A How-To Master Class for Getting Started as a Freelance Copywriter | Kara Michele Lashley | Skillshare

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A How-To Master Class for Getting Started as a Freelance Copywriter

teacher avatar Kara Michele Lashley, Brand Storyteller, Teacher, Author

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

13 Lessons (1h 43m)
    • 1. A Sneak Peek: Who This Class is For

    • 2. Let's Get Started!

    • 3. The Business of Freelancing

    • 4. Naming Your Freelancing Biz

    • 5. Setting Up Your Workspace

    • 6. Should You be a Generalist or a Specialist?

    • 7. Putting Together Your Portfolio

    • 8. Where to Find Clients

    • 9. How to Connect with Potential Clients

    • 10. How Does Pricing Work?

    • 11. 10 Client Commandments

    • 12. The Things Top Freelancers Do

    • 13. What's Next?

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About This Class


There's never been a better time to start a freelance copywriting business. Why? Because more and more businesses are discovering that marketing themselves with great content--including videos, podcasts, webinars, social media, etc.--is how they're going to stand out from competitors. And, who do they need to create this content? Copywriters!

Instead of smothering your ambition to launch a freelance copywriting business in an avalanche of details, I've designed this course to give you ONLY the essentials of what you need to get up and going fast. It's based on what I've learned during 10+ years a successful freelance copywriter--so I know it works! You'll learn:

  • Why a freelance copywriting business is the ideal freedom-based business
  • Who you need on your "team" to maximize the success of your business
  • How to set up your workspace for optimal performance
  • How to set fees focused on rewarding you for what you do instead of undercutting the competition
  • How to set yourself apart from other copywriters and become the "go-to" choice for clients
  • What to include in your creative portfolio
  • Where clients are and how to get them
  • How to build and maintain productive and profitable client relationships

Meet Your Teacher

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Kara Michele Lashley

Brand Storyteller, Teacher, Author


Michele Lashley brings a unique skill set to the creative and teaching process. In addition to having worked as a marketing communications and content development professional for more than 20 years, she also has a legal background that allows her to inject a distinctive combination of creativity and analytical thinking into any project she works on. Michele has worked on both the client and agency side of the creative business, so she understands the needs and perspectives of both.

Being the serial entrepreneur that she is, Michele has always sought ways beyond the traditional 9-5 position to work with organizations of all sizes regarding their marketing communication needs. Creativity combined with an ability to quickly synthesize complicated information into effective marketin... See full profile

