26 min read

What is Copywriting (and why should you offer it as a freelance service)?

What exactly is copywriting? It's not just about the words on the page, but how you use them to create an action in your readers.
What is Copywriting (and why should you offer it as a freelance service)?

After ~10 years of doing this as a full-time job, I’m kinda fed up of people asking me “what is copywriting?”

However, I prefer the straight-up question to the folk who immediately assume I can…

  • Help them secure copyright on their new record
  • Help them craft the next great novel
  • Help explain some legal matter

I’m not making those up either.

Those are all “offers” I’ve had from people when I tell them I’m a copywriter.

But I also know you’re not one of the people to make those assumptions.

How?

Cause you’re actively searching for an answer to the question “what is copywriting”.

And you’ve found your way here which means, you’re in luck.

I’m gonna break down a decade’s worth of experience where I’ve made a lot of money as a copywriter, to give you the full explanation and breakdown about what it is we copywriters do.

Join the email list to get instant access to our free training vault stacked with marketing and copywriting cheatsheets, guides, and templates.  Enter your email in the bottom right now.

What is copywriting?

At its core, copywriting is the creation of a message that aims to create a specific action.

I like to think of it as communication with purpose.

You’re not just writing something for the fun of it. You’re writing to achieve a specific result.  With copywriting, those results are often tied to a particular business goal like…

  • An increase in sales
  • An increase in leads (or potential customers)
  • An improvement in traffic / reach
  • A reduction in something like churn (the number of customers who have a repeating subscription who then cancel)

As you can see, good copywriting improves a hard business metric related to revenue.

That is, in effect, the answer to the question of what is copywriting.

Copywriting is writing to achieve a specific goal.

What is copywriting?

Of course that means that your writing has to be…

  • Entertaining to keep people reading
  • Persuasive to highlight why people need to take an action
  • Focused to ensure you’re focusing on only one goal

And it’s here that a lot of people get mixed up and confused about copywriting.

You see, a lot of people know that copywriting is the art of writing persuasively to motivate readers to take a specific action.

However, they don’t know how to do that.

Some of the biggest mistakes I’ve seen in my ~10 years as a copywriter can be traced back to this misunderstanding.

Too many people believe that a good copywriter can write a single piece of copy that will persuade everyone who reads it to take the action they want.

They believe that great copywriters dabble in the dark arts of manipulation and could sell ice to an eskimo.

And that simply isn’t true.

The best copywriters know they can’t write something that appeals to everyone.

So they focus on the segment of their audience they can sell to.

Let’s imagine you sell a pipe repair service.

Even the best copywriter in the world isn’t going to be able to sell that service to every single person.

It’s impossible.

There are gonna be people out there who have just had their pipes repaired.

There are gonna be people who have no problem with their pipes.

There are gonna be people who already have a plumber they call for things like this.

Copywriting is writing to help people solve a specific problem

I’m not saying that you’re never going to be able to sell to these people. Just that, right now, they’re not gonna be interested in what you sell.

That could all change if their pipes break or their current plumber lets them down.

But copywriting, no matter how amazing, isn’t a silver bullet for any business.

Great copywriters understand they can’t get everyone who reads a piece of copy to take a specific action.

So, instead, they target their copy to a specific segment of a potential customer base. And they write to address their specific questions and problems.

That is, in effect, what copywriting is.

It’s not persuading people through subtle manipulations and dark magic that they need something right now (especially when they’ll never need it).

It’s about writing something addressed to people who have a current need for what you offer, and explaining why your offer is the best fit for them.

In effect, great copywriting is less about building up arguments around why someone should buy your product, and more about removing the objections around why they shouldn’t.

Great copywriting is about removing the mental barriers and arguments that prevent people from buying.

And it’s only aimed at those who could genuinely benefit from the product/service being offered.

So how does that work for the plumber fixing pipes we mentioned above?

How does that business sell their service to those who don’t yet need it?

This is where something called the Stages of Awareness comes in.

The Stages of Awareness were created by one of the best copywriters who’s ever lived, Eugene Schwartz.

In his book, Breakthrough Advertising, Eugene highlights 5 different stages of awareness a customer goes through.

