With industry giants and mom-and-pop shops alike generating larger and larger percentages of their sales online, more opportunities are opening up for freelance copywriters. For many writers, freelancing is the dream: creating your own schedule, writing in your pajamas, ditching that awful rush-hour commute. Still, jumping into the freelance waters can be like plunging headfirst into the unknown.
If you’re considering a career as a freelance copywriter, keep reading for a primer on how to make yourself more marketable so you land the best assignments and position yourself for long-term success.
Copywriting Vs. Content Writing
A common misconception is that copywriting and content writing are different words for the same thing. They aren’t. The difference lies in the intent.
Content writing is meant to inform and entertain, engaging visitors so they spend more time interacting with a website and a brand in general. Copywriting, on the other hand, is designed for one reason – to sell – and may encompass a variety of projects.
Types of Copywriting Projects include:
- Website Landing pages
- Marketing emails and other correspondence
- Product descriptions
- Blog Posts
- Social media Posts
Why Companies Hire Freelance Copywriters
There are many reasons why companies hire freelance copywriters. Sometimes, they simply don’t generate enough work to sustain a full-time position, or high demand may have caused temporary overflow work, and often, in-house employees lack the necessary skills to create copy that can drive sales. Hiring a freelance copywriter can also be a more cost-effective option, and more and more, marketing teams are realizing the value a professional writer can bring to a business.
Websites that are littered with typos, misspellings, and poor grammar radiate unprofessionalism. Worse, are posts or product descriptions filled with jargon and confusing information, which can be a turnoff for a potential customer, and make even a loyal buyer lose trust in a brand. An experienced freelance copywriter brings professionalism to the delivery of a brand’s message.
In digital marketing, particularly for web-based brands, clarity is everything. Potential buyers don’t see the product in person. They can’t touch it or try it out. They aren’t talking face-to-face with a representative about a service. These companies rely completely on words and images to convey the value of their product or service. Freelance copywriters are wordsmiths who have the expertise to deliver a clear verbal picture of the brand, product, or service.
Ultimately, companies want results. Senior copywriters have years of experience behind them and can effectively and efficiently create engaging, error-free copy that’s designed to get results.
Making Yourself Marketable as a Freelance Copywriter
While prior copywriting experience is always desirable, there’s no must-have training for freelance copywriters. There are, however, certain things you can do to make yourself more marketable and increase your odds of receiving prime copywriting assignments:
- Hone your writing skills. First and foremost, freelance copywriters should be great writers. You should not only know the basics of spelling, grammar, and word usage, but be able to write high-quality copy that’s engaging, effective, and requires minimal editing.
- Develop the ability to work independently. Freelancers need to be self-starters. To meet the sometimes-strict deadlines required for the job, you’ll have to manage your time with minimal oversight.
- Learn to mimic style. Companies want consistency. A good copywriter can match a brand’s style to create seamless additions to preexisting content. For BJ Enoch, Director of Demand Generation at opendorse, the ability to mimic brand voice is one of three core needs he considers when hiring freelancers. Enoch explains, “I evaluate how well they were able to blend their writing into the overall brand voice and tone of the client.”
- Keep an online portfolio. Companies looking for freelancers like to see writing samples. By setting up a digital portfolio at a site such as Clippings.Me or Journo Portfolio you can give potential clients easy access to your work.
- Do your homework. Copywriting is a marketing tool and you should understand the concepts and terminology of the industry, including conversion, calls to action (CTA), and branding. A course in marketing may be a good investment in your own marketability.
- Know your SEO. Professional copywriters know how to optimize content for SEO, finding the right keywords – or working with keywords provided — and skillfully weaving them into the copy so that they sound natural. LogoMaker, an English-speaking company that hires freelancers to translate copy into 10 languages, only takes on writers with SEO experience. Audrey Strasenburgh, the company’s SEO Strategist, notes, “Our freelancers are all well-versed in search engine optimization, so they know not to translate verbatim. Doing so results in awkward non-English sentences.” After all, awkward is about the last thing companies want in their sales copy.
- Understand the relationship between copy and design. Design is an important part of digital marketing, and as a freelance copywriter, you’ll need to tailor your copy to work effectively with graphics, videos, and other design elements. It’s also important to consider how your content will be used. Copy designed for a company’s landing page, for instance, will look considerably different than copy meant for a blog post or marketing email.
- Know your process. You should be able to articulate your approach to content creation. BJ Enoch of opendorse comments, “I want to know what the writer’s process is for research, creation, approval, and edits. All of the successful engagements I’ve had with copywriters have shared one common theme; they all had a documented process for how they would approach research, initial drafts, rewrites, etc.”
- Be professional. Companies want to do business with professionals. Professionalism includes communicating clearly and often, meeting all deadlines, and always being courteous.
- Demonstrate your ability to get results. One thing Adam Hempenstall, the founder and CEO of Better Proposals, looks for is a writer’s track record. He explains, “We want landing page copy that converts so we are on the lookout for writers with solid track records. If a writer can show us the copy they’ve written and the results it achieved (conversion rates, how it beat someone else’s control), we are ready to hire them.”
The combination of these skills makes a copywriter marketable. Reuben Yonatan, Founder and CEO of GetVOIP, elaborates, “There is more to being a professional copywriter than simply a way with words. You need to deliver on time or ahead of schedule, and the copy should be flawless (at least error-wise).”
Finding Freelance Copywriting Jobs
Many companies, including major brands, hire freelance copywriters directly or through a freelance writing platform, and there are several ways to find jobs.
- Networking Sites. Business networking sites, such as LinkedIn, can be a fantastic resource for writers seeking freelance copywriting jobs. While your searchable profile page lets you include everything you need to demonstrate your experience to companies who may be looking for freelancers, you can also collect recommendations from companies you’ve worked with to build your reputation. You can also join relevant LinkedIn groups, which let you connect with other freelancers to share tips and tricks for finding the best jobs.
- Job Banks. Job listing sites, such as Indeed, include searchable lists of available assignments, including freelance, part time and contract positions, making it easy to find the types of positions you want. They also let you post resumes, to let potential employers find you.
- The Direct Approach. If you’ve done your research and have found clients you think are a potential fit for the services you’re offering, you can reach out to them directly with proposals. This can be particularly effective for small, local businesses that may not even know how they could benefit from hiring a freelance copywriter.
- Crowd Content. Through Crowd Content’s unique platform, writers have access to a variety of copywriting jobs. Unlike many freelance writing platforms, Crowd Content writers may advance to higher-paying assignments as they demonstrate their skills and reliability.
Beginning Your Career
Many freelance writers will tell you that copywriting is a challenging, competitive, and rewarding field. If you’re ready to embark on this exciting career, visit Crowd Content’s freelance writing jobs page to begin.