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1. A Sneak Peek: Who This Class is For: So you want to start a freelance copywriting business? That's great. And that's exactly what I decided to do about 20 years ago. It was one of the best decisions I've ever made. And now I put what I've learned over the years into this course. There's really no better time to now to get started, visit freelance copywriter. Businesses of all sizes and in all sectors are looking for ways to stand out in the marketplace and connect with their target audiences. And that's why they're looking for copywriters who can help them do just that. For writing web copy to email campaigns, to landing pages, to video scripts, to brochures, copywriters are in demand. But how do you get started as exactly what you'll learn in this course? Our learning journey in this course consists of the following. First, we'll talk about why you want to freelance, and then we'll talk about the business side of freelancing. Whether you should be a generalist or specialist. How to put a portfolio together, how to find and keep client you love. How did determine how much to charge, how to market your business, how to form meaningful and lasting client relationships. The things that top freelancers do. And then finally, we'll talk about moving forward after you finish the course. So is this class for you? Yes. Yeah, if you're relatively new to the freelancing world and want to learn the basics of getting started. If you're looking for a way to create a part-time or full-time revenue stream with your writing. And if you're ready to put in the work that is going to take to build a successful freelance business, realizing that this is not a get rich quick scheme. If that sounds good to you, then let's get started. I'd love to have you in the class. 2. Let's Get Started!: Hi and welcome to the how-to masterclass and how to get started as a freelance copywriter. Before we get started, I thought it might be a good idea just to quickly review what our learning journey is going to look like. So first of all, we're going to look at the question, why do you want to freelance? And then we'll talk about the business side of freelancing because there is one. What do you want to be a generalist or specialist? Is your difference? Who should you be one or the other? We'll look at putting a portfolio together, which is a really, really important thing that you'll need to do. We'll also talk about finding and keeping clients who you absolutely love to work with. We'll talk about how to determine what your fees are going to be and how to charge those. And then we'll talk about how to market your freelance copywriting business. We'll look at client relationships and how to manage clients in a way that's a win-win both for you and for them. Then we'll look at the things that the top freelancers in the business do. And then finally, we'll talk about next steps. But first things first, why do you want to become a freelance copywriter? It's because you're looking for an easy way to quickly bank a lot of cash. If that's the case, then you might want to consider doing something else. Or is it because you're looking for a way to work the way you want to work and do the types of projects you love. If that's the case, then yes, freelance copywriting is certainly something that you want to explore. Now, let's talk about freedom versus flexibility. So there are a lot of reasons that I love being a freelance copywriter. There's a lot of freedom involved. You know, you, you typically don't have to be working on site at a client's office. And really as long as I meet my client deadlines, they don't care when I do their work. And for me that means I can work out in the middle of the day when hardly anyone is like at the jam. I can pick up my son after school so he doesn't have to ride the bus and come home to an empty house. I can meet friends for launch and not freak out if I stay longer than an hour. So the list goes on and on and on. So for someone like myself who he's felt trapped by a corporate structure, this kind of freedom and flexibility is having. Now don't get me wrong. I absolutely love my life as a freelance copywriter, but it's not a freedom from all things. I don't like business. That's not what having freedom in this line of business means. I still work really, really hard. I get last minute phone calls from clients about changes that need to be made. I have to give up weekends or work through the night once in a while to meet a deadline, you get the picture. And while I make a great living, freelance copywriting is not a get rich quick scheme. So don't let anyone tell you that it is. But as a freelance copywriter, I do have the freedom to build the life in the lifestyle. I won't for me and for my family. And you can too, starting to freelance copywriting business can give you the freedom that you've been dreaming about, which is probably one of the reasons you're taking this course. But you do have to put the work in and you have to understand the business side of freelancing. And that's exactly what we're going to be talking about in module two. 3. The Business of Freelancing: So this isn't necessarily the glamorous side of freelancing, but it is the necessary side are freelancing and that is all about the business side of freelancing. So I often hear freelancers griping about how they don't make enough money. There's typically a common underlying issue that's going on here. These individuals are treating freelancing like a hobby, not a business. They're not doing it intentionally. But regardless, it's negatively impacting their lives. They're often dissatisfy with their work. They feel like they failed in a profession that they love. And in far too many cases they lose the joy that they've always found in writing. But here's the thing. If you want to make a living as a freelance writer, that actually allows you to live without worrying about how you're gonna pay your bills from month to month. And that will allow you to do the things you like to do. You need to start thinking of yourself as a business owner. Serious freelancers build teams. Now, these are not professionals that they keep on a payroll, but they are professionals they have a relationship with and can go to for specific information. So some of these might include having an attorney, an accountant, an insurance agent, a banker, even a business coach. Now before we start talking about all of this, let me just make it clear. This is not legal advice, accounting advise, financial advisor, any of that. I'm just going to share some things that I have found helpful in my own business. Socket attorneys first, so why would you need one for freelancing business? There's several reasons. First of all, they can help you decide what business entity you should be. For instance, should you be a sole proprietor or should you be an LLC? There are all kinds of business entities out there. Which one is the best for you? They can help you determine what licensing requirements there are. For instance, there may be licensing requirements that you're town or city has for running the business. There might be licensing requirements that the state has or others. They can help you draft fee agreements that you can use when you are retained by a client. They can also help you draft master service agreements and non-disclosure agreements. So all of these are really important because they do come up with clients. And so having an attorney that can at least help you draft yours or review ones before you signed. It would be really helpful. And also they can help with things like intellectual property issues, for instance, copyright and trademark issues. So those are some of the things that an attorney can help with. Another important person to have on your team as an accountant. Now there are a lot of things and accountant can help with. These include figuring out annual taxes, what your quarterly estimated taxes are going to be, helping you file your annual returns, helping you determine deductions, and then also helping you figure out what records you need to keep for all of that. They can, if you want, they can help you with billing and bookkeeping and also in coordination with an attorney can help you in terms of deciding which business entity. Would be right for your particular business at this particular phase. So all of those things are really important and an accountant can help you out with that. Now have an insurance agent might not be something that you think about when it comes to freelancing. But it is important because especially if you are self-employed, then you're still going to need health insurance. And if you have a family, your family will too. So if you need health insurance and insurance agent can help you find the best policy for you and your family in terms of what your needs are. Disability policy, you might not think about this necessarily, but if you are self-employed, What happens if you get injured or sick and can't work for a period of time, where's that money gonna come from? So having a disability insurance policy can help protect you in case something like that happens. Life insurance. Again, if something happens to you, especially if you have a family or others that you are financially responsible for. You want to be able to protect them. So an insurance agent can help you determine the best life insurance policy for you. And also, you might be considering business liability insurance in terms of protecting your business in case something happens in terms of mistakes, emissions, that kind of thing. So all of these different types of policies or we're talking to an insurance agent about. And you can decide, again, what's best for you and also what's best for your family. Now, of course, it's always important to have a relationship with your bank. So you're going to be doing different things. They're having your business account, their business checking account. You also might have a business credit card or debit card. At some point, you might want a small business loan. So you want to have a relationship with that bank in terms of and going through that process. And also at some point you might want to secure a merchant account which would allow you to take credit card payments. So having an existing relationship with a bank can be incredibly helpful when it comes to all of these things. And then finally, let's talk about business coaches. Having a business coach is something that I have found incredibly values since I first started freelancing about 20 years ago. Because they can really help you gain the clarification that you need. So when you're looking for a business coach, you want to find someone who has a track record of success, not necessarily like in your specific industry, but who understand your industry. So that person doesn't have to be a freelancer, certainly does not have to be a freelance writer in order to be a great coach, but they need to understand the freelancing industry. Also, find a coach that comes from a trusted referral. I've had fellow entrepreneurs who have recommended coaches to me that had been great Fitz. I also, just in the past year or so, had someone in a Facebook group that was focused on entrepreneurs. They actually recommended a coach to me, which turned out to be a great fit for what I needed at that point in my business growth. Then you want to find a coach who really fits your learning style. And you can find this out by doing just a brief interview with the coach before you retain them. You also want someone who can help you again clearly define your goals. Because if you don't know what your goals are, it's going to be very difficult for a coach to help you be successful. And then finally, you want a coach who can really provide specific steps and the coaching to help you reach the goals that you have defined. Otherwise. If you don't have this steps, it might take you a lot longer to get to the place that you want to be. So those are some thoughts about how you might select a business coach. Again, it's an investment. It's not a must have, but it is a really, really, really nice to have. Now in terms of qualities to look for in all of the team members, whatever types of team members you choose. Here's some that I think are really important. First of all, they should have a solid reputation among their clients. Ask for references. They need to understand your business. They need to understand your goals. And you want them to be available when you need them. Not that they have to be on call, but if you need an answer to a financial question or legal question, you often don't have the time to wait for a week for someone to get back with you. So you want to make sure that they're reasonably available to you when they're needed. So again, this is not an exhaustive list of team members, but these are the types of team members that have helped me over the years. So I hope that you'll consider putting together your own team that address your specific needs. 