PS has worked as a freelance writer since 2012. When she's not traveling and writing, she helps people with web design and development.
Copywriting is an ongoing career that started in the early 19th century with John Emory Powers being the first full-time copywriter. Since then, there’s always been a rise in the demand for copywriters. Though there’s been a spike in the copywriting jobs due to the online world, this job was still prevalent when there were no traces of the Internet.
Every year more than $200 billion are spent on Internet ads, 2 million blog posts are written every day, and 3 million emails are sent every second. Looking at the stats, you can imagine the demand for skilled copywriters across the globe. Today, the well-established self-employed copywriters are earning more than doctors and lawyers. This sounds luxurious, but it also gives a hint of what amount of dedication you’ll need, to reach this level.
This is a golden age for you to become a copywriter because:
- Number of businesses are on an exponential rise and each of them demands a skilled copywriter
- Copywriters have plenty of opportunities to earn a six-figure income or even more
- Most of the copywriters are self-employed, they can work remotely and on their own will
- The skills to become copywriters don’t urge you to go for formal training or certificate completion.
In this article, our main focus will be on ‘What makes a copywriter distinguished enough to earn a six-figure income?’. This article is for everyone who is looking to work from home and earn handsomely. You must remember copywriters are not hired on the basis of their formal education, but on the basis of their experience and quality of the work.
You can be a copywriter too if you are ready to explore diverse topics and work harder. When I say, ‘copywriter is the one who writers ads in a way to make the products sellable’, the job looks pretty simple. However, this isn’t as easy as it sounds. If you begin with this mentality, you won’t be able to make it to a six-figure income. You need to be open to challenges and think out of the box for every work you receive.
As a copywriter, you need to know its various forms:
- Blog posts
- Landing pages
- Lead magnets
- Product descriptions
- Video scripts
- White papers and so on.
When you are asked to drive immediate action from your copy, it is called direct response copywriting. Its examples are:
- Social media ads
- Billboard ads
- Landing page for an email signup or ‘buy now’ action
- Emails designed to receive an immediate reply
- Product descriptions to instantly lure the user to add it to the cart.
You don’t always have to work on immediate actions. The visitor may not need the product or service immediately, so in this case you don’t work on direct response. Your work is focused on other important needs such as branding. Some examples are:
- Magazine or newspaper ads to make the brand known to the readers
- Blog posts to educate the readers about the quality of the brand
- PR articles to improve the brand reputation
Such copies are intended to encourage the readers to take action in the near future. It can be buying the product, signing up for emails, referring others, etc. Moreover, your attempt to go for immediate actions can be counterproductive in several marketing scenarios.
If each of your blog posts urges the readers to subscribe or buy products, then you’ll fail to inform them about the significance and quality of the brand. As a copywriter, you can find jobs in three ways:
- Ad agency - You can expect to earn from $45k to $88k+.
- In-house marketing department - You can expect to earn from $48k to $84k+.
- Freelancing / Self-employed - You can expect to earn anywhere between $100 to $100k+.
As an entry-level copywriter, it is better to take in any sort of job offer you receive. In case, you receive a job at an agency or large company, spend at least a year or two. In the beginning, you must look for experience rather than money. Your experience will help you earn a plethora of money as a copywriter. To your surprise, it can happen in years and even in a few months.
We are specifically going to talk about freelance copywriters here. As a freelance copywriter, your income is in your own hands. In fact, almost every famous copywriter you know has worked as a self-employed professional rather than working for a company or an agency.
It’s true working as a freelance copywriter isn’t an easy task, but it’s certainly worth it. Your persistence will help you gain control over your career and finances.
First of all, have you completed these five steps as a freelance copywriter?
1. Understanding the art of persuasive writing
What is persuasive writing? You can consider it as a simpler meaning of copywriting. Your words are intended to persuade your target visitors to take certain actions. Being skilled in persuasiveness keeps you one step ahead of everyone in all types of industries. There’s no end to how much you can improve in this field. You don’t need to set a special time to learn this skill, study your target audience, and learn what will make them curious to know more about the brand. Your skill will grow as you start to receive more and more job offers.
2. Perfecting the core copywriting skills
You need to use your persuasive skills in different ways while writing the copy. It includes the following:
- Writing a headline
- Writing a caption
- Writing a value proposition
- Writing a sales letter
- Writing a landing page
- Writing an advertisement
- Writing a script for videos or other creative endeavors
3. Securing your first freelancing job
Reading theoretical concepts won’t help you make any productive progress. You will learn most when you start to work on actual projects. You can complete the above two steps in no time, but this one takes time.
The above content has informed you about the basics of copywriting. Always remember them as they are the soul of every project you work upon. Now, you are ready to write your first copy. Here are a few suggestions:
- Write something of your own, make your own ad.
- Discuss with the established copywriter, if possible, or a copywriting mentor.
- Many copywriters are readily available through social media and personal websites. You can easily find their contact details.
