Copywriting is one of those rare skill sets that is both highly accessible AND highly lucrative.

  • Businesses are hiring copywriters like crazy.
  • Good copywriters can easily earn six figures.
  • Most copywriters today work remotely.
  • Copywriters don’t need formal training or education.
  • New AI tools make copywriting faster and easier.

In this guide, I’ll teach you how to become a copywriter in 2024, even if you have no degrees, no credentials, and no experience.

There are two very different paths you can take as a copywriter:

  1. Get a copywriting job and climb the career ladder.
  2. Build a freelance business and be your own boss.

I’ve done both. I’ve made $240k in a year solely from freelancing, and I’ve also taken an in-house copywriting job at a $200k salary plus equity.

In this guide, I’ll teach you how to do both, and I’ll show you how people just like you have launched successful copywriting careers over the last few years.

Table Of Contents

  • What Is A Copywriter?
  • What Does A Copywriter Do?
  • Why You Should Become A Copywriter
  • What Qualifications Do You Need?
  • How To Get Started With No Experience

What Is A Copywriter?

A copywriter is someone who creates written messaging for a business or organization, usually with the intent to sell or promote a product, service, or brand.

When you read a book, you are reading the work of an author.

When you read a sales page, marketing email, or even a blog post like this one, you are reading the work of a copywriter.

A lot of people mistake the word “copywriter” as being connected to “copyright”, but they are not related in any way.

A copyright is a legal term denoting intellectual property.

A copywriter is someone who creates the written messaging for a business, brand, or organization.

What Does A Copywriter Do?

To be a good copywriter, you have to be a good writer AND a good marketer.

Accordingly, good copywriters spend a large portion of their time writing and a large portion of their time doing marketing activities like:

  • Researching the target audience
  • Evaluating customer response data
  • Reverse-engineering competitors

If you decide to get a fulltime copywriting job, writing and marketing will likely take up around 75% of your time. The other 25% will go to meetings, working with stakeholders, and collaborating with other marketers, sales people, and customer support folks at the company.

If you decide to go the freelance route, writing might only take up around 25% of your time. You’ll likely make 3-4x more money for the actual writing that you do, but around 75% of your time will go to pitching new clients, supporting your existing clients, running your business, and building your personal brand.

Further Reading: What Does A Copywriter Do? (In-Depth Breakdown)

Why You Should Become A Copywriter

If you have any desire to work for yourself, be in control of your own schedule, and build your own business with unlimited earnings upside, copywriting is the perfect place to start.

1. Copywriters Can Make Great Money

Copywriting is required to sell things online.

And quality of the copywriting directly translates to the number of sales.

These two realities mean that copywriters are always in high demand, and it makes sense for businesses to offer competitive rates to good copywriters, because the skills of those writers will have a direct impact on how much money the business makes.

For employed copywriters, this means average salaries that are nearly double the average salary for all jobs.

Further Reading: How Much Do Copywriters Make?

For freelance copywriters, this means the potential to make very large amounts of money very early in their career.

Here’s a screengrab of a contract from my second year as a copywriter.

I earned $7,000 per month for two months from this project as a self-taught copywriter with barely a year of experience under my belt.

And this isn’t unique to me.

Here’s a recent interview with Krista Fabbro, a student of mine who was hitting $10,000 months by the end of her FIRST year as a copywriter.

Whether you want a stable, well-paid job or an accessible business with unusually-high earning potential, copywriting is a great choice.

2. Copywriters Can Work From Home

Most people I know want the freedom of working from home… or anywhere.

This is a luxury enjoyed by the vast majority of copywriters, both employed and freelance.

Now admittedly, this is a bit less of a unique selling point since the COVID pandemic made remote work a lot more common.

But while many industries and jobs are seeking to bring people back into the office, copywriting tended to be a remote occupation long before the pandemic, and it will continue to be a remote occupation moving forward.

If you are someone who really enjoys working in an office, there are definitely options available to you, and you will have much less competition applying for the jobs that require an office presence.

But for those looking for lifestyle freedom, copywriting has always been a great fit.

I’m now 12 years into my career and have never once worked in an office. As someone who absolutely HATES commutes and enjoys being at home, it’s been a perfect fit for me.

I especially enjoy the extra time I get with my two boys.

3. Copywriters Can Easily Become Entrepreneurs

To some extent, building a freelance copywriting business is being an entrepreneur, but when most people think of starting a business and becoming an entrepreneur, they are imagining employees and a business model that pays them a lot of money without them having to do all the work themselves.

If that’s your goal, copywriting is the perfect training ground for several reasons:

  • You’re mastering a skill EVERY business needs
  • You’re constantly exposed to new business models
  • You’re constantly networking with entrepreneurs
  • You’re constantly learning how to sell and persuade
  • Your constantly learning what makes businesses succeed

Over my 12-year career, I’ve used each of these benefits to help me:

  • Build an agency doing $40k per month
  • Grow a course business to $20k per month
  • Average $10k per month in affiliate income
  • Launch a supplement business that goes live this year

None of those things have been simultaneous. The most I’ve averaged over a full year is $40k per month, and the most I’ve made in a single month is $85k, but those are numbers I never even imagined when I was getting started.

Whatever your goals are, copywriting can provide an incredible training ground.

What Qualifications Do You Need To Be A Copywriter?