He also explains what it is that people at each stage require in terms of information to push them to the next stage.

Eugene Schwartz, copywriting stages of awareness

These stages make the copywriter’s job immeasurably easier.

As I mentioned when answering the “what is copywriting” question, the aim of copy is to create a specific action.

However, you can’t sell a pipe fixing service to someone whose pipes aren’t broken.

What these 5 stages of awareness do is give copywriters relevant actions and goals to shoot for, even for people who aren’t yet ready to buy.

They help you categorise the audience you’re writing to so you can  focus on the needs they have at each and every stage of awareness.

Then, your job as a copywriter is to simply write something that focuses on the overlap between the problem your audience is currently suffering or the question they’re asking and the solution your offer provides.

What is copywriting? Solving problems with words in sequence.

Find that overlap between their question and how you can help solve it. Focus on that and use it to position yourself as the logical next step.

But it all comes down to that overlap.

Focusing on that overlap between need and offer is the core of effective copywriting.

The core of effective copywriting

When you understand the reader’s stage of awareness and the problems they face, you can find the overlap with the solution you offer.

When you know what part of the solution will best appeal to their needs, you can assign a relevant goal that moves them to the next stage of awareness.

Goals which, if well thought out, should eventually lead to the reader becoming a paying customer.

Let’s imagine that you run a store focused on DIY plumbing goods and run that through Eugene Schwartz’s 5 Stages of Awareness.

Stage of awarenessCopywriting approachAction you want the customer to take
UnawareIt’s difficult to get these people’s attention as they don’t have any problems or understand the need for a solution. 

Write things that are high level but still related to your ultimate goal. In the plumber case, could be something like…

“5 actions to prevent damaged pipes and save up to $2000 / year”
Read your content and identify you as a valued trustworthy source of information.  
Perhaps sign up to an email list so you can continue to market to them. 
Problem awarePerhaps the reader has slow draining pipes.  
You might want to position your piece to talk to the bigger problems this could lead to before introducing your solution. 

For example, something like…

“X causes of slow draining kitchen sinks – how to figure out what’s causing your sink to back up”
We know these people have a problem we can help with. So we want to be aggressive in getting them on an email or subscriber list so we can continue to market to them. 
Solution awareThe reader now knows the cause of their slow draining kitchen sink and are looking for advice on how to clear it.  

So, the copywriter’s job here is to write something that outlines a specific solution tied to the brand’s service.  

That could be something like…

“The fastest way to clear drains blocked by X”  
You could ask for a subscription to hear more, click through to a product page, or simply get them to click a “learn more” button about the solution.  
You want to position that solution as the “no-brainer” thing they need to get rid of the issue.  
Product awareNow the person knows the solution to their problem. However, there’s always more than one solution to any problem. 
In this case, it might be a drain unblocking liquid vs traditional pipe cleaner brushes. 

The copywriter’s job here is to highlight the product they sell as the better solution. 

For example, if they’re targeting people with blocked kitchen sinks and are selling pipe cleaners, they might want to run with something like…

“X reasons why pipe cleaning brushes are 207% more effective at clearing blocked kitchen sinks than unblocking liquid”
You want them to buy.  
You need to explain why your product is the best fit for their needs and will make getting the solution they want easier, faster, or cheaper than other products. 
Most awareThese people would already know about the product and how it’s the best fit for their needs. 
You simply need to make buying from you a no brainer. The best way to do that is to highlight how your offer is cheaper, easier, or faster than the competitions.  

That could be done with something as simple as…

“Sale on X”
You want them to buy. 
They know they need this. Make sure they know getting it from you is their best option.  

So that is a more detailed answer to “what is copywriting”.

It’s not some dark manipulation that forces people to open their wallet.

Copywriting is writing with purpose.

It’s writing to get people to take an action.

And the best way to do that is to write with intent to lower the barriers and questions they have that stop them from taking that action.

If you want to do this well, you need to understand the stages of awareness and write specifically to the needs and expectations of readers at each stage.

Done well, you could theoretically write something that not only introduces a problem to your readers, but that then also highlights your offer as the best solution they need.