4. Naming Your Freelancing Biz: So what are you going to name your new freelance copywriting business? I have to say that one of the toughest types of projects clients asked me to work on involves naming, whether it's for a new product, the business process, or anything else. There's a lot of pressure because the right name can help set my client up for success. And not sir, right name. Not so much. And it's the same thing when it comes to naming your freelance copywriting business. Naming your business is going to be one of the very first decisions you make as a new business owner. So why should you start with that? First of all, you might have legal paperwork that you're going to be filing, light licensing applications, leases, those kinds of things. The other thing that you're going to need to do is again, open a business account. And so you'll need a name to put on that business account, whether it's a checking account, savings account, whatever it is that you have for your business. And you'll also need a name to give when you introduce yourself to clients other than just your own name. It's like when they ask you, well, who are you when you want to be able to give them the name of your business. And then finally, having a name for your business is sort of really makes you feel like you've arrived. These are some of the key reasons that you want to go ahead and get a name figured out really pretty much before anything else. Now, should you hire a naming expert to name your business? Well, you can, but it's pretty expensive. There are companies out there whose sole purpose is to come up with names. But the naming process can become extremely costly. I know I've seen and I've sent the invoices. It's an option that you should be aware of in terms of hiring and naming expert, but it's not one that I recommend to my coaching students. We're just starting out as freelance copywriters. Instead, I just advise them to come up with a name themselves. That's what I did. I knew I wanted the name to have something in it about communications and something about creativity. I had about a night to figure something out. So I ended up with caricom creative. And Kara is my firstName. And calm was short for communications. The alliteration works and it's easy for my clients to remember. Now there's no magical formula for coming up with a name for business, at least not one that I've been able to find. But there are some do's and don'ts to follow or at least to consider. And I'll share those with you. So let's start first with what not to do. Okay? Don't be too cutesy. Maybe you like bunny rabbits and think the name bunny rabbit copywriting business would be cool. It's not. Choosing an edgy and growing for creative name is fine. But remember that you want to be viewed as a professional. So your name goes a long way in making that happen. You also don't want to make your business name too long or too hard to spell because this can cause all kinds of problems. People can't remember your name because it's too long. How are they going to remember how to contact you and how are they going to refer you to other potential clients? Same with the complicated spelling. How's the potential client going to Google? You are find you in any other way if he or she can't spell the name of your business. Remember there are other great copywriters out there too, who have easy to remember and easy to spell names. If you're a busy marketing manager, who are you going to call first? Okay, don't make your name generic. I'll admit the copywriting business might be a fun name if the branding is done correctly. In fact, there might already be a freelance or using that name, but be careful about using such generic terms. You'd be amazed at how many copywriters tried to use some form of the word, right? Wr IITE in their name. I get it. It makes sense, but it doesn't help them stand out from their competitors. Now, the other thing to remember is to not use a name that's the same or very close to other businesses. Okay. If you do, you can encounter some not so welcome. Trademark infringement issues when in doubt, check with an attorney. And the final what not to do suggestion that I'll offer is consider not using the name of the geographic area where you're located. Let's say that you live in Smithfield and you decide to call your business Smithfield copywriting services. It's possible that you've dug yourself into a hole that can prove hard to get out of. Because when perspective clients see your company name, yet they live in another city or another state or another country. There's a pretty high chance that they're going to assume that you aren't available to do business with them. Because so much of business is done virtually the sage, you'll have opportunities to work with clients in many different locations. So while you might start out locally, position your business to build a national and even global client roster. Ok, now for a few suggestions regarding what to do when coming up with a name for your business. First, you want to choose a name you can also use in your website's URL. You don't want to choose a name and then find out that someone else owns a URL that has that name in it, it happens, believe me, I've been there, done that. I have come up with names for products or businesses and thought that they were really great. And then I've done a search for the URL and found out that somebody else. It was a great name too, and they have the URL for it. So just be sure to check your name in the domain registration service to see if it's available before you go too far down the road. Myself, I use my hosting service, which is Host Gator to do this. But there are a lot of other places that you can look online to check to see if a domain is available regarding your business name. Next is choose a name that your current and potential customers can relate to. Now, this isn't a must, but it can help set you apart from competitors, especially if you're targeting a specific industry with your freelance copywriting business, for example, if your focus is the pharmaceutical industry, consider using a pharmaceutical term in your name like pharma or bio, or life science. You can make up a word. But if you do, you're going to need to infuse it with meaning. So for instance, Google, lego, Netflix all made up names. There are a lot of quirky, yet very memorable business names out there, and you can have one too. But like I said, you'll need to infuse it with meaning. For instance, Google has done such a great job of doing that, that we've converted the business name into a verb When we say just Google it. Now, it's okay to use your name for your business. I could have named my business Michelle Ashley copywriter or Michelle Lashley copywriting services? I didn't but I could have. Whether you do or don't use your name as a business name, I was strongly recommend registering your name as a URL. For example, I own Michelle Ashley.com. There's not a site associated with it right now, but I own it just in case. Just as a recap, just remember, be aware of trademark issues when you're choosing a name for your business. Stay away from names that are too close to those being used by other businesses. Also, in some state, you might be required to register your business name. Was certain government entity where I live, I have my name registered with the county registered deeds office and with the Secretary of State. So you need to find out what the requirements are, where you live. And then when you purchase your domain, be sure you understand all of the terms. For instance, I have my domain name on auto renew so that I don't have to worry about forgetting to pay the annual fees. And Lucy, my right to the URL that I've worked so hard to build. Regardless of how you go about coming up with a name for your business, choose something that you love, that you're proud of. And it says what you wanted to say about your business. Get feedback from those you trust and if possible, from those who might be in your target audience. Do they understand the name? Did they like the name? But at the end of the day, you have to make the decision about your business name is one of the first decisions you'll make as a business owner. So make it count. 5. Setting Up Your Workspace: Let's talk about setting up your workspace. Now in these days of laptop lifestyles where people can go and do work from anywhere and everywhere. I guess I'm still a little bit old-fashion. If you're going to be a freelance copywriter, either part-time or full-time. You need a space that you can call your own one that supports really efficient workflow and inspires you to do your best work every day. It doesn't matter how big or small that space is. It doesn't even matter where it is. You just need to have one. So what should go into this space? Let's focus on some of the following. What I consider to be essentials. When I first started out, I use my dining room table as a desk and you know what? It was a pain. I had to pack it all up in the evenings. Either left it on a pile on the table hoping that the cat didn't get into it or add to take it and put it in a closet for the night. And the next day I had to spend time dragging it back out and sorting everything and getting everything all set up. Again. Not the most productive. Use my time. As a copywriter, you're going to be given a lot of reference materials by your clients. And in some cases they will be actual hard copies, not electronic copies. So you're gonna have all kinds of things like cell sheets, white papers, articles, brochures, slide decks, all kinds of things. The list goes on and on. So because of that, you need enough room to spread things out so you can see what you have. You're going to find that your productivity increases when you have a desk with enough space to accommodate what you need. Now, how much you spent on a desk is completely up to you. You certainly don't have to spend a lot if you don't want to or if you can. Now, if you or someone you know, is handy with tools, which I am not, you could build one with inexpensive lumber and supplies from your local home improvement store. Places like Target and Walmart have really affordable desk. I haven't got a really cool and cheap desk at a local flea market a few years ago. I still actually have it and I use it now as a printer table. So the bottom line, get a desk. And let's talk computers. If you want to know where to put the bulk of your startup money, put it in your computer system. As a copywriter and a business owner, there's nothing I depend on more than my computer. So in terms of what kind of computer you should get, well, let's first talk about laptop versus desktop. So muffin ask which is the better choice, but honestly it's a personal choice. Whichever type of computer makes you feel the most productive is the one you should get. Personally, I have both because I do like the viewing comfort of a desktop. I have a 21.5 inch monitor that's large enough for me to have multiple documents open on and I can see them at simultaneously with the monitor is not so big that it takes up a lot of space on my desk. So yes, I could have like a docking station kind of set up and just use a laptop instead of a desktop and how I could desktop monitor but I just didn't want to do that again. That was a personal choice on my part. So I do have a laptop though because I find this really helpful when I go on site with clients. So it gives me a lot of flexibility in terms of that. And also if I want to work somewhere else I can with my laptop. Now, Mac or PC, again, it's a personal preference. I've used both and I like different things about both of them. But for me, Mac is the answer. But I know a lot of writers would throw themselves in front of their PCs to protect them from oncoming traffic. Although I don't know why they're PC would be in the middle of the road in the first place. But my point, regardless of whether you purchase a Mac or PC, desktop or laptop, make your buying decision based on what you'll need long-term when it comes to features like memory, okay, it's not a good use of your money to buy a computer based only on what you need right now, think about what you'll need two or three years down the road so that you can sort of grow into your computer instead of growing out of it very soon after you purchase it. Now in terms of software, I typically stick with Microsoft Office because most of my clients use programs that are in that package. Again, it's going to be a personal decision for you and also who your clients are, can define what software you need on your computer if they're using something different for their word processing or slide design processes, then you might need to purchase that software package. I also use Adobe Creative Cloud. So