In the modern job market, you do not need any qualifications whatsoever to become a copywriter.

When most people think of job qualifications, they imagine stuff like:

  • A particular college degree
  • Licensing
  • Certifications

But none of this stuff really exists in copywriting.

Sure, you can get an English or Marketing degree in college, and one of these degrees might provide a minor edge at getting an entry-level copywriting job.

But someone who can show one or two examples of strong copywriting will beat out someone with an English or Marketing degree every single time, and it’s not even close.

There are no licensing requirements for copywriters, so that’s off the table.

And while there are copywriting certifications you can get, they are offered by private companies after completing unaccredited courses and are really only as valuable as the training they provide and the minor reputation association that comes with the company providing the course.

They certainly aren’t required to become a copywriter.

Think of getting a copywriting job like getting a sales job.

Nobody has ever needed a special degree, license, or certification to get a sales job. If you have a pulse and can show up, you can get into sales, because EVERY business needs to sell, and most businesses have a product that needs to be sold via a 1-to-1 sales rep.

Copywriting is basically sales via writing, so there’s a lot of crossover.

All you need to become a copywriter is the initiative to learn how to write copy and the audacity to begin pitching your copywriting services to people who can hire you.

What Skills Do you Need To Be A Copywriter?

Now, while you don’t need a particular set of qualifications to become a copywriter, you do need a particular set of skills to become a successful copywriter.

Whether you already have them or are willing to learn them, you won’t make it as a copywriter without being able to:

  1. Clearly communicate ideas through writing
  2. Think strategically and problem solve
  3. Put yourself out there repeatedly

Clear communication is the first skill every copywriter needs.

A lot of talented writers struggle with the clarity and simplicity required in copywriting. It’s not about being clever or even persuasive. It’s about condensing everything into a simple message and communicating that message clearly.

Strategic problem solving is the second skill every copywriter needs.

A lot of new copywriters and marketers think that experts can predict what will work and knock in out of the park on the first try. In reality, what makes someone a marketing expert is their ability to systematically experiment, problem solve, and dial in their adjustments until they find what works.

While this is more a quality than a skill, every copywriter needs persistence and the willingness to keep trying no matter how many times you fail.

This field is basically the Wild West.

There are no rules.

The winners are the people who keep putting themselves out there, keep trying, keep making connections, keep taking risks, and keep pushing forward.

Even if you go the employment route, you will still need to bet on yourself in the way you approach the job application, how you sell yourself and your ideas to stakeholders in the company, and how you attack career growth by pursuing new positions.

If you build a copywriting business, you will likely need to send out 100 pitches for ever new client you land in the early days. It’s not physically hard, but most people find it mentally challenging to keep pitching after 50 “no’s” in a row.

So do you have the skills to be a copywriter?

Can you communicate clearly, think strategically, and keep putting yourself out there even when people are turning you down?

If so, you’re ready to get started as a copywriter.

Copywriting Jobs vs Freelance Copywriting

There are two main copywriting career paths.

The first option is the traditional one: you can go out and land a copywriting job and become an in-house copywriter for a business.

Copywriting job listing

The potential upsides of this option are:

  • You’ll get paid to be trained
  • You’ll work with people who know more than you
  • You’ll see behind-the-scenes performance data
  • You’ll see how results play out over time

It’s hard to overstate the benefits of working with smart, experienced folks on a daily basis.

At the same time, not all jobs are created equal.

You risk ending up in a dead-end job, working by yourself in a dark cubicle, with an awful boss expecting you to produce a massive amount of low quality content that doesn’t teach you anything.

This isn’t a huge problem if you have the awareness to recognize a bad job, quit, and move on. Unfortunately, a lot of people lack this awareness and get stuck for years.

The second option is the gig economy one: you can go out and begin selling copywriting services immediately and build a freelance business.

The potential upsides of this option are:

  • Higher earning potential over your first few years
  • Full control of your schedule and lifestyle
  • Some control over what you work on

For most people, having the freedom to work when and where you please is a big deal, and it’s probably the #1 reason people pursue the freelance route.

That said, freelancing often sounds more glamorous than it actually is.

A lot of people simply do not have the willingness to put themselves out there, and as a result, they never end up making any money.

But it may surprise you to learn that even freelancers regularly making $10,000 per month regularly question whether they want to continue. There is a pretty big mental load attached to running a full business by yourself, and a lot of people get anxiety from having to rely on themselves to make money.

Which Career Path Is Best In 2024?

For the first eight years of my career, building a freelance copywriting business was the default best-option for most new copywriters.

Entry level wages were really bad, and the supply of freelance copywriters was so much less than demand, that new copywriters were just waltzing into this field and doubling their income almost overnight.

Today, wages have improved in many industries and locations, and the supply of freelance copywriters has caught up with demand. Ambitious, self-motivated copywriters can still get better results going freelance from Day #1, but for the majority of aspiring copywriters, I think starting with a copywriting job is the better way to go.

Fortunately, you don’t really have to guess about which option is best for you.

How To Get Started As A Copywriter With No Degree Or Experience

The steps I’m about to teach are going to put you in the best possible position to get a great copywriting job, land freelance copywriting clients, OR do both at the same time!

Now, before we begin, you can approach this guide in one of two ways.

The first way is to read through the steps I teach you and think, “Ugh, that’s way more work than I want to invest in landing a job.”

