Copywriting is one of those jobs predestined for remote work. We covered what it’s all about in our article How To Be A Remote Copywriter right here on this blog last November.
But setting yourself up is only step one. It’s fairly easy to earn your first money as a copywriter. The challenge lies in turning your copywriting into a successful, sustainable business that will provide you with the comfort and lifestyle you strive for. So how do you take your business from those beginning stages to the next level?
Never fear! The WiFi Tribe Copywriter Angels are here! They have put their heads together to share their top tips with you and show you how to move your writing business onwards and upwards.
Let’s get started with the first tip.
Know you’re the Boss
This is a biggy, especially if you’re coming from a corporate 9-to-5 job as an employee - losing that employee-demeanor can be a bit difficult at first.
In the beginning of your freelance copywriting career, you may end up working long hours at a low hourly rate, taking any project that comes your way and being at the beck-and-call of your clients. Despite finally working remotely as a freelancer, you may feel like you’re still in that employer/employee relationship.
And that’s totally fine - in the beginning. You need to build momentum and a bit of a reputation to get those better-paying gigs and build your confidence to the point where you feel like you’re the boss of your own business.
But you don’t have to just sit and churn out copy and wait for that feeling to hit you. You can speed up the process on getting over that employee-mindset. The following points are more measurable and implementable tips on how to do this and grow into your boss britches.
Know your worth and make sure your clients also understand your value by setting up boundaries.
Instead of being at their beck-and-call day and night, set up office hours for when they may expect to hear back from you. For example from Monday through Friday, 9am to 5pm your local time. Stick to those times and make it clear to your clients that they’ll have to wait for a response outside of these hours.
Draft a Contract
Never start working without a contract signed by you and your client that clearly outlines your project details, office hours, what the client may expect from your work and what you can expect from your client.
For example, you could stipulate that your client has 5 days to get back to you with feedback and edits after you send them your draft pieces. If they don’t give you feedback within the agreed upon time frame, they forfeit that round of editing. Sounds harsh, but if you’re respecting their business and following through on your responsibilities, they need to respect your time and work too.
Lindsey’s Pro Tip
If you have current clients who are used to your “old model” of working, send them all a friendly email and say something like-
Learn to say “No”
There will come a point in your copywriting career where you will be faced with the decision to keep a client or walk away.
Maybe they’re in breach of the contract you signed. Maybe they’re not paying you. Maybe they don’t value your work or, worse, they don’t value you as a person. Maybe they have unrealistic expectations. Maybe you two just don’t gel in terms of personality. Or maybe you’ve realized that the field or topic you’re writing about just isn’t one you enjoy.
Whatever the reason, sometimes you have to part ways with a client. And that’s okay. It’s part of doing business. It means you’re growing into your boss britches because you value yourself enough to say “No. This isn’t for me.”
The same goes for the ability to say “no, thank you” to potential clients who approach you with a job you don’t really want to take. Be it because you’re running at full capacity right now, be it because this person is giving off a strange vibe you don’t quite trust, or be it because the topic you’d be writing about simply doesn’t interest you; over time, you should become more and more selective in the projects you take on.
Saying no works on a smaller scale, too. For example if a client asks for something extra or short-notice, don’t just say yes to it. Evaluate whether you actually have the capacity to fulfill their request. If you don’t, say “sorry, that’s not possible right now” and offer them a good alternative that works for you.
Raise your prices
Another boss-thing to do once you feel comfortable enough in your skills, your experiences and your value to your clients is to raise your rates. You don’t want to scramble about with those low-paid writing gigs forever - and your clients shouldn’t expect you to. At least not the right kind of clients.
Again, it’s all about knowing your own worth and making sure your client knows it, too.
There are two ways to go about raising your rates as a more experienced copywriter. You can -
offer new clients higher rates while keeping your existing clients at their current prices, or
raise the prices for your existing clients and offer the same prices to new clients as well.
The danger with option 1 is that you’ll end up prioritizing your new clients’ projects over your long-standing clients’ work, because of course you’re getting paid more by your new clients.
The danger with option 2 is losing those long-standing clients because you become too expensive for them.
To get around both of these dangers, you can offer your long-standing clients to switch to a project-based rate instead of your hourly-rate. This gives your the ability to charge more for your work and move out of the “per-hour” set up. It also benefits your client because he knows how much he needs to put aside for you every month and can even set up a standing order for your payment, making everyone’s life easier.
Just make sure to calculate your project-rates correctly before making that offer. A good way is to take the average amount of pay you’ve received over the last three to five months, then add another 15-20 percent to that. Long-standing clients who value your work will see the benefits in switching to this payment method and in our experience usually go with that slight payment increase.
