If You’ve Been Thinking About Starting a New Career as a Copywriter, This is Your Sign (and Your How-To Guide)
You know those stories you hear about how starting a copywriting business means living a life of freedom and creativity?
All of those things you’ve heard about how you can start a copywriting business without a college degree, and actually make a real income?
It’s all true.
Every single bit of it.
Why Should You Start a Copywriting Business?
Copywriting is one of those unique careers that’s always in demand, provides the opportunity to make GOOD money, and you can do it from anywhere you can get an internet connection (shoutout to all you digital nomads!).
Plus, the freedom that comes with a copywriting business makes it worthwhile tenfold.
Launching your freelance copywriting business is the proverbial key to autonomy.
Because owning your own business means owning your own time, which means owning your own LIFE.
You can pursue copywriting full-time or part time and still make good money.
You can choose when you want to work, how much you want to work, what kind of work you want to do, and who you want to work with.
You’re in control of your own income because YOU determine your prices.
No more asking your job for permission to take a day off or to leave early for your sister’s wedding.
No more panic and fear when you’re running late to work and you know you’re going to get written up. No more worrying about what to wear to the office because it might not be “professional enough.” No rushed lunch breaks. No office gossip. No more worrying if you’re going to get laid off.
When you own your own copywriting business, you’re the boss. You make the rules.
How To Start a Copywriting Business
Launching a business of any kind requires drive and effort, so get ready to put in the work.
But, one of the key differences between starting a copywriting business and starting another type of business is that you can start a copywriting business with minimal upfront cost. As long as you’re willing to do the work, you can start your copywriting business from scratch for less than a couple thousand dollars–and you can do it pretty quickly.
Take a Copywriting Course
You don’t need to spend four years (and multiple thousands of dollars) to learn copywriting. Taking a copywriting course can help you develop the skills you need, turn on your “copywriter brain” and learn how to write copy that sells.
Choose Your Path
The niche and format you choose will determine everything else in your copywriting business, from the portfolio you build to how you market yourself.
Think: What do you LIKE to write about? Would technology copywriting be your jam? Writing for coaches or service providers? Health care copy? Choose something that you don’t mind spending hours and hours researching; copywriting is a LOT of research.
As for choosing s copy format, copywriting is a diverse field. You can choose to specialize in web copy, email copywriting, brand copy, ad copy, social media copy, SEO copy, and more.
To start your copywriting career, choose one format and master it. Remember, you can always add to your skill set and write in other copywriting formats as your copywriting business grows.
Create Your Portfolio
Now, create your copywriting portfolio. This is where it all begins! You can’t effectively pitch yourself without it.
I know, I know:
But, Liz, I’ve never even had any clients! How do you create a copywriting portfolio with no experience?!
Easy. You create your OWN experience.
You can absolutely, 100%, create a portfolio with absolutely no copywriting experience.
Let’s break it down into three simple steps:
- Create a fictional business
- Roleplay as your client. What do you need? Create a brief.
- Write the copy as if it were a real, paid gig.
That’s it. Rinse and repeat until your portfolio is robust.
A few tips for creating your beginners copywriting portfolio:
- Create several different “businesses” to write for to diversify your portfolio pieces.
- Write copy for in different voices and tones (but remember, each “business” you write for should have a consistent voice.
- Write for different objectives (for example, a sales email and a welcome email)
- Don’t forget to edit and proofread!
Determine Your Rates
Knowing what to charge as a beginning copywriter is arguably one of the most challenging aspects of starting a copywriting business. But, I’m going to simplify it for you.
First, keep in mind that even though you’re a beginner, you need to absolutely charge for your work. If someone sees your portfolio and sees that there is value in what you offer, so should you.
Here’s how to calculate what you should charge as a beginning copywriter:
- Calculate the baseline of what you need to live each month (rent, utilities, bills, etc)
- Multiply it by three. Copywriting is a specialized skill. Charge accordingly.
- Divide that number by the number of working hours in a month.
- Estimate the number of hours it will take you to complete a project, whether it’s a sales page, email newsletter, or social media captions, etc.
- Charge that amount.
The great thing about owning your own copywriting business is that you can choose what to charge, and as your skill level increases, you can increase your rates as well.
Create Your SOPs
Having your SOPs (standard operating procedures) in place will save you a massive amount of time and effort. Take this advice: systematize everything and you won’t have to think about it.
