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Copywriting Is No Get-Rich-Quick Scheme

Practice and experience are the key to success in copywriting


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Become a copywriter

Being a freelance copywriter is a rewarding career choice, but it takes hard work to get clients and build up your business.

Dear Susan,

I am in the process of learning about freelance copywriting. I’m trying to get into it ASAP so I can have a better career than Uber driving, which I do now. I hope you can answer my questions. 

Scott

Sure, Scott, I’ll do my best. My answers will appear below each of your questions:

Questions about the work of copywriting itself

1. How can I become a good copywriter?

The fastest way to get good at writing, or any skill for that matter, is through practice. Read books and blogs about writing. Analyze the work of other copywriters. But most important, push yourself to start writing now, even if you don’t feel you know enough to be successful. You get good by doing.

2. What is meant by “your argument” in copywriting sales copy?

I’d need to see your source to know for sure, but my best guess is that the writer meant your argument is how you persuade the reader to do something like buy a product or request more information. Your argument comes down to the key selling points or benefits the reader can expect.

3. What is the best way to edit my own copywriting from first draft to final product so that the client gets error-free, problem-free work from me? 

The strategy I use is to read through my copy and revise it many, many times. Usually, I write way more copy than what’s needed. Like sculpting a big block of marble, I chip away at the text until the statue reveals its beautiful image.

For technical errors, I use spell check. And I know many people use a grammar check, but I haven’t tried it.

Copy editing

Rarely is your first draft your best work. Invest the time to edit your copy and rewrite as needed.

You can also read your copy out loud, which makes you aware of any sentences you’ve written that are too long or complicated. 

I also find that if I’ve been working on copy for several hours, I become blind to any mistakes. I’ll usually set the written text aside and come back to it later in the day or the following morning to review it with fresh eyes before sending off to the client. 

4. How long should my sentences and paragraphs be in a sales letter?

I try to keep things simple. I don’t want my sentences to be too long or complex. I’m thinking maybe 1 to 2 lines. As for paragraphs, I try to keep them to 5 lines or less. Otherwise, they are hard for the reader to follow. I focus each paragraph on a specific point.

So, for example, if I’m talking about gum, I’ll have one paragraph describing the different flavors and how bold they are. I’ll have another paragraph about how this gum makes your breath fresh and how long the freshness lasts so you get maximum benefit, and finally another paragraph about how it’s sugar-free and therefore doesn’t cause cavities like other gums do.

5. How do you get ideas to write copy about?

Most of the time, I’m working with a client and therefore the ideas are tied to how to best market the client’s product, service or brand. But if you’re looking for ideas say for blogs, you can read other blogs in the same space (Don’t steal; just use their stories to prompt new ideas for you).

Copywriting ideas

You can get ideas from magazines, books, blogs and online research.

Go on Amazon and find books on the subject, and look at their table of contents. Often their chapter titles make good writing prompts for blog posts. Look at online magazines and forums. 

6. What is the best way to do copywriting that I will feel good about and will like doing?

That’s really up to you. Figure out the kinds of clients you want to work with and then target them in your marketing.

I write for businesses to help them grow. It makes me feel good to help companies succeed. I work with different types of firms and do different types of writing for them.

For example, I help realtors write their property listings. I help tech companies explain their products in simple terms to prospective customers. I help healthcare organizations describe their services and attract new patients.

Questions About the Business of Copywriting

1. What is the best way to create a LinkedIn page and a blog to get clients to quickly come to me and desperately want my services despite my writing skills, where they will hire me like RTHNOW!!!

Scott, while I understand your urgent desire to jump into the mix quickly and begin earning money right away, that’s an unlikely scenario. If it were that easy to get started and make bank, everyone would do it.

Building a business, no matter what type, takes time and hard work. I still have to work hard to get clients, even after 25+ years. Look at my website, www.susangreenecopywriter and my blog, https://www.susangreenecopywriter.com/articles.html . I have HUNDREDS of pages to attract clients, and I’m constantly adding more, and I do other forms of outreach to continually attract new clients.

2. Is it possible to work from home as a copywriter?

I do it. I meet with my clients either by phone or Zoom, or we use email. I don’t meet with clients in person anymore and most aren’t local to me anyways.

That wasn’t the case when I was starting out as a copywriter and I met with most clients, but technology has come a long way and made most interactions useful even if only via computer. And COVID-19 greatly accelerated acceptance of working at home.

3. What should I do if I get a copywriting job from a client, and I don’t feel comfortable about the assignment due to personal or professional reasons? 

You’re not obligated to take on any client you don’t want if you’re working for yourself. It might be a different story if you’re working for an employer.

But assuming you’re in control of your business, you simply say to the client, “Sorry, I’m not the right person for this job. No thank you.”

I just had that situation happen today, oddly enough. It was a vaping company looking for me to write articles on their products. I’m not a fan of vaping so I declined. The client understood and said thanks anyway.

Other similar situations in the past have included writing for gun shops and pornography. Because I was uncomfortable with the subject matter, I decided to pass on the projects.

4. What do I need to do to legally set up a work-from-home business so I won’t get into any legal trouble?

If you’re on your own, then you don’t need to worry about a formal agreement with a partner, the kind that would protect you in a dispute.

If you’re working out of your home, there may be some zoning laws or subdivision rules about whether you can run a business from your residence. However, if all you’re doing is writing at a computer and not having a high volume of customers stopping by, I really wouldn’t worry about it.

