If you enjoy writing, you may have entertained the idea of becoming a copywriter. Perhaps you even considered freelance copywriting? Copywriters spend their day writing content to promote and sell products and services. If you ever read an email, seen a Facebook ad, or purchased a product online, you have likely experienced sales copy first hand some which have been written by a freelance content writer.
Most people get into freelancing because they want to take control of their life. Whether it’s about determining how many hours you work a day or having the ability to take a vacation whenever you want – gives you the flexibility to do so. And the best part is – you don’t need any type of formal education to get started. All you need is a pen, paper, and a stellar work ethic.
The problem is, there is a very low barrier to entry into the freelance market. What does this mean? Anyone can become a freelancer. For this reason, it often feels like it’s impossible to land your first client.
According to Forbes, the freelance economy is booming, with 56.7 million Americans doing freelance work today.
This number shouldn’t scare you, instead, it should excite you. Why? Because with so many freelancers in the market, you have the opportunity to present yourself as different.
If you want to land clients and position yourself well in this saturated market. We are here to help you. In this article, we will cover 10 ways to begin your journey as a freelance content writer.
1. Pick a Niche as a freelance content writer
When you pick a niche to write for, you need to be sure it’ll make you money. Otherwise, it isn’t worth your time.
By now, you may have an idea of what you enjoy writing about. It can be blog posts for weight loss programs, landing pages for supplements, or emails for a dating website. The list goes on.
If you are still unsure where your passions lie, here are four examples to pick from.
- Emails – allow businesses to efficiently communicate information to their target audience all over the world. For this reason, they can accomplish more in less time.
- Landing Pages – are designed to convert leads into sales. If you ever purchased a product online, you know exactly what we are talking about.
- Chatbots – have the ability to mimic human interactions through a pre-written sequence. It’s great because it allows you to ask your customers specific questions and address their needs accordingly.
- Paid Ads – Companies need copywriters to write new ads to replace the old ones each month. As a freelance copywriter, you are a market asset. Your ads will generate leads, customers, and sales.
According to Content Marketing Institute, 73% of companies hire someone to do their content strategy.
When first learning how to start begin your new career as a freelance writer, it’s crucial you understand what these four niches are. Dan Lok classifies them as the four pillars of high income copywriting.
With a strong foundation, you can select any of these four niches and have a prosperous freelancing career. All you need to do next is to determine your rates.
2. Determine Your Rates
As a freelance copywriter, setting your rates is a difficult task. If you price your services too high, you won’t land any clients. If you price your services too low, you’ll end up selling yourself short.
You need to find a balance, a model that is both fair and competitive and allows you to earn a profit.
A common mistake freelance copywriters make is they compare their prices to others. If you look on websites such as UpWork or Fiverr, you will see that some copywriters work for close to nothing.
Do you think racing to the bottom is the best way to earn a client? Of course not. Rather, you should take the most holistic approach towards creating a pricing model that works for you. This is how to start freelance writing in this competitive market.
When first starting off as a freelance writer, it’s likely you won’t have a history of results to show to your clients. Instead, consider using one of these pricing models.
- Results Driven Pay: The client only pays you if your copy performs well in the market.
- Low Ball in Exchange for 3 Referrals: You could low ball your first gig in return for 3 referrals from your client.
- Only Take a Percentage Upfront: Give the client the option to pay you half up front, and half when the project is complete.
Here, you reduce the risk the client has to take by taking on a new freelance copywriter and placing it back onto you. In the three cases above, even if you do underperform, the client does not lose a lot of money.
3. Create a Client Persona
Your client persona needs to be relevant to your goals and specialty as a freelance content writer. The truth is, not everyone can be your client. If you approach the market at this angle, you will likely end up landing no gigs.
Think about it. If you are new to the freelancing market, do you think a Fortune 500 company would hire you? In fact, you’re just wasting your time if you try to reach out to them.
Instead, you should determine what businesses fit your niche of writing. For example, if your focus is on writing emails for the fitness industry, look for brands that could use your help.
