I’ve been a SaaS copywriter since 2016 – starting and growing my business while traveling through 20+ countries. I consistently earn over $10k a month working 4 days a week. When I meet new people that are trying to figure out how to work remotely as a freelancer, the two top questions are usually – how to become a copywriter, and how to find good clients that pay well.
There are other blogs out there covering how to get started as a copywriter. But I want to share everything I know about how to become a copywriter that gets paid well for their work.
- One that doesn’t write $10 blog posts for crappy clients
- One that’s location independent and can book a flight to wherever, whenever they feel like it
- One that isn’t merely a writer, but a professional, an entrepreneur, and a smart business owner
If you’re reading this, you’re probably looking for a change in your work and lifestyle. And no matter where you are in life – it’s never to late to start designing the life you’ve always wanted. I started at 40 – but whether you’re 20, 30, or 80, the right time is now!
So if a new line of work has been on your mind, but you weren’t sure where to start, this might answer some of your biggest questions.
Looking for more information about how to become a freelance copywriter? Check out these other articles:
- How To Become A B2B SaaS Copywriter
- How To Make 6 Figures A Year As A Freelance Copywriter
- How To Build Your Own Copywriter Website And Portfolio
- 10 Best Freelance Copywriter Websites And Portfolios
How I started out as a copywriter
Like most other freelance writers out there, I started at zero. No experience. No contacts. No clue if this crazy idea would even work. All I knew was I wanted to travel – and never be stuck in a crappy 9-5 desk job EVER again.
Because I wanted this so badly, and took the leap into freelancing, I can now work wherever and whenever I want. You can check out my professional freelance writer website here.
You might be thinking it’s impossible for you to write stuff and get paid well for it. But it isn’t. You need to stop overthinking everything, and START!
The sooner you get started, the sooner you’ll be able to figure things out as you go, and work your way towards $500 blog posts, $10,000 months, and 6 figure years.
How much can a copywriter make?
First, some facts:
- Yes, it’s possible to earn over $100k a year, and many people achieve this in their first year being a freelancer
- There are 7-figure copywriters. No kidding.
- You CAN earn over $100k a year writing articles and blogs!
- Being a successful freelancer means you need to learn how to find clients, generate referrals, market yourself, manage your finances, and build a strong network around you that can support you and refer work to you.
But remember – money means different things for everyone. So when it comes to copywriter salaries and setting your rates, it depends what type of copy you want to focus on, how many hours you want to work, and how long you’ve been writing for. The more experienced you are, the more you can charge, and the less hours you’ll need to work to reach your income goal.
Some people just want to earn enough to work at home, take care of family, and live without too much stress. Some people yearn to create a life that lets them work remotely. And others want to earn a shit ton of money and retire early. Whichever one of these sounds like you, it’s totally achievable.
Everything is possible. But growing a sustainable freelancing business won’t work – unless you do.
What is a copywriter?
When you start freelance writing or copywriting, it means you’ll work on a contract basis writing anything from blogs to emails to big campaigns.You might write for large companies, startups, marketing agencies, or other solopreneurs.
The difference between a content writer and a copywriter
These lines are blurry, and many copywriters would argue that content writers aren’t “real” copywriters!
But content writers aren’t simply “bloggers”. They create marketing material that helps companies get found on Google search, build authority for for brands, and help new customers find products and services that they need.
Content marketing involves things like writing ebooks, case studies, white papers, reports, and developing strategies and content calendars for clients.
There are plenty of freelance content writers who earn 6 figures – because they know how to attract clients value their work and can afford to pay them well.
What does a copywriter do, and what are the different types of copywriting?
You might be writing copy for online sales and marketing, or offline print material, or both! You might be writing inbound marketing copy for services websites, or direct response copy for selling products.
Online media – blog posts, content marketing, ads, social media posts, emails, sales letters, video scripts, product descriptions, website copy, sales funnels, landing pages, guides, launch campaigns, press releases, and search engine optimization.
Offline (print) media – product packages, billboards, magazines, brochures, advertisements.
Why you should learn how to become a copywriter
Learning how to write clearly and persuasively can help you in all aspects of your life. From writing resumes, to getting more engagement on social media, writing blogs, writing emails, getting good freelancing work, and getting amazing results for your copywriting clients.
