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How to Make the Jump to Freelance Copywriting

Last week I talked to a journalist who recently lost his job when the (very big and prestigious) magazine he worked for eliminated his entire department. He wants to break into freelance copywriting, which I always think is great. There’s nothing like being your own boss!

Here’s my advice.

How to make the jump to freelance copywriting

1. Put together a portfolio

People are going to ask you for this, so have it ready to go ahead of time. To help people really understand the value you bring to the table, provide context around each project. Write up short explanations that cover:

  • Project goals
  • Your deliverables
  • Your approach
  • The results (if you can quantify results, include that!)

2. Gather a list of testimonials/references

Testimonials that specifically address each type of project/service you offer are ideal. Be sure they address your target market’s top challenges and the benefits of working with you.

It’s also a good idea to have references read to go ahead of time. Keep a short list of name, title, company, email, phone number and relationship to you during that project (client, supervisor, colleague, direct report).

3. Establish who your ideal client is

We all have enough stress in our lives, so don’t open the door to working with just anyone. You’ll be miserable.

Put together a list of who your ideal client is (role, size of company, budget, type of projects) and what they’re like to work with (pay on time, show up for appointment on time, open to feedback). Be picky!

This is especially important for our next step. People need to know who to refer your way!

4. Set rates

Your freelance copywriting rate will vary based on where you live, your experience, your skill set and your target market. Do not underprice yourself. You know what you’re worth. People who see the value in what you do will be willing to pay for it.

And don’t give away your work for free! Unless you are doing so purposefully as a volunteer (see below).

5. Create a one-page website

Put all of the above on a one-page website. There are so many DIY website builders out there (Squarespace and Wix are the most popular), so pick one and get going. Be sure to buy a domain name and hosting, too, to ensure you look professional.

6. Tell your network

Now you can tell your network that you’re taking projects and clients. Announce it on LinkedIn and via email. Refer people to your website to learn more.

For those who are potential clients, call them first and email them second. That phone call could turn into business!

7. Ask for introductions

The people in your network who know and like you will be more than happy to make introductions. Ask during a phone call or in-person meeting. It’s more personal that way.

8. Volunteer

So, while you’re waiting for projects to roll in, find writing and editing volunteer work that enhance your portfolio. Community organizations, nonprofits and charities always have needs.

9. Network – a lot!

In between volunteering and working your current network, get out there and meet new people! Start with meetups. Ask people what their favorite networking events are and why.

Most networking events suck, by the way. You’ll probably attend a lot to find the small handful that are valuable. But you also never know who you’re going to meet at the crappy ones. I met one of my best friends at an awful event.

Have any other questions?

Shoot me a note about freelance copywriting here.

Photo by bruce mars from Pexels.

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