How To Get Copywriting Clients
Sam H dropped a question on a comment on “Immersion.”
“P.S. This is kind of a silly question but when you’re a noob at freelance copywriting, how can you start finding clients?”
This isn’t a silly question at all. In fact, you could write books on it and still come up with new ideas, and I doubt that there’s a copywriter in the world who wouldn’t like to get more clients (or different ones, at least.)
Bearing in mind I’m not an expert, here’s what I did to get recurring work. I’d probably advise people to be more aggressive than I am as far as getting comfortable is concerned – don’t get comfortable where you are if you want to move up the ladder.
As always, other people come into this differently.
Start With Freelance Sites
There are loads of criticisms of freelance sites. I’ve worked on:
oDesk (Now UpWork.)
The criticisms are that the customers want cheap work, the freelancers are Filipinos or Indians working for $3 a day, etc.
Those are true, but in my experience, that’s pretty good if you’re not one of those people.
Also, I’ve hired, or tried hiring, people from all of these sites for various things, so I feel I can talk about this.
The wages are low. On freelance sites, you’re probably working for a penny a word (to start with.) There’s no getting around that.
But, if you speak English natively and you can write in a way that’s even vaguely understandable, you will get work.
You’ll get repeated work. People will ask you to do higher paying, more technical work as you go on too.
There might be a million sellers on oDesk, but only a fraction of those are actual competition.
For instance, I’ve just searched “copywriting” in Fiverr… on the first page, one of the first results is a gig that for $20 will write the main pages of your site. Here is part of the description:
“First 4 are the most important pages of a website which commonly visited by the clients so if your these pages are filled with quality content and explaining yourself briefly then you can surely impress or engage your visitors.”
(No disrespect to whoever he is but,) This guy has got a broken-English description, a service selling for $20 and 375 positive reviews.
If you have better English than that, then you can sell writing services on Fiverr and oDesk.
Bizarrely, the overall quality on oDesk and eLance is probably worse than Fiverr.
Anyway, next step.
Move Outside Freelance Websites
It’s against the rules of most of these freelance websites, so don’t push too hard, but you should move your clients off the site eventually.
What happened for me was that clients kept asking for more complex stuff, or monthly packages.
I’d have people buying twenty articles at a time, and wanting me to write Facebook descriptions and it was all outside the scope of a five or ten dollar project. That’s when you can pitch to them (although, if you wait as long as I did, people will start pitching you – don’t want that long.)
Once you’ve got their emails, moving above and beyond is straightforward, because you can build an actual relationship with them. You can also give them a referral code or send them regular upsells or whatever.
I haven’t done this, but one of my friends gets most of his business from offering 10% of the initial price to the referrer.
How To Get Copywriting Clients From The Real World
This is probably more what you’re after.
I’ve tried a million different things, and honestly, building a reputation takes time.
Before I started copywriting I’d already done web design and development (not that you’d tell from this site!) so I’d already gotten over a fear of cold calling, direct mail and the like.
Here are four ways to get clients with varying success:
I’m introverted and rubbish at this. That said, it’s obviously the best way to get business. Work with other people, have people talk about you, give out business cards or whatever.
If you live in the middle of nowhere and don’t know anyone, then do the same online: send out emails to companies, start a website targeting your area, write for other sites.
- Web-Search Kung-Fu
Use quotation marks for Google. Instead of searching We’re in need of Freelance Writers, search for “We’re in need of freelance writers.”
If you find someone on Twitter who lists themselves as a freelance writer at X, then go to X and see if they’re hiring.
Even if they’re not, just write them an email saying, “Hey. I head from a friend (it doesn’t matter if they’re your actual friend) that you’re looking for copywriters. Here’s my portfolio link.”
That’s something – get over a fear of rejection. I’ll send emails out to anyone who looks vaguely interesting. The worst thing that’ll happen is you don’t get a reply. That stings for the first hundred or so, but it stops after that.
Black Hat Tip: Go to jobsearch sites, find companies that are looking for copywriters. DON’T Apply To The Job.
Instead, go to the company website and find the boss or marketing guy’s email and then email him.
“Hey. I was talking to someone who said you were looking for a writer. I’m a freelance writer who does X.”
Again, the worst you’ll get is a soft-rejection.
- Cold Calling
My tolerance for this (just like everyone else’s) is pretty low. My close rate is pretty much nothing as well. Some people find it works though.
- Direct eMail
You can direct email just listing your services. But you need to do it a bit strategically because everyone on the internet gets mass-spammed by everyone with a copy of Scrapebox.
“Hey. I was looking at your Jamie McSloy – Contact Page and I think you could get a million visitors. We at RandomSEOCompanyName have a software that can get you a million visitors to your website overnight. Email me back.”
The only way you can get those emails open is by being relevant and having a targeted headline. Something like;
“Hey Bill. The First Link On Your Homepage is Broken.”
Or, “I can’t order from your site because X.”
The headline should get their attention without even opening the email.
Then, once they’ve checked, they’re probably going to come back to your email.
Then in the body you can point out a couple of other things that don’t work on their site.
You’re still going to get rejected/ignored a lot, but the principle of helping them out immediately and not being a spam person helps.
Obviously, it’s better to do this through linkedin or social media or any other place where they are not expecting to get spammed.
Anyway, I’ll leave it there as this is a pretty long post with loads to do in it. A key thing is to not overthink it and constantly be testing new ways of getting clients.
P.S. For email tracking, if you use Gmail then you can install an extension called YesWare which is free and tracks email opens. That’s quite handy for this sort of thing.