You need very little to get a freelance copywriting business off the ground.
In fact, you could start turning a profit in a few days or weeks with little more than…
- A laptop to do the work
- A slightly better understanding of the service than your ideal clients
- Some hard work and grit
I know it’s possible as I’ve grown a freelance copywriting business to the 6-figure level… Twice.
Here’s everything I learned when growing my own copywriting business.
The growing freelance copywriting opportunity
Take a look at the stats over the last few years and you’ll notice something interesting about freelancers and consultants.
In short, we’re on the rise. And it’s no surprise why…
- There’s an abundance of opportunities as 90% of companies depend on freelancers to help them hit their targets
- We earn more than 70% of workers in regular jobs
- Freelancers are more optimistic and happier than traditional workers
After a decade of being a freelance copywriter, I’ve spoken to countless freelancers in all disciplines.
And I struggle to think of any who thought making the jump to setting up their own business was a mistake.
If you’re keen to seize control of your career and build something for yourself, read on.
Before we look at the tools and processes, let’s look at the main topic of this article. Growing a 6-figure freelance copywriting business.
What is Copywriting (and why should you offer it as a service)?
Copywriting is writing with the specific intent of getting the reader to take an action.
Most people reduce the action down to the simple “buy”. Which is a half truth. There are many different actions a user needs to take before they’re ready to buy.
Take a look below at Euegne Schwartz’s Stages of Awareness.
The customer who is unaware isn’t going to be ready to buy.
They need information that will explain the problem to them. And the action you want that user to take is to click a button that reads “learn more”.
The one who is most aware will only need to be served a “buy now” offer.
Your job as a copywriter is to answer the questions the user has right now and serve them the right action to move them to the next stage of awareness.
Here’s the thing though. You can’t cover it all.
The best freelance copywriters, the ones running 6-figure freelance copywriting businesses, focus on one stage of awareness.
They could be…
- Running content marketing campaigns to introduce a brand to more people.
- Creating landing pages to turn that interest into leads.
- Writing interesting emails to nurture leads and get them ready to purchase.
- Crafting highly optimised sales pages to obliterate last minute objections and secure the sale.
They become masters of that kind of copywriting and build their service around getting a specific result.
The result of moving someone to the next stage of awareness. They’re not a general writer, but a specialist. Which is why they can charge so much.
It doesn’t take much to become better than 90% of the population at copywriting.
You just need to know what to study and what to practice (fortunately there are lots of great guides on copywriting exercises).
If you can put in the time to become better than 90% of people, there’s an abundance of work out there. Work that can pay extremely well.
Here’s the thing though. That copywriting training and education, it never stops.
I’ve been doing this 10 years and I’m still amazed at how much I can (and need to) learn every single week.
The best copywriters are always learning, even when at the top of their game.
This guide, if followed, is the start of your ongoing copywriting training.
It will have you landing the kind of jobs you want and get out of the low paying bidding site jobs.
This is the best guide to becoming a 6-figure freelance copywriter.
Chapter 0 – Find your highest profit niche
A lot of freelance advice is centred around the idea of “most profitable niches”.
I get it, people only want to put the effort in for the big bucks.
But looking at an arbitrary list of “most profitable niches” isn’t going to help you.
Finance will come top of the “most profitable copywriting niche” list.
But if you have no interest, experience, or even a desire to learn about finance you’ll never make any money there.
The most profitable niche is unique to you. While the process I’ve devised is simple, it requires detailed explanation so this isn’t really the article to go into it.
Instead, I’ll link to the below piece which explains, in detail, the process you’ll need to find your highest profit freelance writing niche.
With your niche identified, let’s move on.
Chapter 1 – Create a professional online presence for your business and get your first piece of content created
First up, we’re gonna create a highly professional freelance copywriter website for your business.
I’ll show you how to build a professional website that can actively bring you clients and work as an asset for your growing business.
How to set up a professional freelance website
You don’t need a website to land clients, but having one makes the whole process so much easier and, if done well, will passively attract better business to you.
You’ve gotta be findable on Google because…
- 81% of people search Google before making a purchase
- 57% of marketers say that content on their site attracts more leads than any other form of marketing
A professional copywriter’s website will:
- Get you to rank in Google and reach new people passively.
- Show off your portfolio (the right way).
- Establish you as an authority and create leads/clients.
Here’s what you need to do to create a website like that of your own.
Choosing a domain name and hosting for your freelancer website
The easiest way to get your website up and running is to use WordPress as your content management system (CMS).
Wix, Weebly, SquareSpace and the others like them are a little easier to set up, however, they fall short in terms of customisation and ability to rank in Google.
First, we need to choose a domain name (what people type into their internet address bar) and get it hosted (so it’s live on the web).
For this, I recommend using HostGator.
I recommend using it because…
- It’s cheap (with the button below you can get set up for as little as $2.75 / month)
- They have 99.9% uptime (which means their sites never go down)
- They have 24/7 live chat support service
- High-end, fast servers (to help your site rank better)
- Assistance with site migration
- One-click WordPress install (this’ll be important later)
- Easy access to C-Panel (for all your site’s back-end organisation)
- Nearly unlimited hosting
- And of course, you can get great discounts with the right promotion
Step 1 to your freelance website – Choose your Hostgator Hosting plan
Head to HostGator and you’ll see the below. Click on ‘get started now’.
After clicking you’ll be taken to a page that looks like the below. If you’re only registering one website then the hatchling plan should be perfectly adequate.
You’ll now be faced with a long page that requires you to fill in some information. You’ll need to first focus on picking your domain name.
Step 2 to creating a freelancer website – Choose your domain name
When you’re selecting this, you want to keep it simple and easy to verbalise.
A good option is to go for some variant of your name. Those domains have a good degree of flexibility to them and can be used to promote all kinds of services.
If your name isn’t a viable option, then choose something that’s…
- Easy to memorise
- Can be quickly explained
- Have simple (or simplified) spelling
- Don’t use weird characters (like the hyphens in have-a-word.com…)
I always like to think of it in terms of “how easy would this be to explain on a podcast and actually get people to type it into their browser”.
If it’s too hard to understand in a 5-second explanation, you need to simplify it.
Also, stay away from names tied directly to the industry you want to work in. Reason being you’re probably going to change niches as time goes by.
If you get a site like “AutoCopywriter.com”, but later transition out of the auto industry, you’re out of luck and will have to do this whole thing again.
So, keep it short, to the point, and focused on you and/or your service.
You’ll also need to pick a domain extension. That’s the .com after the name.
Nowadays, it can be difficult to get the .com extension. However, there are other options. Here’s a rundown of how different extensions are perceived by readers.
When you’ve got something you think could work, check within the HostGator signup page to see if it’s free.
You’ll see an area at the top where you can type in the name and choose between the .com suffixes. Next to them will be the price of registering (usually ~$10).
Once you’ve settled on something you’re happy with, move on and fill out the rest of the information on the page.
Pause when you get to the optional extras.
Step 3 of setting up your freelancer website – Choose your optional extras
As you fill out your information you’ll see a section that looks like the below.
You’ll note 2 of them are pre-selected.
You don’t need any of these as a newbie. You get a free SSL certificate with the site and the rest aren’t needed for new copywriter sites.
Uncheck all of these options, fill in your details and complete the registration.
Congratulations. you’re now the proud owner of your own professional freelance copywriter website.
Installing WordPress on your new freelance website
WordPress is your CMS – content management system. Without it, there’s no way for you to record and display your content.
Head to (and bookmark) your c-panel screen by typing www.[yourdomain].com/cpanel into your browser.
C-panel is basically the back end organisation of your website. Log in with the details you used when registering to see the below.
Scroll down the ‘Popular Links’ section to click on the ‘WordPress install’ button.
Wait until it loads and click on ‘Install Now’.
Install WordPress on the site you registered and make sure https:// is selected.
The only thing you might want to change here are the admin email address, username, and password.
Follow the instructions and you’ll have your own freelance copywriter WordPress website up and running in minutes.
Once that’s done type the below into your URL bar and you’ll be taken to the WordPress dashboard where you can get started writing.
Selecting a professional-looking theme
WordPress comes with some free themes. However, we’re not building a business for it to look like everyone else’s, right?
You need something that stands out and bolsters your professionalism.
They’re very well coded (they load fast), offer great flexibility, are mobile optimised (which is a HUGE deal), and I get a discount as a long-time returning customer.
You can pick up the Genesis Framework and a theme for around the $50 – $70 mark as a one-time payment. I’d highly recommend them as they’re not only great, but single payments are always a good thing over subscription offers.
However, I know a lot of people like using Elementor to design their sites. It’s a slightly different approach to doing things though.
Elementor works on a freemium model. You get a limited set of features on the free plan. If you want to upgrade to get all the features, it’s a minimum of ~$50 per year.
It does have slightly more functionality. You can create pages for your needs, but there’s the hassle of actually building things from scratch and making sure all of your colour schemes, design choices etc are consistent across the site.
