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Can Anyone Succeed as a Freelance Copywriter?


by Nick Usborne


This is a question that can be answered in a lot of different ways.


But let's start with a perfectly simple and honest answer.




No, in spite of what you might hear or read elsewhere, not everyone can succeed as a copywriter, freelance or otherwise.


If someone tells you different, they are not telling you the whole truth.


If someone says, "If I did it, anyone can..." that is a tried and tested half-truth that should make you cautious.


You want the truth? If you want to succeed as a freelance copywriter, you need four elements in place.


1. You need some writing skills


You don't need a degree in writing. You don't even need to have done that well in writing at school. I got my lowest exam grades in English language at high school.


(This probably explains my occasional grammatical howlers and frequent spelling mistakes.)


But you do need some kind of 'way with words'. You need to be able to express your thoughts and ideas. You need to be able to paint pictures with language.


And you need to enjoy writing.


While you don't need any formal writing training, you do need to be able to write simply, clearly and with a little life and energy.


2. You need some 'commercial empathy'


You need to like the world of business. That is to say, you need to understand what makes business work. You have to understand what your clients are trying to achieve, and you must want them to succeed.


If you think business is dumb, or all business people are somehow dishonest, you'll never make it as a copywriter.


It is best if you are fascinated by business and marketing.


Myself, I am a huge fan of small business. Most of my income comes from larger companies, but I love to watch and study smaller companies. I love their inventiveness and the courage of the people who start them.


3. You need the ability to market yourself


As a freelancer you are isolated. Nobody knows who you are, where you are or what you do. One way or another, you need to get the word out.


Some freelance copywriters are blessed with the ability to pick up the phone and cold-call for new business.


Lucky them. For myself and countless others, self-promotion is a painful, arduous business. But you have to do it.


I promote my services my writing numerous articles, promoting my book, Net Words, and appearing on stage to speak about copywriting.


Other freelancers find different ways to get themselves known and to promote their particular skills.


For the unlucky few, who struggle but fail to find any way in which to market their services, they look for other work.


If you want to succeed as a freelance copywriter, you have to marketing yourself.


4. You need perseverance


You need the first three qualities in this list. But without this fourth one, all will be lost.


The life of a freelancer is paved with a thousand small failures.

We try a particular way to get some more work. It doesn't work.


We try to get more work from a favorite client. Nothing doing.


We try to get some articles published in an industry magazine.




We have a very cool idea concerning a project with a local entrepreneur. He or she says no.


We spend hours and days on a promotional idea which could potentially double our income or more. It falls flat.

And so it goes.


For myself, I probably try ten to twenty ideas that fail until I hit on one that works well. Does that mean I'm slow, or not very smart? No, I think it means I know how to persevere.


And what do twenty small failures really cost me, if the twenty-first idea makes me thousands of extra dollars?


The cost is counted only in bruises to one's ego and self esteem.


In that sense, being a successful freelancer is a little like being a boxer. If you can't take the hits, don't get into the ring.


Concluding thoughts


If you have some writing skills, love business, are able to market yourself and can take a few slaps to the ego, you can succeed as a freelance copywriter.


Is it worth the struggle? I think so. I think it's a wonderful way to make a living.


There will always be work for freelance copywriters. And nobody can ever fire you.


You'll be your own boss - master or mistress of your own triumphs and disasters



Related learning materials:


Profitable Freelancing: The Definitive Guide to Earning More Money as a Freelancer from Day One.


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