Will Wang is no stranger to the business of copywriting.
As someone who started from a 9-5 working as a data analyst and business intelligence analyst for a collection of big corporate IT companies to establishing his 7 figure copywriting agency Growth Labz, he’s done the hard yards and has gained a lot of valuable knowledge of the ins and outs of what it takes to be successful in this industry.
In a recent online workshop ‘5 Things You Must Know to Have a Successful Freelancing Copywriting Business’, Will dove deep into the challenges, realities, and processes of starting from scratch and building a freelancing business in today’s climate, while clearing up all the common misinformation and misconceptions that are circling around the internet (Instagram gurus we’re looking at you).
It was a combination of honest, down-to-earth advice mixed with knowledge and experience.
Whether you’re already in the process of setting up your freelance copywriting business, have been seriously thinking about it, or are just curious about what it involves, these 5 key points from the workshop will be sure to come in handy.
Let’s get started.
The first and foremost thing you need for a successful freelance copywriting business is happy clients.
Happy clients are the foundation of any successful business and are ultimately what is going to make your business model sustainable and valuable for yourself and your clients.
One effective way to do this is to find clients that are a good fit for you as soon as possible. By focusing on who the right clients are for you, it’s ultimately going to be a much more enjoyable process for you as a freelance copywriter.
Will outlines his experience early on in his days as a freelance copywriter which involved a bunch of clients in the wrong industries asking him for the wrong type of work which proved to be a nightmare to manage.
Now he’s in a position where he has a collection of amazing clients which allows him to do what he does best and have an appreciation for the work he does and his team.
It sounds ideal, doesn’t it?
So even when you’re at that stage where you’re just starting out, try and find those clients that are a good fit as soon as possible even if you’re doing a bit more work because you need to pay the bills.
Because in the end, it’ll be worth it.
Don’t Burn the Boats
This is a very common piece of misinformation that I’m sure you’ve seen a few times on your social media feeds or stories.
Burn the boats, take that leap and dive fully into your new freelancing career and leave no way back. Isn’t life all about taking risks into the unknown? Do you really want to be at your boring, soul-sucking 9-5 the rest of your life? Why not leave now?
According to Will, this is one of the worst pieces of advice you can have. Why? Because he made the same mistake himself.
If anything, leaving your day job too early can slow the growth of your freelancing business.
The thing is, you need to pay the bills. When those are coming in, you’ve got to put food on the table, pay your rent, and all the costs associated with being an adult and running a business.
If you’re in a position where you don’t have a regular source of income, you’re probably going to make the wrong decisions for yourself and for your business. It’s highly likely you’re going to take on the wrong clients and charge less than you deserve for each project, just out of desperation to get those bills paid.
So don’t burn your boats just yet. Get yourself in a really comfortable position before you leave your job.
Will recommends being able to generate 150% of your monthly salary for three months straight before you even think about leaving and having at least six months savings. In his experience, there are many costs that can very quickly eat into your savings if you’re not careful.
To summarise, don’t jump until everything is steady, you’re ready to go into freelancing full time and it’s already supplying you with more income than your current job.
We’ve all seen them before on our feeds, flashy videos from ultra-successful gurus promising a quick solution or process to make thousands a week with little to no experience or skill.
Sounds like a dream right? Follow these 4 simple steps and you’ll be traveling the world sitting on beaches working 2 hours a week with all the free time to do what truly matters to you.
Just buy this $1500 course and kiss your old life goodbye.
This is not sustainable and can be very detrimental to running a business that provides value for its clients.
In fact, according to Will, freelancing is all about creating value for your clients and not trying to rip them off in some stupid kind of way.
Delivering clients substandard products and services that don’t provide value to them because you don’t have the experience and skill is simply a poor way to conduct business which will ultimately fail in the long run.
To get fantastic clients that let you do what you do best while you provide them with something that really helps them, you need to get experience.
Research, practice, and absorb everything copywriting until you start to get to a level where you know you can start really making a difference to your clients. Go out and get that experience in copywriting before you start thinking about freelancing and starting your own business.
Do this, and when you finally do decide to take that leap, you’ll be ready.
Know your Numbers
Create an effective, organized method that revolves around your goals and numbers.
If you’re thinking of leaving your 9-5 and want to generate a sustainable freelancing income, you need to plan a way you’re going to replace that yearly salary.
So how do you crunch the numbers?
Will presents an effective way of doing this called the BAMOS system. The first three letters of BAMOS stand for Bare Arse Minimum, which is what we say in Australia instead of Ass.
The O is for objective, so what you’re aiming for every month is to know you’re heading in the right direction with your business and to keep track of your progress.
Coming in last the S stands for Stretch Goals, which is what you’ll use to be building on your objectives every month. When you start building up some momentum, it’s time to stretch those goals and keep aiming higher so your business can start to grow and prosper with you.
So to elaborate further on BAMOS, determine what number is the bare minimum you need in your bank account every single month. This is the bare minimum, and if you don’t reach it it’s a cause for concern.
Next, pick yourself a number that is the objective that you aim for. This should be something that pushes you, but is achievable, and will help the business continue to steadily grow.
Finally, pick a stretch goal number, Something that feels unattainable but would be nice to have for the month.
If your Bare Minimum is around 10,000 a month, your objective could be anywhere around 15,000 and your stretch goal might be about 20,000 for the month. It sounds great right? They are, especially when you have great clients and the opportunity to invest back into your business.