What you go with is up to you. These are, however, the only 2 I’d recommend from my personal use for newbies.
I’ll offer a quick breakdown on each and who I think they’re best for below.
Elementor vs StudioPress Genesis Themes for freelance copywriter websites
Below is a breakdown of the key areas of each service.
I’ve highlighted the entry that is, in my opinion, the better choice for each issue green.
What this really comes down to is what you want to spend your time on.
If you just want something that works and has minimal personalisation options allowing you to focus on the copywriting, go with Genesis themes.
If you want something that is fully customisable and spending time perfecting your design doesn’t put you off, I’d recommend Elementor.
Below are basic guides on getting each one set up. Let’s start with Genesis.
Using a StudioPress Genesis theme setup
Head to the Genesis theme page which you can find here.
You’re looking for a theme you would like to have as your site, and one that would fit well for a professional freelance copywriter business.
The cool thing about StudioPress themes is you can get a detailed demo of what they look like when they’re installed.
When you’ve found the theme you like, follow the steps to purchase it.
When purchased, you’ll be able to log into your StudioPress dashboard.
Click the little blue download square to download a .Zip file of the theme and the Genesis framework.
Then head back to your WordPress dashboard and log in. Click on themes in the left-hand nav bar under “appearance”.
Then, at the top, click “Add New”.
Then simply upload the two .Zip files you downloaded.
Once you’ve uploaded them, you’ll be able to choose it as your active theme.
You can then click on Themes > Customise to bring up the live page and make edits in real-time. Which makes things a lot easier.
That’s how to set up the Genesis themes from StudioPress.
However, if you don’t want to use them, then I’d recommend Elementor.
Using an Elementor theme setup
First up, you’ve got to head to the Elementor site which you can do by clicking here. On that page, you’ll see a “Get Started” button.
On the next page you’re asked if you have a WordPress site, which you do. So click the right option.
You’ll then be asked to add in your website. Use the URL you recently purchased from HostGator.
Click the check for WordPress button when that’s done and you should see a page like this.
That will load Elementor’s plugin on the site you entered. On that page, simply look for the “Install Now” button in the bottom right.
Then click “Activate Plugin”.
You’re then given a quick welcome video and a big ol’ button asking if you want to create your first page.
The create your first-page option takes you to a page where you drag and drop elements onto the page to create something that best represents your brand.
Elementor works on a Freemium model. Meaning you can get access and limited use for free. But if you want the full customisation available, it’ll run you $49 per year.
With that $49, you’ll be able to…
- Use their drag and drop builder to build the website to your specifications
- Get access to tonnes of templates to get a real professional-looking site up and running in no time
- Customise and improve your site over time as your business grows
- Add simple popups to your design and content for better lead gen
And a tonne of other cool little additions.
You’ll eventually need individual tools that specialise in each and every one of these tasks, but for newbies, Elementor is a great catch-all solution for you.
If you want to give it a try, you can sign up for a free account below.
Writing your first piece of “pillar content”
Whatever service you offer in your freelance copywriter business, you need some form of example to show people you’re actually capable of doing the job.
This is where “pillar content” comes in.
Pillar content is basically one piece of content that is an in-depth explanation or breakdown of something people are actively searching for.
You need this piece of content to show potential employers that you’re good at your service, but it also needs to show you can solve their problem.
In short, this pillar piece of content needs to be…
- Focused on a painful problem your ideal customer or client faces
- Outline a potential solution to that problem
- Be a great example of what you’re capable of
If you can hit those three criteria and promote your content in the right places, you’re going to find clients who naturally want to hire you.
Which is the key to growing a 6-figure freelance copywriting business.
Finding your content’s sweet spot isn’t easy if you don’t have the right tools.
You could research trending topics and major issues on sites like…
- Facebook Groups
I would encourage you to build habits to check these areas regularly anyway, but it can take a long time to find the common traits between each of these different.
Especially when you’re starting out and unsure what it is you should be looking for.
Here’s what I’d recommend doing to quickly find a great content idea that’s going to help you stand out from the growing crowd of work-from-home copywriters.
Step 1 – Identify the market you want to work with and the service you’ll offer
OK, so the first thing you need to do is identify who it is you want to work with.
I see a lot of freelancers get stuck at this point, which is completely unnecessary.
You see, the copywriting niche you choose to work with today is not necessarily the freelance niche you’re gonna end up retiring from.
In my decade of freelancing I’ve worked across so many niches I can’t remember them all. Here’s a shortlist of niches that have paid me to write copy…
- Software as a service
- Olympic level sports training
- Adult entertainment
You need a freelance writing niche to give you direction and help you get started.
However, things will change as your experience grows and your interests develop.
I’m never targeting more than 2-3 different niches at any one time. And, generally speaking, I only really double down on one niche at a time to get quick results.
Also, I only ever sell one copywriting service so I can sort out my processes.
If you’re trying to write content, write a sales page, and write FB ads all at once, you’ll end up doing a poor version of everything.
But if you focus on one, you can quickly build a strong system your clients will love.
So that’s what I recommend you do.
Target one specific copywriting niche and offer a single service.
Get your first few thousand dollars and then make a more informed judgement call whether this is something you want to stick with.
The process to finding that profitable copywriting niche is super simple as well. (here’s a full article on the process I’ve used for years).
All you need to do is find the overlap between 3 distinct areas.
- Are you interested in the topic? If not, you’re gonna find it difficult to write about it every day.
- Are you experienced in the topic? Do you have the minimum equivalent of 2 books or more of knowledge?
- Is there a market for it? If people are already getting paid in that market, then there’s a good chance you can be too.
Once again, you’re just looking for a starting direction here. Not the perfect “I’m gonna work in this forever” type niche.
By choosing something and making a start you’ll learn more in 48 hours than the wannabe who deliberates for weeks and never takes action.
Done is better than perfect.
Once you’ve got a potential writing niche. Choose your copywriting service.
If you’re brand new to writing and you’re not sure what king of deliverable you want to focus on, start immediately with blog writing.
There’s an abundance of work and there’s a low barrier to entry.
You can quickly make your first $1000 as a blog writer, create a process to earn more, then re-evaluate what it is you want to work on when the money’s coming in.
What you want to do is put the niche you’re targeting and the service you offer together to help you stand out.
There are surprisingly few people who actually take action and refine what it is they offer and so they never stand out.
But by knowing the two things above (freelance niche and copywriting service), you can easily stand out.
For example, you might be a…
- Content marketer for SaaS brands
- Case study writer for tech companies
- Facebook ad writer for restaurateurs
One thing you’ll notice is that I didn’t use the term “freelance” in any of the above.
Because a lot of people view it as a low-value service provider.
A content marketer is seen as more professional, and thus worth more money, than a freelance writer by many.
Having that level of specificity will not only help you stand out, but will help you with your pitching going forward.
I mean, check out this search below for a Case study writer for SaaS brands.
They’re all writers, and some even mention SaaS. But only one has case study in their title as well.
If I’m searching specifically for a case study writer, she’d be the first person I reach out to.
Cause here’s the truth. No one wants a generalist for their business. Everyone wants the specialist.
Identifying your niche and service is key to being seen as a specialist and charging specialist fees.
Step 2 – Find the biggest content opportunities within that market with SEMrush’s free trial
Once you know the niche and service, you need to figure out what to write about.
All we’re trying to do here is create one pillar piece of content.
In time, you’ll build out supporting pieces of content around that pillar to help you rank better. But today, we’re just gonna get going with a single, high impact topic.
The best way to find out what you should be writing about is with a tool created specifically to find great content ideas. And we’re gonna be using SEMrush.
It’s one of the best tools out there for content marketing because it also allows you to pull in data from paid advertising that’s live on the web, and you can get this done with their free 7 day trial.
Finding your first high-impact piece of pillar content
To reiterate what I said before, don’t write something you think is interesting.
A lot of freelancers write content like “My writing process” which is great if you’re targeting other writers. But this isn’t going to appeal to your clients.
Your clients are going to worry about things that impact their bottom line. All this takes is a slight reframe in many cases.
For example, a generic piece on “My writing process” could be switched to something like…
“The content writing system that’s helped BRAND X double their content output ”.
It’s still, in effect, the same piece. But the angle is slightly different. It’s more focused on the client and the goals they want to increase.
When you’re following these steps, you want to look for things that…
- Can be tied back to a solid business KPI.
- Are specific to your industry, but generic enough to be felt by the majority of brands in that industry.
- Are on a topic where you can create something actionable.
You’re gonna first want to head to SEMrush and sign up for the free 7-day trial.
Log in and find the “Content Marketing” > “Topic Research” tab on the left.
That’ll bring up a screen where you can search for particular topics or competitor.
If you have a competitor in mind, someone who is doing the work you’re doing and you KNOW to be generating a lot of traffic, use their site as a starting point.