If you are looking for the easiest possible path, head on over to a job board now and start submitting your resume to entry-level copywriting gigs.

If you apply to 20 positions per week for the next 3-6 months, there’s a reasonable chance you’ll get hired to an entry-level position paying around $40-50k per year.

The second way is to read through this guide and embrace the challenge of taking some uncomfortable steps that are going to set you apart from the competition.

If you are willing to put in some upfront work and put yourself out there, not only are you likely to land a few clients, but you can then leverage that experience to land a MUCH more advanced copywriting position.

Over the last two years, I’ve had quite a few students do just that.

This student began freelancing for an agency part time while she finished school.

A year later, rather than start at an entry-level job right out of college, she started her career with a $150k salary AND time to freelance on the side.

And while I’m using this example because it’s recent and the big salary number is super impressive, I’ve had quite a few students reach out to let me know they’ve landed fulltime jobs at non-entry-level salaries.

Just to round things out, here’s a student who opted to focus on building a freelance business. She messaged me recently to let me know she was earning $12,000 per month just 6 months after taking my course.

For the record, I consider content writing to be part of copywriting, and it’s one of the deliverables I teach in my course.

But regardless of the exact service you end up offering or the exact trajectory your career takes, this is the type of income acceleration that happens when you follow the steps I’m about to teach you in this guide.

1. Learn the Fundamentals Of Copywriting

Approximate Timeline: 2 hours

At its core, copywriting is simply writing designed to prompt action.

For example, a supplement businesses wants people to purchase its supplement after clicking on an ad for that supplement, so your job as the copywriter is to write a sales page that will take someone who has shown enough interest to click on that ad and get them to purchase the product.

Another word for this is persuasion, and this is why copywriting is such a universally beneficial skill: the ability to persuade via writing has virtually limitless applications, regardless of job, role, or industry.

But here’s the problem.

When most people first discover copywriting, they get it all wrong.

They think that copywriting is about convincing people to do something they DON’T want to do.

Have you ever heard the saying “he could sell sawdust to a lumber mill”?

The average person tends to believe that sales and marketing and persuasion are all about convincing random people to do things they don’t want to do.

“Dance for me puppet, DANCE!”

But I’m going to let you in on a secret.

People pretty much only do the things that THEY want to do.

Copywriting isn’t about convincing random people to buy random stuff they don’t actually want.

It’s about showing a specific group of people that the product or service you are selling is exactly what THEY already want. It’s about taking someone who has shown interest, like in the supplement example, and helping to channel that interest into action.

To do this, you only need to learn a handful of copywriting fundamentals:

  1. Identify WHO you are speaking to.
  2. Identify WHAT they want.
  3. Connect what you’re selling to what they want.
  4. Make everything really clear, simple and easy to understand.

That’s it.

The fundamentals of copywriting are actually quite simple.

You don’t need to read a million books, religiously study old school copywriters, or devote yourself to psychological techniques.

pasted image 0

(Tweet credit: Dave Harland)

In fact, I’ve put everything you need to know in terms of fundamentals into a single blog post that can serve as your complete copywriting guide.

Further Reading: The Complete Guide To Copywriting.

2. Learn One Copywriting Deliverable

Approximate Timeline: 24 hours

All copywriting is persuasive writing, but nobody is ever going to pay you for “persuasive writing”.

If you want to make money, you need to be able to use your persuasive writing skills to create specific types of copy that are in high demand.

These are often called “deliverables” as they are something concrete that you deliver to the client in exchange for payment.

To continue our example, a supplement company might reach out to you because they “need a copywriter,” but what you will actually sell them (and what they will pay for) is the copywriting for a sales page.

That’s the deliverable: copywriting for one sales page.

I’ve identified six different deliverables that are worth learning as a new copywriter. Start with one, follow the rest of the steps, and then go from there.

The first three are the easiest to learn and sell.

  1. Blog posts
  2. Newsletter emails
  3. Website copy

If you have absolutely no experience, and everything we’ve covered so far already feels a bit overwhelming, one of these three is the perfect place to start.

Why Blog Posts?

A blog post is what you are reading right now. It’s a piece of copy that is usually between 500-3,000 words and designed to educate the reader on a specific topics or provide a specific learning outcome.

Blog posts are by far the easiest deliverable for new copywriters to create. They have a much lower learning curve than every other copywriting deliverable, and they also benefit heavily from modern AI tools.

Blog posts are also the easiest deliverable to sell. Every blog needs new content to remain valuable, and many blogs regularly hire freelancers to write their content.

Why Newsletter Emails?

A newsletter is an ongoing series of emails sent to an audience of subscribers at regular intervals, often for the purpose of marketing a brand.

Writing a newsletter on behalf of a brand or business is typically pretty easy — on par with writing a blog post. Writing on behalf of a person is a bit more challenging, as you’ll need to do a good job of emulating that person’s written voice.

Newsletters are a bit harder to sell than blog posts, as a large percentage of them are delivered behind-the-scenes in people’s inboxes, but since they are an ongoing type of content, landing one client can mean ongoing work for months or even years.

Why Website Copy?

Website copy is the writing you see on a business’ website. It’s goal is usually to introduce the reader to the business and its products or services, and give the reader an easy way to contact or order from the business.