Understanding copywriting can help you become an all round better writer, and it can help you gain a deeper understanding of how people think, and why they buy.
Is copywriting right for you?
If you’re looking for ways to make extra money online, or ways to travel and work as a digital nomad – copywriting is a great option. But is it right for you?
There’s a ton of demand for copywriting, but there’s a lot of work involved to understand the art of writing and selling, find clients consistently, and grow your business.
The truth is, most aspiring copywriters quit before it gets good. Just like starting any business – it’s a lot of work, and requires you to be dedicated and persistent.
Read on to see if this whole copywriting thing seems like something you’d love to do long term!
How to become a copywriter with no experience (hint: you don’t need course or certifications!)
The bar to becoming a freelance writer is low, and there is no regulatory body that qualifies people.
That’s good for you, because we all have to start somewhere. Most of us start out in our first year as a copywriter with a LOT to learn – but you don’t need to know about everything to start copywriting. As long as your English writing skills and grammer are solid (most clients in the US and UK require writers with first language level proficiency), you’re qualified enough to become a freelance writer. Some clients might want you to have university degree, but in all my years of freelancing, I’ve never been asked.
Clients want to work with writers who are reliable, honest, enthusiastic, easy to work with, and most of all — writers who can give them the results they need.
How to become a freelance copywriter – the top benefits!
SInce you’re reading this, you probably know of a few benefits of freelancing already!
- Flexibility to work at your own pace, on things you enjoy
- Balance your work and life
- The freedom to be location independent
- All you need is a computer and a good internet connection to get started
- You don’t need any specific degrees or qualifications
- You choose who you want to work for, and what sort of things you want to write
- Your writing gets big results for clients – it’s a great feeling to help others grow their business
- You’ll learn new things every day
- You can start while you’re at school, or earn some extra cash when you’re retired. There’s no age limit!
Where to learn copywriting – websites and courses
It’s easy to get stuck in the course-buying trap when you’re starting out. There are a few good courses out there, and plenty of terrible ones. Do your research! I’ve taken some very expensive courses that I regret.
Ask around about any courses you’re thinking of buying in copywriting groups and forums so you can talk with people about their experience. Some of these trainings can set you back thousands of dollars and deliver mediocre results.
You can get amazing training and advice for FREE online – so try all of these options before you start spending.
These are my top picks to get started:
Copyhackers – by well-know copywriter Joanna Wiebe
Expensive training and mentors can be worthwhile, but it’s a good idea to see if you enjoy freelance writing first, before you make any big investments.
Once you’re familiar with the basics of freelance writing and have an idea of what you’d like to write, and who you’d like to write it for, it’s time to find your first client.
How to choose a freelance copywriting niche
There’s a wide variety of freelance writers out there. Some write about everything (generalists) while others focus on one or two different industries (specialists). Whatever you do – don’t let choosing a niche get in the way of you starting your freelance writing career!
“Choosing a niche is not a death sentence. It’s not something you have to do forever, and the benefit is that as soon as you establish yourself as an expert in one space, it’s very easy to start moving into adjacent spaces” – Josh Garofalo, Sway Copy
At the start, you should try and take every gig that you can manage to get some experience, and to try your hand at different forms of copy. After a while, you’ll get a feel for which areas you’d like to work in, and know how to connect with good clients in those areas.
You don’t need to niche, but it makes it easier to find clients — and it’s much easier for clients to find you!
Check out how you can niche down to grow your business:
What are B2B and B2C copywriters?
B2B (business to business) means that you write for businesses who sell products to other businesses. You might write emails for a software company who sells accounting programs to other companies, for example.
B2C (business to consumer) writers help their clients sell directly to consumers. So you could be writing product descriptions for ecommerce stores, or writing packaging copy for beauty brands.
You don’t need to pick a side, but most writers will lean towards one or the other. If you enjoy writing about and selling consumer products, you might not enjoy the “dry” style of B2B writing as much.
How to get work as a copywriter
Reality check: you probably won’t be earning $500 for a blog post straight out of the gate. Because when you start out, you’re going to suck.
I absolutely sucked at everything until I understood how to deliver exactly what new clients wanted in terms of content, tone, formatting, and results. We all have to start somewhere, and that includes taking a few crappy projects to begin with so we can learn as we work.