The follow is a bare-minimum list of things you should standardize when starting your copywriting business:
- Project management
- Offboarding process
When a client signs with you, the process should feel automatic so you’re not wasting time doing the administrative side of things when what you REALLY should be doing is writing.
This, besides the writing itself, is the fun part! You get to go out there and market your services, position yourself as an authority in your field, and attract your dream copywriting clients.
Perfect Your OWN Messaging First
As a copywriter, you’re uniquely positioned to write the words that are going to attract your ideal client. Use those skills! Perfect your brand messaging and show them how you’re going to elevate their business.
Remember: If you can compel clients to work with you, you can compel THEIR clients to work with THEM–and that’s a huge selling point.
Networking, Networking, Networking
There’s no shortage of networking opportunities for copywriters. Literally every single business needs copywriting. In-person events, online networking events, or even platforms like Clubhouse and LinkedIn can help you find––and connect with––the right people.
Establish Your Brand Authority By Offering Value
If you’ve been looking into how to start your own copywriting business, you’ve probably heard the words provide value about ten thousand times. But what does providing value really mean?
You want to provide a takeaway for your potential client, and you want to show them you know your stuff.
For example, let’s say you’re a medical copywriter and you want to attract clients who own a private practice. You might write a blog post about 5 ways a doctor’s office can earn their potential patient’s trust online. One of these 5 ways includes the practice’s copywriting and messaging. This gives your potential client an immediately actionable takeaway and shows that you know exactly how to help them connect with their audience.
Perfect Your Outreach Strategy
An outreach campaign is more than finding businesses and sending cold pitches. You need to have your outreach strategy nailed down.
How are you finding clients?
What are the subject lines of your cold emails?
What’s the hook?
Do you have a calendar link in place?
Is your portfolio polished and send-ready?
What’s your follow-up strategy?
What happens if they express interest?
And, what happens next, on the discovery call?
If you don’t know the answer to ALL of these questions (without thinking), you aren’t ready for outreach.
Deliver Incredible Client Experiences–EVERY Time
So, what happens when you earn someone’s business? Client experience is huge, and every part of the process matters.
From the moment they sign your contract, you need to have a process in place for researching, writing, editing, project updates, revision requests, and delivery of the work. And remember, communication is key: Besides providing incredible writing, one of the biggest reasons your clients will continue to work with you is because you communicate well throughout the project.
Get a Copywritiing Mentor or Coach
Starting a new career as a copywriter and starting your own business can be an arduous process. But, with the right guidance, you can forego all of the trial-and-error and start seeing your business grow faster.
A copywriting mentor or coach can offer you expert advice on everything from writing copy to how to find and handle clients.
Frequently Asked Questions about Starting a Copywriting Business
You’ve probably STILL got a lot of questions about starting a copywriting business. Let’s answer some of them.
Can I Start Copywriting With No Experience?
YES. As mentioned above, copywriting is an extremely unique career. You can take copywriting courses to create a solid foundation, create your portfolio pieces, and start pitching yourself to clients.
Where Do I Learn How to Start Copywriting Fast?
I can’t say this enough: Copywriting isn’t a get-rich-quick type of career. You’re not going to be a six-figure copywriter overnight. But, if you take the right copywriting courses, you can expedite the process. Take a copywriting course that doesn’t just show you the basics of copywriting, but also gives you the rundown of how to manage your business, earn and retain clients, and grow your copywriting business.
Can You Actually Make Money as a Copywriter?
Definitely. Copywriting is a specialized skill that takes a LOT of time and effort to develop, You can charge accordingly. Plus, as a business owner, you set your own prices, so your income is entirely up to you.
What Does a Copywriter Do All Day?
Copywriting is a lot more than just writing. There’s a LOT of research, the writing process itself, editing, sometimes accompanying design or UX, communicating with clients, sending out cold pitches, answering emails, working on the big-picture of your business, and then MORE writing.
The best part? You can do ALL of this from a campervan in the Ozarks if you want to. Or a coffee shop in downtown LA. Or beachside in southern California. Or from a rooftop bar in Austin. Anywhere there’s internet, you can work.
Can a Copywriter Make Six Figures?
