By Holly Reisem Hanna
I remember the first time I heard the term copywriting. I thought it was a profession based around copyrighting books; basically registering legal documents for books and other publications. It turns out I was completely wrong.
What is copywriting?
Copywriting is the process of writing persuasively to promote a person, product, business, idea, or opinion. Copywriters write the words in TV commercials, radio ads, magazines, newspapers, billboards, flyers, websites, and direct mailings – wherever something is being sold; copywriters are hard at work writing alluring and compelling advertisements.
What types of copywriting work can people do?
Copywriters can work in a wide variety of areas and niches from …
- B2B copywriting
- Direct mail
- Print advertising
- Online advertising
- Email marketing
- TV scripts
- Radio scripts
- Press releases
- PPC ads
- SEO copywriting
- Social media
- Tech copywriting
What training do you need?
There are a few ways you can become a copywriter. One, you can get a college degree in advertising, marketing, English, or communications.
The second way you can become a copywriter is by taking a home-study course that teaches you the trade of copywriting. Many copywriting programs can be completed within a few months and cost less $500.00. In fact, I have a couple of friends who got started this way. One got started by reading Peter Bowerman's book, The Well-Fed Writer: Financial Self-Sufficiency as a Commercial Freelancer in Six Months or Less and the other took a program through American Writers & Artists Inc. (AWAI).
You can read about Mindy's copywriting journey here (she took the six-figure copywriting program through AWAI).
The third way to become a copywriter is through on-the-job experience. Danny Margulies began his career in this manner using the freelance job platform, Upwork (formerly Elance). Without a shred of experience, he was able to earn six-figures his second year working as a copywriter. If you'd like to see how he got started, he documented his whole process in this post – it's pretty amazing!
Recommended online copywriting resources and books.
If you're not interested in going back to school or investing heavily in a copywriting course, there are lots of affordable books and resources that can help you with your copywriting career.
- 30 Days to Freelance Writing Success
- American Writers & Artists Inc.
- Become an Advertising Copywriter by FabJob
- Breakthrough Advertising by Eugene Schwartz
- Copy Hackers
- SEO Copywriting
- Scientific Advertising by Claude Hopkins
- Start and Run a Copywriting Business by Steve Slaunwhite
- The Copywriter's Handbook: A Step-By-Step Guide To Writing Copy That Sells by Robert Bly
- The Copywriting Institute
- Wealthy Web Writer
How much do copywriters make?
According to Nicki Krawczyk, a copywriting coach, “a new (trained) copywriter could make anywhere in the $25 to $35 per hour range, so you’re looking at beginning salaries between roughly $52,000 and $62,000.” Copywriters with more experience and that can generate higher conversion rates and proven results can earn much, much more.
To get an idea of what some copywriters charge, check out this web writing fee schedule. Writing a five to six-page website using SEO strategies can bring in whooping $1,500 to $3,500 per project!
Where do you find copywriting gigs and jobs?
There are a couple of routes you can take with copywriting. One you can work for an ad agency as an employee, or you can start your own freelance copywriting business. Most ad agencies will require you to have a marketing or advertising degree, which is one reason why many copywriters choose to freelance. Plus, you can make more money as a freelancer.
Here are some of the best places to search for freelance copywriting jobs.
- Direct Response Job Board
- The Chat Shop
Ready to start your copywriting business?
Like any other home business, you will need to educate yourself on the best business practices, file all of the appropriate paperwork, and get your legal and financial ducks in a row. Once you set up the preliminary business framework, you can start working on the fun parts of your business.
1. Choose a niche.
There are many different types of copy you can write, but even something more to consider is what industry would you like to write for? While some copywriters are generalists and write on a wide-variety of products and services, it's easier and more lucrative to choose a specialty. Figuring out what niche you want to focus on can be a challenge, but if you mind-map your passions, interests, experience, and knowledge you can narrow it down relatively easy.
Still uncertain? This article has a bunch of helpful ideas and resources that will help you determine your specialty.
2. Build a website.
To be competitive as a copywriter, you need to have a website. Having an online presence will help you attract more clients, it gives you a place to showcase your work, list your services and testimonials, and it makes you look more professional. Don't worry, setting up a website is easy and affordable. This post has step-by-step instructions that will have you up and running in no time — and it's affordable!
3. Market your business.
There are tons of ways to promote your copywriting business; the thing you need to remember is consistency is key. Choose two to three methods that you think you'll enjoy doing and spend time each day working on those methods.
Not sure of your options? Here are just some of the ways you can market your business:
- Social media
- Cold calling
- In-person networking
- Email marketing
- Lead generation
- PR opportunities
- Public speaking
- Guest blogging
- Print advertising
- Forum participation
- Email prospecting
- Facebook groups
Now that you've got your website in place and you're actively marketing your business, it's time to connect with potential clients. Some experts believe you should follow up with five to ten new prospects a day until you have a constant flow of clients in your pipeline.
4. Invest in your copywriting business.
As your cash flow builds, you’ll want to reinvest some of it into professional development. Luckily, they are events, conferences, webinars, teleconferences, online courses, books, membership sites, mastermind groups, and coaching sessions – there is something to fit every budget and every niche. By investing in yourself and your business, you gain the knowledge, information, and skills to make your freelance business a success.
Starting your own copywriting business may seem like a far off distant dream – but if you take the first step, you can make it a reality. Good luck on your journey!
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