Now, I want to quickly focus on something I mentioned earlier.

I’ve answered the entry level question of what is copywriting, however, to help clarify I’m gonna quickly cover what copywriting isn’t.

What copywriting is not

When answering the question of what is copywriting above, I mentioned that in my 10 years of doing this I’ve seen a lot of people make mistakes.

Those mistakes can often be traced back to one (or more) of the below common misconceptions.

Copywriting misconception #1 – Everybody can write so I can do this (or copywriting is easy)

This is one of the most annoying misconceptions about copywriting out there.

Yes, we’re all taught how to write at school and, if you’ve ever worked any kind of job, you’ve had to write something (even if it was just the odd email).

But that doesn’t mean you can write great copy.

Writing and writing to persuade are two very different things.

Copywriting is not simply writing

In fact, a lot of great copywriters completely ignore basic grammar rules and purposefully “dumb it down” to make their writing feel more like the way we speak.

Add to that the weird (but highly effective) structure we use for things like sales pages, and you’ll see that copywriting is a skill of its own that needs to be learned.

Remember, copywriting is writing to achieve a specific goal. And the best way to do that is to write with proven approaches in mind.

Copywriting misconception #2 – This is an easy way to earn money online

This is one of the lies course creators will tell you because it helps them sell more of their product.

And it’s a particularly dangerous lie because there’s an element of truth in it.

Out of all of the online business types you could establish, setting up a freelance service business is one of the fastest to see progress in.

You only really need to get slightly better than most people at the service to then sell it.

Which takes far less time than also creating a product to sell.

However, doing this well is anything but easy.

Copywriting is not an easy way to make money online

You not only have to attain a decent level of understanding when it comes to copywriting itself, but you also have to get a handle on key business processes like…

  • Marketing yourself
  • Client acquisition
  • Client negotiation
  • Financial planning
  • Basic office admin like sending out invoices and contracts etc

If you have the right business processes and you’re better than most at writing copy, you can make money relatively easily.

But to say this is easy for the absolute newbie is an outright lie.

What most people seem to forget is that being freelance isn’t a walk in the park or an easy win. It’s running a business.

And to do well, you have to follow a proven system for growing a service business in addition to improving your copywriting.

Copywriting misconception #3 – Copywriting is not quick and easy

Years back I was suckered into an eBook because the author boasted about how she made $250 one morning while chatting to a friend over coffee.

She explained how her friend was shocked that she’d earned what is, for many, a daily fee for 30 minutes of work.

I believed the lie and bought the eBook.

Thing is, I now see through that bullshit.

Yes, she may have been able to write something that earned $250 in 30 minutes.  However, she didn’t mention how long it would have taken prior to that to…

  • Research the topic and become a knowledgeable source of information for the niche
  • Research that specific article
  • Plan the article
  • Edit the article
  • Deal with the client’s requests for edits
  • All of the admin of contracts etc

All of these things make the act of copywriting take a lot longer.

Copywriting, when done well, will take a while

And as I’ll explain below, great copywriters spend much less time actually writing than they do researching.

If you want to create something compelling, you have to spend a lot of time researching.

Copywriting misconception #4 – I could be a 6-figure copywriter from the beach

I’ve done this.

And it is not at all easy.

In fact, it was almost impossible to maintain a healthy work/life balance when travelling the world as a digital nomad.

In fact, that was the first time my business dropped below the 6-figure level after hitting those lofty heights.

Sure, it can be done. But if you’re from a land-locked, dreary city like my home town and the beach calls to you, how much work are you actually gonna be doing?

When you’re doing the digital nomad thing it takes a lot of discipline to consistently turn the other travellers down so you can hit that deadline.

I honestly question a lot of the people who claim to earn 6-figures while living on a beach.

If you examine most of their lives they often live in a place where the cost of living is extremely low.

It's hard to run a profitable copywriting business from the beach

And after speaking to many people who do this, they’re often earning very little. The reason they live in a developing country is not because of the weather or anything other BS they’ll tell you, it’s because it’s all they can afford.

If you actually want to go do this, sure, knock yourself out.

As I mentioned, I did it and had a ball.