you just need to determine what your client needs are so that you can then have the software that can help you fulfill them. So let's talk about printers. So for me personally, I don't print out a lot of things, but when I do print something out, it needs to be good quality. So thankfully, today you can get a very effective printer for relatively small investment, I use a Canon all in one printer that has printing, copying and scanning capabilities. So I really use that a lot primarily for scanning actually, but it was very affordable. So just go out and look for printer that again fits your needs both in terms of its capabilities and in terms of the cost. Okay, so maybe this is just me, but I have to have a bookcase and my office. But it's not a must-have item. If you can afford one, even a small one, I would say though get one, you can use it to hold reference books that you might have. Books that inspire you personal items that help your space Fillmore like your own. For me, that's really important. If it's important for you to again, there are a lot of inexpensive options out there. Now, office supplies. Okay. Put me in an office supply store and it's like shopping for groceries when you're really, really hungry. I mean, it's ridiculous really. There's almost no office supply. I can't see a need for whether it's now or whether it's five years now. But do as I say, not as I do. The basic office supplies you'll need for your freelance writing business are pretty much these. You're going to need some pens. You're going to need Notepad or notebooks. Probably a stapler in some staples, sticky notes. I use sticky notes a lot like just for mapping things out. And then paperclips, possibly, definitely printer cartridges, printer paper. And you might even need envelopes and stamps. There might be other things that you find you'll need to be efficient. For instance, you might decide that you wanna get folders to put documents in four specific client projects. But this is a good starter list we've got here and really just have fun shopping. When it comes right down to it. When you're designing a space for your business, it just needs to be a space that works for you. Everybody's is different from me. I need one that's comfortable and I need one that's inspiring. And that for me is what I created. And it wasn't expensive and it didn't take a lot of time. So just think about that. And if you want, I would love to see pictures of your space. So you can certainly email those to me at Michelle MIC H E at smarter writing lab.com. 6. Should You be a Generalist or a Specialist?: So once you decide to become a freelance or one of the first things you'll have to figure out is, do you want to be a generalist or do you want to be a specialist? And that's what we're gonna be talking about for the next few minutes. So what is a generalist when it comes to freelancing? Well, basically it's, this is a freelancer who writes or designs for a lot of different business sectors. And when I say that, I mean, maybe you write or design for the travel industry and the banking industry, and the food industry and the cosmetic industry. Just a lot of different business sectors. Create content for a wide variety of platforms. Maybe you create content for websites and four white papers and for cell sheets, and for brochures and for trade shows. So when I talk about platforms, those would be different types of platforms. And then basically you're like a Jack or Jill of all trades. It's sort of like you can do pretty much anything. So there are several benefits of being a generalist when it comes to freelancing. First of all, you're gonna get a lot of variety in terms of what you're learning, what your getting to do. So if you're someone who gets bored easily when focusing on the same thing for a long amount of time or any amount of time, being a generalist might be the perfect fit for you. Being a generalist also expand your experience. So we were talking about platforms just a minute ago. Let's say that if as a generalist, you learn how to write for websites, but then a brochure project comes along and you're learning how to write for brochure, or you're learning how to write for a magazine. Or you're learning how to write sales copy for landing page, you're getting into a lot of different things. So you're getting experience doing a lot of different things. Also being a generalist might help you build up your client base more quickly just because you're not focusing on a specific sector of business or you're not focusing on a specific type of project in terms of a website project or a brochure project. So it provides an opportunity to really reach out to a lot of different types of clients and a lot of different types of industries with a lot of different types of projects. And also being a journalist can help you identify the types of projects that you really enjoy doing and the sectors of business that you're really interested in learning more about or that you enjoy being around. So again, there are a lot of benefits of being a generalist. So what's a specialist? And it comes to freelancing. It's a freelancer who writes were designs for specific sector. So it's exactly opposite of a generalist. So for instance, for myself, I tend to focus on the health care industry. So someone else may choose to focus on the transportation industry. That's what a specific sector would be. A specialist can also be someone who creates content for specific platform. Now in this case, they might be a generalist in terms of the types of industries they work with. But they only takes a website projects or they only take print projects. So you could be a specialist in terms of the different types of content creation. And also especially to someone who has a really deep and broad knowledge of a business sector or how a platform works. So those are the main characteristics of what a specialist is when it comes to freelancing. Now, there are quite a few benefits of being specialists, and we'll talk about a few here. First of all, specialists can often command higher fees because they are a specialist in a particular area. So that information and that experience provides a lot of value that clients will pay for. And one of the reasons they'll be willing to pay more is because they're not having to teach you about their industry. So there's very little if any, ramping up time that will be required to view before starting on a project. It can create a really strong referral network for you because if you're working for one client, you do a fantastic job on their website. If they know somebody else who needs a website done, whether it's written or designed, then they're gonna refer you. If it's someone who's working in the healthcare industry and they know that you are fantastic writer for health care, then you're going to be at the top of the list of the people that they refer. And also being a specialist really helps you to focus. And there's a certain clarity that comes with that in terms of how you think and process information. Because you know that sector or that platform so well, your mind is little less cluttered and you're able to maybe in some cases, be a little more strategic and a little more creative. So which one is right? Should you be a generalist or should you be a specialist? The bottom line is, whatever works for you is the right decision for you. A lot of freelancers start out as generalist, I certainly did. And then move into being a specialist as time goes by and you start really getting a good feel for what your fees can be, what industries you really love working with, what types of projects you really love doing. So something to think about. But again, we're treating this as a business. So think about how you want the industry to view. You d want them to view you as again, a Jack or Jill of all trades? If so, that's great. Or do you want them to view you as someone who's really, really good at a specific thing and, or in a specific industry. 7. Putting Together Your Portfolio: Let's talk about building a creative portfolio and why that's so important when it comes to getting work as a freelance copywriter, I can't think of any more appropriate sentiment than show me, don't tell me to get higher pay and projects you're going to have to do more than just help potential clients that you're a good or great copywriter. You're going to have to show them. They're gonna want to see proof. And this is the case even if you've been recommended by someone who absolutely loves your work, a referral will get you in the door, but in most cases it won't land you the job. So what's the answer? Having a great portfolio that includes strategically selected examples of your best work. So what's a portfolio? Well, when I first started working as a copywriter, a portfolio was actually a physical case like a leather binder or metal box, some type of container in which we created folks put hard copies of our best work. We totaled it around the client interviews and we proudly opened it as we launch into our explanation of why we were the best fit for the project at hand. My personal portfolio was so large, it literally took up half the backseat of my car. I spent hours putting that portfolio together, deciding what pieces to include, taping things into place, figuring out the order that everything needed to be in. And I spent this kind of time and effort on it because I knew it was my ticket to getting to do the work I was dreaming about. But that's for today and it's rare that I see any physical portfolios of any size or shape. Most writers, including myself, these electronic portfolios to showcase their work. And they also e-mail PDFs or jpegs of work examples, too interesting clients. We'll talk about electronic portfolios in just a minute. But for now, just know that a portfolio is simply a collection of your best work, your very best work, work that you're proud to show the world that will highlight your strengths as a copywriter. And it is most likely to get you hired by potential clients. What you want to do is you want to gather the work that shows why a client should hire you. So what does that look like? One of the first questions I typically get from beginning freelance writers about their portfolios is this. It's like how many pieces should I include? There seems to be an assumption that the more pieces you put into your portfolio, the better. But that's not the case. If you've done 20 copywriting projects, but are really only in love and have gotten great feedback from like five of them, then just include those five, period. If you include mediocre pieces in a portfolio that's supposed to represent your best work. What's a potential client gonna think when reviewing? Your samples. So it's really about quality over quantity when it comes to thinking about what is going to go into your portfolio by the ten samples is a really good place to start. Again, five to ten samples of your very best work. You also want to include examples of your work that represents the kinds of projects you want to work on. For example, if you want to get videos scripting projects that include examples of scripts that you written. Instead of brochures you worked on, potential clients will want to see that you have the experience with the type of project they're working on. This advice also applies if you're looking to get work in a specific niche. For example, if you want to work on copywriting projects in the construction industry, show projects to demonstrate your expertise in the construction industry. Also, before you put projects into your portfolio, make sure that they are completely free of any errors, typos, grammatical errors, that kind of thing. You want to make sure that you proofread everything really, really carefully. And then finally, make sure that what's in your portfolio is the ultimate representation of your talent. Which projects are you proudest job? It can't be all of them. So be honest with yourself and choose the ones you'd love to have up on a billboard for the whole world to see. Now, when a client reviews a portfolio, what are they looking for? Well, first of all, they're looking to see if you actually have experience in their industry. So if they're in the healthcare field, they're going to want to see if you've done any types of healthcare related projects. They're looking for expertise in execution. What is the quality of the work that you're showing? And then finally, they're also looking for your ability to make them look good. In other words, if they choose you, then your work is going to be a reflection on them when it comes to the people that they report to or their peers. So these are the things as clients review portfolios that are in their mind in terms of how they evaluate your work. So that to what type of portfolio should you have? Should it be a physical portfolio like the one that took up half of my backseat. Should