Website copy is relatively easy to write, although the landing pages for specific products or services require a bit more skill, but not quite as much as writing a sales page.

Since every business that exists today needs a website, and most businesses do a large update of their website every few years, there is always a lot of demand for website copywriting, making it a relatively easy gig to sell.

That’s it for the easier deliverables.

Now let’s look at the more difficult ones.

These next three copywriting deliverables are a bit more complex, more lucrative, and less vulnerable to losing their value as AI continues to improve.

  1. Sales pages
  2. Email sequences
  3. Video scripts

If you already have some experience with marketing or sales, or if you are just the type of person who likes to tackle a harder challenge for the chance of more upside, one of these three will be perfect for you.

Why Sales Pages?

A sales page is THE page that you land on after clicking an ad, email, etc. where the business attempts to directly sell you its product or service.

Sales pages, sales letters, and Video Sales Letters (VSL) are sort of the pinnacle of copywriting, as the quality of the copy has a direct, notable, and measurable impact on the number of sales these deliverables produce. Sales pages are the place to start getting into this category of copywriting, and while this isn’t rocket science, it’s definitely not easy or something that comes intuitively like blog writing.

On the plus side, once you’ve created a few good sales pages, it becomes quite easy to sell these. Good sales page copywriters are rarely out of work, and many make incredibly good money.

Why Email Sequences?

An email sequence is a limited series of emails sent out with a clear, singular goal, which is usually to sell a product.

Email sequences are a bit more complex than writing a newsletter email, because each email in the sequence needs to strategically connect and move the reader toward the purchase.

Email sequences can be a bit more difficult to sell as a freelance service, because most businesses fall into one of two buckets. Either they highly value email marketing and already have their sequences built, or they don’t value it at all and thus, have no interest in hiring an email copywriter. Thousands of copywriters still find success with this deliverable, it’s just a bit more challenging to break into the space.

Why Video Scripts?

The general definition of a video script is a guide for what will go into a video (narration, dialogue, visuals, etc.). For freelance copywriters, however, video scripts tend to be a bit more focused around Video Sales Letters (VSLs) and scripts for Youtube videos used for marketing or audience building.

Video scripts for marketing and sales are probably the most complex deliverable out of the six mentioned here. They have all the same complexity of sales pages, but with the added challenge of thinking about visuals.

Video scripts aren’t particularly difficult to sell. As video content continues to outpace written content, the demand for assistance in creating videos continues to grow as well. The problem is that most of the hiring is done by larger brands looking for experienced writers. The smaller budget brands that can only afford beginner script writers often just write the scripts themselves. Finding ways to get early experience under your belt will be the main challenge, but once you have that experience, your career will take off.

Want To Learn These Deliverables In A Weekend?

If you’d like to learn how to create these deliverables the traditional way, there are a ton of resources that can be found via Google or Youtube.

If you are just getting started now, however, I wouldn’t recommend learning copywriting the traditional way.

Writers who have learned how to leverage AI are producing profitable copy 3-4x faster than copywriters writing the traditional way, and I believe that in 5 years, the writers who are currently just starting out and learning AI-assisted copywriting from the ground up will be even faster and more efficient.

If you’d like to learn how to create profitable sales pages, email sequences, blog posts, and video scripts with the help of AI — all in a single weekend — click below to learn more about Copywriter 2049 and the future of copywriting.

3. Complete Two Practice Projects

Approximate Timeline: 7 days

There’s really only so much you can learn from reading about copywriting. 90% of learning to write copy comes from actually writing copy.

You may have noticed that the approximate timelines for the previous two sections were measured in hours.

That wasn’t an accident.

While it’s certainly essential to consume some of the fantastic materials out there on copywriting, once you’ve spent 12-15 hours reading, you’ve learned as much as you’re going to learn just from reading.

Now it’s time to start doing. It’s time to start actually writing real copy for real businesses.

If you’re the responsible type, your first thought is probably, “Wait a second, how am I supposed to charge people to write copy if I’ve never written copy before?”

Well… you’re not.

Or at least, whether or not you get paid (or how much you get paid) is irrelevant.

You need practice. Real practice.

There’s one okay way and two good ways to get some genuine practice under your belt quickly.

Option #1: Create A Permissionless Deliverable

The simplest but least effective way to practice is to create a copywriting deliverable yourself without anyone’s permission.

Write a blog post, email blast, web page, sales page, email sequence, or video script.

The problem with this approach is that you don’t have anyone to answer the important questions for you:

Who are you writing to? What do they want? What are you trying to get them to do after reading your copy?

In normal circumstances, you don’t answer these questions as the copywriter. The client or stakeholder you are working with answers these questions, and they influence every single word you write. So this method essentially forces you to approach your first project the “wrong” way.

That said, there are a few workarounds here.

The first workaround is to simply write a blog post. Blog posts are very straightforward and don’t really require insider information.

For example, if you write a really strong blog post on “The Best Budgeting Apps In 2024”, that blog post could easily be used by fifty different personal finance blogs.

You don’t need permission to write that post.

You can do it right now.

The second workaround is to pick a brand that you follow and write a deliverable they don’t currently have. This needs to be a brand where you feel like you deeply understand the brand’s goals, value, and audience — where you can answer those key copywriting questions yourself.

For example, you could write a welcome sequence for a Youtuber you follow that introduces new email subscribers to the Youtuber’s products and top hits.

