How to Become a Freelance Copywriter (2023)

How to Become a Freelance Copywriter

  1. Prove you’ve done this work before
  2. Only do work worth talking about
  3. Choose a niche or specialization
  4. When cold pitching, consider lowering your rate
  5. Apply the tactics that work for your clients

I’m a lucky bitch.

Yes, I’m a lucky bitch.

… And that’s not just because I have an amazing partner and home life and family and job. And great health. And generally strong financial security. And a sense of balance, love, hope and purpose.

(Wow – I am a lucky bitch.)

But because I’ve lucked into a lot of things in my professional life.

Of course, when I look at how I “lucked” into those things, it’s clear that I’m one of those people who’s only as lucky as she is hard-working.

When the effort stops, the luck stops.

Thankfully, I’ve never had to worry much about earning an income. That’s lucky. Maybe I haven’t worried because, when I first started out, I was happy to take anything. If I’d wanted a $50k/year job when I first started copywriting, I probably wouldn’t have felt so lucky when I landed a $32k/year copywriting job.

I haven’t had to worry about freelancing. The work has just come.

But it’s not that easy for everyone.

OR… it is that easy for everyone, but others have higher expectations than I’ve had.

So last week I got a question from a reader named Susan Silver. (Great name, hey?)

It’s a question that I get quite a bit, which is why I asked Susan if she wouldn’t mind me publishing my response here, on the blog I so rarely get a chance to update.

She happily agreed.

So here’s the question Susan sent me:

I was wondering what advice you might give to someone starting up a small time copywriting business. I have been encouraged to build my business, but I am not sure who my best clientele might be.

(Video) How To Become A Freelance Copywriter & Get Your First Client

My strongest skills are blogging, SEO, and relationship marketing.

The Coles Notes Version of How to Become a Freelance Copywriter

Six ways to build a small freelance copywriting business.

  1. Prove you’ve done this work before.
  2. Talk about everything you do. And only do things worth talking about.
  3. Choose a niche.
  4. Choose a niche that’s either a “networker” or an “influencer” so they will spread the word for you.
  5. Pitch yourself to an ideal client, even if you have to discount your services to get the work.
  6. Try the tactics that work for your clients.

How to Become a Freelance Copywriter:
The Proven-Only-For-Joanna-Wiebe Model

By the time I decided to freelance full-time in Sept 2011, I’d already been freelancing on an ad hoc basis for clients like Acana (that high-end pet food most of us can’t afford… but should really try to). I’d also built up a nice resume that included senior-level duties at Intuit and agency work. That’s what clients wanted to see.

That’s what your prospects will want to see.

Not experience at Intuit. Or in an agency.

Just proof that you’ve done this before. Proof from an authority that you are skilled. Proof from a multitude of others that you’re worth hiring.

Quantity of proof. And quality of proof.

The smaller the job you’re going for, the less you should worry about quantity or quality.

So that’s tip numero uno: Prove you’ve done similar work before.


How to Become a Freelance Copywriter (1)Start with a good-looking, easy to navigate online portfolio. I use Carbonmade, and I totally recommend it. You can create multiple portfolios – so you can have one portfolio of copywriting for hair salons, another of print copywriting, another of copywriting + creative direction. Then you can send your prospects to the appropriate portfolio.

Now, in recommending that you prove your work in order to get work, I know what you’re saying:

“I need work to get work. But I can’t get work without a history of work. I’m doomed!”

I hear you!

But, I guarantee it, you’ve already done some sort of copywriting work. Even if you’ve never been hired by a client.

If you’re the one your sister goes to when she needs her school paper edited, voila – you’re an editor!

(Video) Step by Step: How to Start Freelance Writing in 2022 (Make $5k/Month)

If you wrote a brochure for your mom’s workplace, voila – you’re a copywriter!

If you proofread for your university paper, voila – you’re a copyeditor!

You do not need to do a lot. You just need to know this one little secret:

Everything you do has the potential to be BIG.

What does that mean?

It means it’s up to you to milk every piece of experience you have. To wring it dry in your self-marketing. Even if it’s small, it can be big in your marketing.

You know why big names like Anthony Robbins, Marie Forleo and Laura Roeder became big names?

They put themselves out there. And then they talked about the results endlessly.

