How to Build A Successful Copywriting Business
Want to start a copywriting business but not sure where to start? This 6-step guide will help you launch a successful, thriving business.
Copywriting is a lucrative profession for a reason: it’s creative with high earning potential. And while senior copywriters and creative directors have thriving careers, it’s having a copywriting business that lets you explore the true potential of this profession.
Running a copywriting business is more than just writing though. You’ll be in charge of finding clients, dealing with contracts and invoices, and all the administrative things you might escape as an employee.
To make it less daunting and complicated, we outlined 6 simple steps to help you get started. We’ll talk about everything from business processes through copywriting portfolio websites to client management. So get reading and prepare for the launch!
Can you start a copywriting business with no experience?
The short answer is yes, you can start your copywriting business even if you’ve never done this before. But of course, there’s a catch.
When you jump into it without having at least a couple of copywriting projects, making it a viable business that actually makes money will take a much longer time. Why?
Because you’ll have to start with getting those first few projects that you can then showcase in your copywriting portfolio. And to do so, you might not be able to charge a lot of money. Or charge anything at all.
Get your first copywriting projects before starting your business
You’ll need to reach out to people or businesses and offer your services, even if it won’t make you much money, for two reasons. The first one would be getting experience.
You may have read copywriting books, listened to podcasts, or even completed some copywriting courses. That’s a great first step, but actually taking on a project is a whole different experience. You’ll have to learn how to communicate with the clients, get all the information you need, draft, write, rewrite… Nothing can teach that better than actually doing it.
The second reason is getting a few pieces for your portfolio. If you want to have your own copywriting business instead of finding a full-time job, you’ll need a freelance writer website. That’s where potential clients can learn about you and decide whether or not they want to work with you.
Without seeing your work (and maybe even some testimonials), there’s very little chance you’ll be the one they go with.
6 steps to building a successful copywriting business
Once you feel confident enough in your skills and experience, it’s time to get started with launching your copywriting business. It can feel like a scary undertaking when you first think of it, but we broke it down into 6 steps to make it less overwhelming.
1. Outline your ideal copywriting client and job
The first thing you need to do is figure out what kind of copywriting jobs you want to do, and who your ideal clients are.
The first part could mean two things. You should either choose a niche or topic you want to write about, or a format to specialize in. To give you a better idea of that, here are two examples.
- Choosing a niche, you could go with fitness and wellness. That means you would only work for people and companies in these industries, writing about these topics specifically. Within that, you could write anything: landing pages, ad copies, social media posts… The list is endless.
- If you decide to specialize in a certain format, you would write for any and every niche, but mostly focus on those types of jobs. Let’s say you choose email marketing. You could then write automated email campaigns, newsletters, promo emails, and more for businesses in any industry. Food, finance, fashion, you name it.
Having a focus and knowing your ideal clientele is not obligatory, but will help your copywriting business in the long run. It can get you a reputation as an expert in your chosen field and help you write better, more targeted copy for your own materials.
2. Get the business-related aspects done
The next step would be getting all the official, business-related aspects of the process done.
This part of the blog post could easily have its own separate article, and each part is different from country to country, so we’re not going to go into too much detail. It’s always best to consult with a local lawyer and accountant, to make sure all your paperwork is in order and you didn’t forget anything important.
We still wanted to give you some pointers though, so here are a few official things you should get done for your new copywriting business:
- Find a good lawyer and accountant. Exactly because it differs so much from place to place, it’s important to find reliable professionals who can guide you through it all.
- Create a legal entity. This could mean creating an LLC or registering yourself as a solo entrepreneur. Check with your lawyer to see what would be the best option for you.
- Open a business bank account. It’s a little different from your personal account and you’ll need it for your taxes and accounting in the future. Which leads us to…
- Learn how to do your taxes and accounting, or at least what you need to collect and send to your accountant. You need to know from the get-go how to write your invoices, and when and how to get them for your expenses because those would be hard to supplement later.
- Have a template for the contacts with your future clients and check with your lawyer that it covers everything. This could include upfront payments, deadlines, deliverables, and more. Running into problematic clients is inevitable, so it’s best to have it all covered.
3. Create a website for your copywriting business
When your legal background is taken care of, it’s time to establish your online presence with your copywriter portfolio website. You can (and should!) have accounts for your business on social media platforms like LinkedIn too, but your website will be the main online hub for your business.
To create a stunning website for your powerful words, without spending hours upon hours trying to get it right, choose a website builder like Copyfolio. It was designed for writers and marketers to help them create portfolio websites quickly and easily.
With templates to start with, an array of sections to build, and palettes and presets to customize, you can have your website up and running within an hour. And if it’s the “writing about my projects” part that feels daunting, don’t worry, we’ve got you covered.
There are prompts and guiding questions on project pages, to help you write the ideal case study for each of your projects. You can find similar questions, or examples on other pages as well, so you always know what to write and where.
What to include on your copywriter website
Having a tool that makes it easy is great, but you still need to know what to put on your website. So let’s do a quick overview of that.
- A strong start with a short tagline and a photo of yourself. First impressions are everything, and people arriving at your site need to immediately know who you are and what you’re about.
- Samples of your previous copywriting work. As we mentioned earlier, potential clients will want to see your work to ensure you have the skills and expertise you advertise.
- A list and description of your services. There are so many things one can do within the realm of copywriting. Let people know which one of those you can be hired for. It’ll be good for your business, and also for your site’s SEO.
