So, you want to become a freelance copywriter, huh? Great choice—it’s the best job in the world. (I may or may not be a little bit biased.) However, getting started can often feel a bit overwhelming if you don’t know what to research first. In this post, you’ll find all of my favorite resources for learning about the field, my recommendations for where to start, and 3 of my best tips for becoming a brand new freelancer.
There’s a lot that goes into getting started, but if I’m being honest, a lot of the best and most valuable lessons you’ll learn will come by doing. No successful person has been able to reach their goals without a few bumps in the road, and I personally believe those bumps are some of the best parts of your journey to becoming a full-time freelance business owner.
However, you don’t have to start from scratch—some of those bumps can be smoothed out by the advice of experienced copywriters willing to share their best tips with you (hi, me.)
Know your worth, but work for free. (Yeah, I said it. Don’t freak out—I only recommend this under very specific circumstances.) When you’re first starting out, reach out to people in your network and offer to work for free in exchange for a testimonial or review, whether it be for one project or a set amount of time. Never make the person feel obligated to work with you, but also never let them take advantage of you by adjusting the agreed-upon scope.
This is what I did when I first started out and it helped my business exponentially. I was able to show potential new (paying!) clients samples of actual work I’d completed, and two out of the three people I reached out to ended up hiring me on retainer, and I fostered great relationships with them. (The third person never answered. Oh, well.)
Use your judgment about the terms of your relationship with whoever takes a chance on you, and do what makes you feel the most comfortable. Determine how much experience you have, and how much value you’re providing to your first so-called clients, and how much value they’re providing to you (you’ll learn a lot during this time!). Then, make up your own rules about the arrangement. Your focus should be fairness, getting a feel for how the client-writer relationship works, and—duh—the actual copywriting tasks at hand.
Publish your website ASAP. Again, this is advice that I only recommend for brand new business owners—and no one else. When you’re first starting out, and your only goal is to make any amount of cash at all so you can call yourself a real business owner, you need a website, but you don’t need a perfect one. Don’t worry about having the most beautiful web design, or the best About page, or tons of blog posts. Those things will distract you from your actual goal: getting clients, and gaining experience. You can worry about your website’s appearance later. For now, make sure it’s functional, professional, and accurate.
Familiarize yourself with the client process. Once you’ve gained enough confidence to start selling your services for actual cash money, you’ll need to offer your clients a positive, seamless experience so they truly get their money’s worth. This means making sure you’re organized, on top of all client communication, and doing the things they expect of you: sending a professional, personalized proposal, asking them important questions on your client questionnaire, scheduling calls with ease… all that good stuff.
Copy Posse. Alex Cattoni is a seasoned copywriter and great educator—I love watching her YouTube videos and reading her blog posts. She knows how to provide an insane amount of value to her audience, and she’s someone I always recommend looking up before getting started. She has resources about practically everything you need to know before starting your business. All of these resources are free, however she does have a few courses, products, and group coaching programs available should you be interested in something more robust.
Copyhackers. The perfect place to start if you’re ready to learn from the best. I recommend beginning with this free course, then deciding if you’d like to enroll in their popular program CopySchool. (Side note: I definitely don’t feel that enrolling in a paid course like this is necessary to becoming a successful copywriter—I never took a paid course like that—but I know plenty of other copywriters who have enrolled in their program and loved it. But I don’t want you to feel like you have to, because you absolutely don’t. If you’re motivated enough to learn on your own, that’s perfectly fine.)
Copyblogger. This copywriting blog is great for both beginner copywriters and copywriters in general, always publishing helpful content and offering new perspectives about the world of content marketing. Sonia Simone, founding partner of Copyblogger Media, has a very helpful course on Coursera that I highly recommend. You can sign up for it here!
Copy For Everybody. My Internet friend and fellow copywriter, Terry Schilling, recently launched his brand new website, Copy For Everybody—a go-to resource for (like the brand name states) everybody to learn about copywriting. (Side note: he asked me to be a guest author for the launch of the site, and if you’d like, you can read my post all about how to write metadata here!)
Udemy’s Website Copywriting Course. If you want to do what I do, and you’re set on a course being your starting point, I recommend beginning with this one. Udemy’s instructors do a great job of explaining what website copywriting is, and give a good overview of what makes a good website.
I hope you found this post helpful! Make sure you’re subscribed to be notified when my next post goes live. And, before you go, I have to mention—if you’re looking for a mentor as you begin the process of becoming a freelance copywriter, check out my consulting services here. I’d love to help you with your goals and show you the ropes as you navigate your career shift!
Creative launch copywriter slash sales-focused storyteller, obsessed with writing copy strategically crafted to help business owners connect with their ideal clients. Click here to get to know me!