If you did your research, you probably already know that copywriting is in high demand. With the current pandemic and increased globalization, there is a great deal of competition for consumers. This is why a good copywriter is incredibly valuable for every company. But where do you start from when starting a copywriting business?

Well, one of the best things about a copywriting business is that you can start with little up-front cost. Even better – you can run it on a part-time basis. You may choose to do copywriting on the side or commit to it full time. You can rent an office space to work from, work from home, or work from your dream vacation destination. As long as you have a computer and a stable internet connection, you’re ready to go.

However, the ease of business setup can be misleading. To make sure your copywriting business is scalable, you will want to set things right from the beginning. Forgetting important steps in the setup process could get your business shut down.

To help you set things right from the start, here are the first seven steps you should take when starting your copywriting business.

1. Hone Your Skills and Establish a Writing Routine

If you’re considering starting your own copywriting business, you probably already have some training and experience. But do not let that fool you. Remember that markets shift and consumers change behavior all the time. It is absolutely crucial that you have a solid knowledge base in copywriting to succeed.

Take stock of your skills and knowledge and always strive to be better. Dan Lok always tells his students: “You don’t have a money problem, you have a skills problem.” This is great news, though, because you can always learn more and develop your skills.

Do you have a writing routine? To stay on top of your game, you’ll want to establish a strong routine that will allow you to grow. Establishing a good reading and writing routine will allow you to establish a good working routine as well. Set out time for undisturbed work each day.

Are you reading copywriting emails you like? Finding Instagram posts and Facebook ads you think are particularly appealing? Save them in your swipe file and rewrite them by hand. This will allow you to internalize their tone and style and use it in your own copywriting.

If you want to be a successful copywriter, write by hand. You will notice your tone and your copy improve significantly. Click To Tweet

Copywriters should also always be improving and learning new skills that can help grow their business. If you’d like to learn about technical writing, SEO principles or another new skill, consider enrolling in an online course. Online services like Udemy or Skillshare can help you learn new skills quickly and at a low price.

Remember to stay humble. Many copywriting businesses fail because of hurt egos. Put your ego aside and allow your mind to expand and your skills to sharpen. Share your work with more experienced copywriters and get their feedback.

2. Find a Niche

What services will you offer to your copywriting clients? If you have experience in a particular type of writing, you may want to choose to focus on that as your niche. You may want to specialize in specific areas of copywriting such as Facebook ads, website content, email marketing copy, and more. Or perhaps you prefer to write newsletters? Catalogs? Whatever type you choose, make sure it is the one you enjoy and are good at.

Another thing you can do to narrow down is picking an industry or a specific field you’re interested in. Is there something you really enjoy learning and reading about? Do you enjoy business blogs and websites? Maybe you’re passionate about self-development? Or coaching and consulting? If you pick a field you are inspired by, it will be felt in your writing and your copy will be significantly better.

Niche yourself as the best copywriting resource for a particular market. This is how you position yourself as an expert and set your own terms. Click To Tweet

Picking a type of copy and industry allows you to position yourself as an expert. You could be the go-to expert for email newsletters in the fitness industry for women who want to lose weight. That is very specific. If you position yourself as an expert, you will also be able to charge more for your work.

3. Develop a Business Plan

Now, even though the copywriting business is relatively easy and inexpensive to start, you should have a good business plan. This will allow you to build a strong business with many opportunities for growth. Writing your plan out will keep you focused on your goals.

Here are a few important questions to consider as you build your business plan:

  • What are the startup costs for your business?
  • What will be the ongoing costs?
  • Do you have a target market?
  • Do you prefer to charge an hourly rate, per word, or per project?
  • What is your rate?
  • Do you have a name for your business?
  • What’s your main marketing approach?
  • What are your strengths? Vulnerabilities?
  • Who presents a competition for you?

Try to think beyond the initial stage. Perhaps for now you work by yourself, but what if you need help? Hiring staff is going to increase your costs dramatically, and you need to take into consideration the cost of hiring them as well. If you employ other copywriters or assistants, remember that you’ll need to set up a payroll system as well.

But the most important question yet might be – who is your desired client? Ideal clients for a copywriting business are typically large corporate clients. They can afford a professional writer or a team of writers, so the pay is generally better. Larger clients are also more likely to have ongoing or regular projects and assignments. This means a more stable source of income for you. It might be smart to avoid clients who are smaller and who have no budget for projects.

Another important step is to resolve your legal status. Establishing a legal business entity such as an LLC prevents you from being personally liable. There are many business structures to choose from including Corporations, LLC’s, and DBA’s.