If you don’t have that, go for the topic.
In this example, I’m still running with the concept of a content marketer for SaaS.
So I might search for SaaS content marketing.
On the next screen, be sure to hit the below two highlighted options.
- Click the explorer view to get a simple run down of the top content ideas
- Click the “trending topics first” to ensure the best ideas are pushed to the top
What we’re looking for here are topics and ideas that are a combination of 2 or more of the below…
- Out of date (above you’ll see a topic titled “The state of SaaS marketing 2017”)
- Are tied to a key business metric like revenue, leads, reach, views etc
- Are actionable (you want the reader to go away and be able to action your advice, it helps establish you as an authority rather than a “journalist”)
- Specific – X ways to do Y isn’t compelling enough. Nowhere near as compelling as How X achieved Y through Z
- Simple – or at least you make it appear simple. True mastery is demonstrated in being able to explain a complex idea simply
In the above example, a few of the ideas that stick out are…
- How to Market to Customers When The Free Trial is Over
- How to Design a Free Trial Marketing Strategy that Converts
- How to Increase Free Trial Signups: 17 Proven Strategies
Here’s why I picked them.
“How to market to customers when the free trial is over”
“How to design a free trial marketing strategy that converts”
These are directly tied to a SaaS company’s needs of increasing free trial to paid user conversions.
If you can figure out a way to help more brands retain more of the free trial users and get them on a paid plan, you’ll get a lot of interested SaaS owners.
How could it be improved?
To improve this, I’d make it simpler and more specific.
Step-by-step guides are great for this because you’re basically saying “I know how to do this so well that I can teach you in a blog post”.
So something like – “The 3 step content strategy that helps SaaS brands convert more free trial users”.
It’s on the same topic, but is simpler and a great demonstration of expertise.
“How to increase free trial signups: 17 proven strategies”
This is the kind of content I hate. It’s super high level and will be written by someone who is literally pulling 17 ideas together into a list.
The information in it will be too high-level to be actionable and won’t identify the writer as a grade-A service provider. The good news for us is, it’s easy to beat.
How could it be improved?
I would jump into this article and look at the 17 strategies. I would then find one I thought I could do well and figure out a detailed process of actioning it.
Then I would document that process and write something like…
“The 5-step content promo approach that lifts free trial conversion by up to 42%”
You obviously need a real statistic to make the claim, but you get the idea.
We’re not trying to produce generic content any old freelancer who’s writing for $5 could.
We’re trying to show we know our stuff and can provide real results.
Spend a few hours trawling the results to find a handful of recurring ideas that you could write something specific, detailed, and actionable on.
If you’re struggling, scroll back to the top of the page and click the “Cards” option to see the below – also make sure to keep trending subtopics highlighted.
This will break down the results by subtopic.
If there’s a particular subtopic you’d prefer to focus on, you can do it on that.
For example, if you really want to help people improve their free trial conversion rate, you can click on that card.
Let’s take free trials as an example again. If you click on the card you’ll see a detailed read out where you’ll find 4 pieces of information.
- An overview of the overall monthly volume of searches, the difficulty, and efficiency (the perfect ideas have high traffic and low difficulty)
- The top headlines for that topic
- The most popular questions around the topic (which you can filter by how, what, why etc.
- Related searches if you want to get more specific
Use the questions to figure out what people are asking, and then the headlines to see what kind of content people are producing.,
Find a question that’s popular but hasn’t had a proper, actionable response written about it and run with it.
Spend an hour or two finding something that has potential.
Don’t overthink this.
Again, done is better than perfect.
All you’re really looking to find is a question your audience is asking that you can answer with a specific, actionable piece.
And that you can help them improve through your copywriting skills.
Once you have something you think could work, move on to the next step and start writing.
Step 3 – Write your piece of content
Now you know what to write to attract your ideal copywriting clients, write it.
Here are two points for writing this content. Points I’ve picked up over ~10 years and hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of words both written and edited.
- Done is better than perfect. On your own site you can improve, amend, and edit any piece. Hitting publish is more important than it being perfect.
- You won’t be happy with it. I’ve never published a piece I was 100% happy with. There’s always something to improve. Still, hit publish now.
In addition, there are a few things you’ll want to follow when actually writing.
Use a tried-and-tested copywriting template
Most of the best articles online use one of a handful of formulae or structures.
The reason people use structures is because they’re proven to work. k.
A lot of very good copywriters have spent years devising these high-performing templates. You’d be a fool to ignore their advice and expertise.
Create multiple headlines
And again, use tried and tested headline formulas.
I’ve seen the best results and growth in my freelance copywriting businesses when I use templates I know work.
There are tonnes of headline formula you could use. However, below are 3 of the most effective when it comes to blog content.
How to [ACHIEVE GOAL] by [DOING UNUSUAL THING] without [PAIN/TROUBLE]
E.g. How I generated $100,000 with a single blog post and ZERO promotion
The best [THING] to do X for Y
E.g. The best emails to get copywriting clients for new freelancers
The fastest way to do X… [UNUSUAL THING / QUALIFIER]
E.g. The fastest way to get freelance clients… it’s email!
Short sentences, short paragraphs
Keep sentences and paragraphs short. No one reads text walls.
It’s off-putting and difficult to scan – which is how most people read online.
Use sub-heads to organise content
Subheads manage the flow of your content and make it easier to scan.
Well optimised subheads can make or break a long-form piece of content.
Write without thinking
Your first draft is supposed to be shitty. It’s just the way it is.
So don’t try and go back after each sentence and edit it to perfection.
Instead, sit down and start writing. Let all of your thoughts and opinions flow through the outline you’ve started with.
That means ignoring typos, issues in the flow, and overlooking poor word choice.
Step 1 to writing well is writing poorly.
Just get what you want to say on the page. Then, walk away for 24 hours or overnight.
Use Google Docs for drafts and editing
I’ve yet to find a better program for writing and collaboration.
The editing features for a team on Google Docs are the best around. It’s a completely free tool. And it integrates with a tool we’ll be using for editing.
The article you’re reading now was written in Google Docs, as were all of my sales letters, blog posts, planning and more.
Step 4 – Edit your piece of content
After you’ve given your eyes a break, it’s time to edit.
Good copywriting isn’t written. It’s assembled and then polished through editing.
Editing is just as – if not more – important as writing.
Know that editing is not a case of running through your content 1 time and amending the odd typo. Not if you want it to be good that is.
The best copy editors take multiple runs at their copy. Here’s how I do things.
Run through #1 is to check for flow and consistency issues.
You’re looking to see if the argument and opinion you make actually makes sense.
Run through #2 is your spelling and grammar run through.
This is the one I struggle with most as I have chunky fingers and I write quickly. So my writing is full of typos.
Whilst I’m a pretty good proofreader after having worked as Head of Content and Chief Copywriter for several brands – something always slips through the cracks.
To help minimise basic mistakes that could otherwise jeopardise how my readers view me, I use Grammarly (and I’d recommend you do too).
I have it running as a Chrome extension all the time. And as I do most of my writing in Google Docs, it can check my writing as I’m writing it.
Even on the free account Grammarly will pick up things like basic spelling errors.
However, if you’re a serious writer, you’ll wanna consider the paid version of Grammarly as it covers so much more. Grammarly Premium also helps you with…
- Clarity-focused sentence rewrites
- Tone adjustments
- Plagiarism detection
- Word choice
- Formality level
- Additional advanced suggestions
If you’re writing anything for your website – which you will be – you should definitely consider Grammarly. It is a lifesaver.
Plus, you get some cool readouts every month on your writing.
Give Grammarly a try now and see how much it’ll improve your writing.
Run through #3 is fact-checking.
Any stats you’ve included, studies you’ve cited, or claims you’ve made need to be backed up and guaranteed as correct.
Your final run through should be making sure everything that needs to be backed up with studies has a working link to an accurate, recent study attached.
Once you’ve done that, you’ve got everything you need in terms of the copy.
But if you really wanna make things pop, you’ll need some design help.
Making your writing pop with professional-level design
Part of making money online is focusing on the things you’re best at and minimising time spent on actions that aren’t your strength.
As a copywriter, that means writing copy.
I’m not a designer. And despite my attempts at learning basic tricks in programs including Photoshop, it’s just not a smart use of my time.
Which is a shame because the right image can take good copy and make it great.
Look at any of the copywriters out there who are running 6-figure+ businesses and you’ll see they all have great design.
For a good deal of my career I had to resort to either hiring a good designer for my images or trying my best and wasting tonnes of time.
Thankfully, that’s no longer an issue because of Canva.
Canva is another freemium tool that allows you to easily create high-quality designs by simply dragging and dropping great stock assets.
However, if you’re designing more than a handful of images every month, the $10/ month fee will save you money in the long run.
Every image in this piece that’s not a screen shot was created in Canva.
Here’s a quick rundown of what it is you should be looking to create for your copy (all of these were created in Canva).