- Start with family and friends, ask them if they need some kind of copywriting service, you might not get paid. But right now all you need is solid feedback and experience.
- Once you are done with 3 to 5 copywriting tasks, now look for the paying clients.
- A client paying $20 to $50 is also worth considering for your first job.
- As a new copywriter, it’s better to start with low to medium rates.
- Research how much other entry-level copywriters are charging in your location and decide accordingly.
- You are a fresher, your motive should not be all about money.
- You must remember when you have immense talent and experience of working on different projects, the money will come by itself. You won’t have to put any extra effort.
- Sites like LinkedIn, Upwork, Fiverr, ProBlogger, and Copy Chief are safe options to look for good quality jobs.
- Write for every project as if it’s your dream job even if your client doesn’t deserve that much level of hard work.
- You are not working for your clients, you are working for yourself.
- This way, you may end up with clients who would like to work with you for more years to come. They may even refer you to others.
- You can expect this process to take the time of two or more months.
4. Revisiting your freelancing process
You have tasted the road of freelancing. Now, you know how to communicate with clients, meet deadlines, find jobs, receive payment, edit and submit work, and even work for longer hours.
- Revisit all these activities
- Find the measures to improve them if possible
- Write down all the problems you might be facing or may face in the near future.
Your problems can be related to anything, such as:
- How to find consistently new leads?
- How to close the deals with every potential lead?
- How to retrieve all the required information from the client to effectively work on the project?
- How to smoothen the work process with less cooperative clients?
- How to manage time for multiple projects?
- How to keep the clients up-to-date with the project progress?
- How to reply to all the emails on time?
There can be many more. Some experienced copywriters prefer to opt for virtual assistants to help them out with residual work. But that’s an optional choice since you’ll need to pay them too.
You must refine your goals both on short and long term basis. A short term goal can be setting clear expectations for the project and a long term goal can be to find consistent leads.
Consider this example:
- You receive the leads through your freelancing profile or website.
- You study their requirements and goals.
- You give the relevant quote and set clear expectations.
- If they agree, you send them an invoice accepting to pay either half or one-fourth of the payment in the beginning.
- You, then, work with them to meet their business and end-customers’ needs.
- You send them the first draft of the complete project.
- You collaborate with them to edit the copy to produce the final satisfactory piece.
- Depending on the number of edits required, you can then send the final invoice. This is important when you especially work on a large-scale project.
It's an effective straightforward process to successfully complete your projects. This isn’t complex if you do it like a real businessman. At last, working as a freelancer is nothing less than running your own small company. In case, you feel the need to hire people, you’ll need to go for a more detailed process. But since you are a solo freelancer, it works pretty simplistically.
5. Maintaining a consistent inflow of leads
To ensure your income in six-figure, you need to maintain the recurring incoming of quality leads. It certainly takes time, most probably, a time of a year or more even if you do everything optimally. You can maintain your leads channel through:
- SEO (Search Engine Optimization): Thanks to SEO as it has become the main source of income for most of the established copywriters. Google is the most used search engine. That’s why most of the websites are built keeping in mind its guidelines. Google releases new search guidelines every once in a while. You can optimize your website by reading its updates directly on its official website, or on Moz official website.
- LinkedIn and Facebook groups: Facebook and most importantly, LinkedIn has become a center of lead generation for more than 50% of the freelancers / self-employed professionals. You can find several Facebook groups made only for copywriting circles and easily connect with other like-minded people. On the other hand, LinkedIn’s updated algorithm has given a huge boost to organic engagement. You should post at least 4 to 5 times per week on LinkedIn. It’s a fact that LinkedIn has helped many freelance copywriters to earn $10k or more per month.
- Guest blogging on high-quality websites: Guest blogging has become a huge trend among freelancers and entrepreneurs. Through this, they have successfully managed to generate a great number of potential leads. There are many websites, in fact some people decide to launch their own website and use it for guest blogging. Unfortunately, this isn’t an effective strategy. That’ why, I specifically mentioned the term 'high-quality websites'. You must post on websites that are readily known and popular among large crowds. It includes Forbes, Entrepreneur, Inc, Search Engine Journal, and so on. Don’t be disappointed if you have to give multiple attempts to publish your posts on these websites. 60%-80% of the time it matters more who is writing rather than what are they writing. You’ll notice, the writers on these websites are majorly comprised of employees or high-end entrepreneurs. But there’s hope for freelance copywriters as well. So, keep trying.
- Paid Advertisements: There would be hardly any freelance copywriter who would have used this option. However, this is also an effective strategy. If you can make SEO work, then this just a piece of cake for you. The best options are Google and Facebook Ads.
Copywriters who made it to a six-figure income
- Michal Eisikowitz
- John Espirian
- Kayla Hollatz
- Joshua Boswell
- Ed Gandia
- Mindy McHorse
- Abbey Woodcock
- Jessamine Marie
- Bret Thomson
Note: This is a personally researched list. There are many more copywriters who earn a six-figure income annually.
