As a freelance (or even in-house) copywriter, you’ve done pretty well for yourself.
You have a handful of satisfied clients and a steady supply of projects, but you’re still working under someone else.
You’re itching to take the next step.
Naturally, that means starting a copywriting business!
Running your own copywriting business sounds complicated, especially if you don’t have the typical “business owner” skills.
You’re a writer. How can you be expected to run an entire business on top of using your talents?
Having your own business does have plenty of desirable perks.
On top of dodging service fees from online job platforms (sometimes as much as 20%), you also have the freedom to market your business better and be more selective when choosing clients.
Are you ready to lay the groundwork for your very own copywriting business?
Let’s talk about how you can do that!
Practice, Practice, Practice!
The differences between a good copywriter and an incredible copywriter are practice, experience, and dedication. Before you start laying down the framework for your copywriting business, take the time to hone your writing skills.
Doing Your Homework
Imagine bringing your car into the shop for a major repair and hearing the repairman say, “I’m excited! I’ve never done this before!”
You’d probably hesitate and ask yourself, “Is this a good idea?”
You never want your clients to question your abilities.
Start doing your homework by completing the following exercises:
- Practice writing engaging headlines.
- Work on improving your typing speed.
- Learn tips and tricks in an online copywriting course.
- Read up on SEO (and how to use it in your writing).
- Make up a “mock” company and write copy for it.
- Look at already-written copy and make edits to improve the tone.
Even 15 minutes of practice a day will improve your writing and, most of all, the confidence you have in your abilities.
Also, take some time to read content and listen to podcasts from expert copywriters. There are plenty of blogs, podcasts, and newsletters created by established pros.
Best Podcasts and Newsletters for Freelance Copywriters
There are over 850,000 podcasts across the globe, spanning every niche from beekeeping and true crime to oral health and copywriting.
Here are the best copywriting-themed podcasts worth subscribing to:
Tune in weekly to Copyblogger FM to hear Tim Stoddart and Darrell Vesterfelt discuss conversion optimization, marketing campaigns, and content creation.
The Copywriter Club Podcast
The Copywriter Club Podcast boasts a new guest each week to discuss everything from developing good work habits to creating a sales funnel and securing big projects.
Geniuses of Copywriting
Being a skilled copywriter means having a knack for persuasion and marketing, the primary focuses of the Geniuses of Copywriting pod.
Copy Chief Radio
Many experienced copywriters keep their industry secrets hidden under lock and key, and Copy Chief Radio helps to uncover them for a smoother journey.
Choose a Niche (or Two!)
It’s the skill you picked up early on in your freelance career, partially because you were afraid to say “no,” but mostly because you were desperate for experience.
Now you’re an experienced copywriter, and it’s time to choose a specialty.
Are you going to be a regular old copywriter? Or are you going to market yourself as a retail copywriter?
Here are some examples of copywriting niches:
- Accounting and finances
- Food and beverage
- Video scripts
- White papers
- Press releases
- Lead magnets
Set Reasonable & Competitive Prices
If you look for “average copywriting rates” online, you’ll see an enormous range between $25 and $25,000.
The good news is that your rates will be somewhere within that range. Now, it’s your job to figure out where you’d place the value of your content.
How Much to Charge for Copywriting Services
Here’s what you need to know about pricing your services.
Hourly is usually the best way to make a steady income without exceeding your bandwidth for no additional incentive.
You should also consider offering package options.
For example, you might offer website copywriting services by the page, or you could let clients bulk-order 50 100-word product descriptions at a slight discount. The more packages you offer, the fewer transactions you have to track and total when it’s time to pay taxes.
Reclaiming Your Business Expenses
The last thing you need to do is factor your business expenses into your hourly rate.
Let’s say you want to earn $60,000 by the end of the year.
If you work 40 hours per week, your hourly rate will fall just below $29/hour.
Let’s assume those cost you an extra $15,000 a year.
Even if you’re a one-person freelance team, you need to brand yourself. Your clients should look at your name, website, and logo and get a clear gauge of your voice and intentions as a business.
Branding begins by choosing a business name.
How to Choose a Business Name
When you’re deciding on an official business name, you want a little balance between creative and descriptive.
For example, “Copy That” may be a decent copywriting pun, but the average person would probably assume you run a print shop … not a content creation service.
And “Jim Brown & Associates” sounds more like a law firm.
