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Establishing yourself as a freelance copywriter
Becoming a freelance copywriter can be a hugely enjoyable way of earning money and of being your own boss.
But when you start out as a freelance copywriter, as with any business enterprise, very few people will have heard of your company. Especially if your company is likely to be a small scale undertaking, paying for advertising in the media may not be realistic. But there are a number of simple ways you can get your company up and running.
Write for free
The aim of most companies is to generate sales, turnover and profit. But in the early days you may be faced with the problem of being unable to obtain work without having a portfolio of previous articles. It may therefore be necessary to write some articles for free in order to build up this portfolio.
A good starting point is to do some writing on a voluntary basis. An organisation such as a sports club, local interest group, school/university magazine or charity may be only too grateful for assistance in this area. For example, the post of Press Officer in a local community sports club or other local interest group is usually a voluntary role.
Alternatively, write some articles and post them on a blog site or similar. Ideally, the articles will concern the topic (s) you wish to write about.
Either way, writing articles for free can help to convince potential clients that you can clearly and concisely explain technical concepts, that you have good written English, that you have good research skills and that you have a good grasp of the relevant business sectors.
If the subject matter is something you are genuinely passionate about, writing for free can still be a pleasure.
Get a website
Designing and hosting of a website does cost money. But you may find that you only need to get a few extra clients via the website in order to recoup these costs. Having a website also allows you to:
- Explain why you are passionate about writing
- Explain what you specialise in writing about, and what expertise you have in this area
- Post examples of your writing
- Post testimonials – potential clients will want to know that you have delivered quality work for others in the past, and a website is by far the best way of doing this
Ensure you keep the site updated. For example, if you get a good testimonial, and the client agrees to you using it on the site, then post it immediately.
Get some business cards printed
A set of professional looking business cards can be purchased very cheaply from a company that specialises in printing these. Ensure the card states your name, your company name, the fact that you are a freelance copywriter, any industries you specialise in and your contact details.
Once your cards have arrived, ensure you carry some at all times. Companies of all shapes and sizes may on occasion require copy to be written, and you never know when you might meet a potential client.
Think about potential clients
Think about companies who might welcome the services of a professional copywriter, and get in touch with them explaining what you can offer them. Your previous employers might be a good place to start. Companies might require all manner of copy to be written: web content, technical guides, press releases, blogs, newsletters etc.
Use freelance jobs sites
Identify a few good freelance jobs sites, and visit these every day if you can, as many potential clients will award freelance tasks within a few hours or days of posting them. Ensure you tailor each application to what the recruiter wants – don’t just send the same CV and covering letter every time.
Take a writing course
You might want to look at taking a writing course, delivered by a professional tutor. These may involve formal classroom-based teaching, or distance or online learning, so you can find a course that suits you.
Hopefully a writing course will improve the quality of your written English, help you become better at explaining complicated concepts clearly and concisely, and boost your self-confidence.
As with many areas of business, there are both good and bad writing courses. Ask for references and testimonials from previous students before you spend money on one of these courses.
Read, read, read …
Read as many examples of writing about your chosen fields as you can find, not so you can plagiarise it, but so you can get used to the writing style and structure that clients and editors want to see.