it be a digital portfolio or should you have both? Let's look at the pros and cons. The main thing is that with a physical portfolio, potential clients can take the workout and they can hold it and look through it. So a lot of times clients really enjoy doing that. So you'll probably have samples of some of the print work you've done. So it could be a brochure, it could be an annual report, a lot of different things, direct mail. So that's a real pro of a physical portfolio because when you go into see the clients, they can actually take out your work and flip through it. Now in terms of the prose for a digital portfolio, one thing is that work samples that you have a really, really easy to share because you can just send them through email. And digital portfolios tend to be very affordable and some cases they can even be free. Also with a digital portfolio. When it's done right, you don't have to be in the room with a client when you share it, you can just send them the link. So here's my work. Please feel free to look through it. And so that's a real pro for digital portfolios. Now in terms of physical cons, like I mentioned, portfolios and printed samples can cost a lot. So if you want to put the investment into that, I think that's fine. But just keep in mind that they can tend to run on the expensive side, particularly the really nice ones. A physical portfolio can take quite a bit of storage. Because not only do you have the portfolio itself, but you also have the samples that go in it. And also it's hard to share your printed pieces remotely because often if you have a sample of a final printed piece, you might only have one or two copies of that. So to share it, you're going to have to mail it to or drop it by to a client and then you're going to have to pick it back up. So those are some of the cons of having a physical portfolio. So what are the cons of a digital portfolio? Well, first, setting up a digital portfolio does take some technical know-how, but not a lot. Also, potential clients can't feel the work like they can when you're showing them actual physical samples. So those are two of the cons of an electronic or digital portfolio. But in my opinion, the pros and cons of a digital portfolio far outweigh the pros and cons of a physical portfolio, but there's no reason that you can't have both. So if you do decide to get a physical portfolio, there are a lot of places that you can get them, including Art Supply stores typically have them. Craft stores and also office supply stores. So look around and see if any of them look like they might be just what you need. In terms of digital options. There are a ton of them. I've listed some here. Behance, GoDaddy, Adobe portfolio, Weebly Wix, Squarespace, WordPress carbon. May there just a lot of them out there? These Only a few. I use Behance for mine and I found it really, really easy to set up. But I've also seeing others using Squarespace, Weebly WIX, and using the free accounts a lot of times with those. So there are a lot of different options. But at the end of the day, you had to determine what's going to work best for you when it comes to finding a place for your online portfolio to live. Whatever you decide to do the make getting it done a priority. There are many times your portfolio we'll sell you and your capabilities faster and sometimes even better than you will spin the necessary time put in your portfolio together. Because it's truly one of the most powerful selling tools you'll have as a freelance copywriter. Now, in terms of writing samples, in terms of what you put into your portfolio, we've talked about like what are some of the characteristics should be in terms of quality and numbers in that kind of thing. But how about the samples themselves? Well, first of all, we're going to be talking about this from an electronic or digital portfolio perspective. Try to avoid uploading just text documents, okay, that can be very difficult for potential clients to sort of interpret and see what that copy, what that text would look like in the actual formatted brochure or sell sheet or that kind of thing. So instead of just uploading the text document that you might have sent to the graphic designer. So you want to show your completed work. For instance, like if you've written copy for brochure, then upload a PDF of that printed brochure for people to see. If you've written website copy. Take screenshots of the website and upload those images to your portfolios so you want to show the completed work. Impossible. If you don't have an electronic version of the final piece. If let's just say maybe you have, you've been given a printed version of it as a sample for you to keep. You can actually scan that work and then convert it to a JPEG or PNG or PDF file. You don't have to show every page, okay. You can pick out which pages you want to show is really to give potential client just a sampling of your writing style. And I would also suggest in your portfolio, including links to the actual websites that you've written, the downloadable full versions of a document, that kind of thing. So here's a question that I get from new freelancers and a modified version of this question I get from freelancers who had been in the business for a while, but they want to change the niche they work in or they want to change the type of projects that are getting. So, but what if I'm new to freelancing and I don't have any work to put in a portfolio or I want to start doing a different type of work. Remember, we talked about platforms and we talked about, we talked about different industry sectors. So here are a few ideas. If you've never, then a freelance copywriter, One of the things you could do is you could include, let's say, newsletter articles that you've written for schools or for your religious organizations or service organizations. Now, you would definitely want to get permission to use those in your portfolio, but that would be an option. You can also volunteer to do pro bono or free copywriting work in order to get samples. For example, when I was first starting out, I volunteer to develop copy for series of ads for a local arts agency in exchange for being allowed to include the final produced ad campaign in my portfolio, which is a really fun thing to do. And then just get creative. Maybe you have a great idea for an ad campaign for product UI. Consider working with a graphic designer to develop it. It's okay, that is not quote unquote real. Of course, being clear that the work isn't real when sharing your portfolio with a potential client is necessary. What you're trying to do here with your portfolios to show potential clients how you think. And if that means coming up with something on your own and that's okay. Again, when I was first starting out, I created a full ad campaign and I mean print ads, billboard, radio, television spots, everything I can create a created as full ad campaign for a watch brand that I love. Now, the brand was relatively unknown, so there wasn't any advertising already out there for it. Of everything that I had in that first portfolio of mine. That watch campaign, that made up campaign was what opened the most stores for me because it demonstrated how I thought through the creative process. And one key thing that I mentioned here is that if the product you love or the service you love is a big name brand and they already have a lot of advertising out in the marketplace. You might want to think about another smaller, more unknown brand to do this made-up campaign for. Now again, I like you, but I'm not your attorney said don't consider this to be legal advice, but I would strongly suggest that you be sure to get permission from clients whose work you want to use in your portfolio. So remember, unless you have another agreement with them, the work you do for your clients over anyone else is theirs is not yours. So for me, I always get written permission before I put anything in my portfolio, unless it's something that I've created on my own for myself. The main takeaway here, putting your portfolio together has to be a priority because that is going to be your ticket to getting work, to getting more work into getting better work. 8. Where to Find Clients: So how do you find clients? Again, this is a very, very common question that I get from a lot of beginning freelance writers. How do you find clients? But more importantly, how do you keep the clients that you love? So you first of all, needed to decide who you want to work with. So for instance, is it a non-profit? Are you looking for large corporations, established companies, startups, high-tech fashion, educational services, professional services, health care, manufacturing, travel industry, the food and beverage industry, environmental organizations. It just goes on and on and on. Think about which of these and others that you might want to work in. What sectors are you really interested in working in? And then you also want to think about, okay, what types of projects do I want to work on? Okay, maybe it's video, maybe it's print work, maybe it's web-based projects. Knowing these things can really help you find clients that you love. And it can also help you keep those clients because you're gonna do amazing work for them. Now, where do you look? Where do you look for the types of projects and the types of people that you want to work with. Corporations are one place. Small businesses, other freelancers like freelance designers, advertising, PR marketing agencies, social media like LinkedIn, job boards like say, Upwork, former colleagues that you've worked with, and of course, friends and family who could refer you. So let's look at each of these individually and we'll talk about who you would need to contact in order to get your foot in the door, or at least be able to send your portfolio to. So in terms of corporations, one of the reasons I really like getting work from them is because they can be great sources of regular work, ongoing work, as well as well-paying freelance writing jobs. Now, who do you contact in order to find out where to send your portfolio? These are the titles I would look for marketing managers, brand managers, vice president of marketing communications. You want to look for people who have those types of titles. I've found that to be the quickest way because a lot of times these are the folks that are doing the hiring for freelance writers. And you can reach out to them via email or you can actually call them. They just leave a message if they're not there, if there there you can actually talk to them in person, configure. So those are the types of titles that you're looking for and you can look on websites and other places to find out who the marketing manager is or who the brand manager is and how to get in touch with them. Now, small businesses, they have a lot of marketing needs, but here's the caveat. Often they might not have huge budgets. So I love working with small businesses. I worked with quite a few of them as I was beginning my freelancing career. And it was a great place to do some really fun projects, meet some great people, and get some pieces from my portfolio. So who would you contact to try to get work with a small business? Basically, if it's a really small business than the person you want to try to connect with is the owner because that's typically the person who's making the decisions about where their marketing dollars are being spent. Now, as far as other freelancers are concern, I would suggest teaming up with freelance graphic designers. You can help each other get work. Because they might have clients who need copy and you might have clients who need design. So this can be a really great sort of informal collaboration. Who do you contact? So I would say just do an online search, define those freelancers who are located geographically close to you. Because one of the good things about that is if they are relatively close to you, then you can just invite in for coffee and have just an informal chat and get to know each other. And, you know, just do that kind of networking. Now, advertising agencies or marketing agencies, PR agencies, these event, a major and wonderful source of work for me. Even if they have writers on staff. There times when some agencies have way too much work to handle in-house. And they like to have a pool of dependable freelance copywriters to call on. Again, I love ad agencies, marketing agencies, PR agencies. I love the people that work there. I loved the types of projects. So I'm a huge fan of trying to develop a copywriting career that has this kind of relationship with agencies. So who do you want to contact at these agencies? Well, it'll depend. So there are the creative directors who are the people who head up the creative departments and often make decisions about who to hire for freelancing. And then there are human resources directors, especially if it's a large