Maybe it’s the economy but there’s been a lot more interest in the idea of making money as a freelance copywriter over the last year or so. While being a successful freelancer isn’t something you can learn completely from a €5 ebook, there’s plenty of advice out there giving key directions and concepts that are important.
Here we give some less common tips for being a freelance copywriter you probably won’t read in those places.
And unless you understand and try to stick to them as much as possible, the odds of you making any money as a successful freelancer are probably pretty slim. Sad face.
1. Learn to type well (and that means fast)
You probably have never heard that one before but, face it, time is money, right? That’s certainly the case with most freelance writing jobs because you’re almost always going to get paid on a ‘per word’ basis. So, it should be obvious that you need to be able have your fingers following your thoughts as fluidly as possible.
Don’t worry about how to learn to do it because there are free websites where you can learn touch- or speed-typing.
2. Expand your vocabulary
This isn’t important because you’re trying to ‘show off’ but because words mean things. If you want to get your point across you’ve got to be able to do so as clearly and precisely as possible. And the only way to improve your word power is to read, read, read. It doesn’t really matter what you read but if you have clients in particular fields they’ll probably have specialist vocabulary that you’ll need to master before you can write about it convincingly.
And it should go without saying that you’ve got to spell things right. No excuses here. Spell check your work every time but remember: spell checks are fallible so don’t rely on them completely. Always read your stuff through for yourself before clicking ‘send’.
3. Work on building up your confidence
One of your biggest long-term challenges is shooting for higher income targets. The ‘content mills’ (places like Fiverr where you can get jobs writing articles for $5) are OK to start because you get some practice and build up your confidence. Although you’ll not find high paying, long-term, really professional freelance writing ‘gigs’ there it’s worth keeping any testimonials you get from those clients because you can use them later when pitching for work either face to face or on your own website.
4. Learn about different types of writing gigs
One of the best things about being a copywriter is the variety of stuff you get to do. Different kinds of jobs require different skill sets and some pay better than others so you may want to think about specializing in those higher paying ones. Here’s a few examples but the list could go on for pages.
- White papers
- Case studies
- Landing pages
- Technical writing
- Ghost blogging
- SEO copywriting
- Brochure writing
- Writing for radio or TV
- Press advertising
5. Learn how to research effectively
When you start a copywriting job there are two things you’ve got to know: everything about your client’s product and everything about the competitors’ products. You’re going to need to be able to scan information – both printed and online – quickly and pick out the most important things relevant to your job. Crucially, what can your product do that the competitors can’t? Work that out and you’re nearly home and dry.
6. Be pro-active
The internet has significantly expanded job opportunities for writers. Now that it’s so easy for businesses to be ‘on’ the internet there’s an even greater demand for somebody to provide the words that go on those pages. Remember that in 99.99% of the cases, these prospects have their own businesses already and they don’t know a thing about writing. If you can just contact them and say, “Hey…I noticed that you’ve got a nice website. Do you ever need any help with writing for it?”
That’s exactly what you should say. Leave it really open-ended like that. It’s just a simple question but if they need help, they’ll tell you. You can be absolutely guaranteed that you’ll eventually find somebody who wants help.
7. Build up a writing portfolio
At the start of your illustrious copywriting career it makes NO difference what you put in your portfolio (as long as you’re proud of it, of course). This initial portfolio will change later after you’ve established a niche for yourself. Start with your hobbies and interests and show them to friends and acquaintances who may be able to put you in contact with someone willing to pay for what you write. (This is also a good way of getting used to presenting your work to others. And to taking criticism!) Start with articles, opinion pieces, even poems, until you break into paid work.
8. Set up some kind of website
Most people who say they want to be freelance copywriters will do absolutely nothing. They’ll just sit around and hope that the copy fairy will change them into one. So just by getting a simple WordPress or Blogger site you’ll be beating 99% of them. It doesn’t have to be fancy but you’ve got to be out there.
These tips for being a freelance copywriter are just a start
So, that should give you some food for thought, right? If you develop a skill, somebody will want it. From there it’s just a matter of (1) plan (2) do (3) review… over and over and over again, getting better every week, every month, every year. Get started and don’t stop.
Good luck. And just remember… the author of this article hated English in high school but now makes a good living from writing. It really is possible.
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