Find a market first, and then concentrate on your services”. – Gary Halbert
Creating a client persona will also help you better introduce yourself to business owners. Look at these two examples.
Ex #1: My name is Tim, and I am a freelance copywriter.
Ex #2: My name is Tim. I am a freelance copywriter writing emails for the fitness industry.
It’s clear that the second example shows confidence and authority. Furthermore, it shows that you are not just sending a generic message out to as many businesses as possible in hopes to land a gig.
When starting freelance copywriting, begin by defining your client persona. This will help you to better position yourself in the market and set yourself up for more opportunities.
4. Develop an Online Presence as a Freelance Content Writer
Building your online presence is an easy way to get your name out there for little to no cost.
Your online presence is very important because it’s what allows people to find you, interact with you, and get to know more about you.
It turns out that in the world of business, it’s not always about being the best. In fact, that’s hardly ever the case. Most freelancers land their gigs from connections, relationships, and referrals.
The problem is, where do you start? With so many different platforms out there, you don’t have the time to be on all of them.
Here are the top three social media platforms you need to be on especially if you are a freelance content writer:
- Facebook – With an active user base of 2.6 billion people, Facebook is an excellent space to share your expertise with the world.
- LinkedIn – LinkedIn is the ultimate connecting platform. Use this platform to meet new people and join popular groups.
- Instagram – This is much more than a photography platform. You can advertise yourself by posting content on your story and using hashtags.
If you’re thinking about how to start freelance writing, do not underestimate the power of these three platforms.
Using them validates your brand, and strengthens your authority and professionalism. So before you jump into the freelance market, take a minute to set up these three social media accounts. You will not regret it.
5. Provide Value Up-Front
Providing value upfront is an excellent way to build rapport and mutual respect with a client you do not know.
Every day your clients are bombarded with cold calls, emails and messages. When they open their inbox, they likely throw away anything that doesn’t look familiar to them.
So how do you stand out in all that noise? The trick is to provide value upfront.
Once you have defined your target clientele, sign up for all of their email lists. Each month, you will receive content from them.
From there, you can see where their work needs to be improved. Can you rewrite one of their emails to make it more compelling? Can you revamp their landing page to increase their conversions?
If so, take the initiative to do it yourself, and email them your finished product. It’s not every day that a company receives valuable content for free.
This will grab their attention, and likely lead to you getting a response in return. This is invaluable when learning how to start freelance copywriting.
Furthermore, you can leverage this to structure a deal within your email. For example, you could say if your content works, the business will have to pay to use it.
This simple approach relieves all the risk involved with taking on a new freelance copywriter and places it back onto you. Here, the offer is a no brainer.
6. Build Your Portfolio as a Writer
As a freelance copywriter, your portfolio is your secret weapon. Whenever you face a daunting task, you can reach into your arsenal and grab a weapon.
The problem is, if you are new to the freelancing industry, you likely don’t have a portfolio. After all, you haven’t done any work for clients as of yet.
The good news is, you don’t need the experience to build your portfolio.
A simple way to collect winning content for free is to create a swipe file. A swipe file consists of any ad, email, or landing page that has performed well in the market.
It helps beginner copywriters create content to present to potential clients. However, many of them make a critical mistake.
Imagine you’re looking to add 10 email templates to your portfolio. So you go through some winning emails to find some inspiration. When you come across one, you copy and paste it into your portfolio and just change the date. Do you see a problem here?
Expert’s copy. Professional’s steal”. – Dan Lok
You will run into some serious plagiarism issues if you copy someone’s content. Instead, try to find the overall idea of the piece and apply it to your work.
For example, if someone wrote an email about five ways to lose weight during a global crisis, what do you think the overall idea of this piece is?
It addresses ways for people to lose weight during a global crisis. Use this idea to craft your copy and add it to your portfolio. This way, you will be ready when a client asks if you have any sample emails to show them. For any freelance content writer, you need to have examples of your work.
7. Find a Mentor
If you want to open your mind to new ideas and possibilities, consider finding a mentor.