I know from first hand experience that you can make a living while chilling on the beach.

But if you want to build a serious business, the kind that hits 5 and 6 figure months, you’ve got to get more serious.

Those kind of businesses aren’t built on 4 hours of work per day that’s fit in around sipping cocktails and getting a tan.

I’m not saying it’s impossible, cause it’s not. But it is something a lot of people oversell.

With the basic explanation of “what is copywriting” out of the way, let’s get more detailed and take a look at what the average copywriter does.

What does a copywriter do?

We now know what copywriting is and what copywriting is not.

Let’s now examine what a copywriter does.

This is where a lot of people go wrong and never manage to make decent money as a copywriter.

You see, the copywriting industry is filled with people who would be better off as creative writers.

Those who are focused on the passion side of things rather than the results side of things.

Basically, those who think the job of the copywriter is to write.

Here’s the weird thing about copywriting. It’s not about writing.

It’s about assembling copy in the most compelling format.

Good copywriting is assembled, not written

That’s a key differentiator.

Great copywriters assemble their copy and focus, above all else, on clearly communicating their message and the benefit of the product/service.

The message they write doesn’t come from inside their head. It comes directly from the mouth of the ideal customer.

The copywriter then simply assembles the customer’s needs and desires and shapes them into a compelling piece of copy.

And when you work with people who are truly great at this, you start to see that they all take very similar actions in their approaches.

Below, I’m gonna break down the biggest, most important steps I take when entering into a copy project. These are the same steps I’ve learned from and seen great copywriters use.

Great copywriters are always studying

There is very little actual educational material out there to help you become a better copywriter.

At school we’re taught how to write, but not how to write persuasively.

Even if you do something like advertising at University, you’ll learn about the theory but not necessarily how to apply it.

The best copywriters out there are constantly learning.

They’re consistently learning how to write better copy through…

  • Doing copywriting exercises like copy work to understand what works out there
  • Analysing high performing pieces of copy to figure out the frameworks and formulae that get results
  • Reading copywriting books to get an insight into the brains of the best
  • Taking copywriting courses from those further along the path to get shortcuts to better understanding

This is the first thing great copywriters do. They continually study to keep honing their craft.

They never stop asking the question what is copywriting. They consistently look at the craft and how it’s changing throughout different eras.

Great copywriters spend more time researching than writing

Here’s the real secret to writing great copy.

Most of it isn’t new, unique, or even that impressive.

The best copy doesn’t come from inside your head, but rather comes from the mouth of your ideal customer.

Great copywriters aren’t necessarily great writers.

What they are great at is research.

Great copywriting relies on thorough research

They know who to talk to and the questions to ask to get a better understanding of why someone would want to buy a product.

Once they know all they need about the product and the target market, they simply assemble their research into a compelling format.

If you’re wondering if copywriting is right for you, but you know research isn’t something you enjoy, I can tell you now this isn’t a great career choice for you.

Research is the backbone of great copy.

Your ability to create beautiful prose doesn’t count for anything if you don’t have the research to back everything up.

Great copywriters spend more time researching the product, the customers, and the competition than they do writing.

Great copywriters… write

This is simple.

But if you wanna become a great copywriter you have to write your own promotions or pieces of copy.

You can have a great theoretical understanding of copywriting and your audience, but if you never put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) that theoretical knowledge isn’t going to count for anything.

Write daily to become a better copywriter

Write daily to get better at this.

Great copywriters make things simple

A lot of writers fall get caught in the trap of using jargon and buzzwords cause they think it sounds more impressive.

Here’s the thing though, most people don’t care how smart you sound.

What your readers want is to solve the problem they’re facing.

Your job is not to make the offer you’re promoting sound smart, but to make it obvious that this is the best solution for their problem.

I mean, tell me what you think sounds most compelling below.

“Have-a-Word is a repository of information created with the specific intent to help ambitious entrepreneurs and visionaries generate increasingly greater levels of revenue through the world wide web.”

…Or…

Learn how to make money online through the written word.

These two say the same thing.

But if you want to improve your online business, which is the value proposition that ‘s gonna grab your attention?

The latter, right?

