Starting a freelance copywriting business offers the potential to earn a six-figure income or more. By creating words that drive people to take action and buy, your work helps companies earn more and customers find products that are right for them. Play your cards right, and you can earn substantial bonuses and other perks as a successful copywriter.
Learn how to become a freelance copywriter with no experience or portfolio:
- 7 things to know before you launch your freelance copywriting career.
- Getting ready to launch your freelance copywriting business.
- Freelance copywriter business resources to grow faster.
- What Upwork and Fiverr don’t want you to know.
1. 7 things to know before you launch your freelance copywriting career.
Before launching your copywriting business, it is essential to understand the opportunity. While earning a high income with your words is more than possible, achieving those goals takes focus and skill. Check out these frequently asked questions to help you decide if this business is right for you.
1.1. What is freelance copywriting?
Freelance copywriting is a service business where the freelancer helps businesses sell products or services through their words. Some of the most popular forms of online copy include Google Ads, social media ads (e.g., Facebook Ads), sales letters, landing pages, emails, and video scripts.
1.2. How hard is it to become a copywriter?
It depends on the skills you bring to the table.
You will need a strong knowledge of sales, persuasion, and writing, all make a critical difference. Learning copywriting will take much more effort if you come from a professional background like accounting. On the other hand, a professional sales rep with a track record might find it easier to learn copywriting.
1.3. What qualifications do you need for freelance copywriting?
Unlike medicine, law, or accounting, there are no formally required certifications or credentials to become a freelance copywriter. Instead, your qualifications take two forms: your case studies (i.e., past copywriting projects where you have helped clients achieve more sales or generate leads), portfolio examples, and writing skills.
In some cases, specialized industry knowledge can help you get ahead faster in freelance copywriting. For example, two industries – health and financial products – are known to pay copywriters very well.
However, those industries are highly competitive and demand the best from copywriters. Strong research skills and an industry background make a big difference in competing and winning in these specialized areas.
1.4. How much can you earn as a freelance copywriter?
There is no simple answer because your earnings depend on multiple factors. For example, in high demand, you may specialize in a type of copy (e.g., Facebook Ads or Amazon product descriptions). In addition, some copywriters earn royalties or bonuses based on the results they achieve from their clients.
According to CopyHackers, most freelancer copywriters earn between $50 to $149 per hour. With sufficient skill and experience, earning a $100,000 income or higher is more than possible.
1.5. How can I find copywriting jobs as a beginner?
As a brand new freelance copywriter, landing your first few copywriting assignments from clients is likely to be complicated. The two best places to start as a beginner are on freelancer websites like Upwork. In addition, reaching out to your network can help – especially friends in marketing and advertising.
As a beginner, you will probably not have any case studies or track records of success. As a result, you may have to charge lower fees for your copywriting projects. As you gain experience, you can increase your prices.
Producing two to five work samples (e.g., two sales emails, a landing page, and a sales letter) can help showcase your skills to potential clients.
1.6. How to become a freelance copywriter with no experience or copywriting portfolio?
Getting started from scratch as a freelance copywriter is going to take work. You will need to apply yourself to a few areas. Start by reading a few of the industry’s best-known copywriting books (see details in the step-by-step section below).
Next, write a few copy samples for practice: aim for three to five samples. Finally, reach out to people you already know in marketing positions and ask for an opportunity.
1.7. What are the pros and cons of running a freelance copywriting business?
Writers have multiple ways to earn an income online. You might become an ebook writer and earn passive income. Or you might be interested in helping companies attract leads through search engine optimization (SEO) as a freelance content writer. Given those choices, you might wonder if copywriting is right for you.
To help you decide, think through these pros and cons.
- High-income potential.
As a freelance copywriter, you have the potential to earn six figures or higher. Some copywriters charge $20,000 or even $100,000 for a sales promotion. In addition, some companies are happy to pay commissions and royalties to copywriters who generate sales.
- Work from-home schedule flexibility.
While copywriters are expected to deliver their copy by the deadline, there is still dramatic flexibility. Prefer to work in the early morning hours and do other things in the afternoon? That’s certainly possible as a freelance copywriter. As a freelancer, you can almost always work from home on a schedule that works for you.
- Making a valuable contribution.