When you start freelance copywriting, you are going to make mistakes. Whether it is acquiring a client, negotiating a contract, or delivering the work – things are going to go wrong.
This is why Dan Lok created the High Income Copywriter (HIC) Certification Program.
The best way to get into writing as a freelancer is to learn from a mentor. You will learn from their many years of direct experience which will help you avoid unnecessary mistakes.
The biggest problem with learning copywriting on your own is that many techniques are outdated. Ads that worked five years ago aren’t performing as well today. That’s why only a few copywriters make it.
HIC was created to share everything Dan Lok knows about copywriting. It was the first skill he acquired, which eventually got him out of $150,000 of debt.
If you want to land recurring clients and projects fast within the most in-demand areas of copywriting, this is the only course you will ever need. At the end of this article, Dan has prepared a special offer just for you to help make you the best freelance writer you can be.
8. Specialize Your Craft in Writing
Niche copywriting is extremely powerful. Often, people make an assumption that by narrowing down their focus to a specific industry, they lessen their chances of landing a client. This couldn’t be any further from the truth.
Niche copywriting instantly creates credibility because you specialize in a specific field. You’re a specialist, and therefore you present yourself as an expert. You don’t need experience or education to do this.
Take a mechanic for example. Most people wouldn’t consider them to be a “specialist”. But what if the mechanic focused on repairing the transmission of old muscle cars. Do you see why people would perceive them as an expert?
When learning how to start content writing as a freelancer, don’t overlook this critical step. A copywriter that specializes in a niche will get more business than a general copywriter.
A common problem freelance copywriters face is what industry they should specialize in. We all have areas of experience and knowledge that excited us. Always focus on writing in an area that you enjoy rather than what’s currently trending.
Even if you don’t know a lot about that specific industry, you can learn along the way. If there is no love and excitement for what you do, you’ll end up being a mediocre copywriter.
9. Ask for Testimonials
Client testimonials are one of the most powerful forms of marketing on this planet. After all, what other people have to say about you is infinitely more powerful than what you have to say about yourself.
Once you earn your first gig, take a moment to ask your client to write a meaningful review of you. This could range from how professional you are, how well your content performed, or how easy you are to work with.
From there, upload the testimonials onto your social media platforms. Show the market that you are a reputable person to work with.
Trust is one of the hardest things to earn when you want to start freelance content writing. With the help of testimonials, you will be able to better position yourself in the market.
Believe it or not, testimonials add a lot of weight to a decision. Clients naturally trust each other more than they trust marketing collateral. For this reason, they won’t have to think twice about you if another client has put a good word in for you.
Furthermore, they work much better than a sales pitch. It comes across as being unbiased when you use real people to show your success. In the end, your testimonials will be there to convert more prospects into paying clients and you will grown your business as a freelance content writer.
10. Always Look to Upgrade Your Skills as a Freelance Content Writer
As a freelance copywriter, you can’t afford to ever stop learning.
A common mistake copywriters make is they get too comfortable. Once they hit their income goal, they feel that they can sit back and ride the wave to financial freedom. But instead, they end up falling behind the curve and missing out on crucial opportunities to advance their career.
The world is not static. There are new trends and new selling techniques to learn about each day. If you take your foot off the gas pedal, you will be left in the dust.
While you may not be worried about this right now, it’s a good habit to develop early on in your career. This way you will continue to grow even when you find massive success.
Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty”. – Henry Ford
If there is one thing we want you to take away from this, it’s that learning is a never-ending journey. Try to become a better version of yourself every single day -the results will be incredible.
The Final Piece to the Puzzle
In this article, we covered 10 ways on how to start freelance copywriting.
As you have learned, the journey is not easy. There are many obstacles along the way, and you might encounter failure multiple times.
Dan Lok has prepared a course designed to help young entrepreneurs reach their goals in the copywriting industry. It is crafted to teach world class techniques and reduce the learning curve attached to being a new freelance copywriter.
If you’re ready to have a prosperous freelancing career, click here to join the next season of the High Income Copywriter Certification Program