Everything they do becomes big. Everything they spend energy on is something they then market themselves with.

So that’s tip numero two: Talk about everything you do. And only do things worth talking about.

That means you 1) need a blog that you 2) post your wins and client stories on, with a focus on 3) only doing client work that will translate into a blog post that can bring in more clients.

Let’s say you want to write copy for local hair salons. You want to be the go-to person in this niche. Why? Well, let’s say you really like getting your hair done (so you have a personal interest), you love the volatility of this sort of small business (because that’s a fun challenge for you), and – this is important – you recognize that hairdressers are people who not only connect with other hairdressers but who also have clients that they spend an hour or so talking to during each visit. Which means that, if you do a good job for them, they are VERY likely to spread the word about you to people in and beyond your niche.

So that’s tip number three: Choose a niche.

And tip number quatre: Choose a niche that’s either a “networker” or an “influencer” so they will spread the word for you. (Susan, this is where to start when thinking about clientele!)

So you seek out a hairdresser. Maybe it’s your hairdresser. You pitch yourself. You even agree to do the copywriting work for half of what you’d normally charge. Yes, for half. Because you’re trying to grow your business. And you need someone to bite.

(Should you give your services away free? That’s the topic of another post!)

(Video) How to Become a Freelance Copywriter with NO EXPERIENCE [NEW 2021 Tips!]

Tip number 5: Pitch yourself to an ideal client, even if you have to discount your services to get the work.

The result? You get a client who’s a hairdresser, and you write a direct response piece – like a postcard – to help him grow his client base. This is a client you’re going to want to blog about.

Tell him you’re going to promote his business on your blog, and then write a great post all about what you did to help him, such as:

  • Getting an understanding for his ideal client
  • Identifying the need to do a print piece / DR mailer
  • Targeting an area in town to send the piece to
  • Developing the right value proposition for him
  • Crafting the offer / Developing the best incentive, if any
  • Taking things further – promoting sharing by liking him on Facebook
  • Creating a Facebook page for him

Don’t forget to share the results! Be explicit with the outcomes. People need to know both the immediate outcome and what that actually means long-term.

Did you bring in 3 new clients for him? That may not sound like a lot… but what’s the lifetime value for a client? Can he expect to make $125 off each one every 3 months? That’s $1500 more per year. If the cost of producing and sending the mailer was $750, you just got him some serious ROI.

And he can resend the mailer again and again – to the same neighborhood and different ones – without paying you for anything more than tweaks and distribution coordination. Imagine if he gets just 2 new clients from every mailer, and he sends out 6 more mailers over the course of the year. Suddenly he’s got 15 clients, thanks to you!

When you write this blog post, share it! Put it on Facebook. Put it on LinkedIn. Submit it to If you have any sort of Twitter following, tweet it.

After a week passes, repeat. Share it on Facebook again, and tweet about it again.

Three months down the road, repeat.

But that’s not all.

Why stop at creating a great promotion for your client?

Tip number 6: If something works for your client, try it to market your own business.

It’s always a good idea to set aside a portion of the money you make to spend on promoting your own business. If you’ve gained traction in a niche where you can rely on word of mouth to grow your business, that’s great. But don’t forget about the power of good ol’ self-promotion.

If the postcard worked for your client, do a mailer for your business. After all, you just got more experienced in direct response… so why not put that experience to work for you?

Create and send your postcards. Then, measure the results.

And then?

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Blog about it. Even if it totally failed. Blog about the experience… because some people will relate.

And share the post. And update your portfolio!

So there you have it. Six ways to build a small freelance copywriting business.

  1. Prove you’ve done this work before.
  2. Talk about everything you do. And only do things worth talking about.
  3. Choose a niche.
  4. Choose a niche that’s either a “networker” or an “influencer” so they will spread the word for you.
  5. Pitch yourself to an ideal client, even if you have to discount your services to get the work.
  6. Try the tactics that work for your clients.

In your freelance copywriting business, you are both the product being marketed and the marketer of the product.

You may have skills in blogging, SEO and relationship marketing – that’s what you’re selling – but you need to have skills in marketing in general.

In Susan’s case, she’s got relationship marketing skills, so connecting with someone in her niche shouldn’t be a challenge. Telling yourself to do it – that’s the challenge.