Try to infuse the term “copywriting” or a keyword related to your niche instead (i.e., “Big Apple Copywriting”).
Always stylize your business name in the same way. Don’t alternate between “Co.” and “company” or “copywriting” and “copy” from one platform to the next.
Create a Logo
Your business needs a clever logo. And you need this logo everywhere, including your social media profile picture, that little square in internet tabs (called a “favicon”), and on all print marketing materials (which we’ll discuss below).
Fine-Tune the Legal & Financial Aspects
The transition from writer to business owner comes with extra responsibilities, especially on the legal and financial fronts.
Cutting corners now can land you in hot water later.
Let’s review how to do the behind-the-scenes tasks involved in running a business.
The Legal Side of Starting a Copywriting Business
The good news is you don’t need to shell out $100/hour or more on a business attorney looking to legitimize your copywriting business.
Here’s what you need to know:
Designating Your Business: LLC or Sole Proprietorship?
The most important step in creating your copywriting business is making it a company in the eyes of the law.
As a new business, you have two options: an LLC or a sole proprietorship.
A sole proprietorship is a better choice if you plan to run your business part-time and manage it yourself. But while they’re easier to establish, sole proprietorships don’t come with the same protections as an LLC.
Creating an LLC provides better protection from legal liabilities, making it a better long-term option. If a client (or competitor) were to sue, payouts would come from your business’s income rather than your personal assets (like your savings account).
Business Insurance: Do You Need It?
Copywriters don’t get sued … right?
They can, and they do! A client has the right to take you to court if they feel a mistake your business made cost them financially.
Business insurance costs as little as $20/month, and it can prove to be a great financial investment if you find yourself facing a lawsuit in the future.
Legal Contracts for Copywriters
You’d love to take somebody for their word. But when you’re negotiating on a $2,000 batch of copy, there’s no legal requirement for somebody to pay their dues.
That is, of course, unless you provide all clients with legal contracts.
Don’t start writing until a contract is signed!
Create a contract template that details the specific project, pay rate, due date, and an estimated final bill.
Ensure all clients sign or e-sign the contract first before you get to work.
The Financial Side of Things
When you put on your business owner hat, you also adopted the money manager or accountant’s role.
This might be new territory for you, so here’s what you need to know:
You’ve already established reasonable and competitive prices for your content. Now, you have to plan out how you’ll send the final bill to your clients.
We’re talking about invoicing.
Most freelancers and small business owners bill clients through PayPal. But when you do that, you’ll also sacrifice 2.9% (plus $0.30) on each transaction, thanks to PayPal’s invoicing fees.
But there are cheaper alternatives!
For example, Bloom is a CRM tool that offers unlimited invoicing, marketing campaigns, and scheduling tools to make managing your business a breeze.
Try Bloom for free today!
It’s hard to track your income and file your taxes when you’re commingling your personal and business accounts. Your copywriting business needs both a business bank account and a business credit card … strictly for business!
But, as it is 2021, there are also apps to help with money management.
Take Freshbooks and Bloom, for example.
You can track business expenditures via uploaded receipts, send invoices, track your total profits, and always know where your business stands financially.
The best financial decision you can make as a business owner—aside from business insurance—is hiring an accountant or bookkeeper to handle your finances.
Come tax season, you’ll thank us!
Financial experts can help you find tax deductions and limit what you owe Uncle Sam come April. For example, did you know that you can deduct business expenses like Grammarly, a new computer, or a high-speed internet connection?
Build a Digital Portfolio & Online Presence
Anyone can claim to be a copywriter on the internet. The good news is that you’ve been in the industry for months or even years by this point.
Translation: You have proof of your talents.
Your next step is building a user-friendly digital portfolio and ensuring you’re not an undercover agent where it matters most: online.
Here’s what you need to do:
Create a Professional Website
A local copywriter might be able to get away without designing a website. But since most of your clients will be virtual, they need to be able to find you.
A professional website is a must when you own a startup.
WordPress, Wix, Weebly, and Squarespace all offer free DIY sites. Some CRMS, like Bloom, also have built-in website builders.
Create a user-friendly site, add landing pages for specific niches or locations, infuse SEO keywords to draw organic traffic, and never forget the call-to-action (CTA). A strong CTA can lead your visitors directly to a client intake form where they can schedule their first meeting with you!
