How to Start a Copywriting Business

Want to be a freelance copywriter? If I could do it over again, I would have kept my day job for a while and wrote copy on the side.

It would have been the smart way to do it. I could have had the luxury of a steady income while looking for clients and establishing myself as a copywriter.

But, no... I had to do it the hard way.

I took AWAI’s copywriting course, saved up some money, and quit my job — thinking I would take off running with my copywriting business.

Yeah, right! Nobody wanted to hire someone with zero experience and no samples. (Imagine that!)

Things changed for me when I landed a staff copywriting job at a direct response marketing agency. I got amazing training, racked up a ton of samples, and built up quite a network. When I launched my own freelance copywriting business several years later, I truly was able to hit the ground running and I’ve never looked back.

So, where can you find clients?

Try Linked-in. If you have a niche you’d like to write in, search for the companies in that niche — and find the person who hires freelancers. (The Marketing Director is a good place to start.)

You can connect with these folks with a nice note and mention your services. However, I recommend you fully fill out your Linked-in profile and are an active participant in groups related to copywriting and/or your niche. That really helps get you out there.

You can also befriend web designers. Several times, my web designer has asked me to write website copy for his clients. I never have, because I’ve been too busy.

But web designers are a great source of work. So are successful (and busy) copywriters. They cannot take every job that comes their way, and they need someone to refer these rejected clients to.

If you are a member of AWAI, they have a job forum. Plus, they have a job fair at their fall boot camp every year. The companies that come are desperate for new copywriters, so that opportunity alone is worth the price of admission.

If you don’t have any samples, you can offer to write for a client on spec. (They’ll pay you only if they use your copy.) But don’t get in the habit of working for “free.” This technique should only be used when you’re just starting your business and need samples.

You can also offer to do a company’s back-end marketing.

I've mentioned this before, but it's worth talking about again. Companies in both the financial and health niches need a ton of copy. They are constantly emailing their lists and generating new leads. And they don't like using their top copywriters to write marketing emails and such that go to their house file.

So, they hire junior copywriters to do the work. It’s a great way to get your foot in the door, get some samples, and prove yourself.