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Start Your Copywriting Business

6 Rules on how to be a successful freelance copywriter

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What this post is about

It’s easy to focus on the wrong things.

When I was a kid, learning gymnastics, I was desperate to tumble like the bigger kids. It looked fast, thrilling and dangerous, which was seriously cool to me at the time.

But the instructors made my group practice forward rolls, cartwheels and splits every week. Easy, boring and painful. But I get it. We needed to master the basics before moving on to the harder moves.

The same is true when you are brand-spanking new in the copywriting space.

It’s easy to focus on the wrong things and be distracted by the shiny markers of success. To focus on:

  • Getting high-paying clients (when you’re fresh out the gate)

  • Compiling a platinum-clad portfolio (when you’ve never written an ounce of copy)

  • Making 6-figures (when you’ve been in the game for 5 minutes)

Don’t get me wrong. It’s not that these things are wrong necessarily. But they’re *probably* not the first thing you should be focusing on in the beginning.

You’re effectively sitting on the mats in box splits (ouch) wishing you were hurling yourself into the air or charging like a raging bull towards the vault.

Your time will come, my friend. You’ll get your chance to tumble BIG time. The key lies in focusing on the right things first so you lay the proper foundations so your freelance copywriting business can thrive. That’s what this post is about.

Pens at the ready! Here are the golden nuggets up for grabs in this post

  • The 6 rules you can follow to set up a successful copywriting business

  • The power in designing the life you want BEFORE building the copywriting business of your dreams

  • The art and science of attracting dream clients. It might sound a little woo-woo (you’ve been warned) but it works!

  • Why hiding out in your Copy Cave (as cosy and comforting as it sounds) is hurting your freelance copywriting business

  • The power of tracking your performance (tweaking and refining systems and processes when necessary). And how to ultimately build a sustainable and fully booked copywriting business that goes the distance and creates an impact.

This is a game-changing post if you are

  • An overstretched, overworked and underpaid freelance copywriter ready to take back control, call the shots and work with clients who value the brilliance you bring to the creative table.

  • An aspiring copywriter with a passion for writing words that make money and change lives as a successful copywriter. You’re ready to make your copywriting dreams a reality and you want to do it in a way that feels sustainable.

  • A new entrepreneur, start-up company, brand or business looking to lay the right foundations in your business before taking your message to the masses. This post will help you dial in 6 rules for running a successful company (copywriter or not). Take what resonates and leave the rest.

  • A more ‘seasoned’ copywriter, marketer or influencer with a growth mindset or in the throes of a business pivot or identity/brand shift or transition. Most likely, you’ll be familiar with the core principles (the 6 rules) shared but you’ll definitely find some gold-shimmering nuggets worth harvesting and applying to the next leg of your journey.

The 6 rules for having a successful copywriting business

If you are at the beginning of your entrepreneurial journey as a new and aspiring copywriter then consider these 6 rules as copywriting tips for beginners. They can help to lay the right foundations as you start your copywriting business. They are powerful principles whether you’re already a freelance copywriter or daydreaming about being a dab hand at crafting killer copy one day.

Not a copywriter and wondering if these rules will work for you

These 6 rules for having a successful copywriting business will work for you if you’re not a copywriter at all. You might be a new entrepreneur, start-up company, new brand or business looking to start your business with strong principles in place.

1. Values - The way you show up and run your copywriting business

These are your values, mission and brand purpose. They influence your brand positioning, which is where your business or brand sits in the marketplace. Your values are the reason why you do what you do. They contribute to your big meaningful WHY.

Your WHY is the reason why your brand exists. It can be personal or global but essentially it should be bigger than you. For example, a personal WHY would be to change the lives and trajectory of your family, improve the quality of your life and achieve financial independence. See how it’s personal but it’s still bigger than you.

An example of a global WHY would be to make a difference in the wider context. Such as in your community, society at large or on the world stage. If you have dreams of impacting the lives of people you may never know in person then these would be considered global WHYs.

You may also choose to work for people, brands and businesses with big missions. Your copywriting products and services can help support their vision and help them share their message with the world in a meaningful way.

“Good writing is about telling the truth.” ~ Anne Lamott, American novelist and non-fiction writer

2. Create - Crafting copy that serves and sells

This is the art of writing copy. The number 1 thing you need to do every day is write. That's what you get paid to do so the more you do it when you’re not getting paid, the better you’ll be when a job lands on your desk.