agency who might be the ones responsible for keeping the resumes and the portfolio links freelancers on file. You can go to advertising events in your area, for instance, maybe the local chapter meeting for an American advertising Federation meeting or an American Marketing Association or Public Relations Society of America chapter that's in your local area. These are great networking opportunities, not just to connect with people from ad agencies, but also from people that work for non-profits and for for-profit organizations. So checking to see if there are any local chapters of some of these larger national organizations. Okay, so let's talk about social media. You can definitely use social media platforms to look for war. I would suggest LinkedIn is a major one. But don't be there just to look for jobs and look like that. That's all you care about. Instead, I would suggest joining specific groups that have interests that are similar to yours and then provide value in the discussions. So there are groups on LinkedIn that are just for freelancers, join those groups. And then if someone has a question, answer it. There are also groups for women entrepreneurs and for small business owners and things like that. So you might want to join those groups and it's a marketing question comes up, are writing question comes up. You could be the one to answer it. And that's going to help establish your reputation as sort of an expert in the field. So of course, who to contact well, again, join and contribute to groups in LinkedIn. They're also really cool groups on Facebook and I'm sure on other social media platforms to, but Facebook is one that I have found where you can really get into a specific group that shares your interests, whatever it might be, writing, design, freelancing. A lot of entrepreneurial groups are on Facebook, and then you can contribute in the comments answering questions, or you could post useful information. But the bottom line is that social media platforms can be a good place to look for work, but you do have to put time into nurturing these online relationships. You can't just go in there with the number one priority being getting work. You have to spend time on these platforms on a regular basis, contributing on a regular basis so that people will become familiar with you. Now, the other thing I will say is that you can set up job searches on LinkedIn specifically for freelancing. And that can be another really interesting way and fun way of, of looking for jobs because those are actual job postings. So you could actually set up these notifications for freelancing jobs in particular industries, also in particular cities or states. And then you'll get notified whenever there is a job posted that fits those criteria. Now in terms of job boards, so these can be a viable source for work. You just don't want to get into a price bidding war because really that's almost a race to the bottom. Because it will lower your feet to a point where the work just isn't worth it. So you'd have to be really careful about how you use job boards. Again, there are some people out there who are doing a fabulous business on job boards. But it takes know-how and understanding how the, how the boards work and what clients are looking for. So there are a lot of job boards out there as I've said. And some that you can check out. Our pro blogger Upwork. It's writing gigs.com, media be stro freelance writing.com. And there are just so many others. So what I would suggest is like get familiar with them, check them out, and then decide which if any of them actually works for your needs. Okay. Former colleagues, these are people that you've worked with before. Okay. And I have found that they can be excellent sources of referrals. That's why you want to stay in touch with them and stay on good terms with them. But it's like I sit here, it's also just a nice thing to do. Because if they liked your work, if they respected you, unless to say they move to another company. You might be on the top of their mind when a freelance writing need comes up. So stay in touch with people that you've enjoyed working with, that you have a good relationship with. Because you never know where each of you will end up and you could actually help each other out. And then finally, we have friends and family. Now, friends and family, they want to help you out. They can definitely be your informal marketing department because they might actually know people there in their own networks that they can connect you with. So let them know that these friends and family members know exactly what you offer and exactly what you're looking for, whether it's specific industry and or specific types of projects. So then if they know that they can sell for you, they can be your eye. Does it involve a marketing team, your informal cells team or new business development team? You also need to tell them what your availability is. Are you fold or projects right now and can't take anything on or have you got plenty of room, plenty of openings that you can bring on as many projects as they can bring in. So friends and family, great source of referrals. Just make sure they understand exactly what you're looking for so that they can help you find it. 9. How to Connect with Potential Clients: So how do you connect the potential clients? Burnt, uh, talk about some ways to do that, some that might make you a little uncomfortable, especially if you're an introvert like myself. But we're gonna talk about ways to connect with them that are ethical. So how about emails? Warm emails and calls can be a good thing. So if a family member or friend, a colleague, or someone else that you know, makes introduction with the prospective client for you, this is the best thing that can happen, and that is what we call a warm connection, a warm e-mail or warm call. So you're not just sort of calling or emailing them out of the blue. You might want to say, hi, whoever it is you're speaking with. My name is in this case, my name is Michelle. And I'm a freelance writer who's working here in whatever city or town you're in. Such and such mentioned that you might be in need of copyrighting services. So I just wanted to introduce myself and see if you'd be interested in discussing how I might be able to help you and your team. Okay, super simple. If you're sending an email, you might also want to include your portfolio, the link to it. Okay, cold calling, which is something that makes cold chills run down most of us. It can feel really yucky, particularly if you've never really done cold calling or cells before. But it is a viable and proven way of getting work. Now there are tons of books and resources available that go into the very fine details of how to do cold calls. But some basic tips that I've found helpful are these. First of all, you want to ask to speak with the person who makes a decision about hiring freelancers because you may not be able to tell from the website who that is. And in the receptionist or whoever answers the phone can then connect, you know what you're gonna say, write it down if you need to and that's fine. Just don't sound like you're reading at verbatim. And it's important to remember that the law of averages definitely applies with cold calling. The more you call, the more likely it's going to be that you get a yes, no, you're gonna get a lot of no's also. So just know that the law of averages applies. Now. Don't feel bad or guilty for cold calling because if you are offering a service in this case, your copywriting services that you feel are excellent and that will provide value to a client, then that is something that's going to help them. So don't feel bad or guilty about it. Offer them the value of what you can do. And then like I said before, you're going to get more people telling, you know, then yes. And that's perfectly okay. Don't take it personally. Just keep calling. Now in terms of what you might want to say. Something like this, high, whoever it is, you're speaking to, my name is Michelle and I'm a freelance writer who works here in whatever area. The reason I'm calling is to introduce myself and to see if you have a few minutes to discuss your freelance writing needs and how I might be able to help. It's now a good time. Now if the prospects is yes, it's great time, then ask that person to share what they're writing needs are and then respond with ideas about how you might be able to help. Now, if the person on the phone says, no, it's not a good time, ask if there would be a better time to combat. If there is to make a firm appointment. But at the prospect isn't interested, just thank them for their time and move onto the next call. It's no big deal. Attending events is also another good way to expand your network. Now again, I know that this is really going to push you introverts out of your comfort zone. Trust me, I totally get you. Okay. I'm the same way, but it can, when you put yourself out there, it can be a really great way of making connections that can lead to work. So you can network with other freelance writers, graphic designers, marketing professionals, people that are in the field that you want to target, whether it's construction or the legal field or health care wherever it might be. This can really help jump start your freelance copywriting career because people typically want to help. Now, one of the most effective networking techniques I've used is simply inviting a prospective client out for coffee or lunch. It gives both of us a chance to learn more about each other in a setting. It's a lot more relaxed and most offices or agency environments. So invited prospect to have coffee or lunch if you dare, because it means you're going to be there a little bit longer. Keep it simple. Don't push for work. Talking about things that you have in common. Do more listening than talking, okay? Because you do want to give them a chance to talk about what they do, what their needs are. And then finally, enjoy yourself, okay, this should be a pleasant experience for both of you because remember it's about relationship building and also pick up the tab. 10. How Does Pricing Work?: So how much should you charge for your freelance copywriting services? Let's talk about money. Okay? I know this is a really uncomfortable topic, but we have to talk about it. Because remember, we are treating our freelance copywriting business as a business, not as a hobby, which means we're going to have to make money. So let's get started. First of all, you don't have an employer setting your salary now if you're a freelancer and that's a good thing, right? It is in that there is no body placing a limit on how much you can make. But it can also be a tad difficult, especially when you're first starting out. Let me tell you a quick story. So when I began working as a freelancer back in 2002, my first real client asked me how much I was going to charge. The first mistake I made was automatically thinking that I should charge an hourly fee. The second mistake I made was majorly underpricing myself. I figured out my hourly fee by taking the weekly salary from my previous job and dividing it by 40 as an a 40 hour work week. The amount KMZ twenty-five dollars. So that's the fee that I gave my new client. It seemed like a lot to me. But thankfully, he quickly set me straight. And, you know, honestly, I'd known him for a couple of years before this. So he really, really wanted to help set me up for success, which I appreciated so very, very much. My client reminded me that as a self-employed freelancer, I was now going to be responsible for paying self-employment taxes, health insurance, all kinds of other things. An employer was not willing to be paying those things for me. So by charging only $25 an hour, I'd be lucky to have enough left over to put gas in the car. So needless to say, I bumped my hourly fee up for that project significantly, and that was a much happier freelancer. You also have to get comfortable talking about money again, like I said before, money can be really uncomfortable to talk about. But if you're going to not just survive but thrive as a freelance copywriter, you need to really get okay with looking at budgets, looking with how much you need to bring in, what your expenses are. So find a way to get comfortable or at least not as freaked out when you talk about money and then realize the value of what you do and charge accordingly. We'll talk more about that in just a few minutes. Now, the hourly fee, I'm gonna tell you a bit of a cautionary tale. So. You know what, I really don't like. I don't like it when a client asks how many hours it's going to take me to complete a project. Why? Because more often than not, they're using that information to determine what they're willing or able to pay me. Their calculations are based on an hourly rate, not on what the value of the work is. So let's look at a possible scenario. A client