She’s also great with blogging and SEO. Her clients will benefit from those skills… and so will her business. She’ll have no trouble blogging about her successes and getting traffic to those posts.

Additional Tips for Starting & Growing
as a Freelance Copywriter

  • Get your name in front of your market! Guest blog post strategically. Remember to talk about everything you do… but only do things worth talking about. Which means no guest posts on sites that won’t help you.
  • Ask to be paid the value of your work! If your SEO services will help bring in $1000 for a business in the first year, you shouldn’t be charging $25/hr for 4 hours of work. If you undervalue yourself, others will undervalue you, too.
  • Don’t ask for more than you’re worth! Unless you have some sick data to prove how amazing you are – like the results of split-tests – don’t ask for more than you know you’re worth in the early stages of your career. Let yourself learn, and, once you’ve learned, charge more. Battle scars will get you to six-figure income. Ego won’t.
  • Leverage your existing network! My first paid copywriting gig came via my stepmom, who knew a guy. She brought me the contact, but my work proved itself – and I kept that client for 10 years, until I decided to cut ties.
  • Charge for think time and meetings! Some people charge only for the time they’re actually typing. That’s crazy – and that’s a quick way to get burned out. Every minute you’re thinking about your client is a minute to charge for.
  • Don’t annoy people! Exact thing not to do: use autoresponder DMs for your new Twitter followers. There’s not a person alive who likes receiving a Twitter A/R. Same goes for building an email list that you only use for promotions. And for giving out crappy ebooks or fluffy newlsetters. Not cool. Annoying.
  • List yourself in [quality] directories! Before they became a Pinterest knock-off for copy, specialized in connecting freelance copywriters with clients. The AWAI has also helped to create many successful copywriters.
  • Follow people you want to be like! If you love me, follow me. 🙂 If you want to be like Nick Usborne, follow him, too. Learn from the people who’ve been there… so you don’t have to learn the hard way yourself.

Additionally, remember that you’re a business. Think of yourself as one, and suddenly you’ll have no choice but to take marketing yourself seriously. To help you remember that you’re a business, do things that drive that point home. Such as making your home workspace feel like an office: if you’re in the guest bedroom, take the bed out; if you’re in a cubby off the kitchen, tell your family that your “virtual door” is closed from 8am to 6pm.

Make sense?

One last thing: I’m slightly concerned about the idea of keeping your copywriting business small. It’s a concept I don’t quite understand.

‘Cos when you get more clients, you get to build a waiting list – which makes your clients feel even better about working with you. (No one wants to work with someone that isn’t in demand.)

And when that happens, you get to start increasing your hourly rate. And you get to be more selective with the clients you take on as a freelance copywriter.

And when that happens, you get to work fewer hours.

Don’t you want to move from $50/hr to $150/hr? Sure you do.

So good luck, Susan! And good luck to everyone who wants to become a freelance copywriter.


(Video) How Jenny Went From Unemployed to $17,000/Month Freelance Copywriting

PS: For more on becoming a freelance copywriter, check out these posts


How much does a freelance copywriter make? ›

Freelance copywriter rates: 2023. The Copywriter Club conducts an annual survey about copywriter salaries. Here is the data from their latest poll: In their latest poll, which included over 900 copywriters, The Copywriter Club determined that full-time freelance copywriters earn a median of $60,000 per year.

How do I become a freelance copywriter with no experience? ›

But how do you become a copywriter with no experience? You'll need a knowledgeable mentor, coach, or consultant who is a skilled copywriter. It's important to find someone who has found success in copywriting, to transfer their knowledge and skills to you.

How can a beginner start copywriting? ›

A Step-by-Step Beginner's Guide To Effective Copywriting
  1. Read, read, read. Writing and reading go hand in hand. ...
  2. Know your client, their products, and services. ...
  3. Know your target audience. ...
  4. Know the competitors. ...
  5. Make it convincing. ...
  6. Start by making a layout. ...
  7. Write with a free mind. ...
  8. Experiment.
Dec 8, 2021

Do I need an LLC as a copywriter? ›

Yes, an LLC makes sense for other businesses and potentially freelance careers where liability is an issue. LLCs protect you and your assets (your house, your car, etc.) if a client were to file a lawsuit. But as we already covered there's virtually no reason why, as a copywriter, you'd be held liable.

