Think you have what it takes to be an email copywriter?

Email outreach is one of the most effective—and most popular—marketing tools for modern brands, which means that there’s a huge need for people who are pros at writing email copy.

If you’re already killing it as a freelance copywriter (or even if you’re just getting started), then you may think that it’s not a big leap to add email marketing copywriting to your repertoire. And while that’s mostly true, there are still a number of email copywriting best practices that you’ll want to be aware of so that you can wow both your clients and their audience.

To help you out, we’ve put together this quick guide to the basics of email copy writing for beginners—including how to get started with (and how much to charge for) email copywriting services. 

Source: Unsplash
If you’re already freelancing, why not add email copywriting to your gig lineup?

What is Email Copywriting?

Let’s start with the basics: what is email copywriting—and what is an email copywriter?

Email copywriting refers to any sort of content involved in a marketing email, from subject lines and preview text to the body copy itself. An email copywriter writes this copy for brands, generally with the purpose of engaging with and converting both existing and prospective customers.

Aside from format, there isn’t a whole lot of variation between email marketing copywriting and general copywriting. In both cases, it’s the copywriter’s job to create convincing copy that hooks an audience and, ideally, compels them to action. 

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Email Copywriting Examples

When you think of writing email copy, the first thing that might come to mind is email newsletters. And while those are certainly a big part of the job, there are many types of emails that businesses hire copywriters to compose for them (which is good news if you’re figuring out how to make money copywriting and email marketing—there’s a lot of room to diversify within the field).

Here are some email copywriting examples that you’ll want to get familiar with:

Promotional Emails

farmer's dog email
The Farmer’s Dog uses short copy—and a great deal—to sweeten the deal on their all-natural pet food. 

Promo emails are all about a great deal—and a great hook. While there normally isn’t a ton of copy on the page, email copywriters are tasked with giving readers a succinct overview of what the promotion is and how it can be applied, plus coming up with a stellar subject line.

Feedback Requests

"tell us what you think" survey
Feedback surveys are essential to company success, and Panera knows that emails are one of the best ways to get customers to fill them out. 

Companies rely on customer feedback in order to optimize their products and services. And how do they collect that feedback? Surveys, many of which are sent through email. Email copywriters should encourage readers to take action on surveys with simple yet specific copy.

Product Emails

Squarespace offers a lot of features, and product emails like this one help customers understand what’s available and how they can put it to work. 

Emails are a great place to spread the word about new product launches and existing product features. As an email copywriter, you’ll help brands do just that, with enticing copy that tells readers why they need whatever the company is selling.

These examples are only the tip of the iceberg in terms of what types of emails an email marketing copywriter might work on. Other varieties include:

  • Welcome emails
  • Re-engagement emails
  • Post-purchase emails
  • Cart abandonment emails
  • Company updates
  • Policy changes
  • Industry-relevant breaking news

Your primary objective and your specific audience will vary depending on the type of email copy writing that you’re doing. But in all cases, the best practices for writing email copy will stand, particularly the need to be concise, compelling, and call-to-action driven.

The Basics of Writing Email Copy

Most of us get marketing emails on a regular basis. So what separates the emails that we open and read from those we send right to the trash folder? And even more importantly: What makes us click through to a company’s website?

Every client you have as an email copywriter is going to have their own unique requests, but all of them are going to need you to deliver copy that converts. To do that, you’ll need to be well aware of the sorts of email copywriting best practices that make the biggest impact.

Here are some of the basics that all successful email copywriters need to have down pat.

Know Who You’re Writing For

In order to write an effective marketing email, you need to know exactly who your client is and who their audience is.

On the client side, this means having a deep understanding of their tone, values, and mission, all of which will contribute to your ability to write meaningful copy that’s true to their brand—and that actually sounds like it was written by a real person.

As for your audience, if you don’t know who you’re targeting, you won’t know how to approach them. Make sure that you have all of the information that you need about where the audience is in the buyer’s funnel (i.e., new prospects versus current customers versus customers that your client is trying to re-engage) and that you understand their motivations and challenges.

Nail Your Subject Line and Preview Text

You have to make a great first impression if you want people to open up the emails you’ve written, and that means nailing the subject line and preview text. And because together these only make up about 120 characters, you have a small window to grab your readers’ attention.

A few tips: Keep your subject lines and preview text short and to the point, and be sure that they accurately represent what recipients will find inside. Avoid being spammy and highlight the most engaging part of your message, whether that’s a sale, a new product, or content that can help your audience make the most out of an existing purchase.

Hook Your Audience Right from the Start

Marketing emails are not the place for long, lingering treatises that keep your readers guessing on where things are going to go. Quite the opposite, actually. Write with the assumption that your audience has a short attention span (because they do) and get to the point right away with an attention grabber that also encapsulates what point you’re trying to make.

A good shortcut here is to start your emails with a question or a quick sentence that outlines the reader’s problem before moving on to the solution that your client can offer.

Keep Your Paragraphs Short

A well-written marketing email is one that’s easy to skim on both mobile and desktop devices. And for that, you’re going to want to stick to short paragraphs—think no more than a sentence or two each.

This structure is common for web-based writing but goes double for emails since your audience is often reading your copy on the go. By keeping your paragraphs short, you ensure they can access all relevant information even if they only have a few minutes—or seconds!—to devote to the task.

Include a Call to Action

Email copywriting is all about the call to action (CTA).

Every email that you write will have a purpose, and that purpose will almost be to get readers to take a specific action, be it reaching out for more information or clicking through to a landing page. Your primary goal is two-fold: make it clear what the CTA is and get readers to follow through on it.

Work on writing CTA copy that’s clear and succinct. From there it will be the designer’s job to position it in such a way that readers can’t miss it.

How to Get Started Providing Email Copywriting Services

You’ve already taken a big first step toward becoming an email copywriter, which is doing your research on what email copywriting is and the best practices for writing email copy that converts. What’s next is learning how to make money copywriting and email marketing—and that’s a little bit trickier, though far from impossible!

Follow these steps to start snagging well-paying email copywriting gigs.

Step 1: Determine Your Niche

Almost all copywriters start by figuring out what their niche is, and the same is true for email copywriters.   

Hone in on the industries and types of companies that your skills would be best suited for, looking to your interests and past experiences to guide the way. You can expand your niche as you go, but it helps to start narrow and broaden out from there.

Step 2: Set Your Rates

Figuring out how much to charge for email copywriting is largely dependent on your skills, your experience, and your performance. So how much do email copywriters make? It can be anywhere from $20 to $2,000+ per email, with larger clients boasting larger budgets (as well as larger expectations for how well your emails will do).

Plan to start on the lower end in the beginning. As you build your portfolio, you’ll be able to ramp up your prices and possibly even turn email copywriting into your only gig.

Step 3: Connect with Brands and Agencies

When you’re looking for work, target both individual brands and marketing agencies that provide email copywriting services. Either could be the ticket to getting the ball rolling on your career, and it’s best to open up the door to both types of opportunities.

Having examples of past work is usually key to snagging a gig. If you haven’t done any email copywriting yet though, don’t despair. Use any marketing writing examples you have to show what you can do and the value you can bring to a company.

Every company out there needs someone who can write great emails for them. Whether as a side hustle or your main gig, look into email copywriting as a way to put your skills to use and make some money in the process. If you’ve got the talent, the rest will follow! 

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Written By

Laura Mueller

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