3. Create a Portfolio

Whether you worked as a copywriter before or you’re just starting out, you’ll want to build a strong portfolio. Gather samples that showcase your talent and demonstrate the range of media, industries, and clients you want to write for.

If you don’t have any samples of your work available, you can sign up for platforms such as Upwork or Fiverr. After getting a few clients through these platforms, you will have a solid body of work to share.

You could also choose your ideal clients and write a few samples of copy for them. Remember, it is not about how many clients you had – it is about the value and quality of work you can provide.

Once you have selected all your writing samples, you’ll need somewhere to display them. Do you have a website? You can use portfolio templates from WordPress, Wix or SquareSpace, or hire a web developer to build you a custom site.

4. Create Your Brand

What is the tone and style of your business? This might not be about what you like as much as about what your ideal clients might find attractive. Is there a specific style, color, design that is important and recognizable for your niche? A strong brand will set you apart from your competitors and give your business a personality that clients can relate to.

Think about your logo and color palette as well. Are you targeting female coaches? Or maybe male fitness trainers? What would be the color palette and the energy you want your website/portfolio to give off? 

Most people get stuck on the business brand and forget that their personal brand is sometimes even more important. Remember - you represent your business too. Click To Tweet

Once you have a clear branding strategy and material, you can use it across all your marketing materials, including your website. This will allow you to slowly create a sense of familiarity in your followers. Brand consistency allows you to install trust in those who follow you as well and easily convert followers into clients.

5. Spread the Word

What to do after you pick a niche and prepare your portfolio and website? Well, to run a successful copywriting business, you need to convince clients to hire you.

One of the best places to start is your own network. You can start an email campaign and share the news about your new business and services with your entire network.

Consider using an email tool to run your campaigns. Tools such as Foobar, Magic Action Box, and Bounce Exchange can be used to generate a mailing list. All integrate well with Mail Chimp, which is great for email campaigns and newsletters.

Send emails to all potential clients and companies you want to work with. Pitch emails and letters should introduce you and your services. They should also offer a good reason for potential clients to hire a copywriting professional like you. When sending online pitches, make sure to link your website and portfolio of relevant work.

You can also browse websites with copywriting employment opportunities such as Guardian jobs, Journalism.co.uk, Indeed, Brand Republic, and SimplyHired. Send applications and introduction letters to all potential clients and companies on your radar. Make sure to follow up with another email and a phone call to answer any questions. 

Don’t forget to use your social network profiles and LinkedIn. Make sure to have a good LinkedIn page so you can share your work and write there as well. It’s important to stay open to opportunities and to connect to as many people as possible.

Don’t be shy to reach out to clients, colleagues, and acquaintances for a referral. Keep in mind that word of mouth referrals are some of the strongest leads you can get. A person is receiving a recommendation from someone they know and trust is more likely to hire you. 

6. Create a Legal Contract

When you’re just starting out your new copywriting business, you will want to have a contract to send to your clients. Having a contract allows you to protect yourself legally in case of any issues.

But what should you include in a contract? A contract should outline your services, but also the timelines and the amount your client will pay. To make the contract binding, both parties should sign it.

If you are not sure where to start from, you can consult a contract writing guide provided by Freshbooks. Freshbooks is also a great system to use for invoicing.

7. Establish an Accounting System

Have you decided on your rate? Setting the rate you’ll charge your clients is an important step and can be one of the most challenging tasks for new copywriters. Take a look at what your competition changes so you can establish realistic rates.

When setting your rate, it’s important to take into consideration all your expenses. What needs to be covered by your earnings? Include rent, utilities, and health insurance as well as all other personal and business bills. Remember that your business needs to cover your salary as well.

It can be tempting to set a low rate at first to attract as many clients as possible but make sure your rates are sustainable in the long run.

Now, once you set everything up and start working with clients, you will need to keep track of payments and manage invoicing. What is the accounting system that works best for you? Would you like to handle all accounting manually?

If you want to track everything manually, you can create invoices in Word or Excel and create a filing system on your computer. To do this, make sure you know all the basics of small business accounting. There are many online tools you can use as well. Freshbooks, Wave, and Paypal make a good accounting companion for small businesses.

Final Thoughts

Establishing your own copywriting business can be challenging for many reasons. The current pandemic has created an unstable environment for many businesses. However, it also created a fertile ground for starting a copywriting business. With all public health measures in place, everyone is turning to the internet to bring in more clients. Good copywriters are in high demand.

If you set your business right from the beginning, getting clients and scaling up will be a breeze. Focus on improving your skills constantly and share your work as widely as possible. You’ll be surprised how quickly you can build the life of your dreams if you set your mind on it and plan well.