Starting a copywriting business? Here’s a suggestion on where to begin.
This question came up in a copywriting community I’m part of.
‘I’m a total fledgling…I find I get overwhelmed with where to start. What first? Create a web page? Facebook/IG page? Get a proposal and start canvassing?
What would be your advice on the first step?’
Posted by Karina McDonald
Feelings of overwhelm are completely normal. There’s a lot of great advice out there. Including some of the tips Karina got back from the community, such as:
- Working out your target audience and niche
- Launch a one-page website
- Print business card
- Write an elevator pitch
- Buy templates
- Decide your rates
- Create your services.
While these are all worthy starting points which need tackling sooner or later, I think there’s an even simpler first step to getting your copywriting business off the ground.
Tell people you’re starting a copywriting business
Tell people you’re starting a copywriter business and take it from there.
While all the above suggestions are great, if you’re so box-fresh that you have no idea what copy you enjoy writing and for whom, how can you do any of the other stuff effectively?
I’m all for cannonballing into the deep end and learning on the job.
So tell people you’re a copywriter.
Let family, friends, past workmates and employers know that you’re setting up shop. You’d be amazed at what first little nibbles crop up.
Getting the word out
There are loads of ways to let the cat out of the bag. When I started my freelance business here in Australia, I posted on my personal Facebook page. It simply said, “Hey, I’m setting up as a freelance copywriter. I know a few of you have small businesses or employers with websites. Please keep me in mind if any writing stuff comes up.”
I also told friends and family in face to face in conversations. Even if they didn’t need my services, they were passing it on to other folks who might. And because they’re your family and friends, they do a lovely job of making you sound as amazing as you are.
When contacting past employers and workmates I was a little more formal. I also only contacted folks I was on really good terms with. The message I sent went along the lines of:
Hope business is going well? Just wanted to let you know I’ve set up my own copywriting business offering website copy, blog articles, emails and some press releases.
[I then personalised the messages, add in something I knew about the organisation that shows how my business services would be useful to them.]
Please keep me in mind if this service is of use to you in the coming months. Would be great to work together again.
This got me a bit of work with Harmony — who I’d worked in house with — and TotallyMoney, a new client who still send me work.
Have the belief you’re ready to handle clients
Asking for work may have you wondering how you’re going to deal with clients before you feel ready. But you are ready.
If you’re ready to start a business, you’re ready for clients. And the beauty of starting with friends, family and people you’ve worked with before is they’re aware of your current situation. They’re more likely to be understanding if stuff doesn’t go according to plan or there are a few creases in your processes.
These are valuable chances to learn with people who are on your side and clearly want to help you get your business rolling. Plus, on the job experience is a practical way of seeing exactly what business or technical writing skills you should spend time refining.
A start point that’s comfortable and easy for you
Although I’m all for getting stuck in, I appreciate this approach may not be for everyone. Honestly, there are a million and one starting points when it comes to getting a business off the ground. Everyone prioritises a little differently.
For some getting clients and money ASAP is the number one must-do. For others, doing this sounds impossible without having their house in order.
The copywriter I’m (kinda) mentoring, before entertaining the idea of clients knew she wanted to decide what copy she might enjoy writing. Focusing on researching that was her starting point.
Also, a great thing for totally box-fresh copywriters is maybe joining a copywriting community, like The Clever Copywriting School. Kate Toon has put together a great new copywriter checklist for members, which is a really clear and methodical list that’ll help you get set up. (Not an affiliate link BTW, but I am a member of the community and think it’s great.)
Ultimately, you gotta pick a start point you’re comfortable with and that’s achievable.
If you want a hand or have any questions about starting a copywriting business, feel free to drop me a line. The door’s always open.