No matter what level, style, or area of copywriting you do, there’s demand for it.
If you’re a freelance copywriter, then you’re in luck. We’ve spoken to the experts to bring you industry-best tips to take your copywriting to the next level. Go from side gig to digital nomad with a life full of freedom and money.
To do it, you need more than writing skills. That’s the easy part. The hard part is knowing how to market your skills, finding your niche, and networking. Once you find your rhythm, you’ll know exactly how to hook your readers every time.
Read on for expert freelance copywriting tips, watch the episode on our YouTube channel, or listen on the go with our podcast. Step-by-step, we’ll give you the advice you need to become a professional copywriter, whether you have a formal education or picked up the career on your own.
1. Get Clients the Easy Way
The easiest way really depends on your current standing in the freelance copywriting job space. Overall, Ning Li suggests:
Cold Outreach. Reaching out to potential clients can suck. A lot of freelance copywriters live behind the text, not in front of it, for a variety of reasons. Maybe you’re not very outgoing, maybe you don’t have the confidence, maybe it makes you nervous.
If you don’t send that cold email, then the answer is always no. Besides, it’s just an email. It’s writing. That’s what you do best.
Write for Free. Yeah, we know free copywriting work doesn’t pay the bills. But if you’re a new copywriter and looking for your first client, if there’s a company you really want to work for, or if there’s someone you want to shadow so you can learn from them, then offer free writing.
Ask if there’s anything you can write for this company/person for free. Usually, that turns into a job. And even if it doesn’t, you can learn a lot about what companies expect or how your copywriting idol works.
Attend Events. Networking is a key factor in nearly every market, providing opportunity to grow your skill, meet others just like you, and connect with potential clients.
Expert Gurleen Singh suggests attending in-person marketing events, using LinkedIn, or Facebook groups. It doesn’t matter. Start making connections now so you can build a network with people you genuinely want to work with you.
Find Clients Who Need Your Skill
The demand is out there. Whatever copy skill you have, whatever area of expertise, there’s a demand for it. Find the clients who need your skill via the three ways listed above. Soon, you’ll have a booming copywriting career.
2. Use Emotional Storytelling
You’re not just writing words on paper. Sales copy isn’t only, “buy now, or else!” That tactic may have worked a few decades ago, but consumers are looking for connection. Look at how expansive each industry has become. It’s not just two products competing against each other. Now there are thousands, each reaching for the throne. How do you make sure the company you’re writing for takes its claim?
Create a Story Around the Product
Emotional storytelling is the way forward. Chris Haddad is the world expert on emotional storytelling when it comes to sales copy, and one of the best copywriters out there. He says creating a story is the best way to reach your audience.
This copywriting tactic is easier than you think. It’s the basics of understanding people. Afterall, that’s what turns a piece of text into a killer hook, right? Because that line understands and connects with the reader.
Let’s use an example: you sell an electric coffee kettle. Instead of going the traditional route of using lines about it being greener or simpler to use than the stovetop, create a story. Tell the reader this is about reinvigorating their love for coffee, enhancing their morning routine by bringing out the joy of coffee making. You’re not selling a kettle; you’re selling an experience. A way of life. A happier, more joyful life.
Abbreviate Your Own Experience
A lot of what makes a good copywriter is taking your own life experience and applying it to your work. You’ve spent years learning and understanding the world, why not use that to advance your freelance copywriting business? That’s what industry expert Rich Schefren believes.
Prospects are looking for a reason to buy your product. They need to know how it will better their lives and make a positive impact. The best way is by telling (in shorter terms) how that product or service benefited your life.
You know what you know through experience. Use it, apply it, take your freelance writing to the next level with value.
3. Become Irreplaceable
As we’ve said, there’s demand for your level of copywriting. But that also means there’s supply. You aren’t alone, which means you need to find a way to become irreplaceable. In this industry, irreplaceability is how to become a copywriter full-time.
Don’t Aim for Regular Copywriting
In the copywriting world, it sounds like a fantastic idea to be a jack of all trades. Someone who can handle it all with ease. But that’s actually the opposite of what you should do, even if it means ignoring a skill. Unless you want to be an agency copywriter where your job is more secure than as a freelance copywriter.