Image type #1 – Your featured/cover image
This is a big one. You’ll need an image that reinforces the claim in your headline.
Don’t say exactly what’s in your headline, use a supporting statement.
This is the image that, when you share your copy on social and in other areas, will automatically be pulled. So make sure it grabs attention.
Image type #2 – Simplification images
If there’s a complex key point in your article, ask if creating a simple image around it would help people understand.
For example, telling people how to space their content is difficult to communicate properly.
But the right image – like the one below – can make that concept super easy to understand.
Image type #3 – Shareable quotes
You want people to share your content when they read it. One of the easiest ways to boost shares is to pull shareable quotes or thoughts from your content.
This just makes it easy for people to share things. And making actions easy to take, increases the chance they’re taken.
The number of images depends on the length of your content.
When you scroll through your article, the places an image is needed will become apparent.
And creating awesome images to help your copy pop is incredibly easy in Canva.
Publishing your newly finished blog piece
Once everything is completed and you’re happy with your article, you’re gonna want to publish it through WordPress.
The first thing you’ll want to do is install the Yoast SEO plugin.
Log in to WordPress and look for “Plugins” in the left-hand navbar. Hover over it then click on “Add New”.
This will open up the in-built plugin page.
Use the search bar in the top right and type in Yoast SEO.
Hit return to perform the search and you’ll see the below.
The first result should be the plugin you need.
Click the install now button and, once it’s installed, hit it again to “activate”.
Next up, upload your article. Head to “Posts > Add new” in the left and navbar.
That will open up the new post page.
Add the headline.Then, copy and paste the rest of your article from Google Docs to the body copy section.
On the right-hand side you’ll see two top-level options of “Block” and “Document”.
Choose Document, and scroll down until you see “Permalink”. For the permalink, choose a short, 2-3 word summary of what you’re writing about.
For example, this article is on setting up a freelance copywriting business.
So I might go with “start-copywriting-business”. That would mean the domain for the article would be http://growthmodels.co/start-copywriting-business.
Keeping it short and very closely related to the topic will help it rank better.
Under that you’ll see the “featured image” box. Click “select image” and upload the image you created in Canva.
Then scroll down to the bottom to the Yoast SEO box.
The two things you want to add are the focus keyphrase and the meta description.
The focus keyphrase is what Yoast will use to understand whether this piece of content might rank for that keyword.
You want to pop your top level keyword in there. So for this article, that might be “start freelance business”.
It’s just an indicator though and not 100% accurate. However, I recommend following the advice it gives on how to get your article to rank better.
The meta description will shows up under the headline in Google. Repeat the keyword at least once and offer a short summary of what the article covers.
Once you’ve followed all of Yoast’s advice, it’s time to hit publish.
Congrats. You now have a website with a high-value piece of content on it.
That means you can now claim yourself as an amateur freelance copywriter.
But let’s get you paid so you can become a pro and take the first step to growing a 6-figure freelance copywriting business.
Chapter 2 – Building your outbound client generation machine
When you’ve got your site up and running, you’re gonna need to start looking at the business side of… well… your copywriting business.
While having a site is key to landing clients, you’re not gonna be ranking near the top of Google anytime soon.
If you want short term, fast results, this is what you need to do.
You need an outreach system to get your offer in front of your ideal clients ASAP.
And the best way to do that, is with cold email outreach.
This is one of the best ways to quickly inject new revenue into your business.
And it still works today for complete newbies and seasoned pros alike. In fact, I recently tested how well this works by making myself appear as a newbie writer.
After following everything in this next section I was able to generate $10,587 in income with 2 weeks of effort.
Much of that was monthly recurring income as well so, theoretically, I hit the 6-figure freelance copywriting level within 2 weeks.
And I’m going to show you exactly how I did it.
Pricing your service for maximum profit
Step 1 to building a profitable outbound engine is to know what you’re selling.
Thanks to steps earlier on in this piece, you should know…
- The niche you’re targeting
- The deliverable you’re going to offer
That gives you your elevator pitch – like “I’m a content marketer for SaaS brands”.
That’s already put you above 90% of the freelance copywriters out there.
Now, we need to understand what you’re selling and your fee.
I’ve got a full, detailed explanation on how to figure out how much you should charge here. However, here I’m gonna offer a very quick overview of the steps.
Step 1 is to turn your generic elevator pitch into something that’s related to actual business metrics like revenue.
Again, I’m running with the content marketer idea here as blog writing is the easiest area to get started in.
Let’s imagine you’re a content marketer for SaaS brands as mentioned above.
To figure out what it is you offer, we need to ask Why 3 times. This will tell you what you need to know about your clients and how you can help them.
We’re gonna start with why should your ideal clients hire you?
In terms of blog writing, it’s to help them with the updates on their blog, right?
Ok, so why do they need regular updates on their blog?
Generally it’s to rank better and increase their reach and impact, right?
Good. But why do they need to increase rankings, reach and impact?
So that they attract more people who might become customers.
Ding ding ding.
They’re not paying for words on a page, but for the results those words drive.
Ask yourself why someone needs your service 3 times and you’ll usually find the actual reason they’ll open their wallets.
Now you need to ask how you’re going to help people achieve that end goal with your copy.
In the case of a content marketer, that could be an article and an associated lead magnet to get people who read the article to sign up for an email list.
You now have the makings of a service that’s actually going to provide a real business benefit to your clients.
You could attempt to sell that directly to your potential clients as is.
Simply start emailing people and say “I offer this combo of an article and lead magnet to help you generate more qualified leads that turn into customers”.
But not everyone is gonna need the full service. So, we break it down into 3 tiers.
With your tiers sorted, you’ll want to display them on your website like below.
I’m sure you’ll have seen this kind of approach used across the web.
Tier 1: The “budget” tier.
This is a simple offer where the client gets the minimal amount of work you offer.
Tier 2: The “primary service” tier.
This tier is most profitable for you, and provides the best results for the client.
Tier 3: The “high roller” tier.
Here you fully manage the process for the client. Few people will go for it, but when someone does it’s a nice payday for you.
So if we put this into real terms for the above example we could have…
- Budget tier is 3 articles that are created on a high potential topic and that promote the client’s already existing lead magnets.
- Primary service tier is 3 articles created on a high potential topic that promote a brand new lead magnet you also create.
- High roller tier is 6 articles that form a Hub-and-Spoke model and offer a new lead magnet you create specifically for the client.
You’ll pop these three tiers into a pricing page you can direct interested leads toward when they want to know more about your service.
When it comes to pricing, you’re gonna need to play around a little. The full guide on figuring out profitable but fair prices can be found here.
However, in short here’s the process you wanna take.
- Step 1. Figure out how much you need to earn to cover all costs.
- Step 2. Figure out how long it will take you to complete all deliverables.
- Step 3. Analyse how many billable hours you have in any given week.
- Step 4. Total costs / billable hours = your hourly rate.
- Step 5. Calculate how many hours for each deliverable and X by hourly rate.
- Step 6. You now have a base cost for each deliverable.
- Step 7. Scale up the price for your deliverable to make the middle package a no brainer deal through tweaking the value ratio of price <> deliverables.
It might seem restrictive to do it this way, but it actually makes the process easier.
The client knows what they’re getting for a set $ amount.
As you get faster at producing copy, your overall profitability goes up.
When you know the set price and times, you can start to predict things.
Like how many clients you need to hit the $8,333 / month level that would get you to 6 figure freelance copywriter level.
And then, how many cold pitch emails you need to send to land that many clients.
Finding the right people to hire you
You now have everything you need to start doing proper cold outreach.
To summarise that is…
- You know your niche
- You know the service you offer
- You have definite price points on what it is you’re gonna charge for that service
Now we need to get your offer in front of people who can hire you.
How to build a preliminary outreach list
First, know that you are only targeting decision-makers.
Ignore advice to pitch other writers. They don’t have budget or authority to hire.
We’re specifically targeting people with titles like…
- VP Marketing
- Head of content
- Chief copywriter
Basically, people who have to get results and are given a budget to achieve them.
The first thing to do is head to LinkedIn. We’re gonna use Boolean search to quickly generate a list of people who are decision-makers in your industry.
I did a great interview with Vanshika Mehta on this which you can watch below.
What you’re going to do is look for the companies these people are working for.
You can do that through a regular search as Vanshika explains, or through the groups you’re a member of.
As you can see below, I searched for SaaS in a CMOs group to get these results. All I’m trying to do is get a quick look at the companies.
What we want to also add to that list is their email address.
This is an incredible tool – undoubtedly the best out of all the tools I’ve tried – for finding the email address of your perfect freelance copywriting clients.
You can download it as a Chrome extension and it’ll work directly from LinkedIn.
So all you need to then do is click on the person’s name to open their profile and click on the Snov.io extension.
Click the button that says find emails and save before moving on to the next one.
Do this with 50-100 people before checking your Snov.io list.