Upload some samples of your best work, though be cautious about sharing published work you did for past clients (copyright infringement concerns).
And don’t forget a domain related to your business name!
Build Business Profiles on Social Media
Nearly half the world is on at least one social media platform. In the writing industry, none are more important than Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
Create a business profile on all popular social media platforms, and make sure all accounts have the same handle. That way, a client searching for your business can find all of your social pages in one quick Google search.
But don’t just build the profiles—use them!
Join groups on LinkedIn, use hashtags on Twitter, and run targeted Facebook Ads.
Advertise Services to the Right People
The best part about running a copywriting business is that you can do it virtually from halfway across the country. But that doesn’t mean you have 330+ million potential clients waiting to hear your pitch.
Shift your focus toward advertising to the right people: fellow business owners.
Why a Solid Sales Pitch Matters
- Copywriting services – $0.5/word – fast turn-around – good reviews.
- Need a skilled copywriter for your restaurant’s website? Look no further! Monthly packages starting at $250 with 100% original content, targeted SEO keywords, and a money-back guarantee!
One of those sales pitches fails miserably.
The other tells potential clients exactly what your copywriting business does, all within a matter of seconds and without requiring additional clicks.
Your sales pitch should get straight to the point, empathize with a problem your ideal client has, and offer an affordable solution.
Spreading the Word Online
Chances are, anyone scouring writing platforms like UpWork or Writers Work is either a current freelance writer like you or a business owner looking to hire.
In other words, you’re in good company!
Create a profile on every writing job board you can find. Be sure to include links to your social media profiles and website, a resume detailing your writing experience, and external contact information.
Reaching Out to Local Businesses
The best way to begin planting your business’s roots is by reaching out to local businesses directly.
A phone call, an email, or even an in-person visit works wonders.
Go from shop to shop in the downtown area, introduce yourself, make your pitch (remember: short and sweet), and thank them for their time.
And don’t forget to leave a business card or a call-back number!
Physical marketing materials work well for local outreach, too. Consider sending out fliers or brochures outlining your pricing and packages, or mail out some magnets (which have an excellent shelf life).
Pin your business card up on the bulletin boards at pizza shops, cafes, and laundromats, too. You never know who in your neighborhood might need your services!
Focus on Network Expansion & Referral Business
Who better to vouch for your quality of work than past clients?
So start giving more attention to building your business from the inside out.
Here’s how easy that can be:
Incentivize Referral Business
Some clients need a little extra prodding to spread the word about your services to their fellow business owners. Never overlook the excitement that comes with the words “discount” or “free.”
A 10% off deal on their next order.
Five-hundred free words on their next batch of website copy.
Or even a mutual referral relationship. (I’ll share your page if you share mine.)
Any of these methods can help you get your name out there so you can secure more contracts.
Ask for Client Testimonials
Did you know that 93% of people read online reviews before buying a product or investing in a service?
Or that people view testimonials as recommendations from friends?
Don’t let this opportunity slip away!
Reach out to your sphere of influence and encourage them to review your services on your platform of choice (i.e., LinkedIn, Google Business, or even Facebook).
The more stars and high remarks, the higher prospective clients will regard your services—even before they get the privilege of meeting you!
Attend Local Networking Events
If sales copy is your forte, your ideal client is small business owners. At local networking events, you could potentially recruit several new clients in a matter of hours.
Don’t forget a confident handshake, strong eye contact, business cards, and, of course, your sales pitch!
Believe It or Not … You Can Just Ask!
You’ve spent months (or years) in the industry and established yourself as a successful copywriter that clients can rely on.
Have you considered simply asking for referrals?
People are far more likely to leave reviews if they’re really satisfied (or really not). Ask your happy clients casually and occasionally, but don’t forget to ask!
Launching your own copywriting business is a great opportunity to expand your client base and earn more income. But while the transition between a freelance copywriter and a small business owner can be smooth, it’s not always quick.
It could be months before you see a steady workflow.
And that could take a dramatic toll on your savings account if you dive in headfirst.
Start by dipping your toe in the water!
Focus on advertising your new copywriting business while still producing content for your freelancing clients. Slowly begin phasing out freelance copywriting jobs until you’re writing copy strictly under your company name.
And when you’re ready, you might even start hiring freelancers yourself to help you scale.
You’re well on your way to a successful copywriting business!
Learn more about how Bloom can help you on your path to success!