Are you wondering if copywriting can be your career of choice in 2021? Do you want to become a freelance copywriter in 2021? Are you looking for insights on the best steps to become the best copywriter out there?
This guide is for you, and it’s been written with a goal in mind: to give you the tools to understand what a copywriter does, what skills are needed to succeed, how much you can earn, and also what are the biggest challenges in pursuing a copywriting career as a freelancer.
Copywriting is one of the most requested freelancing jobs nowadays, and competition can be fierce: that’s why you need to be ready to study, advance with your skills, and be able to offer something unique to your clients.
This article will explain how you can become a skilled and unique copywriting and how you can transform your love for writing into a successful career.
Use the table of contents below to navigate the guide, or keep reading this in-depth guide to discover if working in the copywriting industry may be the right choice for you.
Table of Contents
What does a Copywriter do?
The first question to answer is the basic what does a copywriter do? If you think that this is a useless question, think twice: copywriting is different from writing, and what a copywriter does is different from what a writer does.
As the name suggests, a copywriter writes for advertising to promote and sell goods and services; a copywriter spends time finding the best angle to describe a service, sell goods, or reinforce brand awareness.
These are some of the thinks a copy can do:
- write a jingle for a commercial
- write a slogan for a company
- define the tone of voice for a new brand and create content that reflects this tone of voice
- create copy for an ad campaign
- create copy for newsletters
- create PR stunts
What doesn’t a Copywriter do?
Despite the confusion between the two professionals, copywriters and writers are two different figures. A copywriter rarely gets involved with blog posts, articles, or long form content of any kind. Their duty is to express a concept in the shorter yet most effective way possible.
Writing is not the goal of a copywriter. Communication and persuasion are two goals. And that’s where the difference with a writer stands. Well, at least ideally. In fact, it’s not hard finding a copywriter that also work on long-form content: when it comes to marketing, inbound and outbound, using persuasive techniques and copywriting techniques is more and more common, hence the overlap between the two figures.
What qualifications do you need to be a copywriter?
While there are no specific qualifications required to become a copywriter, copywriters usually hold a degree Bachelor’s Degree in a language of their choice, Business Communications, Journalism, Advertising, or Marketing. Attending a specific course to learn how to write for a specific goal is a great idea. Aside from qualifications, experience is what matters the most.
What skills should a copywriter have?
A good copywriter possesses writing skills, but also marketing skills and interpersonal ones. Knowledge of data, how to read them, and how to use them to generate content is advantageous, especially in such a competitive landscape.
In general, these are the skills a good copywriter should have, no matter the topic:
1. Strong grasp of grammar
Whether it is in English, Spanish, Korean, or any other language, grammar is fundamental for a copywriter. It’s not just how to create correct phrases, but also how to use correct punctuation, appropriate adverbs, and in-depth knowledge of the rules that make a text correct and usable.
2. Ability to simplify complex information
Copywriting is the art of creating clear and concise texts without losing meaning. This also means simplifying complex information and producing credible, persuasive, and on-point content to reach the target audience.
3. The ability to research
Sometimes a brief from a client (well, most of the time) is not enough to develop a good piece of content. A good copy knows how to research any topic, how to check on competitors’, how to get useful data to use for a jingle, an ad, or any other type of content.
4. SEO and UX knowledge
Knowing SEO and UX is a big advantage when working as a copywriter. You may not need it if you only create slogans, jingles, and stuff like this. But if your job as a copywriter is to create marketing content, you definitely need to know how to leverage keywords’ use and user experience within your strategy to get a well-done piece of content that will sell something to someone.
5. Understanding of the marketing funnel
Whether you have to write a slogan for a company, the copy for a landing page, social media, or PPC ads, you need to know the marketing funnel and how it affects content and purchase. During each stage of the funnel, in fact, the customer’s motivations to stay in touch with your business change. That’s why you need to use a language that speaks to the audience based on their position in the tunnel to facilitate an action
6. Strong grasp of analytics
Effective copywriting is a blend of creativity and analytics. That’s why you need to know how to use analytics to check how the content performs, the opening rate of your email, how many clicks you got, and so on. No need to be a master, but having the basic skills to adjust your copywriting strategy not only it is desirable, but it is very much needed.
Is copywriting the same as content marketing?
Technically, it’s two different things. Practically, copywriting are very often content marketers these days. But there’s a big difference between copy and content:
Content marketing means creating and sharing valuable free content to attract and convert prospects into customers.
Copywriting stimulates a specific action.
Content marketing is blogs, podcasts, and email autoresponders. Copywriting is sales pages, ads, and e-mail marketing.
But in truth, content marketing without copywriting techniques is not feasible anymore. Hence, the overlapping between the two professionals.
Is it hard to become a copywriter?
Becoming a copywriter may seem easy: you only need to know how to write, don’t you? In reality, things are quite different: you need to be able to write, but not everyone can write compelling content.
And you have to be strong and organized because the saying “everyone’s a copywriter” is not just a saying, and your work most probably will end up being reviewed in a way that you haven’t anticipated. Being strong, calm, organized, positive, and most of all, keep studying is key to become a good and competent copywriter.
Competition is fierce because “everyone’s a copywriter,” so you need to show people your value before breaking into a copywriting career.
