / my son’s college / future. I absolutely love the firm I chose, and I highly, highly recommend working with Matt if you’re interested in working with a financial planner.
⭐️ ASSISTANT / INTERN — Over the course of the past few years, I’ve had a few different virtual assistants, in-person assistants, and interns who have helped me grow throughout the various seasons of my life and business.
Having another person help you take on your workload is so valuable, but it can be difficult, too. Figuring out WHAT to outsource is the hardest part, especially as a copywriter, because I wasn’t willing to outsource the actual copywriting element of my business (duh).
I ended up outsourcing some of my administrative tasks instead, like uploading my weekly newsletter to my archive, or repurposing blog content for social media graphics, or organizing data, or doing the first phase of research gathering for projects.
Because, yeah, I know this list was a little overwhelming. I wanted to tell you EVERYTHING, okay?!
Here’s what I recommend using when you’re a baby copywriter, fresh out the “I think I want to write copy full time” womb:
And, with those platforms + tools, you’ll be able to do everything you need to do to grow your business.
In terms of people—when you’ve grown a little bit, and you’re ready to hire some help to continue that growth—here’s who I’d recommend working with:
& speaking of… if you’d like a little more help from a not-so-baby-anymore copywriter (aka a copywriter who has mentored 13+ copywriters, taught 160+ students across 2 courses, written 150,000+ words of copy, and figured out all the stupid shit), I also offer mentorship for copywriters.
1:1 MENTORSHIP INTENSIVE FOR COPYWRITERS ($3k/mo for 3+ months) — a one-on-one immersive mentorship experience, where you’ll learn quite literally every single thing about becoming a successful freelance copywriter and writing the best copy and growing your business from scratch.
This is my most intensive mentorship option, and I’ve been mentoring copywriters in this capacity for 2+ years, with KILLER results I shout from the rooftops at every opportunity.
Past mentees have confidently quit their 9-5s, doubled their pricing (and their monthly income), consistently attracted dream clients, started email lists, launched websites, declined red flag inquiries, successfully pitched new clients and media features, refined client processes, solidified contracts, ditched overwhelm and confusion…
But, most importantly, they were ALL able to accelerate their success story, thanks to the unlimited individual support they received (and the tools, advice, and hand-holding I gave along the way).
*Side note: I only work with one 1:1 mentee at a time, in order to provide them with the best possible experience.
**Double side note: 90% of the 1:1 mentees I’ve worked with have chosen to extend beyond the 3-month minimum timeline, because they loved having a mentor so much. *sniffle*
COPYWRITER VIP WEEK ($2500) — my newest and, as of late, most popular mentorship option is my Copywriter VIP Week, where I, essentially, boil down everything you’d learn in my 1:1 intensive into just ONE WEEK.
The 1:1 mentorship option isn’t right for everyone, and I wanted to find a way to serve new and aspiring copywriters that a) didn’t want to spend $9k on mentorship, b) wanted something more fast-paced than biweekly calls, and c) felt like
Now, I will say, this week is PACKED.
This option isn’t for the girlies who like to process one thing before learning another.
Each day—for 4 days straight—we’re on Zoom for 90 minutes, going over 1 of 4 copywriting- or freelance-related topics, covering as much ground as possible.
Prior to the week’s start, you’ll fill out a questionnaire + we have a kickoff call where I’ll conduct a business audit, so we can see where we’re starting from. Then, I’ll determine the 4 areas of business that are most necessary for us to go over, and create a plan from there.
After that, we hit the ground running!
Most copywriters’ 4 topics are business admin, client process + experience, marketing, and copywriting skills.
However, I’ve had copywriters who only wanted to talk about website copywriting, for the entire week. And copywriters who only wanted to talk about marketing their business, for the entire week.
The Copywriter VIP Week curriculum I develop is completely tailored to you and what you’re looking for support with.
*Side note: almost every single copywriter who has worked with me during a Copywriter VIP Week has chosen to expand their mentorship and join my “Qs & Reviews” membership. *again, sniffle!*
Qs & REVIEWS MEMBERSHIP ($500/mo) — a 6-month mentorship commitment where you’ll get unlimited Slack access to me for questions, up to 5 copyedits (on your copy OR copy you’re writing for your clients) per month, and four 90-minute strategy calls (including our kickoff call, where I’ll conduct a business audit for you) over the course of our 6 months together.
For more details about mentorship for copywriters, stalk this page, read this blog post, flip through the “mentorship” highlight on my Instagram, or feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line “mentorship” — I’m happy to answer any questions you have!
You’d LOVE my weekly marketing newsletter.
I send one marketing tip, once a week – every single Tuesday morning, without fail, at 6:26am, to thousands of aspiring copywriters, creative business owners, and your fellow nosy bitches who want to hear about matching first-date tattoos, weird guys named Tony, and the time I accidentally drank an 8oz glass of straight vodka at a chamber of commerce event.
And, not to brag, but subscribers have called it “the only thing worth waking up for on Tuesday mornings” and “the best copywriting newsletter on the Internet” and “the best email to grace an inbox.”
So… I’d say it’s worth subscribing to.
If you're an entrepreneur, business owner, or course creator with big dreams of success and growth—and a big, scary blank document standing in your way every time you sit down to write your own copy—nice to meet you, I'm your new solution.
Through what I like to call sales-focused storytelling, I'll help you find your brand's voice, perfectly position your offerings, develop your target market, and write copy that resonates with your ideal audience. And I'll do it all while keeping your personality at the forefront of every draft, to ensure that each word aligns with your true self.
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