How to get started as a freelance copywriter
Even if you already had a job, Don Draper and Mad Men rocketed freelance copywriting services to the top of practically everyone's "possible career" list around 2007. Although (most) things have changed since those days, this career path still offers plenty of creative freedom, flexibility, and the odd Old Fashioned, if you’re so inclined.
Copywriting is a skill in high demand by some of the world's most well-known brands. A copywriter or website content writer in the UK utilises compelling language to sell a product, idea, or service in several ways, from emails to jingles, flyers, and brochures. In order to make any sales, online firms require excellent copy. As a result, freelance copywriting services are in high demand these days, and they can fetch high fees.
Copywriting is one of the most profitable careers in the world of online marketing, and it fulfils a fundamental demand for any modern company. Consider it this way: outstanding writing is like a high-powered salesperson who generates interest and closes business. The only difference is that this salesperson does not sleep, whine, or demand a raise. It's a fully automated sales machine that continues to work long after the writer or UK website content writer has completed the project.
Read on for ten practical tips (pre- promoting yourself, looking for clients and working on your first projects) on what you need to know to get started on the path to being a successful freelance copywriter if you're thinking about quitting your day job and taking the leap.
1. What is the purpose of freelance copywriting services, and who is it best suited to?
Every company needs a lot more writing than you may believe. The term "copy" is jargon for "words." Intelligent, persuasive content convinces customers to switch brands, creates leads, and boosts revenue. It's no exaggeration to state that the quality of a campaign's written content will determine its success.
Consider this: the words on the company's website must be written by someone (hint: it’s a Copywriter & Website Content Writer UK). There's also the never-ending chore of creating blog posts, case studies, newsletters, and social media updates. Many businesses produce long-form content such as eBooks, whitepapers, studies, and ultimate guides on a regular basis. Then there are video scripts, advertising, and billboards with witty one-liners.
Those people who do this writing are known as copywriters. Freelance copywriting services are an affordable start-up option for someone creative with a solid grasp of grammar and a way with words, as it simply requires an internet connection, a laptop and MS Word.
The copywriter's job is to help you explore and understand your brand narrative, tell your story in a way that appeals to your target audience, and find a tone of voice that fits.
2. Find your niche
Your expertise or speciality determines the type of content you want to produce as a freelance copywriter or UK website content writer. You might wish to specialise in technical writing, such as instruction manuals or brochures, or fashion and beauty copy. Consider the kind of copy you enjoy writing and the types of customers you wish to attract. Finding your niche might help you start your career and create your professional brand.
3. Create your copy portfolio
Your copywriting portfolio shares samples of your work, which you can use to demonstrate your writing abilities and creativity, or showcase your freelance copywriting services. Your portfolio may contain:
Links: Below your samples, you can include links that readers can click to read your work in its entirety or view it live on websites.
Descriptions: You can clarify the aim of the content in the descriptions, such as advertising an event or targeting a new audience. You can also give dates to show how recent the job is.
Contact details: Include your email address and phone number at the beginning or end of your portfolio so that potential clients can reach you.
4. Brand yourself as a UK freelance copywriter
Cultivating a professional brand can help you promote your freelance copywriting services and build your client base, building a name for yourself. You can start establishing your brand by:
Creating a professional logo: This is the first step in developing your brand. Create a logo and a tagline to represent yourself as a copywriter. You can draw your initials and a copywriting phrase, for example. Your logo should appear on your website, business cards, and social media profiles.
Putting together a copywriting website: A professional website written by a website content writer in the UK can be used to showcase information about you and your services. To align with your brand, use the same colour schemes as your logo and business cards. You can also include a link to your copywriting portfolio and your pricing list.
Promoting your services on social media: With a social media following, you can boost knowledge about the services you provide. To attract potential clients, create a business profile on multiple platforms and supply samples of your work.
Check out my website for inspiration. I did it myself – so go easy…
5. Freelance copywriting services rates
Understanding what to charge is one of the most difficult aspects of starting out as a freelance copywriter or UK website content writer. While you don't want to undersell yourself, exorbitant costs may turn off potential customers, especially if you're just getting your feet wet and haven’t yet established a stellar reputation.
Anna King, the founder of Scripsy, explains how she approaches the difficult subject of ‘What do I charge?’:
“When deciding on your day rate, think about how much you need to earn in a month or a year, then work back from there – remembering to factor in tax, holidays, and dips in your workload, which will eat into the annual total. Doing that helps you work out what you reasonably need to charge to earn a living – after all, if you aren't doing that, it isn't a sustainable career.”
Obviously, how much money you need to live how you want depends on where you live and your own circumstances. Depending on your experience, competence, the type of copywriting you specialise in – and the client's budget - a good day rate might range between £250 and £500 per day, in my experience.
I try to keep my rates fairly similar, but they can change significantly depending on how much I want the business (i.e., how interesting they are, how busy I am), as well as the size of their company. Start-ups, for example, can be excellent to work with, but often have fewer budgets than large corporations, so that's something to consider.
Working as a technical copywriter for a niche market, according to Howard Smith, founder of No Sloppy Copy, is the best way to make consistent money – “In Pharmaceuticals, IT, or finance etc., you can earn up to £600 per day.” While this work isn't the most creative subject matter and requires a lot more research and regulation adherence, it is at the highest end of the copywriting pay scale. I find that, as a general rule, the more complex/technical/jargon-heavy the subject matter, or the harder you have to work to make it relatable or engaging to the audience, the higher the pay.
