How to Start your Own Copywriting Business
Copywriting can seem like the ideal business to get into – after all there are very few overheads and you can do it any time of the night or day, all you need is a laptop or computer with a decent Internet connection and word processing software and you’re off. If you want to try your hand at being a professional writer, here are a few tips to get you started.
For brevity, we’ll assume you’ve done the necessary with setting up bank accounts and registering for tax. Once you’ve got the formalities out of the way, you need to work out how to build your business. If you have contacts from past employment, or anywhere else, use them shamelessly to network. Referrals and recommendations are worth more than adverts and self-promotion.
Website and Copywriting blog:
You’ll need a website so that you can showcase your work. If you don’t have any examples yet, start writing a blog. It’s really easy to get a free blog and website all in one, we recommend starting out with a WordPress site as they look very professional and Google loves them. Having a website with a blog attached makes it easy for you to add new content regularly, which in turn helps get you seen on search engines, which is what you need.
Free Copywriter Registrations
Add yourself to free listings sites – the top two are People per Hour and FreeIndex. FreeIndex is a completely free local directory (although there are added extras to pay for if you want them) and the best thing is that clients can rate you and leave a review, which you can import to your own website to showcase your happy customers. People can contact you and ask you for a quote, and you can display work examples.
People per Hour is a site that allows you to bid for projects, and also handles the money for you (although they do take a chunk of your income too.) Some of the copywriting projects are questionable and low paid but if you watch the site regularly there are some real gems on there which will get you started as a writer.
Another must for budding copywriters in LinkedIn. Again, it’s totally free (unless you want to upgrade to Premium for about £20 a month) and you can network, write posts and generally make yourself known. Join writing groups, follow companies you’d love to write for and talk about copywriting so that you get noticed.
So you’ve made a start – you’ve got your website and blog set up, you’ve listed yourself on some work and networking websites, and you’re ready to go – but there’s no money coming in yet…What’s next?
How do you make a start on making money from copywriting?
Network, Network, Network
People need to know about you, and the best way to get the word out is via social media. If you’ve linked up on LinkedIn, you should be able to post blog style updates to let people know you’re available, talk about any offers you’re thinking of running, and make general observations about the world of copywriting.
Our advice is to write as much as you can for your own blog, which you can link to on your LinkedIn profile, and also write occasional posts that are just for LinkedIn. Share them in the groups you join and generally show people how good your writing is, and that you know your stuff when it comes to copywriting.
It’s worth starting a Facebook Page in your business name and joining as many useful networking groups as you can. Find local business groups – they are full of people who might need help with their website copy, marketing materials or blogs.
Don’t go straight in there promoting your business though, doing that will probably get you banned. Start by chatting to people – if you see any questions about writing for websites, marketing straplines or blogs, whatever you want to write, get in there and give advice. Talk to people when they start the inevitable discussions about whether grammar and spelling are important in business.
Then, once they know and trust you, you can make them an offer – offer group members a discount on your services. It gets the money flowing and although it’s a bit of a ‘loss leader’ it also helps if you don’t have much in the way of work examples – you can use the work you’ve done at a discount to showcase your skills to other potential clients.
Other Social Media
Set up a Twitter account and make sure that all of your LinkedIn and blog posts are linked to from Twitter. Follow any companies that you would love to work for; work is often advertised on Twitter. It’s also worth following freelance workplace sites like People per Hour for useful job opportunities.
Eventually as you build up a network and create a portfolio, you’ll find it easier to get work. Set up a free portfolio of all your best work on Contently and share it on social media – it might catch the eye of someone you’d like to work for.
If you’ve started your own copywriting business, we’d love to hear your story! Comment below and share your start-up tips.