Some writers have had bad experiences with their writing not being valued. People might have made fun of you for writing stories, novels, or poetry. As a freelance copywriter, your words directly drive sales. That means your contribution will be valued and respected.
- Entrepreneurial growth options.
Have you ever wondered about earning money while you sleep with passive income ideas? You are uniquely suited to start and grow online businesses as a copywriter. After perfecting your skills, you can partner with others or grow a brand independently.
You’ll need to learn other skills like finance and operations when running a company. However, you’ll bring a crucial skill to the venture – the ability to generate sales through effective ads. With the ability to generate customers on demand, you have an opportunity to grow your income through bonuses and ownership in a fast-growing business.
There are some significant downsides to running a freelance copywriting business. Make sure you understand these drawbacks before you embark on this career.
- Service business model.
As a freelance copywriter, you are in the client service business. That means you have to work hard to keep clients happy. You need to communicate professionally, meet deadlines, and more. While a service business is low-cost to start, it can be more challenging to scale up.
- Potential for criticism.
You’ll face significant criticism from clients as a copywriter. Some clients will disagree with your ideas and request changes. In other cases, a client may spend money driving traffic to your copy only to earn no sales. No copywriter achieves a win every time – many top professionals in the field achieve a 10-20% hit rate (i.e., the majority of their copy doesn’t immediately produce results). As a freelance copywriter, you need to be able to work with criticism regularly and keep improving your craft.
- Intense beginner competition.
Over the past few years, there has been a significant increase in new copywriters entering the market. Copywriting training courses and programs have fueled this growth. As a beginner, you will face competing against many other new copywriters.
Overcoming the challenge of intense competition ultimately comes down to achieving results with your copy. Keep working hard at improving your copywriting skills and get testimonials from clients who are pleased with your work.
2. Getting ready to launch your freelance copywriting business.
Use this step-by-step guide to launch your business. It will require focused work in several areas, so don’t expect overnight success.
2.1. Read a few classic copywriting books
To get started, there are a few must-reads copywriting books that almost every successful copywriter recommends. Buy these or get them from your local library. Pick at least two books to read in the next 30 days.
- Scientific Advertising by Claude Hopkins. Even though this book was published decades ago, it gives you key ideas that drive success in advertising.
- The Ultimate Sales Letter by Dan Kennedy. This book will give you a step-by-step guide to creating a sales letter. The book was originally written focusing on direct mail, but the principles still apply.
- Great Leads: The Six Easiest Ways to Start Any Sales Message by Michael Masterson and John Forde. If the beginning of your sales copy fails to grab attention, nothing else matters. This book will show you how to start your copy message.
- The Adweek Copywriting Handbook by Joe Sugerman. Sugarman was one of the most successful copywriters and marketers in the US. He has successfully marketed electronics, seminars, and many other products.
- DotCom Secrets by Russell Brunson. As the co-founder of ClickFunnels, Brunson is widely regarded as one of the most influential people in Internet marketing. DotCom Secrets will give you a firm grounding in the fundamentals of digital marketing.
2.2. Create your copywriting portfolio
Now that you have learned about copywriting fundamentals, it is time to practice writing some copy yourself. Before you write, ask yourself a few questions:
- What is the purpose of the copy? (e.g., to make a sale, encourage someone to sign up for an email list)?
- Is your copy going to be read by people familiar with the product?
- What product or service are you promoting?
If you’re not sure where to start, pick a product that you use regularly. For example, you might have a favourite software app you use daily at work. You could write sales emails or a web page to sell that product.
Since you will probably work with clients focused on online marketing, focus your portfolio pieces on the most common forms of copy online, like sales emails, landing pages, and social media ads.
What if you get stuck in creating your portfolio? Don’t worry – you just need some inspiration. To help you discover ideas, check out these copywriter portfolio examples:
- Kim Hobson Copywriting Portfolio: includes copy for breweries, banks, and electronics.
- Susan Greene Copywriter: her portfolio includes email campaigns, landing pages, press releases, case studies, and more.
- Sally Fox Portfolio: curious to see examples of copywriting for websites? Fox’s portfolio will give you plenty of inspiration.
In the examples above, the copywriter often presents their copy with a full layout and graphic design. Your portfolio would be presented in the same way in an ideal world. Don’t worry about it if you cannot afford graphic design.