- Your contact information. If you convinced someone that you’re the best choice for their copywriting project, they’ll want to contact you. Make it easy for them by displaying your contact info at the bottom of each page, and adding a dedicated contact page to your menu.
4. Figure out the pricing of your copywriting services
You can list your freelance writer services on your website without displaying their prices (most people do so), but before you take any clients, you need to know how much you’re going to charge.
When it comes to pricing in a copywriting business, there are two ways to go about it: project-based or hourly pricing.
Project-based pricing means having a flat fee for certain types of projects and a description of what that includes.
For example, one type could be a 1000-word sales page for $X, including a discovery call and two rounds of revisions. That can be a starting point that you send to clients and it can be then adjusted based on their specific needs.
With hourly pricing, you charge based on the time you spend working on the project. This includes calls with the client, the actual copywriting, revisions, and everything else.
If you choose to go with this option, it’s important to communicate with the client how you measure it and how much time each project is expected to take. Make sure that they also know that it’s not fixed and could end up being more (or less in some cases) in the end.
How to calculate your pricing
Once you decide on a method, you’ll have to come up with actual numbers, which is the harder part. There are generally two ways how people do this.
The first one would be checking the market rates. Do a little research on what other freelancers and agencies charge for the same services in your area. If you can’t find that info on their website, you could even reach out to them as a potential client and ask for a quote.
After you’ve seen the prices of a couple different copywriting businesses, you can try to come up with yours based on that.
The other method works kind of backward. To start, you should come up with the number of how much you would like to earn in a week or month. Then break it down and calculate how much an hourly fee of that would be, considering the number of hours you’d like to work.
If you go with the project-based approach, estimate how many hours each project might take, and calculate the flat fee based on that.
5. Establish a copywriting business process
The next step would be to establish a business process, which is the process of finding, securing, and interacting with clients.
The step-by-step rundown
Writing out the details of each step of taking on a project will help streamline the process for you, saving you precious time in the long run. This way you can focus more on the work you love and waste less time on the frustrating admin work.
The step-by-step rundown of the business process could look something like this:
- A potential client finds your website and they contact you OR you reach out to people and pitch your services.
- Learn more about their needs via email or a call
- Write and send them a personalized quote for the project
- Agree on the details, then write and send over the contract
- Send the initial invoice once the contract is signed
- Schedule a call to get all the information you need to get started
- Complete the assignment (or the first block if it’s a bigger one) and send it over to the client for review
- Do one or two rounds of revisions if necessary
- Present and send over the final deliverables
- Send final invoice
- Ask for a testimonial and/or permission to showcase the project in your copywriting portfolio
To save time and effort, you could also make use of good invoice templates, especially if you are a freelancer.
This is not an exclusive list, nor is it applicable to every copywriting business. But hopefully, it’ll give you an idea of what a business process could look like.
Questions to answer for each step
To help you dig deeper, we also collected some examples of steps/questions you should elaborate on. While it’s good to also have a concise, birds-eye-view-version of your process, it can be really helpful to go into details for all of them. So you know exactly what you need to get done and pay attention to every step of the way.
- What happens when a potential copywriting client reaches out to you? Where do you store their data and how do you get back to them?
- How do you write your quotes? And how much time do you give clients to decide about it before the offer expires?
- What software do you use for writing, sending, and signing the contracts? And for invoicing?
- How long is your first discovery call with a client? What platform do you do it on?
- Where do you store or present the deliverables? And how long do you give the client to review it and give feedback?
- Anything you want to do after the project is done? Do you ask for a testimonial or permission to showcase the project in your portfolio?
6. Get out there and find clients
When you have your website set up, a business process in place, the legal details and pricing all figured out… It’s time to actually get out there and find clients. There are multiple ways to do so.
One would be starting a blog on your portfolio website and working on your site’s SEO so people find you. With this approach, you can establish yourself as an expert, increasing your credibility while bringing in potential clients.
The downside is that SEO takes a long time, and while it might be a less active method, creating content will still take a lot of time and effort.
If you create your portfolio website with Copyfolio, starting a blog and optimizing everything for search engines will be effortless. Set your SEO titles, descriptions, and URL slugs easily with our tips and host your blog on your site for no extra cost.
Another way would be networking. This includes reaching out to people in your current network, letting them know that you’re open for business —but also finding new connections.
You can join online groups and communities, or attend in-person events and conferences. Make sure to have your elevator pitch perfected, so you can sell yourself confidently while making a great impression.
Be active on social media
Being present in groups is one thing, but being active with your own page is a completely different story. Similar to a blog, social media gives you a chance to get found and position yourself as an expert or thought leader at the same time.
Choose a platform where your ideal customers are active, whether it is Instagram, Twitter, or Linkedin, and start posting.
Just make sure you keep your personal and professional accounts separate. You’ll catch the attention of potential clients with professional content, not snaps of your last weekend getaway.
Research and reach out
Last but not least, you can always look for people and businesses you would want as clients and reach out to them yourself.
Think back to your ideal client and industry we discussed earlier. Sit down, start researching, and write a list of them with contact information. And by that, we don’t mean the general info@ email address of the company. Try to find the person who could be in charge of hiring freelance writers, and get their email address or LinkedIn profile.
Once you have your list, write your outreach email or message. You can write a template, but try to personalize each of them a little bit. Hiring and marketing managers get dozens of similar messages, so a little attentiveness can go a long way.