The good news is that it doesn’t take long to increase your prices. I started with an $80 blog post and raised my rates after every couple of projects when I felt confident that I was getting better. It only took me a few months to get to $350 an article – and beyond.
When you’re starting out, you’ll want to consider whether you’re better suited to:
- Work with an agency as a copywriter
- Work with a business as a copywriter
- Work as a freelance copywriter.
This will help point you in the direction of finding the best work for your lifestyle.
Search freelance writer websites
Thousands of freelance writers start on marketplaces like Fiverr or Upwork. The downside to these platforms is that they’re saturated with writers from all over the world who compete for projects by pitching the lowest rates possible. Finding good work there takes a lot of time and patience, but it can be done.
My focus was on getting paid really well, not writing for coins, so I avoided content mills like these when I started out.
Create copywriting samples
New clients will want to see writing samples so they know you can provide them with a good service. This is a problem if you’re brand new and don’t have any samples to show them!
Before I pitched for my first project, I created two solid blog posts to use as samples. They were, in fact, terrible. But I got by using these until I had better samples to show off.
Other ways you can get samples are by:
- Doing some work for non-profits, friends, or family
- Writing articles and getting them published on an existing website
- Creating “spec work” to show your writing ability
Start your own blog
Create your own blog that showcases your writing skills and knowledge to get the interest of potential clients
Cold pitch companies that you want to write for
A well-crafted email can go a long way towards getting you copywriting work.
See how you can send outreach emails in a non-sleazy and effective way here:
Create your own copywriter website
Having an online presence instantly makes you look like the real deal.
It’s a good idea to set up a basic website (even if it’s only a single page) to promote yourself. Don’t invest in a logo or a fancy website at this point, because you don’t need them yet. All you need is a presence online to get started.
Learn how to create a copywriter website that sells your services to potential clients:
Network on social media
Publishing articles on Medium can also be a good way for potential clients to get a feel for your writing ability.
Create a profile on LinkedIn – this will help you get in front of potential clients, share your samples, and also build a network of other copywriters and business owners who can support you. You can network and find clients on other social networks such as Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram too.
How to find copywriting work
- Ask around your network of friends, family, and colleagues
- Join freelance writing groups
- Connect with other copywriters online (don’t ask them for work – just concentrate on building good relationships with them, and referrals will eventually follow)
- Search and sign up for freelance writing and remote work job boards
- Send pitches to companies and brands you’d love to write for
- Contact marketing, advertising, and content agencies for overflow work
- Be consistent – and DON’T GIVE UP!
If you need more advice and inspiration on how to find copywriting clients, I recommend the Fishing With Dynamite training by Joel Klettke. It’s affordable, and it’s money well spent. This training will give you a ton of ideas on how to attract well paid client work online. I revisit this training whenever I need some fresh inspiration!
Copywriter rates and salaries – how much can copywriters earn?
If you work for agencies, many of them will just tell you what they’re going to pay you for each project and you can take it or leave it. This makes life a lot easier – but remember that the agency can be charging the actual client 3-4 times what they’re paying you. That’s why it’s helpful to learn how to negotiate and work directly with clients.
If you’re on a call with a client and they ask your rates, give them a ballpark “between X and Y” figure. This can be helpful to feel out the rates they’re willing to pay. Based on this, you can prepare a proposal with a firm quote after your call, or you can offer a couple of different pricing options.
To check if you’re pricing too low, ask other copywriters how much they are charging for similar projects. You can also try the freelance rate checker from Bonsai.
Things to consider when you’re working out what to charge include:
- The type of client (e.g. a small solo business owner and a giant multinational tech company will have wildly different budgets for copywriting)
- How experienced you are
- How big the project is
- The number of edits you provide
- How urgently the client needs the work done
- The type of project
- The value of your work to the client (e.g. you can charge more for copywriting because it directly increases sales for a business)
- How much time and research needs to be put into the project
- How specialized the writing work is (e.g. for highly specialized technical writing, or direct response sales letters, you can charge premium rates)
If youre aiming to earn six figures a year ($100,000) as a copywriter, this breaks down into:
- $8,333 a month
- $1,923 a week
- $48 an hour (based on a 40-hour work week)
So you can see that reaching 6 figures isn’t hard for a copywriter – you just need to figure out what sort of services you can provide to meet your weekly and monthly goals.
