How To Become A Copywriter In 10 Easy Steps

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So you want to learn how to become a copywriter?

Great choice.

It's a skill that's in high demand across all industries and likely always will be because of what copywriters help companies do: make more money. 

Unfortunately, the path to success in new ventures isn't always clear.

So, what I’m going to do for you in this post is give you a 10-step action plan that you can follow to go from being a complete beginner to being a copywriter who can support themselves with their work.

I can’t promise you you’ll become a millionaire, but I can say with certainty that this plan is one that you can begin taking action on today to start bringing actual dollars into your bank account.

Let's go.

Step #1 Learn How To Think Like A Copywriter

I want you to take a moment and think back to all the writing courses you took while you were in school.

What kind of writing did you do in those courses? 

If you're like most people, you probably wrote research reports, poetry, news articles and other forms of writing that are meant to educate or entertain.

This type of writing is called content writing

While content writing is highly useful, its purpose is much different from that of copywriting. The purpose of copywriting is to drive action, and that desired action is usually, but not always, a sale.

And different purposes require different strategies and methods, so to be a copywriter you have to learn how to start thinking like a copywriter.

Let’s look at a couple of examples to give you a better idea of what I mean.

Take this short paragraph, for example:

 

The definition of copywriting is, “The activity or occupation of writing the text of advertisements or publicity material.” Those who write copy are writing to sell a product, and all types of businesses employ copywriters.

 

So, what do you notice about this text? What is the purpose of it?

If you’ve been paying attention, you should know the purpose of this text is to educate or inform.

So, what type of writing does that make it? Content writing.

Now, let’s look at another example.

 

Do you want to learn how to start a business with no experience? Well, wish granted. We just released a course that takes away the headache of figuring out how to incorporate your business. But we’re only opening it up for 100 students. Click below to save your seat.

 

What’s the goal of this text? Is it to educate, inform, or entertain?

No.

The goal of this text is to drive action and get people to purchase their seat. But it goes even deeper than that in just those few sentences.

Let’s look at that first sentence as an example.

 

Do you want to learn how to start a business with no experience?

 

The reason I included that the first sentence is that I wanted to highlight one of the most important copywriting techniques that you’ll have to learn: selling benefits rather than features.

For those trained in content writing, the habit would likely be to tell the reader that they’ll get 10 modules, 5 hours of content, information about starting a business and so on and so forth.

Those are all what we call features of a product.

 

an image showing the features of a pair of headphones on Amazon
                   These are all features of a product

 

Now, if you want to learn how to become a copywriter, you have to be able to take those features and turn them into benefits.

 

an image showing a benefit of noise-cancelling headphones - "say goodbye to distraction"
                                                              This a benefit

 

So, what’s the benefit to getting 10 modules and 5 hours of content?

The benefit is that anyone can enter the course, even those with no prior business experience, and leave the course with an operating business in hand.

That’s much more powerful than the number of hours of content in the course.

And what about the second to last sentence?

 

But we’re only opening it up for 100 students.

 

You may not have even consciously picked up on this while you were reading, but this is actually another important copywriting and sales technique: creating scarcity.

By telling the audience there are only 100 seats available, it creates a sense of urgency in the reader because they know they might miss out if they don’t purchase their seat before 100 other people.

As I said, this isn’t stuff that they typically teach in writing classes in school, but it’s how you have to start thinking if you want to turn copywriting into a business and a career.

Step #2 Improve Your Copywriting Skills

Once you’ve done the appropriate amount of self-work required to get yourself more in the mindset of a copywriter rather than a content writer, start choosing specific copywriting skills to work on and master.

There are a bunch of different skills that you’ll need to learn and master over time, but I don’t want to overwhelm you right now.

So, start with these four skills to get you started:

  • Editing And Proofreading
  • Creative Writing
  • Sales
  • Consumer Psychology

With these four skills, you can basically do copywriting for just about any project.

But let me dig a little bit deeper into that and look at these four skills through the lens of an actual piece of copy to show why they're important.

Let’s say that we’re selling a planner and using the following excerpt as part of the copy:

 

Do you need a planner? Ours has 400 pages, space to write noties, weights just one pound, and comes in 10 different colors You can get this brand new planner for juts $40 if you click here.