Realistically, what you create here probably won’t be that good, as you’re just getting started. If you decide you want to pursue freelance copywriting, this is probably the least effective type of practice.

If you are primarily after a job, on the other hand, this can be all you need to stand out and leap frog an entry level position.

Imagine writing a full sales page for a company and sending it along with your resume. It’s obvious that’s going to make you stand out, especially after you’ve done a few rounds of practice (or ideally, a few rounds of real client work).

All that said, you will ALWAYS learn more when working with real stakeholders than you will pretending to be a stakeholder.

That’s why these next two are much better practice options.

Option #2: Reach Out To Your Warm Network

In the gig economy, there are numerous people that you currently know (your “warm” network) who are running a side hustle at minimum, if not a full blown business.

If you read this while living in a United States and thought, “I’m the exception. I don’t know anyone running a business,” stop it. You’re wrong.

You may not know that they run a business, but numerous people that you know right now ARE running businesses.

It’s your job to reach out to everyone in you warm network, let them know that you are a copywriter now, and ask if anyone could use free or low-cost help with any of the deliverables we just covered.

It’s that simple.

This is the same process that I take students through in my comprehensive training, The Internet’s Best Copywriting Course, and I make it part of the “homework” for the course.

Simply by reaching out, students consistently get the opportunity to work on real projects.

And in some cases like Jonathan’s, those unpaid gigs very quickly turn into surprisingly big paydays.

I know reaching out to people you know and offering them a service you are just learning is uncomfortable, but look at the dates from those emails.

Imagine if just months from now, you closed a $14,000 gig.

Would that be worth a little discomfort?

That’s up to you to decide, but remember, this isn’t an MLM. You aren’t aggressively asking people to purchase something they don’t need.

You are simply letting people know that you have a service to offer in the event that they need that service and want to work with you.

My first ever paid copywriting gig was from telling a friend over brunch that I was doing some blog writing, and he offered me $100 to rewrite some hotel room descriptions for a website he was working on.

This doesn’t have to be a big deal. Don’t overthink it.

Okay, but what if you live outside the US?

Option #3: Simply Begin Cold-Pitching

Many of my students today live in countries like Nigeria, India, and Vietnam, where getting local clients is a viable option, but not nearly as lucrative as getting clients located in the US.

If this is you, or if you are unable or unwilling to pursue the warm network option for one reason or another, your next option is to simply begin cold-pitching clients in the US.

“Cold” pitching means you are offering your services to people who don’t know who you are.

At some point, every freelancer will have to cold pitch, and there’s no reason you can’t begin doing so today.

Madhumitha Kavin read the older version of this blog post in April 2021, started following the steps in her off-hours and pitching overseas clients, and nine months later, she was regularly closing $1,000 gigs.

Madhumitha lives in India, where the average yearly salary is around $5,000, so her local purchasing power is about the equivalent of someone earning $8,000 per gig while living in the US.

For a lot of people, that’s life-changing money, just from being willing to reach out and pitch strangers.

Once you have written copy for 3 businesses (including yours), it’s time to start looking for paying clients.

Land Your First Paying Clients

Notice I didn’t say “high paying clients”. You are looking for anyone who will flash a $20 at you in exchange for work.

“But Jacob, I’m a naturally talented writer and I deserve to be fairly compensated.”

No, you don’t.

You suck at copywriting.

Your copy is literally worthless garbage. If you are a top 10% natural talent, your copy will remain garbage for the next 3 months. If you are a bit more average, your copy will remain garbage for the next 6 months.

And guess what?

That’s okay! People paying $20, $100, $200, etc. for copy are asking to receive literally worthless garbage.

It’s a perfect fit!

If you want to hit six figures as a copywriter, you need to “git gud”… legitimately good… at copywriting as fast as possible. That comes from doing and learning, not from fishing for higher paying clients.

Within 24 hours of publishing this article, freelance copywriter Favour Abalogu emailed me the following thoughts:

I really appreciate you addressing the pay issue for beginning writers. A lot of accomplished copywriters out there today make it seem like taking low-paying gigs, even as a beginning writer, is always a bad choice. It’s become something of a taboo, and it definitely hindered my growth in the early years.

I was stuck in the cycle of feast-or-famine for well over two years because I was MAJORLY on the lookout for those big fish, even as a beginning writer. Unfortunately, the big fish didn’t give a damn about whether I existed or not. Simply put, my writing was lame, and no “big fish” was ever going to hire me until I was able to deliver much better copywriting.

Eventually, I was able to elevate my copywriting game and start working with bigger, higher paying clients, but my career would have progressed far more quickly if I had just focused on gaining experience and improving my work from the beginning.

Favour’s story couldn’t summarize my thoughts on this topic any better. If you are ready to stop chasing unicorn gigs and starting gaining real experience, here’s a few great ways to land some cheap-ass clients:

  • Pitch job listings
  • Probe your network
  • Network online and offline
  • Cold pitch prospects

These methods are going to power your business through the first year, well past your garbage stage.

For your 3-6 month garbage period, I’d recommend spending the majority of your time pitching job listings. Here’s some good places to find gigs:

You will find some quality gigs here along with a ton of garbage. Take everything you can get. Don’t be picky.

