How to Start a Copywriting Business
A freelance copywriter is a professional writer who writes words, or copy, for businesses on a contract basis.
Freelance copywriters can write words for various different topics and needs including, but not limited to, digital advertising, print advertising, social media content, blogging, speech writing, website content and more.
With the growing need for material to be used on digital channels, brands are always looking for copywriters to create content for their different channels.
Many copywriters have a degree in a related field such as an English, journalism, or communications degree but this is not necessarily a requirement.
If you have strong writing skills and a solid portfolio, you can make a really good living as a freelance copywriter!
If you’ve been wondering how to take your writing skills and make a career out of them, keep on reading.
We are going to talk about what it takes to start a copywriting business in this step-by-step guide.
Let’s get started!
How to Start a Copywriting Business:
Write a Business Plan
Many small business owners skip this step when starting out but writing a business plan is actually a key component to success.
For a copywriting business, it doesn’t have to be super elaborate but it should at least include the following:
- Goals – set short and long term goals for your business
- Business strategy – how do you plan on making money
- Target clients – who are you going to reach out to and who are your potential clients
- Competition – analyze your competition so that you know what you are up against
- Services – what services will you offer: advertising copy, website content, email marketing, etc.
- Rates – establish your rates.
Writing out your business plan will help you see what your business will look like and will help identify your strength, challenges, and any areas that need more improvement or development.
A business plan maps out the specifics of your business and can shed light on unknown factors that could negatively impact your business down the road.
Choose a Business Name
Your business name is more important that you think!
It is what people will remember you by and so you want it to be easy to remember and brand-able.
If you already have a name in mind, you can reserve your business name so that it doesn’t get taken by someone else while you make a final decision.
You can reserve a business name by completing a Name Reservation Request online in the state where you live.
There is a usually a filing fee ranging anywhere from $10-$25 and you can get name exclusivity for up to 90 days.
This gives you time to choose a name without losing the one that you love but are undecided on for now.
If you already have a name in mind you will want to do an internet search to make sure you name is not already taken.
You may also want to consider trademarking your business name once you decide on one.
This will prevent anyone from trying to create a business with the same name as yours.
Form Your Business Entity
Once you have a name, you’ll need to decide on a business structure, also know as a business entity.
There are several business structures to choose from including sole proprietorship, limited liability company (LLC), Corporation, etc.
You will want to consult an attorney if you are not sure which business structure to choose.
You can also use a formation service that will handle the entire process for you.
Many small business owners choose an LLC because it provides limited liability protection to you as the owner and it benefits from pass-through taxation.
Checklist to Complete to Form Your Business:
- Select a business entity type: Sole proprietor, LLC, Corporation, etc.
- Obtain an EIN (Employer Identification Number) from the IRS – once your online application is complete, you will receive an EIN instantly.
- Register your business locally in the State in which you will be conducting business. This is done with the Secretary of State in the State in which you will be doing business.
- Obtain any business licenses or permits required in your State to operate a freelance copywriting buisness. These can also be found at your local Secretary of State website or by simply doing a Google search.
Set up the Business
The following things will help you finish setting up your business:
- Open a business checking account (you will need an EIN to do this)
- Setup a way to manage your accounting whether it be a software program or spreadsheet to begin. This will help you track your income and expenses as well as invoice clients.
- Create a “media kit” that outlines your copywriting services.
- If you plan on having employees work for you, setup a payroll system or a way to pay your 1099 writers.
You can learn more about setting up a business in our step-by-step guide here.
Gather your Best Work
Most, if not all of your clients will request writing samples before hiring you to write for them.
It is important to put together a strong portfolio with all of your best work.
Gather writing samples from your work that showcase your talent and demonstrate the range of media, industries and clients you’ve written for.
If you don’t have a huge portfolio, you can created copy of the types of work you’d produce for big brands and companies.
Create a Portfolio
Now that you have all of your best work gathered, you will want to create an online portfolio that you can display for potential clients to see.
The online portfolio should showcase your writing as well as a list of services and any customer reviews you have received.
Create a Legal Contract
As a freelance copywriter, you will want to create some sort of contract that clients will need to complete and sign when engaging in work with you.
This document can be like a Scope of Work that clearly outlines the work your client will receive from you.
A contract outlines the services you’ll provide, the timelines for completing the work and the amount your client will pay you for your services.
It also should include any rights to your work and whether of not your work can be reproduced or copied.
In order to build a client base, you are going to have to market yourself.
Spend some time building your website, portfolio, business cards and perhaps flyers that you can hand out.
In addition, you will want an e-mail address and easy way for clients to contact you.
Attending business and marketing events and conferences is another great way to build relationships and gain new clients.
Your marketing materials should provide pricing and a service list so customers know what you offer and how much it will cost.
Customer Reviews and Referrals
Customer reviews are an excellent way to build credibility and grow faster.
Encourage your customers to leave you a Google or Yelp review or leave a review on your website.
You can incentivize them by offering a discount on their next project for sending you referrals.
Build a Great Reputation
The best way to do this is by providing an excellent service at a fair price.
Showing up on time and following through on your promises is also part of building a great reputation.
Happy customers will be returning customers and they will also be the ones that send you referrals by word of mouth.