How do I get my first copywriting job?
Landing the first gig as a copywriter is crucial to boost your morale and start putting your name out there. There are a few things that you can do speed up the process and get a client, and this is just a small list:
1. Write all the time
Practicing is key, and in the case of copywriting, this is even more true. Having a blog is a good move because it will push you to write and become a showcase of what you can do, your skills, and why companies should hire you. We have got a whole article on the benefits of having a professional blog in 2021 that includes many insights.
A few resources to start your blog:
- NameCheap or Domain.com: to register your domain name;
- BlueHost: to host your blog (it comes with WordPress installed);
- WpEngine: another hosting, and in this case you can go for the managed or the unmanaged one;
- Premium WordPress Themes: you can choose one for your blog;
- Weebly: if you want to use a ready-to-go platform and just focus on content.
Networking, especially at the beginning, is crucial to get your name out there. People talk, professionals recommend other professionals, and companies are much more inclined to work with someone recommended by someone else rather than hiring someone blindly. So make sure your network to get new opportunities and, most of all, to improve your skills.
3. Cold pitch
Cold pitches are a good way to get new clients and to land your first copywriting job. You don’t need to go big, instead go local: pick a local business and offer your services. Repeat this experiment with as many companies as you like, and you’ll be surprised by the result. Once you’re ready, move to the biggest companies.
4. Social Media
Social networks are a good way to showcase one’s work and get in touch with people and companies. If you want to get a copywriting job by using social media, make sure you’re ready to show your potential clients what you can do for them but also how much you know them. And use your social media platforms to become a respected voice in the industry you want to work with.
Can you learn copywriting?
Everything can be taught and learned, but at the same time, one has or hasn’t the requested attitude for certain things. Copywriting is one of those things where you may be extremely passionate to end up not being able to produce anything, even if learning constantly.
But copywriting is something that can be learned: you need patience, time, and have to be humble. Accept your mistakes and use them to improve, make sure you stay on top of the industry, learn the more skills you can, and become so unique that your skills are valuable to others.
Best Online Copywriting Courses
If you want to learn the art of copywriting or improve your skills, or add skills to your baggage, I’ve selected a series of online copywriting courses that will help you start.
1. Writing With Flair: How To Become An Exceptional Writer
Shani Raja, a former Wall Street Journal editor, will teach you the secret to making your writing sparkle by using simple techniques based on simplicity, clarity, elegance, and evocativeness. After learning how to add those ingredients skilfully, your blogs, books, and business writing will immediately begin to stand out from that of others in your field, profession, or industry. Recommended by 10000+ people.
2. Ninja Writing: The Four Levels Of Writing Mastery
Discover how to create spellbinding writing. Learn the secrets of editors on top newspapers and websites. Tap into the power of the four levels: narrative, paragraphs, sentences and words. Recommended by 9000+ people.
3. Writing With Confidence: Writing Beginner To Writing Pro
Find your voice as a business writer, blogger, or writer of other non-fiction. Transform writing from dull to dazzling. Uncover the secret persuasion tactics known only to the world’s top copywriters. Recommended by 4000+ people.
4. Modern Copywriting: Writing copy that sells
What copywriting is and what you need to know to do it effectively. How to gain a thorough understanding of your audience, competition, products, and your brand’s unique voice. Recommended by 2000+ people.
5. The Complete Copywriting Course: Write to Sell Like a Pro
With this course, you will learn how to sell more products and services (just by being helpful!). Learn the sales psychology you need to grow a profitable business. Eliminate “stage fright” and “blank page anxiety”.
6. Copywriting secrets – How to write copy that sells
Discover the secrets of copywriting success from the master. From novice to pro in easy stages. Learn how to apply the power of emotional drivers, even when writing in a B2B environment. Understand how to leverage features, benefits and advantages.
7. Build a Lucrative Copywriting Portfolio from Scratch
Learn 5 copywriting exercises to build your awesome portfolio. Plus, pro pitch tips and a template for landing your first gig.
8. Copywriting – Become a Freelance Copywriter, your own boss
Build a successful freelance copywriting business and learn how to turn basic writing skills into a paycheck.
9. Complete SEO Training With Top SEO Expert Peter Kent!
In this course, you will learn how to rank a Web site high up in the major search engines using SEO. The knowledge you need to do the SEO work yourself or supervise an SEO optimization team or outside SEO firm.
10. Microcopy & UX Writing: The Complete Course
Learn to write incredible microcopy, define a unique brand voice, and create an optimal user experience through words.
How much can I charge for my copywriting?
Talking about money is never easy and how much you can charge for your copywriting job depends on multiple factors: your experience, your skills, and the ideal client you have in your mind. We’ve written a comprehensive guide on how much to charge your clients for your freelance services and also a guide on how to get rid of a toxic client. Both can be easily applied to your copywriting business.
Final Thoughts on Getting Started as a Freelance Copywriter
Building a freelance copywriting career isn’t easy, and, especially at the beginning, the work you’re asked to do may not always be glamourous. The more you will be in the industry, the easiest it will get, but it’s your duty to keep learning and improving. Freelance copywriting can be hard and exhausting, but the joy of doing it repays the effort.
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