You’ll find a few email addresses don’t have the “green light”. That means they’re risky and Snov.io isn’t 100% certain they’re correct.
You can also see from the email address that it’s likely not right.
This sometimes happens, it’s because the guy added qualifications to his name.
Don’t worry though, the next step is where we’re qualifying and cleaning the list.
How to qualify and clean your preliminary cold outreach list
In your Snov.io account, you’re going to see the 50-100 people you’ve collected.
Not all will be good fits, not all email addresses will be correct.
What we’re gonna do now is maximise the chance that…
- The email address we have is correct
- They’re actually likely to pay for your service
When you’re in Snov.io, make a note of the company name. Open a new tab, and head to their site.
We’re first looking to see if they’re already investing in the service we offer.
You only want to approach clients that are already pumping money into the service you offer.
A lot of freelancers mess this up. They approach brands who don’t value their service and so are almost impossible to sell on improving it.
Yes, we know that implementing a blog, email series, sales page can help their business, but you can’t change their mind and get them to implement it.
It’s much easier to convince someone already investing in something to improve it than it is to get someone who doesn’t value something to start.
When you land on the site, look around to see if they have what you’re offering.
For content marketing, head to their blog and see if it’s frequently updated.
From the look of that blog, they publish daily, which is exactly what we want.
If they’re publishing daily, they’ll need help to maintain quality and cadence.
If they’re not investing in what you offer, delete them. They’ll just waste your time.
Now let’s look at the broken email address for this company.
I couldn’t pull his proper email from LinkedIn, but now that I’ve qualified this business as a potential good client, I’m going to click on the Snov.io extension.
Because you’re on their site, you’ll end up with a larger list of names, many of which should be verified (with a green light).
You don’t want these people, however, they’ll tell you the company email format.
As you can see below, the company format for Omnicell is [email protected]
I just apply that formula to the CMO we found and boom, we’ve got his email.
Once you’ve got the emails of ~100 qualified leads, export them to a Google Sheet from Snov.io so we can make a few amendments before sending anything.
Seriously, 100 people are needed here.
If you’re not emailing at least 100 people you can’t tell if the email you’re sending is actually working or not.
This is one of the major mistakes I see freelance copywriters make. It stops them from breaking $10,000 / year, let alone grow a 6-figure copywriting business.
They send 3 emails and, when they don’t get a yes, they quit.
Cold outreach is a quality and quantity game.
If you’re not doing the numbers, you’re not gonna get ahead.
You’ve got to push through the rejections so you can get the ~5% conversion rate.
Now we’ve got a list of ~100 people, it’s time to start our cold email outreach.
How to systemise your cold email outreach
Over the years I’ve tried all sorts of things for my cold outreach game…
- Mass emailing from an automated provider (LemList is the best I’ve used)
- Tracking through simple Gmail addons (not recommended)
- Organising my outreach in Google Sheets (definitely not recommended).
All of it helped me I’mprove, but they all took a tonne of time to manage.
Cause here’s the thing. If you wanna grow a highly profitable online copywriting business this year, you’ve got to have well-established systems and processes.
HubSpot’s free CRM is a great way for small business owners to create a solid process and get real results from their own cold outreach plans.
Using their CRM to send cold outreach emails to between 100-150 people every month in as little as 3 hours per week.
All of these emails are fully tracked, easily personalised, and thanks to HubSpot’s deal flow system my job is brainless.
All I do is move each and every lead one step to the right every time I log in.
If you want to predictably land more clients, you need to be running cold outreach campaigns.
Here’s an overview of what I do to make this work and systemise this outreach.
Clean up your lead data
Go to your Google Sheet and make sure that all of the columns are correct.
At the very minimum, you need the below columns and info for every person.
- First name
- Email address
- Business name
The above is the minimum needed. Thankfully Snov.io populates these for you.
If you’re going to use HubSpot’s deal flows (which I recommend you do) then make sure you’re also including the right details for the…
- Deal flow name
- Name of the deal
- Value of the deal
Import your cold lead info into HubSpot
Once it’s all done, download as Comma-Separated Values (or .CSV).
That will give you a sheet that makes no sense to you right now. But that’s OK.
Head over to your new HubSpot account, click on contacts in the top level nav bar, then on “import” in the top right.
Then click “start an import” and then “file from computer”.
After that, select the number of files you’re important, which will be 1.
Then click on “Multiple Objects” – this is the name, email, company, and deal data.
I recommend you import company data, contact data (obviously), and deal data.
Drag your .CSV file from earlier into the upload file section.
Confirm the columns line up with the way HubSpot recognises information.
You’ll be asked to confirm and then it’ll upload everyone.If you added deal info, you’ll find the below under “Sales > Deals”.
It’s from this screen that I manage my entire cold outreach process. This is, pretty much, the beating heart of my 6-figure copywriting business.
Thanks to HubSpot CRM’s template features I’m able to bring up a template that’s 80% complete in a few clicks. A short bit of personalisation and I can get it sent.
Then, my job is to check in on this twice per week and simply move each card one level to the right.
A highly effective way of tracking emails and where people are in your pipeline.
You can sign up for a free HubSpot CRM account below.
What cold outreach emails should you send?
With HubSpot set up, you now just need to put some time aside to send the emails.
Again, this is where a lot of freelancers fall and end up taking no action. So here’s a quick overview of what it is you need to do.
The tempo and number of cold email pitches
First, know that you should be sending emails to people in batches of 100.
Any less and you’re not gonna see the results you need.
Also, you’re not just pitching them once and expecting a positive response.
You’re going to reach out to each person a maximum of 3 times.
People are busy and responding to freelance copywriters isn’t their top priority.
Businesses you buy from follow up multiple timers to secure the sale.
Do the same thing.
3 emails is the perfect balance between persistence that gets the response and annoying spam that loses you the deal.
In between each send you’re gonna wait 3-4 business days.
The follow-ups are key. I get around 70% of my responses from the first follow up.
Here’s what you should cover in your cold email pitches.
Email 1 – Sent today
- A personalised icebreaker
- A value add (something that they will find useful)
- A little about you
- A question related to the service you offer
Email 2 – Send IF they don’t respond in 3-4 business days
- A short hello
- Reminder of last email
- Reiteration of question posed
Email 3 – Send 3-4 business days after email 2 IF they’ve still not responded
- Notice that this is your last outreach
- Reminder of Q
- Mention of your services if they’re ever in need
That’s the approach I’ve used to generate a 6-figure copywriting income.
From the above outlines and, you’ll notice one thing.
The call to action is not a “hire me for writing please!”.
We don’t do that here.
Why? Because it’s spammy, and it’ll get your message deleted more often than not.
The CTAs we push get people on the phone to discover if we can help them.
Out of all of the companies I’ve emailed over the years, I’ve probably only really been able to help 10% of them. And only half of that 10% have become my clients.
You have to take the focus off selling and turn it onto providing value.
If you provide value, you can see if working together would be a logical fit.
Which leads to a better working relationship and higher freelance fees for you.
So, what is the CTA we use to figure this out?
A quick 15-minute phone call to see if we are able to help their needs.
We offer free advice over the phone and then ask if they want us to help them action that advice. Here’s how you do that.
How to close high-ticket deals through phone negotiations
If you want to close high-ticket deals with potential clients, you have to get on the phone with them.
No ifs, ands, or buts about it.
Very few people spend thousands without speaking to the service provider.
Thankfully, it’s now incredibly easy for you to jump on calls with clients and figure out if, and how, you can best help them improve their business.
There’s a free level of Zoom which is fine for 1-2-1 calls.
The other things I love about Zoom are that it…
- Integrates with Calendly for easy scheduling (more on that in a minute).
- Allows you to record your calls so you can review negotiations.
- Everyone now uses it making it the go-to solution for small business owners.
- It’s insanely easy to use.
One thing I must mention is these phone calls are not pressurised sales pushes.
You’re not trying to sell your service or force someone to hire you.
In fact, if you organise your calls well, you shouldn’t have to do much convincing because both you and your client will know that this is a natural fit.
Much like the cold email part of this process, you have to put the idea of “closing the sale” out of your mind for a while.
Your job here is to be a problem solver.
The call’s ppurpose is to figure out the client’s problem and if you can help.
If you can help, you’re gonna offer some free ideas for them to run with.
If done well, this shows them your value and makes them want to work with you.
I can’t go into the full script here, but the general flow of the script is…
- Break the ice
- Take control of the conversation and outline what you want to achieve
- Find out what they want to achieve with their business
- Find out what they’ve tried that hasn’t worked
- Pose a few potential ideas if you think you can help
- Pitch your service to them if you think you can get them results
Sales doesn’t have to be scummy and high-pressure. The best sales are made off the back of free advice and an understanding that you’re trying to help.
So be the person who’s trying to help. If you can, the sale will come naturally.
Easily scheduling your client negotiations
There’s nothing worse than email ping-pong with potential leads.