Instead, present your portfolio as a Google Doc. Google Docs can be easily shared with others with a link. For additional tips, use these ten shortcuts to building your copywriter portfolio in less than 1 hour.
2.3. Establish a business development habit
As a new copywriter, you will probably not have any habits. To make progress, choose one or two business development habits and work on those habits each day. For the fastest results, we recommend focusing on outbound prospecting.
Pick one or two of the strategies outlined below and make time to execute them each day. If you are launching your business while you have a 9-5 job, consider executing these habits in the early morning (i.e., prospect for new clients between 6 am – 7 am every business day).
- Browse job boards and write proposals to potential clients
There are a few online groups like GetCopywritingJobs.com or CreativeJobs Central where you can regularly find job postings for copywriting.
- Respond to opportunities on freelance job sites like Upwork, Fiverr and Freelance
There are new postings available on these websites every day. They are a good place to look when you first get started.
To avoid feast and famine syndrome (i.e. having no new projects and money coming in after you finish projects), commit to spending some time on business development every week.
2.4. Get testimonials and case studies from clients
After you deliver your first few projects, request reviews and quotes from clients. The best testimonial quotes for a copywriter will include specific numbers such as leads generated, sales and related metrics.
Tip: Your clients may be too busy to write a testimonial. To save time, you can write the testimonial comment and send it to your client for approval.
2.5. Increase your copywriting fees
As you gain expertise and case studies, it is time to raise your prices. At a minimum, increase your base fees by at least 10-20%. You might also want to start working with larger companies – they have more challenging marketing problems and are willing to pay for expert help.
3. Freelance copywriter business resources to grow faster.
You’ll have many questions when you first start as a freelance copywriter. Fortunately, many excellent online resources can help you to grow your business. In this section, we’ll highlight some of the best resources to help you get started.
3.1. Copywriting cover letters and proposals
In this post, Austin Lee explains his strategy to succeed on Upwork. Writing custom cover letters that offer specific ideas is a key part of the approach.
This post covers four different ways to approach Upwork job postings.
What if you are not interested in applying for copywriting jobs on Upwork? The principles and persuasion tactics outlined above translate well to almost any freelancer platform.
3.2. Copywriting YouTubers to study for inspiration
The following YouTubers have all created copywriting videos. We’ve highlighted a few of their popular videos. Once you find an expert you resonate with, focus on working with them. It’s easy to get confused when you study under too many different people.
Alex has great beginner-friendly videos for new copywriters, like How To Become A Freelance Copywriter & Get Your First Client and 5 Copywriting Exercises: How To Write Better Sales Copy.
Today, Dan Lok has millions of YouTube subscribers and runs several businesses. You might not know that he started his business career as a copywriter. Check out some of Lok’s great copywriting videos to see his style, like 5 Proven Ways To Start A Copywriting Career With No Portfolio (And No Experience) and 3 Ways To Increase Your Income As A Copywriter.
Founded by Neville Medhora, this YouTube channel is packed full of tutorials that teach you the fundamentals of copywriting. To help you get started as a beginner, start with these videos: Copywriting Portfolio (make a full portfolio in 10 minutes) and 9 Copywriting Exercises you can start doing “write” now
Turner offers videos on copywriting, entrepreneurship and achieving success as a freelancer. Her video on “Day in The Life of a Copywriter” offers a helpful overview of what this business involves. For those looking for higher income from their freelance copywriting business, check out her video: “Where to find high paying Copywriting Clients.”
Carrie’s writing success includes earning a good income from Fiverr and publishing a novel. Check out Carrie’s video: “How to Make Fiverr Sales as a Newbie – 6 Tips from a Fiverr Pro.” Not convinced yet? See Carrie’s video explaining how to earn $200 for 30 minutes of work on Fiverr. See how Carrie uses CheckYa to sell her other services and offerings.
4. What Upwork and Fiverr don’t want you to know.
While Fiverr, Upwork and other platforms have significant value, there is a major downside to building your business around these websites: expenses! These websites charge high service fees – Upwork can take 20% or more from your fees! Ouch! Fortunately, you have other options.
Use CheckYa to create invoices and receive payments directly into your bank account. The money you save from using CheckYa can add up! A freelance copywriter billing clients $100,000 per year through freelancer websites could save over $5,000 if they switched to invoicing with CheckYa: click here to sign up on CheckYa.