Here’s a great visual from Jimmy Daly that perfectly illustrates what your response to projects should look like over the course of your career.

Image

Take everything you can get and then write for each project like it was your dream gig.

The people you will be working for probably don’t deserve the effort, but YOU do deserve to get the most out of your practice time.

You might even come across some great clients who grow with you and end up working with you for years to come.

After you pass the 3 month point, you can begin spending more time offering to do work for your network, building your network with the goal of new leads, and even cold pitching prospects.

Don’t underestimate any form of outreach. I landed the 2nd biggest gig of my entire career simply reaching out to an agency I came across via a Facebook ad and asking if they needed copywriting help.

With your first 3 months in the books, it’s also time to begin acting like a legit freelancer.

4. Refine Your Freelancing Process

Approximate Timeline: 2 hours

Over the last 3 months, you’ve bumbled your way through the entire freelance gamut.

You’ve talked with clients, closed sales, collected payment, delivered work, edited work, realized you needed more info than you requested, hit deadlines, missed deadlines, had clients praise your effusively, had clients yell at you even more effusively… you’ve been there, done that.

Now it’s time to use all that experience to map out your freelancing process and start being intentional about everything that you do.

Here’s what you need to map out:

  • How you bring in leads
  • How you close sales
  • How you collect the needed project details
  • How you collect payment
  • How you work with the client
  • How and when you deliver work
  • How you gauge success of the project

Your goal here initially isn’t to figure out how to do all these things perfectly. You are simply mapping your current process.

Next, list out any problems you’ve been having, such as:

  • I’m having trouble consistently finding new leads.
  • I’m getting good leads but not closing many of them.
  • Some clients don’t send much info, and I struggle to complete the project.
  • Some clients are really difficult to work with for _____ reason.
  • I often feel really cramped for time on projects.
  • Clients are constantly pestering me about where I’m at in the project.

Now that you’ve mapped out your process and problems, you can start refining your process, both in the short term and the long term.

An example of a short term improvement might be realizing that you aren’t setting clear expectations for clients, so you create a standard email template that you use after (or before) closing a sale that lists out exactly what the client can expect.

An example of a longer term improvement might be realizing that leads are inconsistent and you need to build a more sustainable method for bringing in new leads. This is a pretty common struggle for new copywriters, and we will address it directly in the next section.

But before we tackle that, I’m going to give you a quick overview of my freelancing process to help you in mapping out your own.

  1. New leads contact me via my website.
  2. I review their needs, provide them with a quote, and set expectations for the project.
  3. If they accept, I send them an invoice and my copywriting questionnaire.
  4. I then work collaboratively with them to lock down their core value propositions.
  5. Next, I complete a first draft of the project and deliver it to the client, either all at once or in pieces, depending on the size of the project.
  6. I work with them to edit the copy until they are fully satisfied.
  7. For larger projects, I then send a final invoice.

As you can see, this isn’t a sprawling, 20 page document. It’s literally 7 bullets.

If you ever get to the point where you start hiring employees or contractors to work for you, you might need a more detailed style of process mapping, but for your own purposes as a solo freelancer, it doesn’t have to be complicated.

5. Build A Recurring Leads Channel

Approximate Timeline: 1 Year

If you want to make real money as a freelancer, you need a consistent, recurring inflow of quality leads.

This takes time.

Assuming you do everything right, you are still looking at between 9-18 months to create a channel that can bring in six figures worth of leads per year.

There are four primary options for copywriters seeking to build out their own recurring leads channel:

  • SEO
  • LinkedIn
  • High-End Guest Blogging
  • Paid Advertising

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

The goal of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is to get Google to send leads to your website monthly, weekly, and even daily. You accomplish this by getting your site to rank for search terms that are relevant to your business.

In my personal opinion, nothing currently beats SEO as a leads channel. It’s how I built my own business, and once I figured out how to do it right, I was able to achieve reasonable results fairly quickly, good results within a year, and incredible results over a handful of years.

I can also continue scaling this channel indefinitely, which is part of what I’m doing by publishing this article. This article will rank on the front page of Google for the search query “how to become a copywriter” within 3 months (update: I originally published this in January 2019 and sure enough, I was on the front page by April. I then predicted to me email subscribers that I would be #1 by August, and I predicted it perfectly. This article now ranks #1 for “copywriter” as well, which is fun).

Basically, SEO has a ton of pros for copywriters:

  • Lots of business owners seek to hire copywriters via search
  • Highly scalable channel
  • Google’s algorithm has remained relatively stable for 20 years
  • You can tap into niche search results relatively quickly
  • Most of the work is writing (great for copywriters)

But it also has its cons:

  • Requires a range of non-transferable skills to execute effectively
  • Takes a relatively long time to scale compared to other channels
  • Google is increasingly stealing traffic away from content creators

Part of the reason I feel like SEO is the best channel for copywriters is that it synergises very well with blog writing, which I also advise copywriters to offer. Writing both free guest posts and paid blog content doubles as both advertising for your services as well as backlinks for your SEO campaign. But you miss out on the backlinks benefit if you aren’t actively pursuing SEO.

Here’s me on the Do You Even Hustle? podcast, where I explain pretty much everything I know about SEO:

Until this last year, I would have told you that SEO is the undisputed leads channel for aspiring copywriters, but over the last 12 months, a new contender has become arguably a better choice, at least in the short term.