“Can you do Wednesday at 5?”
“Nope. How about Thursday at 1?”
And so on and so forth.
It’s much easier to say “Hey, here’s my calendar, book a slot that works for you”.
Which is exactly what Calendly does for you.
When someone responds to one of your email templates saying they’d like to talk things over, send them a link that redirects to a page that looks like this one.
You set your availability, and the other person books a time that works for them.
Calendly is free for you to send a single event type. If you want to run multiple events , then you’re gonna have to shell out around $10 / month.
Which is more than worth it reduces the friction to revenue generating caslls.
Also, if you pay for Calendly, you’re able to link it directly with Zoom so the meeting time they book automatically has a Zoom room created for it.
That Zoom invite is added to the confirmation so you don’t have to worry about sorting out the details.
Covering your arse with a solid freelance contract
Good freelancers never work without a contract.
- You wouldn’t rent a house without a tenancy agreement, right?
- You wouldn’t lease a car without proper paperwork.
- You wouldn’t start a new job without an employment contract.
Any time goods or services are exchanged for cash there needs to be a contract.
Whether you’re working on a $50 piece or a $50,000 project, you need a contract.
I know this scares new freelancers cause they think it’s a super complex legal issue.
Which it kinda is. But it’s nothing to be worried about.
A contract is, in effect, a written agreement. It list the work you’re doing and the expected payment. Of course there are other elements, but that’s the heart of it.
Now, I’m not a lawyer and have no legal idea what to put in a contract.
So I’d recommend a professional service to really make sure you’re covered.
With And.Co you can simply plug a few basic details into a quick 30-second form and it will create a contract for you.
Here’s how to set up your FREE freelance contract in And.Co.
After you sign up for an account (you can try this with one client for free), you’ll see the below screen.
Click the big button on the left to go through a handful of super self-explanatory screens (seriously, And.Co have made this incredibly easy to use).
You’ll need to…
- Outline your level of experience
- Upload your logo
- Choose your colour scheme
- Set up your business address info
With that done, you’ll find yourself on this screen.
What I’d recommend here is you set up your first client. You’ll be asked to add their details before being redirected to the main dashboard.
Once you’ve done that, click “contracts” on the left to see this screen.
Click “New contract” and follow the on-screen prompts.
Select the client and when the contract starts. Then, you’ll need to detail the service you’re providing and the fee.
List the service this client is paying for with a short description of what it entails.
When you add that detail, make sure you’re specific and only include what the client is paying for.
If you’re vague and leave things open ended, you could fall prey to scope creep.
So, rather than saying something like “will help with writing”, you want to say “will produce one blog article of X000 words. This contract includes 2 rounds of revisions for the agreed-upon price”.
When that’s done, you’ll need to explain how you want to take payment.
Always get a deposit. It minimises the chance of the client running without paying.
I always do a 50% upfront fee and a 50% completion fee upon acceptance. Pick the fee schedule that works for you and move on to the next step.
Upon initial setup you’ll be asked to link your payment provider. Add one of these because it means the client will be able to pay you directly from the contract.
Personally, I prefer Stripe. But Paypal is also a great way to get paid online.
Click what you prefer and follow the steps to sync your account.
Once you’ve linked your payment provider, you’ll be able to edit the contract.
If you’re using the free account I believe you have to edit this every single time.
It’s already good as a placeholder and likely OK for brand new freelancers, but you’ll eventually want to customise the terms.
Confirm and send the the contract when happy. The client gets an email like this.
When they click review docs, they’ll see the contract. And, if they agree, they’ll be given the option to pay right then as well.
And you get email updates about whether they’ve viewed, signed, and paid.
The contract service here really is one of the best that I’ve seen and it makes it so easy. However, And.Co does so much more.
With And.Co you can also handle…
- Work proposals for big engagements
- Invoices with an included “pay now” link making invoicing an chasing payments super easy
- Subscription payments for easier handling of your monthly retainer clients
- Time tracking – great if the client ever disputes an hourly rate or if you simply want to track your own hourly profitability
Most importantly though, And.Co offers peace of mind.
It is the best invoice, contract, and proposal software I’ve ever used or seen.
You can sign up for a free account to try it out below.
Chapter 3 – Building your authority with ongoing content marketing and lead nurture
OK, you’ve got a professional website and business systems to work like a pro.
However, we want to passively attract leads and reduce the amount of time we need to send cold outreach to clients.
And the best way to do that is through an effective content marketing strategy.
A well-oiled content machine will help you generate traffic and leads on autopilot.
It also focuses on your strength as a copywriter – writing.
However, it’s not as simple as writing any old thing and hitting publish.
In this section, I’m going to cover one of the best approaches to generating passive leads and keeping you top of their mind.
The Hub-and-Spoke content model funnel
The Hub-and-Spoke model goes by a few different names.
- The Hub-and-Spoke model
- Content hubs
- Content groups
- Topic clusters
They’re all the same, really. But the concept is the same.
What it aims to achieve is to build your authority on a topic. Making it easier to attract a relevant audience.
If done well, you’re going to attract those ideal clients at different stages of the customer journey.
That means you’ll attract those just starting to research the best ways to implement your service, and those looking for the best service providers today.
Let’s go back to a real-life example and run with our SaaS content marketer.
The core piece of content might be something like…
“The definitive guide to effective content marketing for early-stage SaaS brands”.
That’s your hub.
Within that piece, there will be certain things that need to be explained in more detail. Things that need explanation not entirely related to your hub’s key message.
So, you produce Spoke pieces of content to explain those ideas and concepts in full.
An example in our SaaS content marketing piece might be around headlines.
In your key guide you might explain how headlines are a key part in getting people to click through to your content.
You may also offer some guidance, but it’s not the place to list out 100 proven SaaS content headlines.
But that would be a great Spoke piece of content focused on headlines.
Perhaps something like…
- 101 SaaS content headlines proven to increase rankings and CTR
- How to find the perfect headline for your next piece of content
- How SaaS brands can use Intercom to find high impact article headlines
Notice how the hub is more general, but the spokes are specific.
Doing this allows you to cover everything in detail but use the hub as almost a table of contents. Which helps you cover all bases to be seen as an expert.
By linking the entire Hub-and-Spoke articles together, you’re telling Google that these things are all related. So they all benefit from one anothers Google ranking.
Create a Hub-and-Spoke content model
Once again, we’re going to use SEMrush for this.
The first step is brainstorm top-level ideas about what it is you want to write about.
So, for the SaaS content marketer that could be things like…
- Content marketing
- Article writing
- SaaS marketing
Or other similar ideas.
We’re looking for short descriptions that are very general. If you’re stuck on ideas, use Google’s autocomplete or their “people also searched for” to get some ideas.
Again, we want top-level searches here. Keep the ideas general.
“SaaS content marketing” is good. “How to write articles that rank for SaaS brands” is not.
The hub article’s idea should be more general and have a higher volume of searches for it.
When you’ve got a few ideas you think could work, log back into SEMrush .
This time, we’re heading to “SEO” then Keyword Research.
Type your top-level idea you’re thinking of using for your hub article.
In the below, we ran with “content marketing”.
You’ll see that the volume of monthly searches here is 14.8k searches.
Which is OK.
There is no magic number for the search volume. It really depends on the size of the audience you’re targeting.
However, with the hub piece we just want something that’s not too narrow. If it has anything less than 999 monthly searches, it is not a hub piece.
Run searches for all of your top-level ideas and choose one you’re happy with..
If you’re really struggling, use the recommendations in SEMrush to come up with more ideas.
When you’ve got your best idea, head to the content marketing tab within SEMrush again and click on topic research.
Type in the topic you settled on for your search and look at the readouts. Make sure to leave it on the “cards” readout.
You’ll find ideas with general search traffic. You can use these in two ways.
The first is to refine your core topic idea.
For example, the Google Analytics card has 1,000,000 monthly searches.
You could use that to refine the hub idea to something like “How SaaS brands should use Google Analytics for content marketing”.
Or, you could use that as a subheading within the core piece and Spoke article.
We could use the above for a hub piece on SaaS content marketing.
Then, to offer more clarity, we build spoke pieces that could follow the below…
These 2 simple reports in SEMrush can give you everything you need to get a really detailed Hub-and-Spoke model.
If you want to be taken seriously as a freelance copywriter and business owner, you’re going to need to do this sort of analysis and writing monthly.
So, use it for yourself and continue to refine the process until it works every time for you. As soon as you’re confident, start selling this as a service.
Turning one time visitors into leads
99% of the people who hit your site today aren’t ready to hire you or buy anything.
You need to build the relationship with people and keep yourself top of mind for when they are ready to work with you.
Doing that through content alone is near impossible as you have zero control over when they’ll come back to your site – even if you use a great Hub-and-Spoke model.
You need to do more.
You need to capture email addresses and continue to nurture those relationships.