This is the core of great copywriting.

Distilling the message down to its most compelling element and communicating it clearly.

Great copywriters test

Great copywriters test everything

Producing a piece of copy is not the end goal for a copywriter.

In fact, it’s the beginning for the best copywriters out there.

You see, the best in this game know that they aren’t going to create the perfect promotion on their first attempt.

And even if by some miracle they do, they know that it won’t continue to sell forever more.

As times change, so too should your copy.

It needs to align with today’s needs and wants, which means that great copy is constantly updated.

Here’s the thing though.

How do you know when to update something and how you should update it?

You can’t know that unless you’re testing your copy.

The best copywriters are consistently testing their creations and looking for areas of improvement, dips in performance, or formulae/approaches that can be used in other work.

Test, test, test if you want to be good in this.

OK, so that’s a quick overlook at the basics of copywriting.

We now know what copywriting is, and also what the best in this game do with their time.

Now let’s get a little more specific when answering “what is copywriting”.

Different types of copywriting work

By now you have a good base understanding of what copywriting is and what a good copywriter does.

But what exactly is this copy thing I keep mentioning?

Copy is the finished product a copywriter produces.

A sales page is copy.

This blog post is copy.

An email is copy.

It’s the words on a page that are written to get the action the copywriter wants.

However, don’t confuse all written words with copy.

Copywriters write to get a specific action.

So, the only written material that could be considered copy is that which is aimed at getting an action.

A few of the more common copy deliverables include…

DeliverableIntended actions
Blog postGet people to click on the result in GoogleGet people to sign up to an email list
Sales page / Product pageTo make the sale
EmailTo build the relationship with the customerTo direct the customer to a product page so they can buy
Case studyTo build trust and get the reader to reach out for a consultation

Generally speaking, the most profitable and highly respected copywriters are those who specialise in one or two different deliverables.

Your job is to pick the kind of copy you think you’d be best suited to and give it a try.

I advocate everyone start out focusing on one type of copywriting deliverable. Doing so allows you to quickly master it, which means you’ll be able to charge more.

By focusing on a single type of deliverable you will soon start to see the patterns, formulae, and approaches that get the best results for you and your clients.

You can then implement them in your creations to get those same results for your clients.

The list of potential deliverables for a copywriter is extensive.

It extends beyond the simple written word and into things like video sales letter scripts.

If you want to see a full list, I recommend checking out our article on choosing a niche and specialisation.

Or, if you’d prefer, you could take the fun quiz below to get an idea of where your skills might best fit.

Can you show me a copywriting example?

One of the big things in copywriting is to “show, don’t tell”.

If you can show the user why the product works it will have a greater effect that you simply saying “this is the absolute best”.

And so, to answer the question of what is copywriting I would be wrong to not include real life copywriting examples.

The below examples are pulled from some of the best sites and resources to check out copywriting examples around. Each one has the relevant link in the description.

Copywriting example #1 – Making the message clearer

The below copywriting example is from a site called Marketing Examples. It’s a relatively new site with a growing list of examples.

The below is from a post focused on rewriting weak landing pages for brands, and it’s a great example of how simply making the message clearer can really make a difference in the message’s impact.

Great copywriting examples

The updated version does a few things well.

  • It speaks to the benefit the user wants (a fully functional job board)
  • It obliterates any last minute resistance the reader might have (you don’t even need to know how to code)
  • It removes the biggest objection, cost (not paying $1000)

It’s simple, but the latter example is far more compelling for its clarity.

Copywriting example #2 – How layout can help deliver the message

This example is from Swipefile.com. A great site full of copywriting examples of all kinds.

I picked the below out because it’s very short on actual copy, but the way the copy is formatted helps to bolster the message.

It’s an ad for a dentist and it goes to show how a simple change in typography can catch attention.

This is a great ad because…

  • It demonstrates how design and copy work hand in hand.  One without the other is like bread without butter.
  • It’s simple. Again, like example #1 it shows you rather than tells you what you need to know.
  • The call-to-action is super clear. “Book an appointment today” tells the user what they have to do next, which means this will drive a real business goal.

