How would you like to make money copywriting? Ever wondered who writes the ‘blurbs’ in brochures, websites and direct mail shots that come through the door? Well someone does and they get paid well for it. It could be you. Welcome to the world of copywriting…
First things first, if you want to become a journalist or write a novel, copywriting is not the route for you.
However, it’s a great way to make money from your writing if you have a commercial sense. Not only that but you’ll gain experience as your writing will get better with practice and you’ll build a portfolio covering a range of topics.
Copywriting is writing the glowing words you find in catalogues, brochures, adverts and other printed – or online – materials.
Copywriting is needed for pretty much anything that needs to be sold. From food to fashion to farming, every advert or marketing campaign needs someone who has a way with words to make it sound appealing.
It’s a skilled form of writing and will require you to turn around a lot of copy, often in a short space of time. You might have over a dozen 500-word articles to produce in a matter of days.
Most clients and agencies will pay per article on a set rate, however, this is sometimes negotiable depending on the agency and client.
Nowadays people who are very good at online copywriting – particularly writing that gets readers to click on links – can command very high payments for their work.
Copywriting organisations all work in different ways, and in most cases the writers are at the bottom of a long chain.
Some companies are just a collection of freelancers all working remotely under one name, while others have in-house staff and also outsource work to a group of freelancers.
If you work as a freelance copywriter you’ll get a brief from your copywriting company. This is usually the word length of the article required, a given specific topic and keywords or phrases which will have been specifically selected as they promote the product.
You might be given a title to work from or have to create one yourself. You’ll also receive details about the style and tone of the article as well as any direction on different sections. However, each place works differently and sometimes you might not be given that much guidance.
Other people now get work directly from companies online. They have taught themselves how to write enticing copy for websites, they set up their own website to sell themselves and then people come to them.
If you put ‘learn copywriting’ into Google you will find loads of free and paid-for courses on how to do it. Start with the free ones, including the Youtube videos, join some forums and ask there which are the best paid-for ones.
There are loads of advertising agencies, content agencies and marketing agencies which take on copywriters all the time, not just in-house but as freelancers too. The most obvious route to get into copywriting might be to try and get some work experience with one of them.
The major UK ones are: Stratton Craig, Mediacom, Fountain Partnership, Sticky Content and ContentAmp. Once you’ve gained some experience you’ll be able to pitch yourself to copywriting organisations.
You could always take it upon yourself to learn a bit about the industry and what it’s like before jump into it by reading about it, doing courses and talking to other copywriters.
Freelance Copywriting by Diana Wimbs is a great handbook for learning the ropes, with lots of examples of various campaigns.
Join the online copywriting forums and once you have enough experience put yourself on sites like Freelancer.com and Peopleperhour.com.
Whilst there are often lots of copywriting jobs about, getting hold of one is not as simple as it seems. The competition is fierce and freelancers will often take all the work they can.
Not only that but companies will have a large pool of freelancers to pick and choose from as each writer will have their own expertise and writing style. This means you could easily be shelved if you’re not the right person for the job.
Just like with any job, you’ll need to have some knowledge or transferable skills in that field. If you don’t you might not meet the requirements for the role – so why not get trained?
The Institute of Copywriting runs a distance-learning course and loads of tips and hints on what you can expect from the course and copywriting as a career.
Consider building your own website to advertise yourself to prospective clients.
The internet is great for researching potential clients and networking with companies, such as PR and marketing agencies.
To start off with, contact digital and direct marketing agencies as they are more likely to have work for people who are newish to the game.
Make sure your profile is on Linkedin and that you’re promoting yourself through Facebook and Twitter as well.
It really does vary. Some copywriters charge by the word. Others charge by the hour, day or job. Some estimate, some give flat prices.
Day rates should start at around £250 a day but well-established writers can charge from £500 a day. Whilst this sounds fantastic, you have to remember it’s down to the speed and ability of your writing. If you’re being paid per article (which in some cases can be around £5 for 600–700 words) and it takes you over an hour to write each one, it might not be financially viable for you.
But if you feel you can bash out copy that you’re happy with and don’t have spend too much time researching, you could make some good cash.
You’ll need to consider how much copy – which your client will be happy with – you can produce in a certain time frame for it to be worthwhile and benefit you financially. There’s no point you slaving away on a beautifully-crafted article worthy of a literary award for a measly £5, but at the same time you’re only as good as your last article so you’ll need to maintain a high standard in order to keep the work coming in.
Also remember that you have the benefit of working from home, reducing your travel costs and giving you more flexibility and freedom so rates can be lower.
You don’t have to be trained or qualified, but it really helps to to have some qualifications get work. However, the biggest plus for you is to have experience.
You don’t necessarily need a qualification specifically in copywriting to secure a job, all you need is to be able to write coherently and with flair. For example, if you have an English or creative writing degree, that could work to your advantage.
Don’t forget that copywriting will also need to be done in a huge range of languages so even if you have a relevant degree from overseas, it could be useful to be able to write in another language.
If you do decide to take up some training or a course, it will cost you but you can also learn a lot by having someone else reading and reacting to your copy.
This can be a straightforward way of making good money from writing – if you have a way with words and you know what can tempt people.
You can write on a whole range of topics and different media. For example, you could become a copywriting cupid and get paid to write lonely hearts adverts for dating websites through specialist companies such as e-Cyrano.com. Or you could write for holiday brochures or websites.
You can earn some serious cash if this is a full-time job for you and you work efficiently. However, in the beginning you might not be up to scratch and it could be a hard slog to see any real returns.
But should you have another source of income and this is a part-time role, it could also be a nice little earner. If you do a good job, companies will keep coming back so eventually you could turn this into a full-time career.
Also remember in the beginning it will take an enormous effort to start up and establish a client base which you can depend on for regular work.
Beware of fake or US-based ‘freelance networks’ that either bombard you with spam or request subscription fees for useless, oversubscribed jobs.
Like most industries, this will have quiet periods and you might find there’s not a lot floating around at one time whilst some months you could take on too much. Find the right balance and make hay while the sun shines, as slack periods can last for a while.
If you’re still reading this and you think copywriting is the career for you, why not take a look at some of these contacts for more info?:
• Institute of Copywriting
• Advertising Association – the Association also runs copywriting courses
• Freelance UK – lots of information on becoming a copywriter and getting work
• Creativepool – Lists various jobs but often has a range of temporary and permanent content writer jobs with the rates listed as well