comes to you asking for coffee for an email blast. Now you're pretty fast writer, so it might only take you an hour to finish the assignment. Your hourly rate is $70. You'd get paid $70 for that work. But as that represent the true value of the email blast copy, what if that copy or that email helps your client bringing leads for thousands or tens of thousands of dollars of new business, that $70 starts piling in comparison, doesn't it? Particularly when you realize that taxes still have to come out of that fee. So an hourly fee is simply paying you for your time, not your expertise or your strategic insight. Now, let's be fair. It's not our client's fault for asking about hours. They're just doing their job, putting budgets together by figuring out how many hours everyone will be contributing to a project. It makes total sense, at least for the client. It provides caused predictability and a simple, although not necessarily accurate way to track progress. So again, why they asked freelance writers and other contractors for hours. But here is why I don't like it. Rarely do I hear. How many hours will you need to develop the highest quality product for us? Instead is often, I know this is last minute that can you get this to us by tomorrow? In other words, they want the highest quality product created and delivered in the fewest number of hours. And because we don't want to lose the opportunity, what many of us say, we reply, Sure, no problem. By doing that. We're hoping to be seen as a freelance writer who doesn't give them any problems, who's there for them, for whatever they need, and who's willing to do whatever it takes. Our hope is that our willingness to do more for less money and unless time will demonstrate our loyalty and dependability, setting us apart from other writers, they could bring in, but does it do that? Personally? I don't think so. Instead, it ultimately weakens our negotiating position and continues to reinforce the very wrong assumption that writers offer a commodity product. We've heard it before. Oh, everyone can write, know they can't. So here are the reasons why quoting an hourly fee, particularly one that's in the lower range, can be bad for your business. First, if you start with a lower hourly fee is gonna make it really, really hard to ever raise your rates with that client in the future. When you quote an initial hourly fee to someone, of course, it's understandable that they would think that that's what you believe is fair, right? Because how many times has a client, if you've started doing this, how many times is a client of yours ever acted surprised by how low your radius and suggested that you really increase it? Probably never. I was very fortunate in that my first client was someone that I had known. Two or three years and really wanted to help set me up for success. Another reason I don't like hourly fees is because they have the potential to lessen the value of what you do and what we do collectively. As writing professionals, we have to earn the respect of our clients in the business world in general. And part of doing that is ensuring that you get paid for value, not simply for time charging by the hour limit your income. That's just math. There are only so many hours in the day. And unless you're super human, you're not going to be able to be doing billable work during all 24 of them. Again, let's take that E blast copy job that we used in an earlier example. The one you charge 74 or $70 per hour. What if you were to charge a flat fee and if you don't know what that is, you will know in just a few minutes if he charged a flat fee of $350 based on the concept of value, suddenly your income potential increases significantly. If you apply that concept to most or all of the projects that come your way. So you went from making $70 and hour to $350 an hour. And then finally, if you quote a lower hourly fee to a client, Azar, you eventually going to become really, really frustrated with that client for one and with the work you're doing for them, you're going to start resenting it and finding that you're putting in a lot more time, a lot more work, and you're not being fairly compensated for it. But in that case, the only person you have to blame yourself because you're the one who set the hourly fee. Suppose the solution. Well, let's take a look at a few possibilities. One thing I would suggest is starting to charge a flat fee rather than an hourly fee when you can. So a flat fee is great because it doesn't penalize you for working quickly. So let's say that you get a client and the client says, hey, we have a landing page that we need to put up by the end of the day. Can you write us some copy for it and the next couple of hours? And you say Sure. Well, are you going to charge your hourly fee of, let's say, $70 an hour. If so, you're gonna get a $140 for that two hours of work, and if that's ok with you, then fine. But if you start looking at it and think about at least here in the US, the amount of taxes that had to come out of that, you might start rethinking about whether it's worth it or not. So what you could do instead is say, yeah, sure, I can get it done for you in a couple of hours. And the client and say, well, how how much will it be? Say, okay, well, for landing pages, I typically charge $450 for landing pages of this length. In a lot of cases the client will say, okay, yeah, just get it done. That's a flat fee. It's not penalizing you for being a fast worker. So for those two hours you're going to get $450 rather than a $140. So that's why I really like flat fees because it is in some ways value-based. Of course, there is a time element to that too. But there are pricing guides out there. You can just go look online that help you determine what affair flat fee would be for different projects. Also, let's say if you're doing something like in the healthcare industry and you have a friend or colleague or a family member who works in that same industry. You can think about asking them what their company would be willing to pay a freelance writer for a project like the one you're getting ready to work on. Second thing to think about is if a client insist on working under an hourly fee arrangement and some do, there are two things you can do. First of all, you can set your fee at the higher end of the spectrum for your level of expertise. And make sure you estimate the number of hours, not on how fast you can write, but on how long it will take you to create a superior product. Just because you could crank something out in two hours, does not mean that that's going to be a superior product. Be honest with yourself and think, how long will it take me to create something really amazing for them? Those are the hours you want to estimate. So it's not necessarily about speed, it's about quality. So if it's gonna take you six hours to create a superior product, don't estimate two just because you could get it done quickly into and finally, be willing to walk away. If a client doesn't like your estimate, whether it's a flat fee or an hourly fee, and has indicated that they either won't be able to or they just playing won't pay you a fair price for the work you'll be expected to do. Don't take the job. And no, it can be really, really hard to turn work down. But what I found is that it's typically the best choice for my business and the best choice for me and even for the client as professional freelance writers, we want, and we need to distinguish ourselves on the value we bring, not how low we can go on our pricing. The ladder is again, anybody can play. But the former, in terms of charging on value, is one that requires business savvy, professional competence, and a renewed sense of self worth. You are worth it. Believe in yourself, and believe in the value that you bring. 11. 10 Client Commandments: So once you get clients and you loved them, how are you going to manage those relationships? Well, for me, they're basically the ten commandments, apply it Relationships. And I'm going to share those with you. First. Take the time to get to know your clients business, study it, fall in love with it. Asks for the factory tour, meaning asked to go and the business to see how things work. Asking me with their customers, get to know your clients business better than anyone else, including your client. Develop a clear understanding of what your client is looking for. You to ask for a creative brief that includes project objectives, messaging points must haves, things like that, and it needs to be signed off on by the client. Also, be sure you fully understand what you're being asked to deliver. If you don't know, ask. Number three, find out how success of the project will be defined and who will define whether it's the success? Will success be defined by a specific person? If so, are you going to have access to that person? Will success be defined by a committee? If so, what's the process for that? In order to achieve success of the project, you need to know what it looks like from your client's perspective. What does success look like for them? Manage your client's expectations from day one. Be clear about what you can do. When you can deliver how many rounds of changes the estimate covers your hourly or flat fee rate, payment due dates, late fees, rush charges, any of that. Because by doing so, everybody knows what to expect from each other. And that can avoid a lot of frustration in the long run. Get your fee agreement in writing. This helper texts both you and your client. They know how much they'll be paying and you know what's expected in return for your fee. Present your work with competence and in person whenever possible, don't be apologetic about the work you're presenting. If you don't feel like your coffee is great, didn't, don't present it. Only present your best work that provides the best solution. Remember, you are the champion of your work, so present it with confidence. It doesn't mean the client will always love what you've done or the changes won't need to be made, but it can go a long way in helping clients have confidence in you and your work. When you present that work with confidence, don't get defensive when a client asks for changes, your work isn't precious as long as changes are reasonable, Make them. If directions are shifted, then you might need to renegotiate your phi. In other words, if you come into a project and they say, we want to go in direction a, and that's the direction you go in when writing that copy. Once they reviewed it, if they say, okay, we know what we might want to go in direction B instead. For me, that typically represents a new job. So I will estimate that separately. Deliver what you promised when you promised. No excuses. Don't make your problems, your client's problems find a way to deliver. They don't care, or at least they don't need to know that you were up late the night before because you couldn't get to sleep and say You were too tired to get the work done required to get their project in by the deadline. That's not their fault. Okay, be a professional. Deliver your work when you promised to deliver it. Be easy to work with. This goes so far and getting repeat work. If you're talented, if you listen well, and if you're easy to work with, you'll get callback for more work over and over. And then finally, commandment number ten, always be providing value to your clients. Help clients think about things in different ways. How think about their business in different ways. Do simple things like sharing articles of interests with them without asking for work. They'll begin to see you not just as someone they're outsourcing work too, but as a valued partner and collaborator. 