Copywriting example #3 – Show, don’t tell

This is pretty self serving to be honest.

The below example is once again from Swipefile.com. However, this time they’re referencing something I’ve written here on Have-a-Word regarding brevity.

The piece is meant to show people that you can cut a lot of words from your copy and still communicate the same message.

However, saying that is one thing, but showing it is quite another.

Great copywriting example, Pete boyle

This copywriting example isd so great because…

  • It shows the user what the effect of doing the thing is rather than telling them
  • It is a real demonstration of the offer in action

Be sure to check out the full piece for more advice on brevity in your writing.

Copywriting example #4 – Test, test, test

As I mentioned above, testing is a key component to creating increasingly effective copy. If you’re not testing, you’re not learning.

The below copywriting example from Swiped.co shows how simple certain tests can be.

great copywriting example of a simple A/B Test

This is great because…

  • This shows how some of the biggest brands in the world are actively running copy tests on their assets
  • It shows how simple some of those tests can be, in this case, simply switching the headline and sub-head

So there’s a couple of copywriting examples for you.

I’m currently working on a huge selection of copywriting examples to help you get a better understanding of what you need to do.

If you want to be among the first to know when it goes live, sign up for the newsletter today.

How much does a copywriter earn?

This is a very difficult question to answer.

There is, unfortunately, no simple response to this.

But if you’ve been researching the answer to what is copywriting as you’re thinking of exploring this as a career, I can offer a bit of a breakdown.

In another piece on copywriting salaries, I broke down the exact numbers and income levels for different kinds of copywriters.

Below I’ve offered a very brief overview of the types and income levels. If you want to read more, simply click the blue wording above to read the whole of the other piece.

PULL IN STATS FROM DAN’S PIECE

How can I learn copywriting?

If you started out searching for the answer to what copywriting is and now find yourself interested in starting a copy career, you’re gonna need to learn the ropes.

There are dozens of avenues to learning how to be a great copywriter.

However, I’m a man of action and believe that taking action is the best way to learn anything.

If you’re a completely newbie who wants to learn copywriting, here’s the general process I recommend you take.

How to learn copywriting

Step 1 – Learn as much about effective copywriting as possible

The first thing you’re gonna want to do to learn copywriting is to fill your head with as much relevant knowledge as possible.

Take the niche and specialisation quiz and article as a starting point.

Once you know what kind of copywriting you want to specialise in, it’s time to learn how to do it well.

You can do this for very little money, which is what I recommend if you’re brand new.

You’re going to want to search for information in one of a few places.

  1. Find and bookmark the websites out there that offer free practical advice in copywriting. A couple of sites I’d recommend are…
  2. Have-a-word.com (also sign up to our daily newsletter for more advice)
  3. CopywritingCourse.com
  4. VeryGoodCopy.com
  5. Get well-reviewed copywriting books that explain the mechanics of copywriting. These can be bought for a few bucks and could help you make thousands. Here’s a full list of the copywriting books that have helped me improve and grow my business.
  6. Follow companies in the niche you want to work in to see what they’re putting out in terms of copywriting.

Follow these 3 steps to understand what makes good copy and what the brands you want to work with are already doing.

You want to fill your head with lessons about copywriting so you can start to see the patterns successful brands use.

Step 2 – Practice what you’ve learned

I really dislike people who only have a theoretical knowledge of a topic.

They can often explain why something should work, but they have no idea how to actually implement it in their own, their clients, or their customer’s businesses.

And I’d see this all the time from the “armchair boxers” back when I was a competition fighter.

These folk would know exactly what every single fighter, famous or not, was doing wrong. They’d know, with absolute certainty, what that person should do to win the fight in that situation.

Thing is though, that knowledge always counted for nothing. Put those people int he ring and punch them in the mouth and it all falls apart.

Their perfect approach would disappear faster than smoke in the wind.

Theoretical knowledge and wisdom gained through practical application are two very different things.

I could point you to dozens of “thought leaders” in our space who build platforms based on knowledge which is, in effect, little more than regurgitated information.

Thing is, I’m not the only one who hates these folk.

If you check the biggest brands out there and who they’re hiring, it’s the people who are putting that theoretical learning into action. Not the people who just know a lot.