Is copywriting hard to get into? ›

Copywriting is absolutely no harder a career to break into than any other one. But very, very, very few people are going to successfully build a career if they don't actually know how to write copy!

Can copywriters make 10k a month? ›

If you want to command $10,000 per month as a copywriter, you must have the skills to generate much more than that in value for your clients. This is not easy, but it's certainly doable. Only two things are required: practice and patience.

What exactly does a copywriter do? ›

A Copywriter is a professional who writes clear, concise copy for ads and marketing materials. They work closely alongside web and graphic designers to ensure their message is clear, whether in an email inbox or a website landing page.

How much does a beginner copywriter charge? ›

Actually, it depends on their skill level. Junior copywriters who have been in the business for 2 years or less would charge $50–$80 per hour. Mid-level copywriter $80–$120 per hour and the top copywriters about $120–$200 per hour.

Is copywriting a good side hustle? ›

Copywriting can be an ideal side hustle. You can pick up clients anywhere and work with them from anywhere, on your own schedule. It's flexible, it's creative and it's fun.

Is copywriting still in demand? ›

skilled copywriters continue to be in demand. The need for copywriters continues to grow. Especially in the digital world. For those with the skills needed to succeed in the field, there are plenty of opportunities.

What copywriting niches are profitable? ›

Medical copywriting, finance copywriting, legal copywriting, and tech copywriting aren't the only high paying copywriting niches out there, but in 2022, they're some of the most lucrative.

Which type of copywriting is easiest? ›

Because B2B writers are in such high demand, B2B copywriting can be one of the easiest areas to break into as a new copywriter.

What are the 6 core copywriting skills? ›

6 Copywriting Skills You Need To Succeed, by Elisabeth Strasser
  • Research Skills. ...
  • Staying Up To Date. ...
  • Adaptability. ...
  • Knowing Your Audience. ...
  • Awareness Of SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) ...
  • Ability To Hook The Reader.

Is learning copywriting hard? ›

It's not easy to learn copywriting. It takes a lot of hard work, experimentation, and dedication. Learning copywriting rules isn't that hard, what's hard is understanding the market and the customer. This requires years of experience.

What mistakes should I try to avoid as a copywriter? ›

6 Copywriting Mistakes To Avoid
  • Using the Wrong Tone of Voice. Before you start writing, take a look at your product or service and ask yourself: How would my ideal customer want to be spoken to? ...
  • Lack of Power Words. ...
  • Writing Unclear Headlines. ...
  • Focusing on the Negative. ...
  • Over-Using the Hard Sell. ...
  • CTAs With No Verbs.

What should a copywriter not do? ›

All photos courtesy of Forbes Councils members.
  • Speaking To Yourself Rather Than Others. ...
  • Forgetting About SEO. ...
  • Making Assumptions And Using Jargon. ...
  • Optimizing Your Headline. ...
  • Writing 'Less' When You Mean 'Fewer' ...
  • Lacking Consistency Across Platforms. ...
  • Ignoring Mobile Copywriting. ...
  • Not Telling Readers What's In It For Them.
Jun 13, 2017

Is it better to be 1099 or LLC? ›

The biggest difference between an LLC and an independent contractor is the fact that LLCs are required to register with the state and form business documents like articles of organization. LLCs also offer liability protection that independent contractors would not have otherwise.

What is the hardest part of copywriting? ›

This is the true challenge of a copywriter – to really understand the audience, you've quickly got to become an expert in the area and THEN find something unique the audience doesn't know about. It's kind of insane.

Which type of copywriting pays the most? ›

1) Email Marketing

The first area of copywriting that you can make the most money in copywriting is through email marketing. My preferred email marketing platform is Active Campaign.

What qualifications do I need to be a copywriter? ›

You'll usually need a foundation degree, higher national diploma or degree in a subject like:
  • English.
  • creative writing.
  • journalism.
  • communication studies.
  • advertising.

How many hours do copywriters work? ›

While many freelance copywriters work up to 40 hours a week, some may benefit from starting at 20 or 30 hours. This allows them to allot time for any non-billable activities for work, like making phone calls or sending emails.

How much do beginner freelance copywriters make? ›

How much does a Entry Level Copywriter make in the United States? The average Entry Level Copywriter salary in the United States is $54,501 as of January 26, 2023, but the range typically falls between $49,201 and $61,301.