Important information you must gather from your client
Some clients may feel uneasy when you try to gather too much information. But this is for your job. You must clearly explain why all this information is required. Some common information that you must ask your clients are:
- Current copy
- Their likes and dislikes
- Business info
- Target customers
- Testimonials from previous customers
- Project goals
- Final expectations
Questions you can expect from your client
To make sure you are capable to do their job, they may ask you the following questions:
- Can I contact your former clients or see your copy samples?
- What’s your experience proof in a particular niche?
- Have you properly reviewed the material I gave you? (You must carefully study their given materials and also visit their and competitors’ websites)
- Do you offer different packages and prices?
- Is the price compatible with the experience? (They won’t ask you directly, but it’ll be certainly in their thought-process. As a freelance copywriter, quoting too high as well as quoting too low, both are an indication of a red flag)
- Have you clearly noted down the suggestions and goals? (You must work with them as a partner, rather than a remote worker)
- When can we expect to hear back from you? (Your client wants you to work in a timely manner. You must be prompt in replying to their comments, suggestions, and questions)
Things you should avoid to gain success as a freelance copywriter
1. Don’t rely too much on copywriting books
- There are plenty of books available on copywriting promising you to offer the necessary copywriting skills.
- Most of these famous books are written a decade ago and don’t comply with the current scenarios.
- These books are helpful to gain some ideas, but you shouldn’t use them as your main source.
- Remember, legendary copywriters like David Ogilvy didn’t have books to rely upon, he worked hard by working on real projects and delivering the results.
- Indeed, focus on and take inspiration from real projects. This includes already created copies by other copywriters as well as those you are working on.
2. Copywriting is a pure practical concept
- Relying on theoretical concepts won’t take you anywhere.
- Don’t go too much into the articles that urge you to focus on fancy-looking notions such as buyer awareness, targeting potential customers.
- These attributes come naturally to you when you start working on actual projects.
3. Copying the old copies
- Writing ads using old copies isn’t a good idea, but it does work sometimes.
- There’s a limit to how many innovative ideas you can come up with for a certain copy. So, some copywriters do go with already successful copies.
- Having said that, it is recommended to bring your own ideas to the table.
- Not only it may get you in trouble, but you may also lose the trust of your clients.
- It is fine to take inspirations from old copies, but don’t imitate them even in the slightest. Moreover, people’s taste changes with time, so you need to care about that too while writing your copy.
4. Overused and over-exaggerated acronyms
- Acronyms like AIDA, PAS, WAYS, and FAB form the basics of copywriting methodology.
- It’s important to stick to the basics and apply them wherever possible.
- Besides that, you must also try to move out of your comfort zone and try something of your own.
- Most of the famous copywriters are famous because of their own unique ideas that made them successful. Not because they stuck to some old school regimes.
- For example, if you are given a task to write a conversion copy for a brand that has received only negative reviews to date. Which acronym would you use? Certainly, you’ll need to think out of the box.
Acronyms full form
- AIDA - Attention Interest Desire Action
- PAS - Problem Agitation Solution
- WAYS - Write As You Speak
- FAB - Features Advantages Benefits
5. Avoid wasting too much time in researching
- This point specifically applies to new freelance copywriters, who are working to make a name for themselves.
- It is important to do proper research, but you also need to make sure that you don’t overdo it.
- This overtime can fail you to meet your deadline.
- It is better to give no more than 20%-30% of your time in researching about the brand and its competitors.
These are some of the measures that you must adhere to. This will, hopefully, secure you a six-figure income in a year or two. Keep working smart and be opportunistic.
© 2020 Prachi Sharma
Prachi Sharma (author) from India on May 25, 2020:
Yes, you are right, Doris. Now, you mentioned it. I remember my copywriting mentor asked me to consider ad samples from the 50s to the 90s. Certainly, there's a limit to how much a person can 'uniquify' the copy. But still, these people make a six-figure income, which is commendable. I also wanted to name a few copywriters from Ogilvy and JWT companies, but I am not completely sure of their names.
Doris James MizBejabbers from Beautiful South on May 25, 2020:
Very interesting article. If I'd had any idea that eventually I might have made a six figure income, perhaps I would have stuck with it. I started out as a copywriter in broadcasting's heyday, but my love of other aspects of radio led me astray. My most successful ad campaigns occurred when I veered from the sales copy brought to me and added my own touches. In those cases I was usually bawled out by the salesman who ate crow when the client called and doubled the length of his contract.
Today's copy that is sent to me as a potential buyer, in most cases, makes me want to throw up. I find it a bunch of whining and howling, not real persuasive writing. Hmm, I wonder if I could go back to it and do any better. BTW, that includes copy from one of the people on the list of six figure copywriters you supplied. Nah, I don't want to have to relearn writing for the new technologies. Good article, thanks for publishing it.