Now, I’ve run countless campaigns at this point and there are, in my experience, only two really effective ways to generate a good number of email subscribers.
- Content upgrades on your most trafficked content
- Specific pages directly related to getting their email address
A lot of people use general, site-wide lead magnets, but they have low conversions.
It’s much easier to find something that would make the article being read reading…
- Easier to action
- Easier to understand
- Cheaper to follow
Or some other such method of harder, better, faster, stronger.
Some of my favourites that I often use are…
- Adding templates to help people easily action it.
- Simple checklists to help users action the process themselves.
- PDFs of very long content so people can read at their own leisure.
And the tool I’ve found the most effective at helping me action these is OptinMonster.
OptinMonster is a great tool for generating email leads because it allows for really detailed personalisation.
For example, you can…
- Create popups that only show on certain pages .
- Create offers based on user behaviour .
- Sync with all major email services.
- Create awesome inline opt-ins so it’s less intrusive.
For now though, let’s run though how to set up a very basic content upgrade.
To get the “MVP” or minimum viable product offer up, here’s what I recommend:
- Step 1 – Look at the major actionable steps you want the user to take for this.
- Step 2 – Create a simple checklist to getting this done in Canva
- Step 3 – Use this as your content upgrade
Here’s an example of one that I used to great effect on an old article about brevity.
This took 15 minutes to create it and it’s helped me generate a tonne of email subs.
When you have everything created, sign up and log in to OptinMonster. If you have your own email service provider, you can sync them here for easy management.
If not, read on for my preferred choice or let optinMonster store lead data.
Once you’re all logged in, head to WordPress’s Plugins and add OptinMonster.
Install the plugin and connect your account.
Once everything is set up, head to campaigns and click on “New Campaigns”.
Choose the kind of pop up you’d most like to use. For content upgrades, I find inline is the best option. Choose the template you like most.
You can hit preview for a better view of it if you want.
Name your campaign. Give it something super simple and obvious.
Often, I just use the name of the article / page I’m going to be publishing this on.
Then go through and edit the opt-in to display the message you want it to.
You’ll then be given the option to assign specific targeting.
The next step is to link this with your email service provider.
When that’s all done, head to analytics and include your GA code if you have one.
Then, head to the final page to confirm everything.On this page, you want to make sure it’s active and published.
Head back to WordPress and then OptinMonster plugin options.
You’ll see your new campaign there. Click on Output Settings to see the below screen.
Activate it and head back to WordPress. Make sure that the opt-in is also activated in the WordPress plugin.
When it is, pull the shortcode from the plugin dashboard.
Read through your article and choose points where you think the lead magnet makes the most sense.
Basically, where people are gonna be thinking “Man, this sounds great. Wish I had X to make it easier to implement though”.
Click on the small + icon to add a new block. Search for “shortcode”, and add id where you want the popup to show.
Paste your OptinMonster shortcode over into the block that shows up.
And just like that, your popup will show exactly where you wanted it to.
Do that with every article and you’ll not just have content that ranks, but content that generates leads for your business.
If you’ve not yet tried it out, be sure to give them a try through the button below.
Creating specific landing pages for lead generation
The other great option for generating leads is to create singular landing pages that collect an email. The tool I’ve used for years for this is Leadpages.
However, it’s specifically for landing and sales pages, meaning it offers far more functionality when it comes to creating pages that are meant to sell.
I use it for all of my sales focused pages and I couldn’t be happier.
The ability to build pages by simply dragging and dropping elements to where I want them makes design easy (especially when coupled with Canva).
I can also run A/B tests on the page to see what’s working, integrate directly with WordPress for easily linked pages, and sync this with my email service provider to collect and nurture the leads.
There are, generally speaking, 3 big landing page builder services most online biz owners use.
I’ve used all of them, and they’re all great. But Leadpages is the most affordable and has the functionality you need to build specific pages that get people to buy.
Here’s how I’d recommend you use it.
Set up a page that’s specifically for people to book a time with you to talk about helping them overcome their problem.
I’d first set up another campaign in OptinMonster. This one a popup that’s site wide and is targeted at people who have visited your site multiple times.
We want to target those who keep coming back to jump on the phone because they’re interested in what you have to say and will have some trust in you.
You’re gonna want to follow the same OptinMonster steps as before.
However, this time you’re gonna choose “popup” as the template kind.
Choose a simple design and set up a popup that redirects people to a specific page.
I often drive people to a vide training of some free tips.
The CTA of that video is to jump on the phone for more free tips (which is where we use the negotiation script in chapter 2).
Your popup should read something like…
“You come here often. Wondered if you’ve seen my free training on how to achieve X?
When it comes to display options, make sure that you choose “returning visitor” under personalisation.
With that all set up and set to active through the OptinMonster WordPress plugin, you now just need to build out the Leadpage.
You can use LeadPages templates to get a clean, effective page up in an afternoon.
Choose a design that works for you and fill out the info needed.
Here’s the general landing page template I use to get people to book a call.
- A basic headline explaining what the page is about
- A free training video that explains my process and how they can action it
- A CTA to book a free call (which opens my Calendly booking page)
- Social proof
- Close section and secondary CTA
Here’s how the above the fold section looks.
And if people click on the actual button, here’s what they see.
By adding value through the free training, you’ll get more people wanting to talk.
As your content marketing starts bringing in more people, you’ll find more leads you can direct to this free training, which means more calls and clients for you.
Again, sign up for Leadpages through the button below.
Keeping your leads warm through email nurture
So when you’ve got content that’s ranking and driving traffic, and you’ve implemented a lead capture service or sales page tool, your email list will swell.
You need a good email marketing service to nurture those relationships.
There are – literally – dozens of options for a good email service provider out there.
I’ve tried a lot of them and I can say this with 100% confidence.
Don’t use Mailchimp.
It’s the worst of the bunch.
I recommend you use Drip for your email marketing.
It’s primarily marketed at eCommerce store owners, but I use it for everything from lead generation and nurture, to launch sales sequences, and even newsletters.
The reason I recommend it is because it has some of the easiest automation features I’ve ever used and extremely detailed segmentation.
The thing is built to handle a lot of segmentation. We’re talking things like…
- Sending an email when a user views a specific page
- Creating specific up-sell and cart abandonment sequences to users who view product pages but don’t end up buying
- Lead scoring so you can identify those who are most engaged and ready to be sold to
And so much more.
It’s simple, effective, and has a wonderful user experience. Not to mention the live chat assistance is packed with awesome team members who have yet to fail me.
Drip, being built specifically to sell things online through email, is the best option for any of us and I cannot recommend it highly enough.
Here are the two things I recommend you do when setting up a new Drip account.
Warming up brand new leads
The first, is a basic email welcome sequence.
Something to introduce your new subscribers to you and to explain to them what it is you do best.
Here’s a basic email welcome sequence you could use.
When you’ve signed up for Drip, head to the “Automation > Campaigns” tab.
Click “New Campaign” and give it a name that makes sense.
You’ll now have the option of choosing from templates or using your own.
To get something out fast, use a blueprint. They’re actually pretty good.
Then click on the top option.
It’s advertised as a free 5-day course. Which is actually kinda cool for a welcome sequence as it helps build authority and trust because you’ll be teaching.
Ideally something about the freelance copywriting service you’ve settled on.
Click “Use this blueprint” to get started.
When on the next page, click “edit” on the right-hand side to edit the actual emails.
You’ll find that all of the emails are written with placeholders. The idea is for you to simply “fill in the blanks”.
However, we’re gonna need to do a little more as we’re not offering a course, but a welcome sequence. Don’t worry, 90% of this is the same.
What you’re gonna do is change any mentions of the course to talk about the service you offer.
So things like…
Thanks for taking my 5-day crash course on **TOPIC OF COURSE**
Will become something like…
“Thanks for subscribing to my email newsletter!
Over the next 5 days I’m going to share with you the 5 biggest improvements SaaS brands can make to their content marketing.”
Switch everything to be about the service, but still hold on to a teaching approach.
When you’ve edited all the emails, head to the “Settings” page on the top navbar. Fill out the details and click “Activate”.
You now have a welcome sequence.
All that’s left is to ensure your OptinMonster leads get added to this campaign when they subscribe which can be done on the OptinMonster integration tab.
Now on top the second email item I’d recommend.
Staying top of mind for the rest of your leads
A lot of your leads aren’t going to be ready to buy from you right now.
A huge number still won’t be ready to buy after your welcome sequence.
Part of running a professional freelance copywriting business is knowing how to nurture leads and persuade them to hire you when the time is right.
The easiest way to do this is through a decent, frequent newsletter.
A few general rules of newsletters.
- Send them often to stay top of mind
- Make sure they’re valuable and entertaining above all else
- Don’t be afraid to sell
- Send them as frequently as you’re able whilst still maintaining quality
That means you could send them weekly, monthly, or – if you enjoy ruining your fingers like me – daily emails.
