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Why You, as a Copywriter, Are Not Making Enough Money?

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 one of the most lucrative writing jobs. It is a known fact that brilliant copywriters make a six-figure income annually. If not that much, then earning more than $100k per year is also quite normal for them.

You must have seen how many such writers post their striking photos sitting in a balcony under the sun with a glass of cocktail by their side. You surely want to achieve the same status and live this dreamy lifestyle. However, this isn’t a complete reality.

Irrespective of how profitable being a copywriter may sound, it demands for an intensive and innovative work every day. You need to work hard and think out of the box for every task you receive.

If your copywriting job isn’t helping you to make enough money, then it indicates the need to make some major changes. Fortunately, there’s nothing to panic about. In fact, it’s better to panic a little than to avoid the problem completely.

Here are the three most common reasons that might be holding you back from reaching the top. Let’s read these reasons and fix them:

1. You haven’t researched all the options yet

You must be looking for freelancing clients in a very limited space. You are, possibly, receiving the clients that you actually don’t want to work with. You might also be looking in the wrong places and haven’t discovered all the options yet. Ask these following questions to yourself:

  • Who are your ideal clients?
  • What types of jobs you are most interested in working on?
  • What are your finest skills and knowledge set that make you excel in a certain industry?
  • Do you like to write about real estate and community development sector or coaching and personal development?
  • Do you like to work in a challenging environment such as finance or law?

As a beginner copywriter, you would try to look for jobs in every sector possible. You may find some interesting jobs or some may not be up to your taste. Well, that’s how it should be. The jobs that don’t interest you are more or less like a challenge and you must take them. You never know how many other fields you can excel in.

When you start finding jobs you love, then:

  • List your job preferences.
  • List down the ways you are receiving these jobs.
  • List down the places, websites, and referrals from where you are receiving the clients.

This sounds easy but I have come in contact with several freelancers who have actually not paid any attention to their previous jobs. Assuming that they will always receive such job offers in the future, they didn’t care to analyze the way they received their past jobs or clients. Don’t be like them. You should try to repeat the same actions from which you received your past offers.

If you are a newbie, then it’s much better to accept the offer that comes first. But make sure it somewhat relates to your skill. Through this offer, you are going to receive your first recommendation so be careful. Try at every place possible. This includes all the safe jobs offering websites, Facebook groups, LinkedIn, and offline marketplace. Here are three points for you to find the right clients:

  • Gain the clients through word of mouth. At the beginning of your career, you need experience, strong connections, and exposure much more than the money. So, spread the word that you are available for copywriting jobs.
  • Build a website to show your portfolio. You can opt for Wordpress services. To build a portfolio, you don’t need previous clients, you can make something of your own as well. This is my personal suggestion to not display your freelancing rates on your website when you are just starting out. Let the clients contact you and then, you can negotiate. You should consider writing a blog to show your authority in the field.
  • Learn the different ways of marketing your services. There are many ways available online to display your skills. Research about each one of them and choose wisely. Some examples are social media marketing, referral marketing, forum marketing, pay per click marketing, guest blog marketing, and so on.

2. You might be underestimating the effects of 80:20 rule

The 80:20 rule also called the Pareto principle, is named after Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto. According to the rule, 20% of your efforts are effective enough to produce 80% of the results.

  • You can make drastic changes if you work on identifying the least actions required to make the most impact on your business.
  • You can also analyze it by estimating the number of dedicated hours you give to your business.

To better understand the concept, take this example: Imagine you have opted for blog marketing to spread the word about your business. Which approach would you prefer here? First, give 80% of your time in writing blogs and 20% of your time in marketing them. Or second, give 20% of your time in writing blogs and 80% of your time in marketing them. I assume the majority will go for the first option because that’s what we all believe - more content more visitors more popularity.

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Unfortunately, that’s not quite a practical approach. Why? Because if you give 80% of your valuable time in writing and marketing only in your 20% of the available time then you won’t attract many visitors. On the other hand, if you dedicate 20% time to create highly valuable content and dedicate 80% of the time to market it, then you have the possibility to attract four times more visitors and potential freelancing clients.

You can find so many websites with very valuable information, but hardly any reader to read. Certainly, they didn’t care much about marketing and all their hard work has been flushed down. Therefore, this is the time to reconsider the 80:20 rule and make a new strategy.

3. You need to redefine your business model

Lots of small and large businesses fail because of neglecting the need to change. However, you are a self-employed professional, working all by yourself. So, adapting to changes isn’t a big headache for you.

If you are working 24/7 to meet the deadlines, but still you are unable to make enough profit, then this is the time to reflect on your business model. It’s important to have a business plan and it’s equally important to change it as per the market needs. The most important thing to reflect upon is your freelancing rates. There’s plenty of experienced freelancers who despite being extremely talented go for low rates in fear of losing the job offers. This might be a partial truth.

When you put yourself in clients’ shoes, then many of them are looking for copywriters who excel in their profession irrespective of how much they charge. That’s the beauty of being a copywriter. Even if you charge $100 or more per hour, but give timely results to your clients, then this rate is highly satisfactory.

Don’t underestimate your values. Whether it’s a startup or well-established company, everyone needs a copywriter, so there’s a huge opportunity for you to shower in a five or six-figure income.

Another downfall can be your failure to meet deadlines and work as per the client’s expectations. Offering too many services isn’t a good option, especially when you are new in the market. You should offer enough services that you can manage within the time limit. Companies need reliable specialists than generalists.

In case you are unsure of which specialization to go in, it is fine to go for more than one option and then decide which suits you better. But if you are better in a particular field such as technology, SEO, or any other category, you must apply for jobs under that category.

You can search the salary of specialist copywriters (such as SEO copywriters, Technical copywriters, Email copywriters, Public relations writers, and so on), you’ll find they are paid higher than the generalized copywriters. Always remember delivering one service at a time is 100 times much better than leaving 10 services half done.

There can be another major problem also, which is setting superficial goals. You have just started as a freelance copywriter and you aim to earn $5000 monthly by the next month. That doesn’t happen. If you really want that to happen, then you may need to open up diversified income streams.

Be realistic. While making your business plans, consider all the possibilities. To make $5000 per month, you’ll need to make at least $160 to $170 per day. So, how would you do that? How many hours can you dedicate yourself to copywriting services considering your daily routine? Do you know in advance how much research you would need to do to complete your job? Take in every possible factor. Your business model needs to be a time saver and highly effective.

You can also opt for passive income streams to support your dream. Some examples are writing an ebook, marketing the affiliate links, creating an online course or marketing products, and articles on your social media accounts, especially Instagram.

© 2020 Prachi Sharma


sowspeaks from Bengaluru on May 23, 2020:

Hi Prachi, this was very helpful. Very valuable practical tips clearly spelt out. Shows me that I have quite a long way to go. Thank you.

Prachi Sharma (author) from Seattle, WA on May 23, 2020:

Just my personal experience. I am glad it's helpful.

Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on May 23, 2020:

I have just started looking into this. Thanks for all the great information.I will be back to learn more.

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