I’m sure you’ve seen it.
If you’re a new copywriter or you’re just wrapping your head around this whole “copywriting thing,” you’ve probably heard these myths from copywriting “Insta-Gurus” out there:
All you need is a laptop!
You don’t need any special skills!
Copywriting is SO easy to break into!
Here’s the reality:
That’s not how this works. THAT’S NOT HOW ANY OF THIS WORKS.
New copywriters: You have been LIED TO by marginally famous social media personalities that are luring you into a get-rich-quick scheme and then selling you their overpriced courses (that then, undoubtedly sell you on more courses).
Let’s talk about why this is such a massive concern, and the truth behind each of these myths.
Myth #1: All You Need is a Laptop
Truth: You need far more than a laptop and a wifi connection if you want your copywriting business to actually be successful.
So, you have a laptop. Great. But your laptop on its own isn’t making you any money. What happens when you start actually getting clients? What happens when you need to invoice those clients? What about when you send cold outreach pitches?
If you’re just showing up with your laptop and haphazardly just expecting that you can track projects, do your bookkeeping, and close more business through email alone, even your most enthusiastic clients will get the impression that you’re less than professional and won’t value you work the way it should be valued.
You’re offering a professional service. If you want your business to be sustainable, every decision you make needs to move that initiative forward.
So let’s talk about what you actually need to run a successful copywriting business (and keep in mind, this is the bare-bones minimum for a beginner).
A Calendar Link
Stop asking your prospects for a couple dates and times that work for them via email. By the time you agree on a time, either they fill those slots or you’re sitting there blocking off calendar space that could have been filled by another client.
A calendar link eliminates this back-and-forth and makes it easier for both you AND your prospects to grab a time on your calendar.
Plus, a perception of professionalism subconsciously justifies your rates.
Project Management Tools
Even as a brand new copywriter, you need somewhere to keep all of your projects organized. Emailing new project requirements, revision requests, and final pieces back and forth leaves SO much room for error. The last thing you want is for client work to fall between the cracks.
Invest in a project management tool. You can use something more robust like Monday.com or Asana or if budget is an issue, at least use Google Sheets as a live document to track links to your final pieces, payments, and feedback.
A Payment Processor
Relying solely on Venmo or Cashapp to take payments is problematic for a few reasons:
- Neither one of these platforms are designed for businesses. Yes, Venmo has a “business” side now, but none of it is intuitive enough to effectively track your income if you want to actually scale your copywriting business.
- You’re largely unprotected on these platforms. You can’t attach files (such as completed projects) and these platforms mostly side with the payee if something goes wrong.
- It’s just unprofessional. Now, I’m not going to pretend that I’m this ultra-professional person wearing a suitjacket and walking around with a briefcase, but if you’re an online service provider, you need to position yourself as a professional in your field. Using an app that’s primarily meant to exchange money between friends isn’t a good look as a business owner.
What to Do Instead
To put it simply, invest in an actual payment processor or invoicing software. There are a ton to choose from with varying features, benefits, and prices, and there are invoicing softwares for freelancers, specifically.
Some of the payment processors and invoicing softwares I recommend are
- Quickbooks. The gold standard of invoicing and accepting payments.
- Melio. A relatively new company but it’s fee-free.
- PayPal. Old school, but it’s simple, people trust it, and although PayPal puts the consumer first in reported fraud, they have a simple system where you can submit paperwork that proves your case.
Collecting payments is, obviously, key to making money. Make it as streamlined for yourself as possible and stop using phone apps to charge your clients. This will be especially important as your copywriting business grows.
An Actual Plan & Strategy
Sure, you need your laptop. But you also need a plan and strategy. Copywriting isn’t one of those careers where you just say “yep, I’m a copywriter now!” and expect the work to roll in.
You have to approach your transition to freelance copywriting with actual forethought, or your efforts are going to fall flat.
Which is why these “Insta-Gurus” are setting you up to fail by telling you that all you need is your laptop and hi-ho, hi-ho , it’s off to work you go.
You need to have a vision for your copywriting career.
What kinds of clients do you want to work with?
What do you want to write?
What are you already good at that could be helpful in your copywriting career?
How much money do you really need before you quit your 9-5 and go full-on freelance?
How are you actually going to GET these clients?
How much time do you have to learn copywriting between working your regular job and any family or other real-life responsibilities you have?
Being able to answer these questions before you jump in headfirst shifts your mindset from sidehustle to sustainable business.
So, yes. You need more than a laptop to start a copywriting business. That is, if you want it to actually work out.
Myth #2: You Don’t Need Any Special Skills
Truth: Copywriting IS a specialized skill.
This one winds me up probably more than all of the other bullshit copywriting advice I see online.
If you’ve been lured into copywriting because someone has made it sound like it’s so easy to do, that person was probably trying to sell you on their high-dollar copywriting course.
Copywriting is NOT a turn-and-burn task where you can thoughtlessly crank out 500 pieces a week and rake in a Copywriting is a skll that takes time and dedication to develop.
If you’re starting a career as a freelance copywriter, you need to fully understand that this industry shifts at a near-constant rate. You need to be willing to learn the skills, refine them, and dedicate yourself to continuing your education so that you can grow along with the industry.