LinkedIn Audience Building

LinkedIn has always been an intriguing platform for business lead generation, but up until a year ago, it wasn’t really the type of place where someone could build a profitable following.

That all changed last year when LinkedIn revamped its algorithm and suddenly, organic engagement was alive and well. I noticed the same types of posts attracting tons of engagement, so I decided to see if I could play the game and make some content go viral.

My first attempt was a sarcastic parody of these types of posts. It got 897 likes and 150 comments.

My second attempt was a more serious post but with some blatant clickbait. It grabbed 1,083 likes, 92 comments, and over 100k views.

That’s pretty insane engagement for diving straight in with no existing audience. I tried posting some more straightforward stuff as well, which grabbed between 20-40 likes a pop with a handful of comments.

In hindsight, this should have been enough engagement for me to spend a few months exploring LinkedIn as a lead gen channel, but my bias against social media at the time, as well as my personal distaste for the styles of content that were most popular on the platform, caused me to bail on the channel.

Today, I personally know three different copywriters who have built their monthly income to $15k+ almost entirely through their LinkedIn following. They consistently post straightforward, helpful content, and engage positively with people in their niches. One of these copywriters, Michal Eisikowitz, was gracious enough to hop on a call and share the story of how she built a recurring leads channel using LinkedIn and a fantastic writer website.

You can follow Michal on LinkedIn by clicking here. The “30 Days Social” resource she mentioned in our interview is freely available from LinkedIn here. And the super helpful copywriter and Linked expert she recommended you follow, John Espirian, can be found here.

The TLDR here is that LinkedIn is a compelling option for new and experienced copywriters alike. When compared with the complicated process of achieving organic rankings, posting 3-4 times per week on LinkedIn seems like a vastly simpler and more broadly achievable option for building out that primary leads channel.

Let’s review the pros:

  • Puts you directly in front of people who are likely to hire copywriters
  • No technical expertise or non-transferable skills required
  • Efforts double as networking, which is also extremely beneficial
  • Most of the work is writing

That said, there are two massive cons, which are why I’m sour on social media in general:

  • Ongoing success is entirely at the the whim of LinkedIn
  • You’re limited in how you can present your business to potential clients on the platform

There was once a time when people were experiencing this same level of success on Facebook. Then overnight, Facebook completely gutted organic reach, and suddenly, all that work acquiring followers was essentially rendered worthless. This could happen at any time on LinkedIn, and indeed, LinkedIn has already scaled back organic reach a bit from when those two posts of mine went mini-viral.

That said, I believe the Facebook scenario is much less likely to happen on LinkedIn for two main reasons.

First, LinkedIn owes much of its recent resurgence directly to the algorithm change. It’s the new strategy that is driving growth rather than a founding strategy that was bound to be altered at some point.

Second, while Facebook depends on direct advertising to earn revenue, which directly competes with organic reach, LinkedIn makes the lion’s share of its revenue as a recruiting platform, which depends on retaining and growing organic use and engagement. In other words, LinkedIn’s business model is far more conducive to long term organic reach.

So how does this compare against SEO?

Despite being something of an SEO evangelist, I would actually argue that SEO is in a similar boat. It’s entirely at the whim of Google, and while Google’s algorithm has stayed on a fairly consistent course for the last 20 years, that’s no guarantee it will remain on the same course over the next 10 years.

Guessing whether SEO or LinkedIn will be the better channel for copywriters in 10 years is a bit like guessing whether Bitcoin or Ethereum will have a higher market cap in the same time period. The past and present both point to SEO having more staying power, but the future is likely to be so volatile, picking a winner is pure speculation at this point.

My recommendation is this:

If you are more of a people person and enjoy networking, go with LinkedIn.

If you are more of an introvert and just want to put your head down and get results, without needing to depend on how people respond to you, go with SEO.

(I break both of these paths down in-depth via my comprehensive copywriting course).

High-End Guest Blogging

High-end guest blogging as a recurring leads strategy essentially means that you are frequently publishing guest posts on high profile websites.

When I say “high profile”, I mean that if you were to mention the website to 10 people in your niche, between 7-10 of them would immediately recognize the brand or publication.

If you haven’t noticed already, I’m a big fan of doing stuff that works for you on multiple levels. I love offering blog post writing because it doubles as advertising. I love SEO because it makes all the writing I’m already doing payoff 10x over. I love the idea of LinkedIn as a leads channel because it doubles as networking, which is insanely valuable to any business.

It’s this concept that really drives the strategy of high-end guest blogging as a recurring leads channel.

When you guest blog for a large, prominent publication, a lot of amazing things can happen:

  • Someone can read your post, appreciate your expertise, and hire you to write copy for them.
  • Someone can read your post, appreciate your writing style, and hire you to write for their own blog or publication.
  • Someone can read your post, appreciate your writing style, and ask you to ghostwrite for them on a high-level publication.
  • Your post can perform really well and cause the publication to hire you to write more for them.
  • Your post can put your name in circles that can boost your career.
  • Your post is more likely to rank for a search term and continuously expose you to new readers every single month.

None of these things happen with high frequency on their own. Getting one blog post published to Forbes.com is very unlikely to do anything other than give you a sexy logo to throw on your content writing page. It’s very similar to how publishing a single article on your website or writing a single post on LinkedIn isn’t going to do anything for you.