And make sure you physically have the time and energy to product that much content or copy! For example – it would be pretty impossible to get to $100k on 1,000 word blog posts for $50 – there just aren’t enough hours in the day.
Charge per project – not per hour or per word!
Most copywriters charge per project. This lets you work out all the moving parts of a project as I mentioned above – and charge based on the value you provide.
Flat rates and hourly rates can work against you, and charging per word devalues what you do.
If you charge hourly, the client will expect you to work faster so they don’t need to pay as much – but it’s in your best interest to work slower so you get paid more!
This can cause friction, and the client is likely to micromanage you to ensure you’re not slacking off while you’re on “their” time.
If you charge flat rate fees for projects, you might end up doing a huge amount of research and endless revisions that will make your life a nightmare and mean that you end up earning next to nothing for your work. Quoting to an exact scope for each individual project is most often the best idea.
Trust me – charging per project will keep you sane!
Eventually you’ll get a good feel for how long certain projects will take you. Then you can figure out what you’d ideally like to earn per hour, and do the math on how much you should charge.
Say you want to earn $50 an hour. The client has asked for a 1,000 word blog post. You estimate that it will take you around 5 hours for research, formatting, writing, and editing. So you quote the client for ($50 x 5 hours) = $250.
How to get paid for copywriting
In most cases, you should ask for 50% deposit before you start any writing projects. You’ll get the remaining 50% when you hand over your completed work to the client. Your first projects will probably be small, and in that case payment on completion of the work is okay too if you trust the client.
Make sure you send a contract to your client to sign. This should outline the work you’ll be doing, how much they’ve agreed to pay you, and the timeline for the project.
If the client sends you a contract, make sure you read it carefully so you don’t sign off on anything you haven’t agreed to.
There are a few software options online for creating legally binding contracts. I use and recommend Bonsai because you can easily send professional proposals, contracts, and invoices where clients can sign everything online and then pay you immediately and securely with their credit card or a bank transfer. Getting paid is one of the highlights of this whole copywriting thing!
Once the client has signed the contract and paid the deposit, it’s time to start researching and writing.
Getting testimonials from your clients
Always ask for testimonials from clients you work with. Social proof is super important for helping you get more work (and better paid projects) as you grow your business, and it helps you get better clients from your freelance writer website.
Put these testimonial snippets on your site, in your social posts, on LinkedIn, and anywhere else that prospective clients might see them. Talk about the results you get for clients, and if you have any amazing results (e.g. your emails made a company $100,000 for a product launch) don’t be afraid to shout it loud and tell the world about it — you never know who’s watching!
Ask for referrals
Referrals are one of the keys to becoming a well paid copywriter. This means they already know a bit about what you do, and somebody they trust has vouched for your skills. Projects that come in this way tend to be higher quality and are easier to get.
After you complete a project for a client, tell them that you’d love to work with other clients like them, and would they know anyone else that could use a copywriter in the future? Business owners always know other business owners – so asking for referrals directly can send more work your way.
When people start to know who you are, what you do, and that you do a good job, referrals will start to come in – from other copywriters and organically. This takes the pressure off having to keep searching for new work – because there will be a steady flow of copywriting opportunities coming straight to your inbox.
Recommended books about copywriting and how to become a copywriter
- The Well-Fed Writer: Financial Self-Sufficiency as a Commercial Freelancer in Six Months or Less by Peter Bowerman
- The Copywriter’s Guide To Getting Paid: How To Land Awesome Clients And Earn A Great Living As A Copywriter by Roy Furr
- The Rookie Copywriter’s Survival Guide: How To Make Six Figures With Little Or No Copywriting Experience… And Without Chasing After Clients! by Doberman Dan
- The Copywriter’s Handbook by Robert Bly
- With Without Pitching by Blair Enns
If you ever need some encouragement, or have questions about starting out, I’m a real person that started out as a freelance copywriter just like you are now – feel free to email me at [email protected] if you need more advice or inspiration on your journey!
You got this! 🙂
Rachael is a full-time digital nomad and freelance copywriter for B2B and SaaS companies. She’s worked with brands like Unbounce, Biteable, Datacom, Viddyoze, and Owler.