You choose your frequency. It’s based on your time and what you can manage whilst maintaining quality.
What should you send through?
You don’t need anything amazing and groundbreaking.
Sign up to a bunch of people’s emails (like mine – you can sign up to it here) and see what they’re sending.
A lot of times it’s the same stuff you’d find on social – just more thought out.
A general overview of what you could send includes;
- Your thoughts on a new industry developments
- Short promos of newly published content (e.g. check out this new piece)
- Answers to questions people send it
Or anything else that adds value. Here’s how to quickly send simple emails in Drip.
From whatever page you’re on in your account, click on “Broadcasts” in the top level navbar.
On the right-hand side, click “New Broadcast”.
Give your broadcast a name and then choose who you send it to. At this stage, a newsletter should just go to everyone.
Scroll down and you’ll see the “Edit email” box. Click begin and then choose your template.
For newsletters, I always scroll down to the bottom and choose a plain text option.
Then you’ll see the below. Click the edit button on the right-hand side to edit.
Write what you want and, when done, click Done Editing in the top right.
At the very bottom you’ll see the send/schedule button. Click that…
And then choose a time to send the email.
Do this frequently enough and you’ll start to be the person people think about when they think of the service you provide.
Do it well enough and people will reach out to you to say how much they enjoyed your emails and ask how much you charge for the service.
The best training you can get for this is to simply sign up to other service providers in your niche and see what they’re doing.
And once again, this is something that is not a one and done thing.
If you want to grow a 6-figure copywriting business, you need to do this frequently and well. You can get started with Drip right here.
Chapter 4 – How to scale your freelance copywriting business through outsourcing tasks
After a while you’ll dial in your processes and systems to a point where you’re creating predictable revenue.
Here’s the thing though. You are only one person.
And being able to…
- Analyse data to figure out which levers need to be pulled
- Understand which actions need to be cut
- Produce more of the kind of stuff that brings a positive result,
- Take the actions that keep clients coming to you
… becomes increasingly difficult as paying client work takes up a lot of your time.
This is why so many freelance businesses experience trouble with feast and famine.
They get so busy with paying work they forget to do the client generating activities like content promo, cold outreach, and analysing which of their existing assets needs a little tweak or update.
This is something I am (unfortunately) well experienced in.
The process I’m going to run you through below is the same process I’ve used to…
- Grow my own freelance business to 5-figure months
- Outsource a lot of the time consuming, but ultimately unprofitable, actions
- Build teams of writers for clients
The process for each one was the same.
The only differentiator here is that we’re doing this specifically through UpWork to find a virtual assistant to help take low-profit jobs off your hands.
Identify what it is you want to outsource
OK, so generally speaking you’re gonna want to outsource anything that falls into one of the below categories.
- The bits you don’t enjoy
- The bits you’re not really good at
- Low profit (take up time you could spend doing higher paying work)
- The bits that are key to your business, but aren’t the best use of your time
It might seem weird. I know freelancers who think they can and should do it all.
However, that’s not the way to do this. Take me for example.
I am a copywriter and my speciality is writing great copy. As a copywriter, I can bill $500 per hour.
And yet, even as a freelance copywriter, I can use Canva to create decent images.
However, it’ll take me 1-2 hours to create a high-quality image. That’s – at a minimum – $500 of my time.
I could outsource that same image to a pro designer who would bang it out in 20-30 minutes. They might charge me somewhere in the region of $100 for the image.
If I now fill that hour of doing the image with paid work, I’m $400 up.
That’s what a lot of freelancers don’t understand.
Outsourcing work isn’t an admission that you’re terrible at the job or a failure.
You’re running a business. And you need to look at everything through a lens of profit generated.
If you want to hit the 6-figure freelance copywriting business level, you need to outsource the elements that are eating into your photo margins.
These are a few of the things I’ve outsourced over the years to great effect.
- Client sourcing and list building (I pay for my VA to do this every month – for a small fee I get 100-150 clients to cold pitch and it takes me less than 5 minutes)
- Design work – cause designers are obviously better at design than I am
- Writing work – for when my plate becomes too full or I simply don’t fancy it
Regardless of what I’m outsourcing -copywriting work, admin stuff, strategy, design – or where I’m finding a service provider, the process is the same.
The process for effective freelance outsourcing
After years of trial and error, this is the basic process I’ve settled on for outsourcing work
I’m going to run you through the actual process on UpWork.
To do this, you’ll need to sign up for an UpWork client account.
Finding a freelance assistant on Upwork
On the home page dashboard, click on the big green button saying “post a job”.
On the next screen, click on the short-term or part-time option.
Give your job a title. Keep this simple. My go-to is always the below formula.
[ACTION] for [DIFFERENTIATOR 1] to [DIFFERENTIATOR 2]
So, for example, in the SaaS content marketer example, that might be…
Email list building of SaaS CMOs for cold pitching
Choose the category that best fits your goal. In this case, it’s lead gen.
On the next page, you’ll need to outline your job’s details. And this is key here. You need to make it simple. Like, so simple an idiot child could understand it.
We want to cut out the people at this stage who apply thinking the job is something else.
I usually lead with a quick single sentence of what’s needed.
Then a couple of bullets of the key experience and understanding they should have.
Then I explain in more detail what it is I need and explain, in detail, what the end product should look like.
Finally I ask a specific question. Something that makes it obvious they’re treating the job seriously and not just firing off dozens of applications to any open job.
I usually ask them to include a mention of something in their cover letter. Something specific, maybe a word, phrase, or piece of infor about themselves.
We’ll use this later to sort the wheat from the chaff.
Bad service providers either completely ignore this (showing you they’re not gonna follow instruction) or they’ll put down the bare minimum info.
On the next page, select what kind of project this is. For now, it’s a one time project. Below that, you’ll get to select a screening question.
This can help remove lower quality people, but often they’ll just put a single word answer. Below the screening questions, you’ll see an option for a cover letter.
I recommend you ask for one, especially with the area of the job description asking them to provide a small piece of information.
The next page is a multiple-choice page for expertise, skills, and experience level of the service provider you want. Choose whatever is most relevant to your job.
Next is the location. The default will be your home country. But you also have the option of worldwide. I recommend going with worldwide.
On the next page, be sure to click “anyone” and “more than one freelancer” Then, add “3” to the box of the number of freelancers you need.
The penultimate page is the budget page. Only you know what you want to pay for this. Just make sure you don’t obliterate your profit margins.
For the initial test, hourly might be better for something like list building.
You can see how effective each worker is in one hour to help you make your decision. Then go through and choose your budget and time expectations.
Once that’s done, go through the review page and submit everything to set it live on UpWork. Once it’s live, wait 24-48 hours for it to collect applications.
Choosing your top 3 freelancers
With the applications coming in, you now have to sort through them.
Go through cover letters to see if they added the thing requested in the description.
If they haven’t, it’s a sign that they don’t read instruction. So ditch them.
Out of the ones who are left, go through and read their applications.
There are no hard rules for this, however, I recommend you look for people who…
- You like from what they’ve told you
- Have relevant experience
- Are at the more experienced end of the freelance spectrum on UpWork
- Are individuals and not agencies (as they’re easier to train)
- Have a decent number of hours and dollars earned on UpWork
Go through and pick 3 of the best.
Explain to these 3 you’re offering a short, paid trial to see how you gel as a team.
Detail what the trial will be in terms of deliverables, time, and budget for each one. Answer any Qs they might have and, when they’re happy, award them the job.
Giving your assistants everything they need to do a good job
The goal here is to see which of these 3 potentials will be the best addition.
Give them everything they need to get the job done. That means up front work from you.
The more you can do in terms of frameworks for them, the better job they’ll do for you and the less time you’ll have to spend finding workers and editing their work.
Then, use Loom to record yourself actually doing the task yourself.
This is going to be their “onboarding guidebook” if you like. It’s going to show them exactly what you need them to do and how to do it.
You’re basically removing any change of miscommunication here.
Record yourself doing the task and send it to the 3 people. Ask if they have any Qs, answer if they do, then let them do the work.
Make sure they have everything they need, including…
- Access to tools and software
- templates you want them to adhere to
- A direct line to you for questions
Then let them get on with the job.
Choosing your winner
Once you’ve received everyone’s work, it’s time to pick the winner.
Look at what they all turn in and make a decision based on a number of factors.
- The work product’s quality – cause if it’s crap, you’re not gonna be able to use it
- How well they followed instruction
- Did they go above and beyond / add anything that improved the product beyond what you expected?
- How easy they were to work with
Analyse all of the submissions and choose who it is you want to work with.
Then, award that person the whole contract to complete the entire task.
If they do well, you’ve found your VA. If not, you have 2 fallbacks in the other finalists.
This is the process I’ve used time and time again to outsource and grow teams.
This process is based on results, not a gut feeling or samples that can’t be proven.
It’s simple, effective, and helps you find the perfect person to partner with to grow your freelance business.
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