 

Ok.

I purposefully made this example bad so that you can see how learning the four skills I mentioned will help make your copy stand out.

Skill #1: Editing And Proofreading

I’m going to start here because bad grammar and poor spelling absolutely kill copy and conversions because it makes you look like you don’t know what you’re talking about.

Luckily, you don’t have to be a grammar master to write mistake-free copy.

Google Docs is typically pretty good at picking up errors, but you can also open up a free app in your browser called the Hemingway Editor to get a helpful analysis of your writing.

 

a screenshot of how the Hemingway App works

 

It gives you a lot of helpful feedback about how difficult or easy your text is to read, whether you’re using too many adverbs and any grammar or spelling issues that you might have.

However, editors typically don’t always recognize every single error, so you need to go through and do your own proofreading as well. If you’re serious about making this your business, I highly recommend the paid version of Grammarly to get in-depth style and grammar analysis on your writing.

So, what we have after we clean up the grammar is this:

 

Do you need a planner? Ours has 400 pages, space to write notes, weighs just one pound and comes in 10 different colors. You can get this brand new planner for just $40 if you click here.

 

While the writing is boring, it at least doesn’t contain any errors.

Skill #2: Creative Writing

Now that you’re free of errors, you need to make your writing sing to get (and hold) people’s attention.

If you learn nothing else about writing, learn the mantra, “Show. Don’t tell.”

The example we’re working on right now is doing a bunch of telling and not a whole lot of showing, so let’s work on that.

 

Do you end your days feeling like you got nothing finished?

Not getting enough sleep because you have too much to do?

Let us help you.

Our planner has more pages than days in the year so you can organize your day while also jotting down all of those frantic thoughts that come up.

And the best part?

It fits in backpacks, purses, satchels, suitcases, briefcases and any other vessel you can imagine.

Pick it up now for less than the price of one session with a coach.

 

Now, this isn’t perfect.

But do you see how I’m creating a more visual scene rather than simply telling the audience the features?

Learning how to show rather than tell is one of the most important skills you’ll learn.

Skill #3: Sales & Consumer Psychology

I’m going to lump these two skills together because they play off of each other so well.

You wouldn’t have sales without consumer psychology and you wouldn’t need consumer psychology if you weren’t selling something.

The thing about sales and consumer psychology that you need to take away from this post is that people love to buy, but they hate to be sold. So, how can you write your copy in a way that makes it easier for people to pull out their credit card?

I’ll touch on two points here:

  • Focus on selling benefits rather than features.
  • Create urgency or scarcity.

You can see a little bit of focusing on benefits rather than features in my previous iteration:

 

It fits in backpacks, purses, satchels, suitcases, briefcases and any other vessel you can imagine.

Pick it up now for less than the price of one session with a coach.

 

Rather than saying the weight of the backpack (a feature), I showed how easily it fits into all types of bags (a benefit). Rather than say the price (a feature), I gave a mental comparison between the price of the planner and a coach (a benefit).

The more you can highlight benefits in your copy, the more enticing your offer will be.

As to the second point, creating urgency or scarcity, it makes your offer more enticing because people hate missing out on good deals.

So, how can we do that here? All it takes is one little sentence at the end.

 

Do you end your days feeling like you got nothing finished?

Not getting enough sleep because you have too much to do?

Let us help you.

Our planner has more pages than days in the year so you can organize your day while also jotting down all of those frantic thoughts that come up.

And the best part?

It fits in backpacks, purses, satchels, suitcases, briefcases, and any other vessel you can imagine.

Pick it up now for less than the price of one session with a coach. The first 50 people who pick it up get 20% off with the discount code HELP at checkout.

 

That last sentence creates a sense of urgency in people because they don’t want to miss out on a great deal.

The point is, there are a ton of little sales and consumer psychology nuggets that you need to pick up on as you go deeper into copywriting if you want to become a master.

Step #3 Create An Upwork Profile

Something I see often with new copywriters is that they think they have to be a master before they go out and start getting clients.

That couldn’t be further from the truth.