Of course, adjust your numbers depending on your situation. If you’re just starting out, your Bare Minimum and Objective will most likely be lower, however, always aim to keep expanding those numbers as you get more experience and build a happy client base.
If you’re not hitting your objective numbers month to month, it’s time to reassess. As long as you’re above the Bare Arse Minimum, see what’s working and what isn’t and aim to hit that stretch goal every single time.
By knowing your numbers and having them in front of you every single day, you’ll have a much clearer idea of what needs to be done and where you’re currently at with your business.
Know your numbers, consistently track them and figure out where you need to be.
Have a System in Place to Get Clients
This is going to be the most comprehensive section so far, so let’s break this one down into 5 points.
These are 5 different strategies to help you get your next freelancing clients.
Plain and simple, you need a system that will keep generating work for you as a copywriting freelancer, you need the regular clients coming in. Following these five strategies will give you a boost in establishing that system to start really pulling in those high-quality clients.
Referrals From Friends and Family
Starting off is getting referrals from your friends and family.
It’s quite easy to execute as you already have those deep connections with the people close to you in your life.
All it takes is reaching out to them and asking if they can give you a hand. Tell them you’re looking at becoming a freelancer in copywriting and searching for opportunities to do some work, get some experience, and build a portfolio.
Even if they don’t directly need help, they might know somebody who does and give you a referral.
In Will’s experience, his first two clients came from his family’s network. Through his father-in-law’s stonemason business, he got the opportunity to experiment with two builders that had hired his father-in-law’s services.
Without a doubt, it’s a great place to start.
Nowadays, there are tons of job boards and online resources where businesses and individuals are looking for freelancers and contractors in tons of industries.
Places like Upwork are where Will got some of his first clients. He started off charging around $30 an hour for copywriting services, such as writing sales letters. Now he says if he was working on job boards now, he would be charging around $500 an hour.
However, you don’t want to be staying on these platforms permanently.
It’s a fantastic way to start getting some work to hone your skills and build your reputation. While you’re doing this and see yourself getting better and generating bigger and better results, try to raise your fees as soon as you possibly can.
That way you can start raising those objectives like we talked about before.
Partnerships and Referral Networks
Everyone loves a good collaboration. A great partnership can help two or more parties achieve goals that wouldn’t have been possible on their own.
Which is why seeking out partnerships with other businesses and freelancers is a great way to expand your network and provide better value for your clients. There are many opportunities to form partnerships, so ask yourself, who else is working for the clients that I want to work with?
Think about how you can structure a relationship that is mutually beneficial for all parties involved. Think of ways that you can provide both values for your partner and for the client and kick things off as soon as possible.
One example Will mentions is in his first two years of copywriting, he partnered up with a local magazine that had advertisers putting up ads targeting local businesses. He walked in and offered social media advertising and copy as a compliment to their offline activities and to boost their online presence.
You don’t always have to go it alone. See who else is out there and provide value as a team.
You’ve been doing the three previous steps and you’re getting a bit of a reputation and starting to see the portfolio of case studies and happy clients grow.
Congrats! You’re starting to get a bit of momentum.
At this stage, a helpful method you can start thinking about is direct outreach, a little more advanced than the previous three.
This is a method in which you can find clients who are a bit bigger than the clientele you’ve been working with up to this point, different clients within different industries, and people outside your direct network.
Two effective ways to get new leads and clients, if done correctly, are emails and social media outreach.
These are both highly dense topics that both deserve an entire article each (keep an eye out), however, these have been proven to generate fantastic results and scale businesses massively in the past.
In Will’s case, he wasn’t a fan of cold calling and sales but he knew he could write well. He notes that cold outreach emails have been a big confidence booster when recipients have informed him that the emails have made them laugh or complimented him on his writing.
Cold outreach is a great idea and massively beneficial if done right.
Teaching your Craft
The last tip is to think about who you can teach about copywriting. Who is teaching the audience you want to reach and where are they learning it?
One of the ways Will went about this step early in his journey was looking where he could teach about Social Media Advertising, Facebook Ads, LinkedIn ads, and so on. He went to places like his local Chamber of Commerce and business associations, asking the organizers if their audience would like to learn these topics for their own businesses.
The response was overwhelmingly positive.
80% of responses were a resounding yes, with the other 20% mainly organizations who already had somebody teaching a similar topic or it wasn’t relevant to them.
To this day, Will still does a lot of teaching, sharing his knowledge and experience in the copywriting field (as you can probably tell). From educating others and empowering them with knowledge on topics like creating a really good ad, he always gets people reaching out to him afterward asking if he can help them with the very thing he taught them.
Empower, help and educate others while building your business and getting more clients.
It’s the perfect combination.
So there are a few strategies that you can try out and implement, whether you’re already in the thick of starting a freelance copywriting business or just looking for some general info.
To summarise, here are the main takeaways from the article:
- Don’t underestimate the amount of work involved
- Watch out for all the misinformation out there
- You’re not going to get rich overnight
- Get experienced and get very good at what you do
- You probably won’t be working 2 hours sitting at a beach every week
- You can build a solid, sustainable live style (or more) business
Freelance copywriting is a fantastic way to make a fulfilling living, however, the reality is it comes down to how much value you can provide for your clients and how committed you are to constantly learn and evolve day in, day out.
Put yourself in the mindset to absorb and learn from everything and anything copywriting, business, and upskilling you can get your hands on. Read that book, search for a great coach, make those mistakes and get that experience.