More so than legally, you need to give thought to your business financially. The biggest thing is to pay taxes. You have to pay them quarterly or the government gets mad. The IRS doesn’t want to wait for the end of the year to get their money, just like when you work for an employer and they take out taxes each paycheck.

Bookkeeping for copywriters

When you’re starting out as a freelance copywriter, even as a side hustle, you need to track your income and pay quarterly taxes.

You should also set up a separate bank account so the money from your business stays separate from other funds. Makes it easier to figure out what the taxes should be.

Initially you can probably keep your own books, but as your business grows and your finances become more complex, you may want to establish a relationship with a bookkeeper. 

5. What is the best way to get legal help in the event of threats or summons to courts of law for any unintentional mistakes written in copywriting materials?

I wouldn’t worry about this unless you’re writing in sketchy areas like drug use, child pornography, etc. I’ve never had that situation occur in the 25+ years I’ve been working in the copywriting industry. It’s not common. Just do a good job for your clients and make sure they approve the work. Once they do, it’s on them to be sure it’s accurate.

6. How much does a junior copywriter make yearly when starting out?

I honestly don’t know. It’s been many, many years since I did that. I’m sure you can Google it or look at glassdoor.com. It also depends how hard you’re willing to work. Some freelancers can only take on a single project at a time, and they do weeks of research. That’s great but unless you’re working with a sizable budget, you may not want to spend that much time.

I juggle 10 or more active projects and have 30+ projects in various stages of completion and approval. I complete projects every week and bill for them, and I also add new projects weekly, sometimes daily. I work fast and admittedly, I work a lot. Whether that’s how you want to approach your business is up to you.

7. How is it possible to double or triple one’s income from copywriting?

To make more money copywriting, you can:

  • Work more hours or days (weekends)
  • Get bigger clients who can afford higher fees
  • Take on employees to produce more work
  • Subcontract work to freelance copywriters so you can take on more projects. Just be sure you charge enough to make more money than what you’re paying out to others
Copywriter rates

As you gain experience, you’ll be able to increase your copywriting rates.

It’s a bit naive to think you’ll go from just starting out to doubling or tripling your income. Again, if it were that easy, everyone would be doing it.

8. Where are the best places to get copywriting clients to work for when you’re brand new?

Start with friends, relatives, personal contacts and small business owners.

9. How do I handle the lack of college degrees and impress a manager in HR to hire me as a work at home freelancer?

You’re usually not dealing with an HR person. If you’re working with a small business that needs help with marketing, you’re probably dealing with the owner. Most people won’t care if you are working from home as long as you do a good job and meet their deadline.

Many copywriters work from home

Many copywriters work from home. It’s affordable, and you can’t beat the commute!

10. Are there usually heavy deadlines?

Depends on the client and their needs. If a deadline is unrealistic, I tell the client that right up front. They can then choose to go elsewhere. It doesn’t happen often.

Most clients do, however, request fast turnarounds. The quicker you get their marketing copy written, presumably the sooner they’ll start making sales. And from your viewpoint, the faster you complete their copywriting assignment, the sooner you can invoice the client and go on to the next job.

11. What is the best way to deal with them if there is not enough time for research or for enough research to be done so the copywriting can be written up quickly?

State that up front before accepting the project. If you agree to do the work, then you need to meet the deadline. If they can provide you with research or an outline, then they can help accelerate the process.

12. What are the best ways to getting paid for work and do I need a business account to get paid?

You should keep your business money separate from personal. My preferred payment types are Venmo, direct deposit and Zelle, which are free to use. I also use PayPal but there’s a fee unless you can talk your client into checking the box “Friends and family.” Then there’s no fee.

13. What do I do if I have a client I don’t like, whether for personal or professional reasons?

If you feel you’re not a good match with the client, then you finish fulfilling your commitments and don’t take on anymore work from that client. It’s not worth the aggravation.

Copywriting clients

Not every client will be a fit. Feel free to “fire” clients who make you angry or uncomfortable.


14. If either party, client or I have to breaks a contract on the matter of copywriting work not working out and too much of a difference of opinion, what is the best solution to work on to avoid litigations?

Offer to revise the copy or give the client a refund, partial or full depending on the situation.

15. How can I quickly get to work and make at least $5,000 monthly with plans double that amount after the first few months?

Once again, if copywriting was a get rich quick scheme, everyone would be doing it. Your goals are lofty. You’ll have to work a lot to achieve them.

16. I have tried Upwork and bid on writing projects but I never heard from the clients?

That’s because it’s highly competitive. Lots of people want to make money as a copywriter. It’s hard to stand out. Clients want the cheapest rates but the highest quality. Upwork probably gets dozens of bids on every job, if not hundreds.

The bidders also come from countries other than the U.S. where the cost of living is much less, so they can charge cheaper rates. It’s hard to compete with them for copywriting projects.

Copywriters around the world
Honestly, based on your questions and your need to make a lot of money quickly, you probably want to stick with Lyft and write as a side hustle until you land some substantial clients. Lyft sends you clients whereas copywriting means finding your own customers, and that’s not easy when you’re starting out.

Like any career, to become good at it, you need to work hard. You’re not going to find clients willing to hire someone inexperienced and pay them high rates. If you put forth great effort, you will eventually become good at your craft and be able to build your business. Sorry, but gaining experience  doesn’t happen overnight. Don’t waste your time searching for shortcuts. Instead start doing the work to learn the skills. 

Warm regards,

Susan

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