Last Updated on 7 months by Christopher Jan Benitez
Whether you’ve been a copywriter for two years or ten years, writing experience alone isn’t enough to be considered a serious freelance copywriter. Working freelance means you need to know how to do everything from writing to running a business, networking, and finding clients to work with.
In 2021, finances are going to be tighter as everyone struggles to recover post-COVID, and businesses will continue to prioritize the online aspect of their operations and focus on digital marketing. This means that businesses looking to hire copywriters will have high expectations and expect impressive results. They’ll choose writers with lots of experience that can provide an excellent copy, but also have ideas and expertise to offer.
In this post, we take a look at the four signs of a serious freelance copywriter in 2021. Let’s get started.
Signs of a serious freelance copywriter
If you’re wondering how to become a freelance copywriter, then you need to understand what makes the difference between someone who is good with words and someone who can run a successful business selling their writing skills. These are the four main areas in which you will be judged:
You know how to run a business
To turn your copywriting skills into something you can do successfully as a freelancer, you need to come up with and follow a clear business plan.
Your business plan will include your objectives, goals, and strategies for achieving them. It will cover your competitors, what strengths you have and how to focus on them, and who your target customers are, and how you can connect with them.
The plan will also help you to sort out the financial side of freelance copywriting — identifying what you need to spend, how much your operating costs will be, and importantly what rates you’re going to charge your clients. It’s important to have a clear idea of what you charge, as you need to know how much money you need to earn a living, and what your expertise and experience are worth.
If you want to learn more about running a successful freelance business, then use a site like Bplans, which has lots of resources and guides about setting up and managing a business.
With your business plan providing an outline of how you’re going to be a successful freelance copywriter, the next thing you need to do is to create a website and establish your brand. Even if you have potential clients and work opportunities lined up, having a website is an essential part of running a professional freelance business. It’s a place where you can display your expertise, examples of your work, and attract more clients in the future.
You have an extensive portfolio
To be a serious freelance copywriter you need an extensive portfolio of previous work that demonstrates your experience. Ideally, your portfolio will be made up of a wide range of writing samples from different sources. It needs to prove you can effectively adapt your writing style and tone of voice for different projects and audiences, and that you can research and write about various topics and angles.
Even if you’re specializing in a certain subject, industry, or type of copywriting, you still need to be versatile — no two clients or projects are going to be exactly the same. And it’s important that you have an in-depth understanding and knowledge of any industry you’re focusing on. As a freelance copywriter, you don’t just need to write down some words, you’ll often have to come to the table with ideas and opinions.
For example, if you’re specializing in e-commerce copywriting (a growing niche) then you need to be familiar with all aspects of the industry — use a site like Ecommerce Platforms to read e-commerce platform reviews and understand the sites you’ll be working with, consider guest posting for relevant sites to build up your experience and portfolio.
You could even set up your own blog providing insights and advice for e-commerce businesses, which will demonstrate your copywriting skills and also help boost your website’s organic traffic from potential clients.
You understand SEO
The majority of copywriting work you do in 2021 is going to be digital. Whether it’s for a website, social media, or paid advertisements and marketing materials, having a good understanding of search engine optimization is a key part of being a successful freelance copywriter.
When you’re writing online copy it’s not just about choosing the right words, it needs to be SEO optimized. Your clients will want the copy to improve their search rankings and increase organic traffic.
You don’t need to be an expert in SEO, but you should have a good understanding of on-page SEO including how to find the right keywords and how to use them effectively in your copy. You should know what page titles, meta descriptions, and alt text are and what role they play in rankings. Use a site like Moz as a starting point to brush up on SEO by reading their beginners guide and follow their blog to keep on top of the latest updates.
Some of your clients might have good knowledge of SEO, but others, especially smaller businesses, might expect you to be able to offer insights and recommendations about how to write copy that’s going to rank well. And following SEO best practices can make the work you do for your clients far more valuable.
You know how to find work
If you don’t already have clients lined up when you start out as a freelance copywriter then you need to learn how to find them.
You might start off freelancing by applying for smaller pieces of work on sites like Fiverr to build up your experience. But businesses in 2021 are going to be looking for well-established copywriters with a good reputation.
If you’ve already had some experience as a copywriter or in the marketing industry then you probably have a number of contacts you can reach out to. Send out personalized pitches that are going to prove your value.
It’s also important to be selective about who you work with, you need to build lasting relationships with long-term clients, which will work out far more valuable. Working with the same businesses reduces the costs of traveling to meet potential new clients and time spent putting together pitches, and you’ll get to understand how they work and what they require.
To be a serious freelance copywriter in 2021 you need to be able to effectively run a business, find the right clients to work with, and have extensive knowledge and expertise that you can share.