The average daily rate charged by freelance copywriters is £379, according to the ProCopywriters Survey 2020.
6. How much value does your writing add to your clients?
Ask yourself the above question. When you start out writing for businesses, your value will probably be time-dependent. A business needs something written. You have the time to write it. But don’t fall into the trap of thinking only about the time you take or the effort involved. The key is how much is that piece of content worth to the client. Will it generate loads of sales and waves of leads?
While saving a company time is beneficial, it is on the lowest end of the value you can provide as a copywriter. Consider it the foundation, the starting point. You'll discover new ways to link your writing value to wider business objectives as you continue to learn copywriting techniques. The bigger the problems you solve, the more you can charge for your freelance copywriting services.
7. What skills are essential for a freelance copywriter? (H2)
A thorough knowledge of the English language is required – a stray apostrophe could derail a big marketing campaign – but not just any passionate wordsmith can succeed as a copywriter. I like William Strunk’s Elements of Style, the classic style bible for good writing, as valuable today as when it was first published.
You'll also need to be a fast learner so that you can quickly grasp new concepts and products. A positive mindset is also important: “There is agony to writing, the struggle to find the perfect fit, the perfect words. A mind that can adapt to the demands of the piece – its purpose – is essential.”
8. Making a copywriting business plan
Although becoming a copywriter is very simple and inexpensive, it is a highly competitive commercial field. Writing a business strategy helps keep you focused on where you want to go and what you want to accomplish.
A business strategy, according to Laurence Blume, a freelance copywriter with over 20 years of expertise, will focus your thinking: “Even if you’re a one-man copywriting venture, you should still go through the usual business plan process.”
Remember to consider:
The competitive landscape
Who your potential customers/target clients are and how you plan to engage them
Your financial projections
The most crucial decision to make is how you want to work. Some copywriters work directly for clients, while others work for advertising, PR, design, and digital companies as outsourced freelancers. Some work on a contract basis, taking on fixed-term contracts for a single customer at a time, while others work ad hoc for a variety of clients on a daily basis. This will aid you in determining the right business structure for you. Setting up your own limited company, working through an umbrella company, or functioning as a sole trader are all options.
Tip: If you don’t possess a great deal of numerical (like me—a total left-brain!) or financial savvy, get in touch with a good local accountant to help you maintain your affairs in order and above board. All the boring, tedious stuff, bureaucracy, etc. so you can focus on what you do best – offering top-quality freelance copywriting services.
9. Decide how to produce your best work
When figuring out what type of work to perform, some advise against spreading yourself too thin – it's better to go 'deep' into a few organisations or projects than to do a little for a lot of organisations here and there.
Others, conversely, recommend that you try everything—build your portfolio, and then decide if there's a particular area you want to focus on.
Your approach to work will decide whether you choose to specialise early or choose to ‘shop around’ first. Turning your hand to a broad array of styles will be a valuable experience if you can adjust easily. If you prefer consistency, though, specialising early and perfecting your niche is the way to go.
10. What is the cost of starting your own freelance copywriting services business?
Having a separate office from your living space will help you separate your personal and professional lives and avoid distractions. I personally find having a second monitor invaluable, so I can work on two things simultaneously or one screen with research, the other with the doc I’m writing.
Alternatively, if you can afford it, you may choose a coworking space to get the benefits of a social setting while still working. There are many different types of places to choose from, ranging from pay-per-day hot-desking to longer-term desk renting.
The snowball effect
The truth is: freelancing gets better the longer you're in it (and the better you get at it).
The pay gets better. The work gets more interesting. More clients put their faith in you. Of course, confidence and credibility soon replace most of the early insecurities and ‘Imposter Syndrome’.
The most important reason for these shifts is that your effort and reputation begin to act in your favour. Clients from the past start referring you to new ones who need freelance copywriting services or a UK website content writer. Some of the articles you published months ago are starting to pay their dues, either by ranking in Google or by being shared on social media. It’s exciting times when the avalanche begins.
Take the leap
From the outside looking in, freelance copywriting, like most things, might appear scary. It feels like there's a lot to process.
However, after offering your freelance copywriting services for a while, you'll see that even the finest copywriters are still learning as they go. All we're doing is employing our words to assist businesses in achieving their objectives. Writing is a skill that is in high demand in the business world. The sooner you get started, the sooner you'll be able to turn this hobby into a creatively rewarding (and frequently profitable) job.
Now you know the ten tips to getting set up as a UK freelance copywriter or the beginner’s roadmap, so to speak, it’s time to have some fun building a network, forging new contacts, and writing some stellar copy! However, if copywriting isn’t for you…
Maybe you’re looking to reap the myriad benefits of quality content services? I mean, everyone’s doing it – including your competitors.
I am a copywriter and content specialist who gets results no matter the channel, sector, audience, or brief. I have experience creating winning content and provide top-class freelance copywriting services that:
✅Engage your target audience
✅Increase traffic to your website
✅Generate and converts leads
✅Create revenue and sales
✅Achieve your business objectives
Check out what I can offer and how I can add business value in this quick intro presentation or on my website. I offer a free initial consultation to identify your content needs and goals, and then reach them. 📈