The other day, I was approached for advice on how to make the transition from full-time to freelance copywriting, because (and I quote) I’d ‘done it successfully’. While being extremely touched with a side of imposter syndrome (surely this person’s got the wrong gal?!) I also jumped at the chance to offer my pearls of wisdom. Then I thought, why isn’t this stuff more widely shared? What’s the point of keeping it under wraps? Storing your tips and tricks for yourself doesn’t mean these people won’t become your competition. They will, with or without your help. There’s room for everyone to succeed in the freelance copywriting game, so why not share the sources that have helped you?
So let’s just jump straight into it with my guide on how to become a freelance copywriter. I hope it helps you!
- Get a website
First and foremost, do you have a website? If not, create one. I’ve received emails and landed work through my website on so many occasions. It’s a great way to showcase your portfolio to potential clients, it looks professional and gives you the chance write about anything else that interests you. You never know who might be reading! I’d recommend SquareSpace, Wix and WordPress. They’re super easy to use and look snazzy AF. If you’re after a theme that looks fresh and beautiful, I’d also recommend Pipdig.
- Once you’ve got a link, put it everywhere
Your Instagram bio, Twitter, business cards and any place on the internet where you leave a comment. Put it on your personal email sign off too. Make it easy for people to find you and then make sure you’ve got a kickass portfolio to show off when they get there.
- Make sure that when people search your name, you’re number 1 on Google
You can do this with some simple SEO tricks. By doing this myself, my name went from page 5 on Google, to the 5th one down on the 1st page. Sources I used to read about SEO were Moz blog, particularly this post, and Yoast’s blog. Google Garage also has a great lesson on SEO. It’s free to sign up and tests your knowledge at the end. All of this learning will also invariably help you with your online copywriting.
- Start telling people you’re a freelancer
It doesn’t matter if you haven’t done any freelance work yet. This is not only to make others believe you, but for you to start believing in yourself. Once word spreads, people should start to come to you. I was telling people I came across that I was a freelance copywriter long before I quit my full-time job.
- Join Copywriting platforms
Pro Copywriters Network, Copify, Contently, People Per Hour, The Dots and Quill Content have all given me freelance jobs, ongoing clients and even some big names, and we all know how important name dropping is in this business. Put your most recent projects on there and start applying for projects. They might not be very well paid to begin with, but they’re worth it to build up your clientele.
- Get yourself a separate bank card
- Master invoices
You can get a free invoice template on the web and fill it in with your info. Number them (INV-001 and so on) and then keep them in folders (PAID and NOT PAID and then within sub-folders of each month) and move them around depending on their status. This is just the system I use, you may find a different way of working is easier for you.
- Become a spreadsheet fiend
Make them for everything. Lay them out how you like, but I make columns for mine including what work that I have done month by month, how much I was paid for it, when I sent the invoice and when I was paid. This will become your freelance bible, especially when it comes to doing your tax return.
- Read up
This one seems simple and you are probably already doing this or else you wouldn’t be here, but here are some sources I’ve found really helpful. The blogs of all the places I mentioned above are super handy, but these articles, in particular, are awesome:
- Listen in
- Follow fellow copywriters
Vikki Ross is a copy queen. She runs events called #copywritersunite all over the country where copywriters simply meet up to write. She also constantly shares notable jobs on LinkedIn, so give her a follow on there. The hashtag is also interesting to join in on conversations with copywriters through Twitter. Sophie Johnson is also a brilliant lady to follow. Her impressive roster of clients is enviable and therefore her copy wisdom is something to behold.
- Sign up to Sian Meades newsletter
She sends out a newsletter every Wednesday with freelance writing jobs and it’s great.
- Connect with old friends
Have a look at what past colleagues or school buddies are doing. Have any of them started freelancing? Reach out to them and ask to meet up. Widening your network is always helpful.
- Contact people that you want to freelance for
Think about who your dream clients would be and start crafting a cover letter to them. Once you’ve got some good pieces in your portfolio, contact them and ask if they need any help. You never know!
- Join groups
The Copywriters Guild, The Copywriter Club and Freelance Copywriter Collective all have a large network of copywriters of all levels of experience sharing tips and insights into their copywriting lives.
That’s all I can think of right now! I know it seems scary at first, but you just have to try and have fun with it. Get your name out there as much as possible and you’ll secure some regular clients easily!