Your job is to create content that adds value, educates, informs, entertains or inspires action in the reader. Adopt a growth mindset and a life-long learner’s spirit. Read daily and apply what you learn. Here are some of my favourite books on copywriting, marketing and business.

Your clients are looking for a copywriter who understands their brand. As a freelance copywriter, your clients need your words to get eyeballs on their brand, drive traffic to their corner of the web and turn said traffic into paying customers.

You can provide a number of different services; website copy, blogging, email marketing, ad copy, social media content, etc. Offering these copywriting services doesn’t make you unique.

The thing that sets you apart from your competition is your copy style, creative style, strategic thinking, personalised (and effective) approach and the results you deliver for your clients. The content you create should convert into desirable results for your customers.

Psst: If email marketing is your thing then you’ll want to make sure your subject lines are on fire. This post will help you nail the 6 most important things your email subject lines need to do.

3. Visibility - Get seen and heard by the people who need you most

This is crucial in order to grow your copywriting business with ideal clients. Visibility is essential because people need to know you exist. You need to share your voice, your knowledge and your services with the world so your ideal clients discover you.

Showing up on social media and as a guest on people’s platforms will be easier when you can answer some of these questions:

Who you are. This is the type of copywriter you are. What’s your style, your USP and your brand position? Not 100% sure? The Brand Voice Starter Kit will help you clarify these key points.

What you do. It’s not enough to say, ‘You’re a copywriter’. In order to stand out from every other Jack of All Trades copywriter on the market, you need to set yourself apart from your competition. So, consider this question, What transformation do your copywriting services provide for your customers? Your transformation statement should clearly state:

  • Who you are

  • What you do (as in the copywriting services you provide),

  • The people your services support

  • The transformation (to their lives or business) your copywriting services deliver

Why it matters. Your content and core message should clearly specify the value your copywriting services bring to the table and the impact your words can have on your customer's business. There should be no confusion about why people, brands and businesses should team up with you.

These are some of the main things you’ll want to know inside out as you start to become more visible. It will also help to have a detailed understanding of your primary copywriting services. These are the offers you specialise in and sell.

If you’re a new copywriter or entrepreneur looking to understand the art and science of specialising in your craft watch this video.

When it comes to attracting clients, you need to be visible. People need to know you exist and why they should work with you. The rule of visibility requires you to step outside of your comfort zone (mine is my Copy Cave) and step into the public arena where you can share your ideas about the craft of copywriting, your industry, sector or niche (if you have one) and how your copywriting products and services help to improve people’s lives.

“People will do anything for those who encourage their dreams, justify their failures, allay their fears, confirm their suspicions, and help them throw rocks at their enemies.” ~ Blair Warren, Creator of The One Sentence of Persuasion Course

4. Attraction - The art and science of lead generation

This might sound more like manifestation woo woo (which I love by the way) and less copywriting strategy but hear me out. The art of copywriting falls under the umbrella of sales and marketing. Pro copywriters understand this. And when it comes to attracting your ideal clients, it’s part art and science.

The science part is the sales and marketing strategies you use. They are the systems and tech you put in place and the business tools you use to acquire desirable leads.

The art bit is less stats, facts and numbers. It’s more the mindset you adopt, the habits you practice and the beliefs you hold true. It’s got a lot to do with the thoughts you carry between your ears and how much you believe in your abilities as a successful freelance copywriter.

Taking this woo-woo-ness a bit further… What you think about, comes about. Having an abundance mindset and believing you can create and deliver a premium copywriting service with a price tag to match is an important part of the attraction equation. All the fancy tech, copywriting tools and high-level marketing strategies in the world are useless if you don’t harness a strong sense of personal responsibility and capability.

5. Measure - Track your numbers and assess your performance

Know your numbers. As a conversion copywriter, some of the numbers I pay attention to every week are, subscribers, email open rates and CTR (click-through rates) across all main platforms (e.g. emails, landing pages, ads, social media, call booking page).

Every month, I look at traffic to the website, best-performing blog posts, emails and social media shares. I note any meaningful conversations or new opportunities that might’ve come up that month or that quarter. Monthly and quarterly, I look at my bottom line numbers; calls booked, income and expenses (turnover and profit).

