How did you become a freelance copywriter?
Well, there are many roads that lead to Rome – or actually to Amsterdam in this case. Yet there are a number of golden rules that help you become a freelance copywriter. Here are a few tips I have learnt from my own experience:
1. Do what you like.
Then you will become good at it and you end up in a job and working on assignments that suit you best. In the past, I always wanted to become a journalist. When the journalism course I was taking turned out not to be my cup of tea, I began studying history and started writing from there. I chose history because it was always an interesting subject for me and I was good at it in high school. The rest is history …
2. Learn from others.
Try to learn from other copywriters and account managers, specifically in an office. I was lucky enough to have four good copy tutors at LVTPR Editorial Services. In my 4.5 years there I not only learned to write for a medium and target group but also gained basic knowledge about dealing with clients, pitching, managing expectations and negotiating fees. This is super nice, because as a freelance copywriter you also run your own company.
3. Get out of your comfort zone.
Can you take this interview in English? Brush up on the language knowledge of your team or write a white-paper about customer engagement? It is easy to answer ‘no’. You have never done this before. But that does not mean that you can’t!
4. Be critical.
The moment you enter an assignment, you often don’t know about the hat and the border. Or the briefing rattles on all sides. Ask first what the customer expects from you: how and where they want to share the mailing. What the target group and the goal is. (do readers have to sign up for a workshop or do they want to manifest themselves as specialists in a specific area?) Only when you know what a customer wants, you can then meet their expectations.
That’s how you come up with ideas. Especially in my early days as a copywriter, I read a lot, from professional magazines to blogs and from ads to columns. In this way, I discovered different ways to insert an article, how you can play with (sub) headers, images and content form. Think of direct mail as a birth card or a farewell word as a recipe form.
6. Manage expectations.
Ultimately, it is about your client being satisfied. Of course, that means that you deliver quality, but also that you always do the work on time. Are you tight in your planning? Immediately indicate this and plan a buffer. If you ultimately deliver earlier than expected, your client is only happy. This way you manage your expectations and keep everyone happy.
7. Do not stare blindly at money
The amount of financial compensation is not the only factor that determines whether or not you should accept an assignment. Sometimes a project pays less, but it is the missing link in your portfolio. Sometimes a project yields a lot, but cooperation with the client is difficult. Weigh that off before you give your yes.
8. Come into action.
I can’t get started by myself. Nonsense! Just like writer’s block, it’s all a matter of just getting started and putting pen to paper. The way to a successful life as a freelancer begins at the first step. So go and write that blog, finally say goodbye to your boss or take that first freelance assignment.
Joost Hanraets works as a freelance copywriter for Copywriter Collective for, among others, FrieslandCampina, Copaco and TomTom Telematics. View the portfolio/profile of Joost >>
Work samples :