12. The Things Top Freelancers Do: Let's take a look at ten things that the top freelancers in the industry do. Now, let me just say this right up front. I have 0 interest in fulfilling the starving artists stereotype. Although I love to write when I'm wearing my freelancer hat, I'm writing to make a living, not a pittance, but an actual living because my kid, my dog and my cat deserve to know where their next meal is coming from. And Mama, aka me, is the one who has to make sure it's on the table come dinnertime. Now, there are three things that I keep in mind at all times. The work I do for clients create significant revenue and value for them. So when they process my invoice, they're not doing me a favor. They're paying for the value I provide. If a potential client was to hire freelance copywriter who will do a project for next to nothing, just to get the job have added. I am not going to race to the bottom with lower fees. It's not worth it. On a client hires me. They're not just getting a freelance writer, they're getting someone who brings both creative and strategic thinking to the table. And they're hiring a partner who's in it for the long haul and who will be a champion for their product, service company and brand. By keeping these things in mind, I've been able to shift my thinking about the value my work provides clients, the expertise I bring to the table and how much all of this is worth. And you need to do the same if you want to be a high earning freelance writer. Creature, freelance business like what it is a business. I often hear freelancers griping about how they don't make enough money. But there's typically a common underlying issue that's going on here. These individuals are treating freelancing like a hobby, not a business. They're not doing it intentionally, but regardless, is negatively impacting their lives and their businesses. They're often very dissatisfied with their work. They feel like they've failed in a profession they love, and in far too many cases they lose the joy they've always found in writing. So here's the thing. If you want to make a living as a freelance writer, that actually allows you to live without worrying about how you're going to pay your bills from month to month. And that will allow you to do the things that you like to do. You need to start thinking of yourself as a business owner. And that means you'd have to do things like getting an attorney to help you set up the right business structure, draft via agreements, that kind of thing. You need to hire an accountant who can help you navigate the tax requirements of self-employment and who can guide you in the financial decisions you'll need to make regarding your business. You need to stay on top of your billing and collections. You need to discuss your insurance needs from health to disability to professional liability with a qualified insurance agent. You'll need to create a focus in strategic marketing plan for your business. You also need to understand what your cashflow is both in and out. And you're going to have to do all kinds of not so fun, but also necessary things. By all means, do the writing that you love, that's incredibly important. But if you want to grow your freelance business to a level that will comfortably sustain the life you want to live. You also have to constantly be growing. Your business IQ. Don't just be a note-taker, be a difference maker. Speak up. Your clients need to hear what you have to say. You're coming at a project from an outsider's perspective rather than that of an insider. So you had the ability to see gaps that might otherwise be invisible to your client when you're meeting with a client. Never, ever think you're just there to be a note-taker. You're not. If all you do is recite back your client what you hear in a meeting with them. You're not providing value. Instead, listen to what's being said. Ask a questions, push for understanding and clarity. And when appropriate, challenge concepts that you feel are heading in the wrong direction, you can become an invaluable asset for a client when you prove yourself to be someone who really thinks about and processes information in ways that lead to bigger and better solutions. Position yourself to stand out from your competitors by ship potential clients hire you instead of the other 20 copywriters in town who are flooding their inboxes with emails and constantly calling to explain just how great they are. This is where clearly positioning yourself in the marketplace comes into play. You have to find and communicate your unique selling proposition, or USP. Just like you do when you're developing marketing copy for a client's product or service, what sets you apart? What's your unique skill set? What value can you bring to the table that no one else can, or at least that no one else claims they can. You need to figure out what the answers to these questions are and then put your writing skills to use in finding a creative and engaging way of communicating them. If you can't sell yourself to a potential client, how likely are they going to be to trust you to sell their product or service? The answer to that question is not likely. One of the most important tools you need in order to get great clients is a great portfolio. If you don't have one, gets started on building one. Now, if you haven't watched the module about portfolios in this particular course, go take a look at it. If you do have a portfolio, but it's not getting the attention of clients that you want. It's probably time to take another look to see if you got the right work in, if you've got the best work in. Also, take the time to name your business something that will resonate with your audience and invest the funds and having a logo design and creating a website and having business cards designed, imprinted. Again, you want to position yourself the standout and these are some ways you can do that. Gets super serious about time management. Many freelancers work out of a home office. That's one of the benefits of being your own boss, but it can also be something that really drags your business and your income way down. There are chores to do. Aaron's drawn kids drop off and pick up a rerun of your favorite sitcom to watch. In other words, there are tons of distractions and temptations that will pull you away from your work if you let them. As a freelance writer, a lack of structure in your day might be fun at first. Particularly if you're used to working in a place where another person is the boss and your time belongs to someone other than you. But it's critically important that you put a structure in place and get a productive routine going as soon as possible. Remember that you're responsible for everything about your business. You're the marketing director, the bookkeeper, the salesperson, the Chief Operating Officer, and of course the writer. So you need to make time for each of these roles. I like to use well-defined blocks of time for specific activities. For example, in a day I might block my time like this. Checking and returning emails, spent an hour doing that work on client project number 12 hours work out when our work on client project number 21 hour, Create a new lead magnet. One hour. If I don't create these blocks is easy for me to just sell one thing all day long. But over time, I've learned how counterproductive that can be. So I decide how much time I'm gonna commit to each task and I stick to it. Another thing that's helped me become more productive over the years is using the Pomodoro technique. It requires me to focus on the task at hand for 25 minutes without interruption. That I take a five-minute break to get up and walk around and after that, I bet down for another 25-minute sprint or so. I'm not saying that my way of increasing productivity is right for everyone because it's not. But my point here is to stress the importance of staying focused on work that matters. The chores can wait until the evening or weekend. Make yourself a valued member of your clients team. I see some freelance writers going after any old job they can get no matter how little it pays and no matter whether don't ever see that client again. And it makes me really tired to look at them or to listen to their stories of Whoa, it really must feel like they're running on a hamster wheel all the time. So here's a piece of advice. Don't focus on getting one-off projects. Those that involve a client, how he knew for one small job and then they're done with you. Instead look for clients so you can develop a long-term relationship with the ones who understand the value of the work you do and are happy to pay for it. The ones who have an ongoing need for writing, the ones who will call you again and again for help. These are the client that you can build a high-income freelance writing business web. And they're the ones you should focus on attracting. Get clients who can afford to pay you what you're worth. If you're always focused on being a freelancer who charges the lowest fees, then that's what you're going to get. Ridiculously low fees, which translates into a ridiculously low overall income. Don't ever get trapped in the very wrong idea that you can start off with lower fees to get your foot in the door with a new client and then raise those rates once they see how awesome you are. In more cases than not. That is not what's going to happen. Even though writing comes easily for most of us, which is why we're in freelance writing. It doesn't mean that our skills are worth less because we don't see the big Dillon What we do. Building a brand story, engaging customers in ways that cell, convincing an audience to particular service is right for them. All of these things take talent and skill, just like questioning or witness requires the specific skills I'm an attorney. And preparing complex financial statements requires the knowledge of a CPA. What you do with words and ideas carries significant value. So charge for it, figure out what it's worth, and provide your estimate to the client with confidence. Oh, and you might think about tripling your estimate before submitting it to as many of us tend to underestimate our worth. Yes, be reasonable, but never devalue the work we all do as writers by charging bargain basement phase. And one more thought about this. Focus on clients who can afford you. Not everyone is going to be the right client for you. But you don't want to find yourself agreeing to a lower fee just because someone says they can't pay the fee you're charging, they'll find someone else. That's fine. But trust me, you'll be so much happier working for people who value what you do and who can afford the fees that you charge over time. In addition to finding out what types of projects you love to do, you're also going to find out which types of projects you can command the highest fees for. So you want to find where that intersection is. What are the types of projects I love that also command the highest fees. Figure out what that is. Again, it's going to take some time. But once you figure that out, look for those types of projects again and again and again. Be a big fish in a small pond. When you're just starting out focusing on a specific industry niche for your writing business might not be practical. You're trying a lot of different things out to see what feels right and to get the income flowing in. But as you began to get your freelancing legs under you ABA suggest finding a niche in which you can specialize. Why? Because you can charge more. You'll become known as the go-to person in that industry. Your knowledge and experience will have a higher perceived value and you'll be viewed as a more valuable team member. For me, the biopharma and healthcare industries are where the majority of my clients live? No, I get what they do. I understand the goals, the language, the guidelines, all of that. And that means they don't have to spend valuable time bringing me up to speed. Instead, I can jump right in with all engines firing. I can add value immediately. I can make their jobs easier. And that makes me more than just a writer. And finally, show up. One of the best pieces of advice I can give you is this, be easy to work with and always show up. Now by showing up, I mean, meet your deadlines, be on time for appointments, be flexible. Don't make excuses and find a way to get the work done. By doing that, you're going to move to the top of a client's freelance list pretty quickly. So there you have it. Ten things that top freelancers no undo. These are things that have set them apart from their competitors and help them earn the right to charge higher fees for the work they do. There's nothing complicated about it. But if you're serious about joining the ranks of high earning freelance writers, it does require that you commit to putting these practices into place. And I for one and cheering you on. 13. What's Next?: Let's talk about moving forward. Now that you've finished the course. What's Next? Let me give you a few pieces of advice. First of all, put what you've learned during this course into action. Take the things that feel right to you and your situation and put them to work. Commit to building a business, not a hobby. We talked about the fact that if you're looking at freelancing as a source of revenue, you have to treat it like a business. So commit to doing that. Connect with other freelancers in your community. Learn from them, ask them for advice. You'll be pleasantly surprised at how willing they are to help. Always be working on your craft and on your business IQ. We can always be learning how to become better copywriters. And we can also always learn how to become better entrepreneurs. And finally, just start. You've taken this course. You've probably looked for information and other places about how to start a freelance copywriting business. You have the information. Now it's up to you to do something with it. And finally, you can always join me over at smarter writing lab.com. I'd love to have you there. And I also love to hear about your journey as you start out on your new freelance copywriting career. Thanks so much for taking the course.