So if you see those overproduced video sales letters on YouTube that tell you how easy it is to become a copywriter because you don’t actually need any special skills…
It’s a total lie.
They want your money, and they don’t care that after you’ve invested your thousands of dollars into their course that you won’t be any further along than when you started. These fake-gurus set these expectations low because they’re trying to make money, too.
And it’s sleazy as hell.
What Skills Do You Need as a Copywriter?
Let’s talk about the skills you’ll absolutely need to be a successful copywriter:
- Writing skills. Unsurprisingly, you need to have a good grasp on whatever language you’re writing in. That includes grammar and spelling as well as a decent vocabulary. If you struggle with writing coherently or don’t understand basic grammar, you’re not going to do well as a copywriter.
- Adapatability. Virtually every client you work with will have a different brand voice, tone, and stylistic preferences. You need to be able to follow brand guidelines, adapt your writing style to the needs of your clients, and understand that there’s sometimes a difference between the client’s voice and who the client’s copy is written for.
- Understanding of marketing psychology. What makes people tick makes people click. An understanding of framing, positioning, and buyer personas is crucial if you want to write copy that actually gets results. If your copy doesn’t get results, your clients won’t want to work with you and they certainly won’t refer you.
This is by no means an exhaustive list of skills. You also need empathy, listening skills, and research skills, among countless other things that will help you in your copywriting career.
So when someone tells you that you don’t need any special skills to be a copywriter, it’s completely untrue.
Myth #3: Copywriting is Easy to Break Into
Truth: Copywriting is competitive and most new copywriters fail.
If you’ve been following me for a while, you know that I am not one to sugarcoat the realities of what it means to be a copywriter.
Most new copywriters fail. It’s just the hard truth of it.
And I’m willing to bet that a big reason the majority of new copywriters fail is because they’ve been told how easy it is to break into.
Yes, copywriting is in incredibly high demand. It always will be. Every single business on planet Earth relies on copywriting in some capacity.
But it is NOT an easy job.
It’s NOT a fill-in-the-template type of gig.
And it’s competitive as hell. Mostly because of the influx of new copywriters who are just looking for an easy work-from-anywhere job who think that just because they have a laptop and took Comp101 that they’re qualified to write professionally.
If it was that easy, a) more businesses would do their own copy and b) the world would be swarming with highly paid copywriters instead of copywriters begging for Fiverr jobs that pay peanuts (and that’s another negative implication of these horseshit copywriting courses, but we’ll talk about that later).
Let’s go a little deeper into the competitiveness of copywriting.
Just because it’s competitive doesn’t mean that it’s going to be impossible for you to earn a real living as a copywriter.
It’s actually the opposite.
Because when these new copywriters drop off or lose clients because they didn’t know what they were getting into, there’s then an open space for dedicated copywriters who are actually qualified to charge money for what they do.
So can anyone score a copywriting gig? That’s fair to say. But if you’re not good at it, you won’t keep clients, you won’t have a good portfolio that helps you earn more clients, and you might even get a chargeback if your work wasn’t up to par.
If you’re good at what you do, you’ll stand out above all of the Wish-level copywriters and sea of dead-end applicants.
But that’s the thing: you have to be good at it.
It Goes Deeper Than Getting Ripped Off
New copywriters being ripped off for their hard-earned money after being sold into the “copywriting is easy money!” BS is only the surface of why that trope is so dangerous.
The unscrupulous copywriting course creators out there that are selling this idea are damaging the industry as a whole.
And here’s why:
Because pushing the narrative that “anyone can write copy” is only beneficial to the people hocking their overpriced, half-assed courses.
If it’s constantly touted that “anyone with a laptop” can be a copywriter, businesses begin to balk at industry-standard pricing.
And that devalues copywriting industry wide.
After all, why would someone want to pay you what you’re actually worth if they think it’s something they could hire anyone off the street to do?
That whole “it’s not that hard. I can get it cheaper,” thing really does happen.
And when that fails, one of two things happen: Either they end up paying those industry standard rates or they begin to think that copywriting isn’t a worthwhile investment.
Sadly, it’s often the latter. And even when it’s not, good, career copywriters shouldn’t have to argue their rates because it’s been widely advertised that copywriting is so easy that anyone can do it.
If You Want to Succeed as a Copywriter, Be Prepared to Put in the Work
Is copywriting lucrative? Yes.
Is copywriting a great career choice for someone with an inherent writing skill who’s interested in marketing, psychology, sales, and advertising? Yes.
But can anyone write copy? Can you really just start making buku bucks working from your couch in your pajamas with just a laptop and absolutely zero skills or a plan?
So while the “copyfluencers” post their TikToks about how easy it is to make six figures as a copywriter like it happens in just a click of a magic button that they’ll give you pretend access to in their bazillion dollar course…
Just know that that’s not even close.
Like any other industry, copywriting takes practice. It takes dedication.
It takes commitment to continually bettering yourself and developing and refining your skills.
If you’re willing to make that commitment, you’ll achieve your dreams.
And THAT’S the ONLY real secret to success.