On a side-note...Let's look at "Scope Creep"...
A client trying to sneak more work into your agreed upon project scope little by little the way Jeanette describes is called “scope creep”. Beware of this (often completely unintentional) maneouver and counter it as soon as you notice it’s happening by making sure those extras get included in your contract’s project details and your rate is raised accordingly.
Meet your Deadlines
This goes (almost) without saying, but in order to take your business to the next level you must act like the professional you want others to perceive you as. For a copywriter, this encompasses one thing in particular:
Always meet the deadline.
Your reputation may stand and fall with this one. Of course, the quality of your work is very important, too. And missing a deadline once or twice isn’t the end of the world - stuff happens. Clients are people, too, and most of them understand occasional roadblocks like being sick or having a family emergency. For those cases, just make sure to give your client advance notice that you aren’t able to get something sent in by the deadline and offer an alternative deadline as soon as possible.
But if you’re constantly missing your deadlines, then you’re not delivering what your client is paying you for. It’s both a signal that you don’t value your client and you don’t value yourself or your business enough to stick to your agreements. It’s unprofessional. And, in the long run, it will prevent you from levelling up as a copywriter because you’ll be stuck with the low-paying clients who may put up with constantly missed deadlines.
Brand YO' SELF!
That’s the gist in a beautiful nutshell right there.
That being said, there are several things you can do to build your brand as a copywriter.
Create a quality website.
Make it a memorable place for people to visit, in which your personality shines through. Several of our WiFi Tribe copywriters have had the experience that potential clients contacted them based on their website alone. Your tone and style there may be just what your next client is looking for. As writers, we have the unique opportunity to showcase our work simply by setting up our own quality website.
Be present on your favourite social media platform.
Doesn’t matter if it’s Facebook, Instagram or Twitter - pick the one you like best and use it regularly and intentionally. It’s an excellent way to share your life and your business in your own voice and personality. Let people know you’re loving your new workout routine one day, then share a “behind the scenes” photo of your work setup on another day. Some people hire us because they connect to us on a personal level. So don’t be afraid to share you!
Find your Niche
This one goes hand-in-hand with your branding, but it’s also a big enough game-changer for a copywriter to warrant its own headline:
Find your niche and identify your ideal clients.
Those are two things, really:
The first is about finding that field of interest you love and that you’re an expert in, because writing in that field will be easy and fun for you.
The second is about understanding what type of client you like to work for within that topic. Are they ambitious entrepreneurs, practical engineers or empathetic lifestyle coaches? Are they men or women, younger or older? The more you can narrow down your ideal client, the better you’ll work with them - and the better you can target them as potential clients.
Finding your niche makes it easier and more fun to do your work and meet new clients. The more focused your niche, the more work you’ll get and the better you’ll get paid for it.
Keep educating yourself
Like in any field, keeping up to date on the newest trends and making sure you don’t go rusty in your area of expertise is essential when building up your copywriting business. With the vast knowledge of the internet at our fingertips, continuing to learn has become almost as easy as breathing.
Here are our Tribe copywriters’ favorite ways to keep themselves educated -
Blogs on Copywriting
Blogs are the most obvious resource to seek out. The following are some of the best blogs on copywriting and making a living as a copywriter.
A fast-growing trend, podcasts are a great way to keep up with current developments, learn new biz hacks and get the scoop on copywriting skills you never knew you lacked. Here’s our list of favourite podcasts on copywriting:
Another current trend is to participate in online courses. The online tools available nowadays make it easy for anybody to create a course in their field of expertise - and quite a few people have done this for copywriting, too.
These courses are offered either on the creator’s website itself or on course platforms like Coursera, Skillshare or Udemy. There are currently an impressive amount of highly-rated Copywriting Courses on Udemy for very little money. Probably a great place to start.
The internet isn’t your only source for furthering your copywriting game: getting feedback is the best way to develop your actual writing style and technique.
Be it from your clients, friends or family, feedback on your pieces always helps improve the skill you’re selling.
Our Pro Tip
So there you have it: WiFi Tribe’s collective expertise on how to level up your copywriting business. We hope you also have the success you strive for and deserve. And if you want to learn more from other Tribers on how to grow a successful business - copywriting or otherwise - why not join our chapters and meet some of our very own entrepreneurs? Just apply right here!
Pia Newman is a copywriter, translator, virtual assistant and novelist. She finds her inspiration in many things, but above all in traveling around the world as a digital nomad and a happy member of WiFi Tribe. Follow both her novel writing- and digital nomad journey on her English blog, or find out more about her services, as well as her guidebooks on virtual assistance and earning money online on her German website