Notice, I don’t track (or obsess) over subscribers or followers. These are vanity metrics and play a small part in the overall success of my business. But when my ego shows up to the party (as it sometimes does), it’s always nice to see an increase on my primary social media platforms too.

Track the stats and the ROI of your time, energy, money and attention. Research new ideas and the latest tools to optimise your productivity. Invest in the systems you can afford to improve; the goal is to optimise your efficiency, productivity and results over time.

Review and refine your systems. Don’t procrastinate on actioning the needle-moving aspects of your business. Nothing will grow your copywriting business more than attracting incredible clients who pay you handsomely for your transformational products and services, buy more than once and tell their friends.

Perfect your process so you don’t need to reinvent the wheel every time you work with a client. Instead, build copywriting systems in your business that work for you. These might include streamlining your onboarding and offboarding funnel so the process is automated and systemised. Use templates and copywriting formulas that you can lean on so you never have to start with a blank canvas again.

Track how long it takes you to deliver your copywriting services going up in 15-minute increments. Over time, you’ll have a reliable measure of how long tasks take you in your business so you can plan your work day accurately and precisely (most of the time).

I don’t charge per hour or per word for copywriting projects. But for the everyday, repetitive and remedial tasks in my business, such as admin jobs, I know how long they take so I block out my calendar to complete certain jobs on certain days and times of the week.

You can see behind the curtain of my copywriting business and steal my entire process and system… the one I use to attract high-paying clients… when you join The Copy Rebel, my group coaching programme for new and aspiring freelance copywriters looking to start and run a copywriting business that generates smiles (happy customers) and sales (healthy bank account). Learn more

6. Impact - Build a purpose-driven copywriting business

This is where your copywriting business becomes bigger than you. Your copywriting business can be part of your legacy. It starts with writing words in your business to attract your ideal customers. At this stage, the impact of your words should inspire readers and followers from passive content observers to enthusiastic consumers of your copywriting services. This is the first level of impact.

The next stage is created when your customers enjoy the fruits of your labour. Your copy work should deliver on its promise to motivate your client’s customers to take action. As a freelance copywriter, your number one goal is to make a positive impact in the lives of the people, brands and businesses you work with. That’s the second level of impact.

The final but limitless level of impact lies in how you decide to develop and grow your copywriting business. When you’re just starting out as a freelance copywriter, your primary goal is to acquire repeat business and grow your business in a sustainable and profitable way.

Once you establish a level of consistency you can depend on in the form of copywriting projects in your business, you’ll (most likely) find creative space to think more expansively, beyond the confines of submitting copy work for your clients on a 1:1 basis.

You might want to consider stacking your offers in a way that meets your clients at the various stages of their business. You can offer strategy calls, VIP Days and other quick turnaround projects in conjunction with more comprehensive projects. There’s also the option of packaging copywriting products in the form of courses, e-books and workshops. The scope is vast and the sky is the limit.

With such creative endeavours underway, your ability to reach and inspire more people grows exponentially. When your copywriting business reaches this point you’ll be in the position (if you choose) to support charities and causes you believe in; transforming the lives of many in remarkable ways. This is the third level of impact.

Questions to consider when starting your copywriting business

It’s easy to focus on the obvious and arguably more exciting things when you decide to be a copywriter. But it helps to lift the hood and sink your teeth into the *slightly* less juicy and tasty parts of setting up your copywriting business.

Here are some questions to consider when you choose to become your own boss to start and run your successful and sustainable copywriting business:

  • Who am I? What kind of copywriter do I want to be?

  • What styles of copy do I want to write and deliver to my clients?

  • What people do I want to work with? And equally as important, what people don’t I want to work with?

  • What copywriting struggles are your clients facing? What worries, fears and anxieties are they experiencing? What’s being discussed around the dinner table and what’s keeping them up at night (as it relates to copywriting, messaging, marketing and strategy)?

  • Where are they hanging out online and offline? How can I get myself, my name, brand and services in front of them?

  • How will I inspire them to book a call? What’s my onboarding sequence and sales call strategy?

  • What copywriting services will I offer? How much will they cost? How will I price stack my offers, upsell and down-sell in my sales funnel? How will I nurture relationships and build trust, compassion and understanding with my audience?