While it’s important to have some basic writing skills and an overall idea of what copywriting is and how to do it, you can absolutely go out and get your first client without being a master or an award-winning writer.

And the easiest place to get that first client is Upwork.

For those who don’t know, Upwork is a job platform that brings clients and freelancers together. It’s a safe platform for both parties to do business, and there are jobs of all levels.

Whether you’re a complete beginner or an experienced copywriter, there’s likely an interesting job for you on the Upwork.

The main problem with using Upwork is that, like any business, they need to get paid.

Although neither party pays Upwork upfront, Upwork does take a percentage of every transaction on their site. So, start here but move away from it once you have a portfolio, some reviews and some experience.

I haven’t used Upwork in quite some time for work, but I’ll go through my profile here just to give you an idea of what yours should include. 

Keep in mind that my profile was built for a content writer rather than a copywriter, so yours will look a little bit different.

 

 

You definitely need to have a headshot to show people that you’re a real person, and ideally you'll have a professional headshot. The one I have here wasn’t professionally done, but it was good enough to serve my purposes as a beginner freelance writer.

In your description, it’s good to be conversational so that you seem friendly and approachable.

But what’s really important is that job success score up in the top right of the profile. You want to keep that number as close to 100% as possible because the best clients typically sort jobs by freelancers who have a high job success score.

You also need some work to put in your portfolio section so clients can see some samples.

 

 

If you don’t have any samples from actual projects you’ve worked on, come up with your own example project and write the copy for it so that you have something to put in here to show off to people.

Then include your most relevant and marketable skills.

Don’t be shy here.

 

 

If you have any experience in it, go ahead and list it.

Further down, you’ll see an option to take some skills assessments to prove that you know what you’re talking about.

Take two or three of these and only show the ones that you score well on.

 

 

I actually didn’t do that well on the content writing skills test, so I would probably take that off of my profile until I retook the test and scored higher.

Also, complete your education and work experience section at the end.

The more complete your profile is, the better off you’re going to be.

 

 

Once you have all that up and looking good, you’re ready to start writing some proposals to pitch clients!

(Note: Want even MORE info about how to use copywriting to grow your business? Grab your spot in this FREE course to learn about the tools and strategies you (and your business) have been missing out on.)

Step #4 Learn How To Write Proposals

Before you go out and start sending proposals to potential clients, it’s important to have at least a little bit of an idea of what a proposal should look like. To keep this relatable, I’ll show you the proposal I sent in that won me my very first real paid writing job back in 2016.

It isn’t perfect, but the good news is that it didn’t have to be to get my first job.

Remember that.

 

 

That’s it.

It wasn’t anything fancy, but there are a couple of things to point out that I think worked in my favor:

  • I kept the proposal relatively short.
  • I formatted the proposal well so that it was easy to read.
  • I used proper grammar and spelling (it’s a writing job, after all).
  • I was a good balance of casual and professional.
  • I showed genuine interest in the work.

I’m sure it didn’t hurt that I was working at a relatively discounted rate since I was a new freelancer, wanted experience and didn’t actually know how to price my projects appropriately.

Either way, the client hired me directly after seeing that proposal without even having a conversation with me.

Your proposal doesn’t have to be super long and detailed (and it actually shouldn’t be), and it doesn’t have to be worthy of a Pulitzer Prize. All you have to do is show them that you’re going to be easy to work with and are competent at what you do.

If you remember that, you’ll be just fine.

Step #5 Get Client Experience Through Upwork

Now that you have your profile set up, know how to write your first proposal and have the confidence to know that you can send in a proposal and get some paid work, you need to go out and actually do it.

Before I dive further into discussing building experience on Upwork, though, I want to remind you again that Upwork is not your long game.

There’s a lot of work on there for beginners and even into the middle tier, but you just aren’t going to build a successful business and get high paying clients by sticking solely with Upwork.

Trust me, I worked on Upwork for a year and a half and know many others who have done it longer. There’s definitely a ceiling there, so don’t waste too much time settling for average clients on there.

Build some experience and get away from it as quick as you can.

Now, onto a few tips as you’re picking up your first clients.

