Five years ago I resigned from my last 9–5 job to become a full-time freelance copywriter and ghostwriter, turning my lifelong love for writing into a creative career.
The first year was rough to say the least. I barely earned the minimum wage, had to take on a couple side hustles to cover bills, and didn’t know the first thing about running a business.
But my knowledge and situation steadily improved. I learned a lot through books, articles, and just the daily trial and error of running a business. Writing became sustainable.
Less than a year after starting the business, I got engaged. In the week before our wedding, she resigned from her 9–5 job to join me in full-time freelancing. We lived as digital nomads for the first six months of marriage, traveling multiple countries across Central America and Europe, working from our laptops in coffee shops, hotel rooms, and trains. …
In the late 1970s, before Charles Schwab Corporation was a household name in investing and banking, founder Charles Schwab was introduced to a well-known syndicated financial columnist named Dan Dorfman.
They shared a corner table at the Four Seasons in New York City, where Schwab explained to Dorfman about his new company. At the time, high broker fees were standard within the industry of stock market investing. But Schwab saw an opportunity to significantly cut costs: His company would eliminate the expensive research and advisory side of investing to provide a discount brokerage firm.
Let customers do their own investing research, Schwab figured, instead of making them pay exorbitant fees for brokers to do that research for them. Charles Schwab Corporation simply charged the customers for the transaction, providing everyday Americans an affordable way to invest. …
I was only a year out of high school the first time someone asked me to write professionally. A local nonprofit needed a blogger and one of my childhood friends was generous enough to recommend me for the gig.
Months later, a freelance designer saw the work I’d completed for the nonprofit. He asked if I could help him with a few projects as well: a mix of business brochures, website copy, and technical writing. One day I found a writing gig on Craigslist. Friends started referring me to other businesses. …
When someone tells me they stopped freelancing after one year, I can’t help but feel a little bad for them. If their first year was anything like mine, then they endured the absolute hardest aspects of freelancing while enjoying very few of its rewards.
Don’t get me wrong, I have loved freelancing since day one. But at the beginning of 2016, during my first several months as a freelance copywriter, being self-employed felt a lot like being unemployed. My calendar was empty (in a bad way). I often went for several days or even a few weeks between projects. The projects I did have all paid pretty low. I maintained multiple nonwriting side hustles — sometimes involving all-nighters — just to support my infant writing business. One month I had to borrow money to cover rent. …
I am a full-time freelance SaaS copywriter. I’m regularly asked how to get started as a copywriter. I created this curation piece as a place to store my thoughts / ideas / tactics for being a successful copywriter.
I plan to update this document regularly as I write new articles about the craft and business of writing. If you want regular writing advice from me, you can also subscribe to my newsletter: The Craft and Business of Writing.
I tried to cover all the big, intimidating subjects I wished someone had taught me when I was just starting to freelance…
“Think of yourself as an explorer. You cannot find anything new if you are unwilling to leave the shore.” Robert Greene, Mastery
Let’s pretend for a minute that Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn suddenly disappeared. These social media sites dissolved in a flash and you were left blinking at the wall behind your computer, jaw agape.
You scramble to Google for answers. It’s confirmed. They’re all gone. Forever.
As reality sets in, you panic thinking about all the photos and distant high school crushes you’ll never see again. …
When Edgar Allan Poe was a child, his family once drove past a cabin with graves in the yard. Seeing the gravestones, young Poe called out, “They will run after us and drag me down!”
Funny, I wonder how many people fear something similar when they see a group of marketers standing by. As the saying goes, marketers ruin everything. So today, let me ruin horror stories by comparing them to marketing copy.
In the spirit of Halloween, I purchased my first ghost story in years: The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson. I was hooked by the first paragraph and finished the book in just two sittings, less than 24 hours after picking it up from Barnes & Noble. …
A recent bill passed in California has scared many of my fellow freelance writers, particularly those living in the Golden State.
In an attempt to help gig economy workers earn a living wage, California lawmakers have overlooked a monstrous detail in their new bill: The gig economy and the freelance economy are not the same thing.
The bill in question, AB 5, deals with how employees and contractors are classified. More specifically: Who, legally speaking, should businesses consider employees versus contractors?
On the surface, I think this bill is a step in the right direction. It exists to ensure businesses don’t hire workers who are effectively full-time employees while sidestepping legal responsibilities under the guise of “gig work.” …
It’s true that people get what they pay for.
When you undercharge your copywriting clients, you have to make up that difference by taking on a lot more projects. Every additional project means less time you can devote to each client.
Naturally, the more money you can earn per project, the greater time and energy you can provide each client. Higher fees are a way for you and your clients to get the most out of your copywriting skills.
Many bloggers want a shortcut to finishing their next article.
When they want a story, they turn to Google.
When they want a statistic, they turn to Google.
And if they’re feeling particularly adventurous, perhaps they turn to Bing.
The problem is: the result of all this googling is an endless rehashing of the same stories and stats across the web — as if the world had a shortage of interesting things to talk about.
Fortunately, another blogger’s laziness is your opportunity to be interesting.
Here are 5 simple tactics for finding more creative and unusual stories for your next…