  • How will I turn a one-off copy gig into a longstanding retainer client or convert a 3-figure job into a multiple 5-figure project?

Some of these questions are for more advanced and seasoned copywriters but even if you’re a new freelance copywriter or an aspiring copywriter with dreams of shaking up the industry, it pays to consider them as you start to formulate a plan of action.

Biohack your way to copywriting success by adopting a growth mindset

The questions listed above can inspire a growth mindset and lead to actions that can lead to building a copywriting business that is built to last. These questions invite you to go deeper rather than merely scratching the surface. Unfortunately, most of the advice out there scratches the surface and makes it hard (and confusing) to move in the right direction towards starting let alone growing a sustainable and profitable copywriting business.

If you’ve been running your freelance copywriting business for a while and are struggling to generate quality clients and projects that fire you up and inspire your best ideas then perhaps one or more of the copywriting rules mentioned above are out of sync… or missing altogether.

If the clients you’re attracting aren’t singing from the same hymn sheet as you… it might be time to look at your values.

Not converting as high as you’d like? Perhaps cast an eye over your numbers, marketing strategies and sales funnels and track the results. After all, you can’t improve things if you don’t measure them.

Are you playing small and not getting yourself out there? Remember people need to know you exist before they buy from you.

Save this post so you can come back to it whenever something in your copywriting business is off.

A path to creating a copywriting business you love… and makes money

If you’re reading this with hopes of being a copywriter one day then *hopefully* this post will help you kickstart your business in the right way. It’s important to lay the right foundations and build your copywriting business on pillars that can support the growth and evolution of your business.

You might choose to revisit and revise some of the elements for each of the 6 copywriting rules as you and your copywriting business grow. But fundamentally these rules will and can remain the same. I consider and reflect on these 6 rules in my copywriting business and I’ve been in the game for 10 years (and counting).

'The Copy Rebel' course content displays on different devises
'The Copy Rebel'. A copywriting course for new and aspiring freelance copywriters

I appreciate one blog post can’t change your life in a transformational way. That’s why I’d like to invite you to book a call if you can relate to any of the following. You are:

  • An aspiring copywriter with a passion for writing words that make money and change lives as a successful copywriter. You’re ready to make your copywriting dreams a reality and you want to do it in a way that feels sustainable.

  • An overstretched, overworked and underpaid freelance copywriter ready to take back control, call the shots and work with clients who value the brilliance you bring to the table.

Perhaps you’re a year or two into your business, and you’re struggling to get that consistent flow of clients. You’re hustling like crazy and working your tail off to get new leads… and you’re met with the chilling sound of crickets.

Perhaps you’ve launched a website, and you love the copy (Heck, perhaps your friends and family say it’s great) but you’re still not getting people through the door.

Perhaps you’re doing all the “right” things; churning out value-packed content consistently, sharing your posts on social media and connecting with potential clients but nothing is working.

If you can relate to any of this then it might not be your copy. Well, it might be your copy [wink] but chances are you’re focusing on somersaults when you should be nailing the forward roll.

If you’re ready to lay the right foundations and seriously change the trajectory of your copywriting business and future then I can help. Let’s plug any holes in your business so you can promote yourself with confidence, onboard quality leads and make the kind of money you’ve been dreaming of.

Book a free “no pressure” call with me to talk about your copywriting business. This is a 40-minute copy chat where we’ll break down:

  • What’s working and what’s not. Remember those holes we just spoke about, let’s identify the suckers and fill ‘em.

  • We’ll talk about your vision for your business. Where do you see it in the next 6-12 months? And what you can do to stay the course in achieving it.

  • And finally, because I believe the world will be a far happier place if more people do work that lights them up and pays them well, if there’s an opportunity for us to work together so you hit your copywriting goals sooner, we’ll also make time to talk about that, too.

But, just know, these calls are designed to give you the clarity and game plan you need to move forward with greater ease and make your copywriting business a success, whether we work together or not.

Use this link to lead the way. You’ll be able to book a call time that works for you. You’ll also have the chance to share your thoughts, feelings and aspirations for your business before the call, helping to make the call more tailored to your needs. Sound good? Book a call

Till next time ~


PS: Take your copywriting knowledge and skills a step further with these additional resources

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