Absolutely. In fact, you can make multiple-six-figures, especially if you own your own copywriting business. The better your skills, the more money you can make your clients, and the more you can charge.
Is Copywriting In-Demand?
Copywriting will ALWAYS be in demand. I don’t care how many AI copybots are out there: absolutely nothing will replace copywriting. Every single business in the world relies on copywriting for some aspect of their business, meaning copywriting is a recession-safe career path.
How Do I Get My First Copywriting Client?
There are multiple ways to get your first copywriting client. You can explore freelancer sites, reach out to potential clients on LinkedIn, find business you want to work with on YELP, pitch yourself to local businesses, and go to networking events.
The important thing to remember is to have your outreach strategy on point. You need to have a polished portfolio, a good hook, a calendar link, and use the right messaging to reach out.
How Much Does a Freelance Copywriter Charge?
Short answer: Whatever they want to.
Long answer: It depends. Beginning copywriters might charge $150 per page or $40 an hour, while an experienced copywriter might charge 4-5x that. It largely depends on the niche, the type of work, the time investment and project scope, and the expertise of the writer.
Do You Need to Go to School to Be a Copywriter?
Nope! I can tell you from experience, in my 12+ years of copywriting, no one has EVER asked me where I went to school. In fact, I didn’t. I learned copywriting on my own, studied hard, took some business courses online, and hit the ground running.
You can, too!
But, not needing a college degree to be a copywriter doesn’t mean you don’t need any education at all. Copywriting courses are a great place to start. And, learn everything you can about marketing. After all, copywriting IS marketing.
Can I Replace My Income as a Copywriter?
Definitely. You can replace your income and THEN SOME, depending on what you charge and how much time and effort you’re willing to put into it.
How Long Does it Take to Make Money as a Copywriter?
This is another “it depends” answer. If you’re currently working a full time job while building your copywriting business, you might not have a ton of extra hours to put into it.
And, there’s no set amount of time it takes to make money as a copywriter. Some people go 100mph from day 1 and quit their 9-5 job in a month, and some take longer.
But, the more time you put into it, the faster it’s going to go.
What Should Be in My Freelance Copywriting Contract?
Obligatory: This isn’t legal advice. Contact your attorney to create your contracts to ensure you’re protected.
This isn’t an all-inclusive list, but here are some of the main components of a freelance copywriting contract:
- The SOW (scope of work): What, exactly, will you be doing for your client?
- Any deliverables: What will you deliver at the end of the project?
- Timeline: How long will this project take?
- Payment terms (and any penalties for late payment): How much are you charging? Do you charge a late fee?
- Cancellation terms: What happens if your client needs to cancel the contract?
- Copyright/Ownership: Who owns the work once complete?
Contracts are complex, but you NEED to have a contract for every single client you work with. No matter how long you’ve known them or how much you trust them. Contracts protect all parties. If you have a client who is unwilling to sign a contract, this is a red flag and you should walk away.
You’re Ready. I’m Ready. Let’s Roll.
If all of this information actually got you MORE excited about having your own copywriting business and didn’t scare you away….that’s a good sign that this career might be for you!
So, what’s the next step?
If we haven’t met…
Hi! If we’re not already acquainted, hi! I’m Liz!
I’ve been a copywriter for 12+ years. I own an award-winning copywriting agency that serves some of the world’s boldest brands. AND, I teach copywriting courses and help new copywriters step into their new careers as a copywriting business owner.
If You’re a New Copywriter, Start Here
I’ve got the tools, copywriting courses, kits, and 1:1 guidance you need to start your copywriting business strong…and make it successful.
Looking for an email copywriting course that will help you accelerate your career? I’ve got you.
Looking for sales page kits, portfolio builders, or writing tools? Let’s go.
Do you want a step-by-step course that shows you how to start, grow, and SCALE your copywriting business? You can find it here.
I’ve packed ALL of my skills, knowledge, experience, and EVERYTHING I wish I’d known when I started my copywriting business into the resources you need to be successful.
Get On The Road Towards Your New Career & Start Your Copywriting Business
Time is your most valuable currency, my friend. If you’re done with working on someone else’s dreams instead of your own, it’s time to make the shift.
If you’ve got a way with words and the desire to own your own time, starting your copywriting business should start TODAY. My biggest piece of advice? Don’t wait. There has never been a better time to launch your copywriting business.