It’s the people who are taking a vague understanding of a concept and figuring out, through trial and error, how it will work in real life.

If you wanna be taken seriously, you need to do the same.

So step 2 is to take what you’ve learned and actively practice it.

If you’ve decided on sales pages as your deliverable, that means writing real life sales pages.

If you wanna focus on emails, you should start writing emails.

If you’re going with blog posts, you should be creating blog posts.

You want to get as much real practice as possible. You’ll learn far more putting the things you’ve learned into action on 3 projects than you would from reading another 20 books.

However, a lot of copywriters get this step wrong and end up taking action that, ultimately, results in zero real-world progression.

To make sure this isn’t you, follow these rules.

1 –  Write things your ideal clients would want to publish.

Don’t do what so many copywriters do and create something about your interests.

You need to create stuff that appeals to your ideal client’s audience.  Or to your ideal clients.

A lot of writers write something bullshit like “My daily writing schedule”. Which means nothing to a business who just wants copy that’s gonna make sales.

Make sure you’re creating samples that showcase your abilities, but also appeals to your ideal client’s / their customer’s needs.

2 – Do it for real

Don’t just pop things into a Google Doc.

You want to publish your copy on your own website. And if you don’t have one then through Medium.

If you’re doing email marketing, build your own email list and practice selling to them.

Do it for real. With real stakes. And for real money.

That level of seriousness will force you to try new things and get better. And it’ll help you get some awesome samples for your copywriting portfolio, making it easier to land bigger and better clients.

Step 3 – Sell it to clients and try it on a bigger scale

Once you’ve learned the basics of your chosen copywriting speciality and have some experience in putting it out into the world, it’s time to sell it to clients ?(here’s a list of all the places and actions you should take to land copywriting clients).

Not only will this give you a deeper level of understanding, but your confidence and skill will grow.

All because you’ll be trying what you’ve learned on a larger audience and getting real life data and feedback from the clients.

The lessons you’ll learn here will be most valuable. You’ll;

  • Gain a deeper level of understanding and thus, confidence
  • Learn how to perform under real pressure
  • Get your name out there and associated with real companies
  • Build genuine authority and have the proof to back up your claims
  • Get people to recommend you to other business

Action breeds confidence and capability. So take more action.

Step 4 – Step up your copywriting education

What I tend to see most newbie copywriters do is falter here.

They hit a plateau that they struggle to break through.

This is where you need to get serious about your education.

The books and free lessons are great for getting you started. But the best of us never stop learning.

And the best thing to do to further your copywriting education is to enroll in a training course from a skilled and accomplished copywriter who’s already achieved what you want to do.

(You can get a full list of the best copywriting courses here)

By getting this structured approach to education on a specific topic is the shortcut you’ll need to double your revenue as a freelance copywriter.

Despite what a lot of course creators will tell you, this is not the first step you should take.

As a newbie, the free materials will be more than enough to give you a starting foundation.

A course should really only be used to compound the results from an already growing career. They’re shortcuts to get you past plateaus and ceilings, not simple explanations of how to do basic things.

Once you’ve worked with a few clients on your own you should seek out a mentor to help you multiply your success.

I mean, if you were working in an agency you’d have a senior copywriter to guide your progress. Someone who’s been in the industry for years and knows how to best help you.

As freelancers, we don’t have that luxury.

You can try to self-coach. But that’s a long, hard road.

It’s often better to seek out someone who can offer the right kind of guidance you need right now.

And if you can’t yet afford one of these expensive courses, check out our full, free guide to hitting 6-figures as a freelance copywriter here.

Step 5 – Rinse and repeat

You’re never going to stop learning about copywriting and how to better your promotions and creations.

Every time you think you have something mastered, you need to challenge yourself to learn something new.

That could be a new kind of copywriting, how to branch out into another niche, or simply something that might help you better understand how to run a more effective business.

The education never stops.

That’s it for this piece. I hope that I not only answered your question on “what is copywriting” but that I also offered some deeper insight into what it is we copywriters do, why we do it, and how you can too.

Any questions, drop them in the comments below.