With enough posts over time, however, the trickle of benefit from each post turns into a stream of leads and opportunities.

I’m a huge advocate of having new copywriters invest a big chunk of time into guest blogging, for all the reasons mentioned above plus a few more:

  • It helps you connect to players in your niche.
  • It puts your work in front of talented editors who will often give you feedback and help you suck at writing a lot less.
  • The links back to your website prime your domain to rank for any SEO keyphrases you want to target.

And as we already covered, there are tons of ways guest posting can lead to paying gigs.

That said, there is a big difference between guest blogging and high-end guest blogging as a recurring leads channel, and the difference really comes down to profile.

For run-of-the-mill guest blogging, the type that I did a lot of early in my career, you are simply targeting blogs in your main niches. For me, those niches were marketing and marketer-focused SaaS businesses. I published well-received work on most of the top blogs in these niches and while it had all the benefits I outlined, those benefits never approached the payoff of a true recurring leads channel.

My friend Aaron Orendorff, on the other hand, pursued what I’m coining here as “high-end guest blogging as a recurring leads channel”. His Twitter background image gives you a small taste of what I mean.

What you are seeing here is not a few of the top publications in a specific marketing niche. You are seeing most of the top publications across the marketing, business, and ecommerce industries.

And Aaron didn’t just write once for these sites. He’s written multiple times for many of them, and for the smaller blogs on that list, he’s responsible for some of their highest performing content of all time.

Every one of these sites is HARD to write for. It’s hard to even get considered for many of them. I’ve tried to get top notch content on Forbes and Inc. several times, with absolutely no success whatsoever, and while I can whine all day about how stupid that is when both websites publish literal garbage on a daily basis, the fact remains that getting into these circles and getting published on these types of publications is no cake walk.

Aaron’s prolific guest posting took him to six figures in his first year as a freelance copywriter and had him up to $20k per month when we did the interview below during his 2nd year. In this interview, he breaks down what led to his success and how his guest posts on the highest profile sites resulted in the most financial benefit (the audio from my end is pretty garbage, sorry).

I don’t actively recommend this strategy to new writers for a few different reasons.

First, your skills are very unlikely to be at the level needed to get on these types of sites. While many sites publish garbage on a daily basis, that garbage is coming from famous people and full-time staff, not from freelancers. As a freelancer, the standard of content is much higher for you. Unless you are a top 5% talent like Aaron, it is very unlikely you will succeed at this strategy in your first year, no matter how hard you work at it.

Second, you are going to be dealing with a lot of rejection and a lot of trial an error in your first year as a copywriter. Taking low-percentage shots at high profile publications is just going to be demoralizing unless you have already built a mental and emotional tolerance for that sort of thing.

Third, in order for this strategy to succeed, you have to be an incredibly prolific writer capable of churning out a high volume of top shelf content. Even copywriters who manage to produce some great work in their first year usually do so very, very slowly and in limited quantities.

To sum it up, if you are a top 5% talent with no fear of rejection and a long history of high-volume writing, this strategy might just be perfect for you. For everyone else, I’d recommend starting with a different strategy and waiting until your second, third, or fourth year as a copywriter to try this strategy out.

Paid Advertising

Last and decidedly least, we have paid advertising. Theoretically, if you can make SEO work for you, you can make paid advertising work for you.

That said, I have never met a single copywriter who uses paid ads as their primary lead channel, and nobody I know can think of anyone doing this.

So why am I even bothering to include it?

Well, I suspect that just like most ad writing tends to be done by PPC specialists, the type of people who manage to make Google Ads or Facebook Ads work for them tend to simply become PPC specialists.

As we will discuss in future blog posts, the big money in marketing comes from offering fully managed marketing campaigns, rather than a la carte services.

  • If you can create a full marketing funnel, you can make a lot more than simply writing funnel copy.
  • If you can run a full content marketing campaign, you can make a lot more than simply writing blog posts.
  • If you can run a paid advertising campaign, you can make a lot more than simply writing ads.

My theory is that people who are specifically looking to get into advertising realize fairly quickly that running the full campaigns is something they can learn and offer fairly quickly as a freelance service provider, and that has become the de facto career path on that end of the copywriting spectrum.

If advertising interests you, check out this guide to running an effective Google Adwords campaign, and if you are a copywriter who brings in copywriting clients (not advertising clients) using paid advertising, please get in touch with me. I’d love to interview you and feature you right here this guide.

How To Become A Copywriter: Next Steps

I hope you’ve found this guide helpful! After finishing this post, I decided to expand the training presented here into a 2-week copywriting course. I’m currently offering it for free, so if you’d like to take advantage of that, enter you email below, and I’ll send it your way:

Download The Questionnaire

Download The Questionnaire

20 questions to answer before writing a word of copy

Success!

Learn How To Turn Writing Into A Full-time Career

Learn How To Turn Writing Into A Full-time Career

Download The "Overpaid" Writer's 3-Year Career Blueprint

Success!

Discover The Two Most Powerful Marketing Strategies For Cash-Strapped Businesses

Discover The Two Most Powerful Marketing Strategies For Cash-Strapped Businesses

Make the most of your marketing budget.

Success!

How To Write Landing Page Copy From Scratch

 

Design, create, and write a high-converting landing page from scratch

Success!

Share This