How To Become a Freelance Copywriter (With FAQ)
Updated March 10, 2023
If you enjoy creative or technical writing, freelance copywriting may be an ideal career for you. You can learn how to produce quality work that meets your clients' expectations and targets your readers effectively. Before becoming a freelance copywriter, it's important to understand the skills and experience you need to perform well in the role. In this article, we discuss what a freelance copywriter does and how to become one.
What is a freelance copywriter?
A freelance copywriter is a professional who writes copy for clients on a contract or project basis. Copywriters create content that aligns with each client's business. For example, if a company wants to launch a campaign to promote a new product, it may hire a freelance copywriter to write the product description or blog posts discussing the product's benefits.
Freelance copywriters' work may also appear in the following locations:
Social media captions
Read more: Q&A: What Is a Copywriter?
What does a freelance copywriter do?
Freelance copywriters are in charge of their own business, which means they must establish the rates of their services and advertise their business to build a clientele. They choose their assignments and work with their clients to set deadlines and expectations. Their typical duties may include:
Conducting market research about the subject of the writing
Making recommendations to clients about targeting consumers
Adhering to clients' style guides
Incorporating strategic keywords in copy
Finding and attaching images to enhance the content
Publishing the copy to a content management system (CMS)
Tracking the analytics of the content
Applying client feedback to the copy
How to become a freelance copywriter
Your path to becoming a freelance copywriter may follow these steps:
1. Find your specialty
Your specialty, or niche, dictates the type of content you want to write as a freelance copywriter. Perhaps you want to produce technical writing, such as instruction manuals or brochures, or you want to focus on fashion and beauty copy. Contemplate what copy you enjoy writing and the clients you want to attract. Discovering your niche can allow you to build your professional brand and start your career.
2. Gain professional experience
With professional experience, you can become a stronger copywriter and learn how to work with clients. Connect with people in your network, such as your family members and former classmates, for employment opportunities. You can also research local organizations, such as small businesses or nonprofits, and volunteer to write content to fit their needs.
3. Build your copywriting portfolio
Your copywriting portfolio shares samples of your work, which you can use to showcase your writing skills and creativity. Your portfolio may include:
Table of contents: Having a list of the sections and their page numbers can organize your portfolio and make it easier for readers to navigate it.
Links: You can attach links beneath your samples that readers can click to read your work in its entirety or see it live on websites.
Descriptions: In the descriptions, you can explain the purpose of the content, such as advertising an event or targeting a new demographic. You can also include dates to show the work is recent.
Contact information: At the beginning or end of your portfolio, include your email address and phone number so that prospective clients can contact you.
4. Brand yourself as a freelance copywriter
Building a professional brand can help you promote your services and build your clientele. You can start establishing your brand by:
Designing a professional logo: Design a symbol and phrase that represents you as a copywriter. For example, you can draw your initials and a copywriting slogan. Attach your logo to your website, business cards and social media profiles.
Creating a copywriting website: You can use a professional website to display information about you and your services. Include consistent color schemes from your logo and business cards to align with your brand. You can also upload your copywriting portfolio and list the rates of your work.
Advertising your services on social media: With a following on social media, you can raise awareness about the services that you offer. Create a business profile on multiple platforms, and share samples of your work to attract potential clients.
Skills of a freelance copywriter
Freelance copywriters use the following soft and technical skills in their profession:
Being a freelance copywriter requires strong written communication skills, such as:
Sentence structure: Diverse sentence structure enables freelance copywriters to avoid monotonous or overly complex writing. They can use direct sentences that are easy for their readers to comprehend, and they know how to explain technical language in simple terms.
Tone: Freelance copywriters may manipulate their writing styles to convey different emotions. For example, if they're writing copy to promote a local event, they may use words to show excitement and happiness.
Associated Press (AP) Stylebook: Copywriters uphold the standards of the AP Stylebook, which dictates grammar style that is prevalent in copy for websites, newsletters and other content.
Freelance copywriters need time management skills to work on assignments for multiple clients at once. They prioritize their assignments by deadline, reserving enough time to produce quality work and edit their content. As freelancers, copywriters may work full time in other positions, so they must balance their copywriting responsibilities with their other obligations.
With editing skills, freelance copywriters can ensure that their content is free of errors. After they finish writing, they may proofread their work for grammatical and spelling mistakes as well as compliance with AP style. They may also use several editing techniques before delivering the final product to their clients. For example, some freelance copywriters may read their words out loud, while others may read the article from the end to the beginning.
As a freelance copywriter, you may need research skills for:
Understanding your market value: Research offers insight into the prices organizations pay for copywriting content. Determining the market value of your skills can help you decide a fair rate to charge for your services.
Assessing your competitors: There may be other freelance copywriters who are targeting the same prospective client as you, so it's important to research your competitors and devise a strategy to distinguish your work.
Finding credible resources: To ensure accuracy in your writing assignments, you need to conduct research to discover the articles that already discuss your topic and what topics you can include to match the existing information. You also may not be familiar with every topic you write about, so primary research is often necessary to learn more about your topic before writing.
With creativity, freelance copywriters can write copy that target audiences may enjoy reading, which can increase website traffic or social media followings for clients. For example, a bank might hire a copywriter to write business-to-consumer (B2C) content about applying for loans and credit cards. If the copywriter approaches the assignment creatively, using words that educate and appeal to readers, the bank's blog might experience an increase in readership.
Business management skills enable freelance copywriters to:
Establish the rates of their services: Freelance copywriters create prices for their services based on words and the type of content. For example, they might charge more for a 1000-word article than for an ad to post on social media.
Process their payments: With business management skills, freelance copywriters can organize their customer invoices and receive the payments for their services. They may keep detailed records of the organizations they worked with and the money the organizations paid.
Promote their work to build their clientele: It's the freelance copywriter's responsibility to grow their business. They maintain their website to reflect the evolution of their work, and they network with people in their industry to identify new clients.
Frequently asked questions about being a freelance copywriter
To learn more about being a freelance copywriter, review the answers to the following questions:
How much money does a freelance copywriter make?
The average salary for a freelance copywriter is $59,169 per year. However, your income may fluctuate depending on the number of clients you have and the rates you charge for your services. For example, you may earn more money servicing 10 clients than you would servicing three clients. As you continue to gain more experience, you may also increase your prices.
What is the work environment for freelance copywriters?
Freelance copywriters can work from home or in private offices. They need access to computers to type their writing into a CMS or in a shareable document. They also create their own schedules, which allows them to choose when they want to work and what projects they want to complete.
How can I improve my skills as a freelance copywriter?
Use these practices to strengthen your copywriting abilities:
Read work from other copywriters. Gain exposure to different content to learn how to achieve varied writing styles. You can subscribe to blogs or magazines and review how writers format copy to resonate with consumers. For example, if you want to become stronger at writing business-to-business (B2B) copy, you could read articles using a B2B writing style.
Work with various organizations. As a freelancer, you can accept assignments from organizations in multiple industries. For example, you could write product descriptions for a new mobile application as well as blog posts about maintaining a healthy diet.
Adhere to different writing styles. Each client may require a specific writing style, such as avoiding idioms or using a conversational tone. Learn how to adjust your writing skills for your clients to become a stronger writer.
Diversify your copywriting portfolio. The more assignments you complete, the more diverse your portfolio will be, which can help you attract more clients. For instance, you can include samples that targeted readers from various age groups in your portfolio in order to appeal to organizations with different interests.
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