Where can I learn copywriting for free? ›

Top 8+ Free Copywriting Courses (2022)
  • Copywriting Insights of 155 Years (Udemy) ...
  • Effective Copywriting Basics for Entrepreneurs (Udemy) ...
  • Become A Copywriter Pro from Ground Up. ...
  • Copywriting for Conversions: How to Write Persuasive Content. ...
  • Copywriting Foundations: Sell Using Your Words In 2020 (Udemy)
Dec 2, 2022

What are basic copywriting skills? ›

6 Important Skills For a Copywriter
  • Writing. Writing skills are specific abilities that help writers express their thoughts in words and make it easy for the reader to mentally relate to the message. ...
  • Reading comprehension. ...
  • Research. ...
  • Creativity. ...
  • Time management. ...
  • Technical expertise.
Jul 1, 2022

What skills should a copywriter have? ›

To recap, the essential copywriting skills are:
  • Writing skills.
  • Attention to detail.
  • Creativity.
  • Communication skills.
  • Research abilities.
  • Empathy.
  • SEO awareness.
  • User experience.
Apr 25, 2022

What are examples of copywriting? ›

10 Copywriting Examples You Need to See
  • BarkBox's Audience Understanding.
  • Bellroy's Corporate Copy.
  • Bombas' Catchy Copy.
  • Brooklinen's Wordplay.
  • Chubbies' Sense of Humor.
  • Death Wish Coffee's Process Description.
  • Tuft & Needle's Landing Page Copy.
  • Huckberry's Storytelling.
May 24, 2022

How much time do I need to learn copywriting? ›

Learning essential copywriting skills can take anywhere from three to six months. However, you still need to continuously practice and learn new things to improve and stay on top. Many things can affect the learning time.

Is learning copywriting worth it? ›

It's A Valuable Skill For Anybody. Copywriting can be applied to a multitude of professions. When you learn how to copywrite — you'll become a better marketer, a better content creator, a better CEO, a better designer, a better researcher, a better video editor — you name it!

Is it hard to make money copywriting? ›

Copywriting can be a lucrative career, but you don't have to go all in when you start out. You can earn a few hundred or even a few thousand dollars per month doing it on the side — in as little as a few hours per week.

How much should a beginner copywriter charge? ›

As a general rule of thumb, you shouldn't charge less than $50 per hour when starting out. And don't bill by the half-hour. Set project minimums. So if your client asks for just one hour of your time, then charge her for two (or three…or four).

How do I start as a freelance beginner? ›

How to start freelancing (even when working full-time)
  1. Define your business goals.
  2. Find a perspective niche (and stick to it)
  3. Identify target clients.
  4. Set your freelance rates.
  5. Create a website (and portfolio)
  6. Find your first client.
  7. Expand your network.
  8. Balance your full-time job with your part-time freelancing side gigs.
Jan 18, 2023

How do I sell myself as a copywriter? ›

How to Successfully Market Yourself as a Freelance Copywriter
  1. Start With Your Mindset.
  2. Create Marketing Assets.
  3. Find Marketing Channels.
  4. Build Your Network.
  5. Focus on a Niche.
  6. Don't Ignore Local Markets.
  7. Focus on Existing Clients, Too.
  8. Successfully Marketing Your Freelance Writing Business.
Apr 22, 2022

What are the highest paying copywriting niches? ›

Medical copywriting, finance copywriting, legal copywriting, and tech copywriting aren't the only high paying copywriting niches out there, but in 2022, they're some of the most lucrative.

What is the easiest freelance work? ›

Content Writer

It is probably the easiest freelance job out there. Working as a content writer means having a good level of linguistic ability and writing skills to write content for blogs, websites, social posts, ebooks, product descriptions, etc.

Can I freelance with no experience? ›

Even with no experience, you can get started freelancing. Start by honing your skills through online courses and developing a portfolio. As time goes on, you'll find yourself working more and more, growing your online business.

Which is most demanding skill in freelancing? ›

Upwork Unveils Top 10 Most In-Demand Skills for Technology, Marketing, and Customer Service Independent Talent in 2022
  • Web Design.
  • WordPress.
  • Web Programming.
  • JavaScript.
  • CSS.
  • HTML.
  • PHP.
  • Shopify.


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