From Side Hustle to Launching a Successful Business: Here’s Everything You Need to Know About Starting a Career in Copywriting 

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Whether you’re brand new to copywriting or you’ve been creating copy as a side-hustle, making it your full-time career is a different game. 

The reality is: there’s a whole lot of competition. And understandably so. 

Copywriting is – in my humble opinion – the best career out there. 

So it’s only natural that so many people want a piece of the pie. 

But that’s why you need to be prepared and understand how to make a career in copywriting work for you. 

This article takes you from the mindset of a side hustler to a fully-fledged copywriter. 

So, let’s dive in, shall we?

Why Is Copywriting Such a Great Career? 

Chances are, if you’re already a part-time copywriter and using copywriting to boost your monthly income, you know how rewarding it is to see your work have a measurable impact on a business owner’s brand. 

But there’s so much more that makes a career in copywriting one of the best paths out there.

  • Managing your own schedule
  • No limits on your income 
  • The ability to use your creativity every day
  • The range of projects means no two days are the same 
  • The chance to raise your own brand from conception to adulthood 
  • A better balance between work and life 

What You’ll Need to Be a Good Copywriter

Before we jump into the specifics, you need to assess whether a career in copywriting is the right route for you. 

To be a good copywriter, you’ll need:

  • An understanding of human psychology 
  • A solid comprehension of marketing as a whole and business strategy 
  • A good grasp of written language
  • A creative nature 
  • To be self disciplined 
  • To be able to take constructive criticism and act on feedback 
  • Copious ambition and drive 
  • Realistic expectations 
  • The ability to work alongside a designer or client, and be able to collaborate well
  • Adaptability 

As I said, being a copywriter means you’ll have one of the best roles in the world.

Yes, I’m biased. But I’m also honest.

And nothing worth having comes easy. 

So, you need to understand that, while the fundamentals of copywriting are pretty set in stone, the world of marketing and business is constantly evolving and shifting.

This means that, even the big league copywriters, won’t admit to knowing “everything” about copywriting. Because it changes. And therefore, you need to dedicate yourself to rolling with that change. 

How to Launch a Successful Copywriting Business

Now, it’s time to get into the nitty gritty:

To understand what makes a successful copywriting business, and show you how you can get 

there. 

Step 1: Acknowledge You’re No Longer “Just” A Freelancer 

First thing’s first: you are not “just” a freelancer.

When you take your copywriting career full-time, you are a business owner.

Just like your clients, you own a brand, meaning you’ll need to market it and run it just as your clients do. 

Copywriters fit into B2B (business to business), service-based categories. Unless you’re running a copywriting agency, you will own a personal brand. 

Making the mindset shift between associating yourself as a freelancer to a business owner will subconsciously adjust your expectations and behavior. 

A successful business (of any industry) needs a solid marketing strategy in place. This doesn’t change just because you help other businesses grow. 

Step 2: Pick a Niche

To niche or not to niche – that is the question.

And it’s a question that has circled the copywriting community for centuries. 

Should you choose a niche, or should you go generalist?

In my experience, I’ve found niching is absolutely crucial to success. 

Nowadays, there are so many specialists out there that generalists don’t stand a chance.

Somebody’s brand is seen as their baby. And, as yours grows, you’ll feel that way, too. So, taking a risk on something as personal as the words the brand uses to communicate with their ideal buyers? That’s not a safe risk.

Your clients are far more likely to invest if they feel you fit within their specialization.

You can niche in a few different ways:

It’s important to do your research before choosing a niche. It should be something you enjoy writing about, is profitable, and allows you growth. 

Step 3: Build a Portfolio 

If you haven’t already, it’s time to get building your portfolio. 

Someone once told me “people don’t care how many clients you’ve had. They care that you can write. And that you can write well.” 

To a certain extent, I agree. 

At the start of your copywriting career, you tend to get stuck in a vicious cycle. 

You can’t get clients without experience. And you can’t get experience without clients. 

So, what’s the answer?

How can you build a copywriting portfolio without clients?

There are a few ways to slide outside of the circle:

  • If any of your friends or family members own a business, ask if you can write a few pieces for them for a low price (or free) to build your portfolio 
  • Send cold-sales emails to small business owners (though I must admit that these don’t usually convert) 
  • Spec work

SPEC work is a fantastic way to extend your portfolio in the niche you’ve picked, because you’ve got the freedom to write for whatever brand you want in whatever format you want. However, you have to make sure that your piece is labeled as “SPEC work” on your portfolio. 

Step 4: Market Your Business

Any business needs marketing. Your copywriting business is no different. 

You’ll need to consider a content strategy that works for you and your ideal client. Social media, nowadays, is becoming harder and harder to ignore for businesses. And if you want to succeed, I’d massively recommend you make social media marketing a key player in your overall content strategy. 

You should also set up a website to host your copywriting portfolio and allow potential clients to get in touch with you. At the beginning, you don’t necessarily need an all-singing-all-dancing site. It can grow as you grow. 

Take a look at website platforms like WordPress, Wix, SquareSpace and/or GoDaddy. 

Step 5: Build Relationships 

As copywriters, we know how important the know-like-trust factor is. People don’t buy from robots. They buy from human beings that they relate to, understand, and trust. 

Don’t underestimate the power of networking. 

Nowadays, you no longer have to leave the comfort of your own home. 

There are hundreds of virtual networking events for business owners. And, you’ll even find networking events that’re more specific to your niche. 

But don’t attend networking events with the sole purpose of selling your services. 

Make the effort to get to know people, and learn about their business. 

My best clients come from in-depth conversations about how their brand was born. 

People – specifically business owners – need to know that you share their vision and want to contribute to their mission. 

Plus, if networking isn’t your game, then look no further than social media.

Whether you use Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, or any other social media platform, you’re able to speak directly to followers through direct messaging. 

The same applies, though. Don’t send a direct message with the intention of selling your services. There’s nothing worse than spammy, cold sales DMs. 

Step 6: Determine Your Process 

The only way to iron out any kinks in your creative process is to go through it a good few times.

So, pay close attention to the process you take from onboarding to offboarding. 

How are you starting your client’s experience with you? What can you do to enhance it? 

And how are you collecting feedback? Are all of your clients leaving testimonials? If not, what do you need to do to persuade them to leave you feedback? 

It’s worth putting your process under a microscope and analyzing the impact.

Remember, your copywriting business is just as much a business as anyone else’s. It doesn’t make a difference whether it’s aimed at other brands or not. 

So, customer service needs to be just as stellar for you as it does for anyone else. 

Step 7: Make Room For Reflection 

The way we progress in business is by understanding our strengths and fallbacks. 

Reflection is a key component of business success. 

So, you’ll need to reflect on your efforts. This applies both for a project and for your own business’s marketing strategy.

Keep an eye on metrics, and really listen to what your clients are saying. They could be giving you the key to unlock a whole new phase of your business, which could scale it far quicker than you anticipated. 

A Career In Copywriting: Is It Worth The Effort? 

When all’s said and done, copywriting may be the best career in the world, but it isn’t easy. 

That said, so long as you have your eyes on the prize and you’re dedicated to making it work, you’ll be just fine.

So, go forth and start your copywriting career off on the right foot. You’ve got this! 

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Liz Slyman

Over the past decade, Liz Slyman has worked as a copywriter and digital marketing executive for a multitude of companies from startups to mid-sized businesses to working as the VP of marketing for award-winning, platinum-selling artists and is now teaching copywriting courses. Leveraging an understanding of the nuance of language in marketing, Liz founded Amplihigher, a content marketing and copywriting agency, designed to connect consumers to companies in a way that results in next-level brand expansion.

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