We see this is so many industries: expertise in one skill reigns. If you spread out over too many markets or skills, you’re seen as replaceable. A company can either hire another jack of all trades since you aren’t providing any expertise in one single area, or they can hire an expertise for one area that you cover and leave you in the dark.
Troy Ericson gives a great example of this. Instead of aiming to be an email copywriter, aim to be an email list manager. You’re probably asking why. The reason is that regular copywriting is not viewed as strategic, whereas a list manager is.
When you’re not viewed as a strategist, you’re replaceable. Someone else is creating the strategy and you’re basically doing data entry. Flip the script and become a strategist. That’s what makes you irreplaceable, putting you in the arena with great copywriters, not just good ones.
Write Better Copy
That sounds obvious, right? But it is something you should constantly be working on. According to Stefan Georgi, proven writers get paid more.
You need to have a backlog of content like case studies, published work, proof of your expertise. That’s how you get ahead of the competition. Take a walk in a client’s shoes for a moment. Who would you hire: a) someone with zero testimonials, no samples, and seemingly with no experience, but a promising hook; or b) someone with 100 reviews, live content, and a presence (albeit small)?
You’d probably go with the latter option. It’s less risky. Which is exactly why when you’re just starting out, asking for free work is a great option. You can start building up a copywriting portfolio full of various types of content that will help you plant your feet in the digital marketing world.
Pick one or two types of copywriting and start producing material: SEO (search engine optimization) blogs, social media posts, landing pages, sales letters, white papers, offers, billboards, emails, etc. Having those examples will push your career forward.
Worry less about money and more about getting wins for your clients.
Get a Coach
It’s an investment, for sure. But don’t knock it. A lot of people ignore the opportunity to be coached because they don’t want to invest, but that’s a big mistake. Coaches are there for a reason and the right one will take your career to the next level.
As Andrew Contreras says, “you don’t know what you don’t know.” A coach will enlighten you, increase your copywriting skill, and give you the life of a copywriter you’ve dreamed of. Compare a few copywriting courses offered by industry-leading coaches and make the investment.
4. Understand Offer Owners
Equally important to writing copy that connects with consumers, your content should also connect with the offer owner. As well, you as a copywriter need to exude qualities an offer owner looks for in their employees.
A general rule of thumb, according to Chris Haddad, is to have:
– Emotional Intelligence
With these three things, you (as the freelance writer) will reflect what the business owner wants (the content). We are always selling emotion, not products. The product is secondary. First, you need to sell the pride or success or fear that will link the audience with the product.
Find Untapped Markets
Offer owners also put some reliance on you to find and target the right audiences. That also gives you plenty of opportunity to find new audiences (which can successfully transform you into a strategist).
Julian Reyes suggests doing research on your product within other demographics. For example, selling CBD to the Christian community. Some groups are looking for justification to use a product or service. If you can perform the right research, then all you have to do is connect the dots and write up some copy that opens the door for a new audience.
Be Careful with Your Word Choices
The last tidbit of advice comes from Pauline Longdon, and it’s one of the most important with regard to the actual content you type out.
Some words are taboo. Some are fads. Others are trendy. And then there’s a small group that have longevity. It’s okay to play around with your word choices, but it’s important to always remain cognizant of what you type.
Don’t use words that prevent you from controlling the emotion of the reader. For example, the word “trump”. Don’t use it. It’s a word that used to be use all the time in sales copy, but now it’s completely absent unless you’re targeting certain audiences. It acts as a divider: some users will love it; others will hate it. And that emotional extreme can seriously harm sales.
This applies to more than just sales copy and offers. It affects anything you writer, from press releases and whitepapers to ads and landing pages.
The Best Way to Become a Successful Copywriter Is Getting Payment Process That Backs You
You can’t make a sale if you don’t have a credit card payment processor backing your business. To make your mark on the job boards as a freelance copywriter and hone your content marketing/creative writing skills, you need to secure your small business first.
Since you sell a service with results that come after the purchase, that puts you in a high-risk merchant category.