Tip #1 Be Willing To Accept A Little Bit Less

This is a bit controversial amongst freelancers, but I’m of the mind that people who are completely new to the skill and the freelancing world need to be open to taking on lower paid, or even free, work in the beginning.

When I first started, here's what I did:

  • Asked around my personal network for work I could do for people for free.
  • Took work on Textbroker (huge mistake - don’t write for content mills!). 
  • Found work on Upwork for around $20 for 1,000 words.
  • Raised my rates.

You can get to the higher paid stuff faster than I did because I had no idea or guidance of what to do.

But be open to just about anything when you first start.

With that said, absolutely do not get stuck in the mindset that you have to take on low-paid work forever just because you’re new.

After getting a few clients, set your rate and stick to it.

Everyone’s time is worth money, and don’t let any of your potential clients tell you otherwise.

Tip #2 Service The Heck Out Of Your Early Clients

Instead of hustling to get as many clients as possible from the start, I recommend that you focus on providing the best service that you can possibly provide to the first few clients that you get.

You’re trying to build a reputation here, and you can’t build a good reputation if you aren’t providing incredible value to your clients.

 

 

In this project, the client wasn’t always available and the process took much longer than expected. Some freelancers may get frustrated and annoyed with the client in this situation, but remember that a huge part of freelancing is customer service.

And when you do it well, most people really do appreciate it. So, keep this in mind:

  • If they request an edit, make the edit.
  • If they want to hop on a call, hop on a call.
  • If they have a problem with the work, fix it.

After you’ve built a little bit of a reputation, you’ll start to see where you can draw your boundaries (and I highly recommend that you do set boundaries), but you need to hustle hard and satisfy every single client in the beginning.

Tip #3 Try Not To Say No

When you’re starting out, you might have to take on some projects that you’re not that interested in or that you don’t feel 100% confident about.

I know I did.

I did a lot of work for clients whose products or companies I didn’t care that much about, but that didn’t stop me from putting my best foot forward and providing as much value as I could.

And when the project was a little bit out of my comfort zone? I took it anyway.

I was a freelance writer, but I took on social media clients and design clients even though those weren’t my primary skills.

 

 

I ended up learning a lot in the process, and most people are ok with dealing with some bumps in the road as long as you’re honest with them from the start.

Step #6 Build Out Your Testimonials & Reviews

If you want to win projects, you need social proof that you’re good at what you do.

One of the best things about Upwork is that reviews are built into the whole process, and future clients can just click into your profile to see them.

Providing excellent service and quality work should be enough to get you a positive review, but it also doesn’t hurt to remind your clients to leave you a review.

Not only do these reviews help you get more work while you’re working on Upwork, but you can also display those reviews and testimonials on your personal site when you decide to build that out.

Another thing you can do with clients who you work with on a more regular basis is to connect with them on LinkedIn and then request that they write a recommendation for you.

 

 

The more social proof you can provide across your web presence, the more people are going to trust you and be willing to do business with you.

If you happen to get a review that’s not so great, the best thing you can do is just own it and move on.

Figure out what went wrong and use that to improve your services in the future.

Step #7 Learn About Funnels

Remember when I said you don’t want to spend too much time on Upwork?

Funnels are your way out of that.

For those who are a bit new to marketing, funnels are just a fancy way of saying attracting and converting customers.

It looks kind of like this.

 

 

It’s, of course, a bit more complex than just attracting, engaging and converting, but this is essentially what you’re looking to do with your customers.

You can think of it from the perspective of one of the biggest brands in the world, McDonald's:

  • They attract you with advertising and branding.
  • They engage you with coupons.
  • They convert you in the store (and upsell you on fries, drinks and combos).

The advantage of building out your own sales funnel (outside of Upwork) is that you no longer have to pay the Upwork fee and you get more targeted, higher paying clients.

We can even take a look at a copywriter we’ve worked with here at Lurn, Andy Brackpool, to give you a better idea of what I’m talking about. Andy owns a copywriting agency called The Copy Butler that he’s scaled into an agency that does multiple six-figures in revenue, and his funnel is actually really simple.

He attracts people to his website via ads, word-of-mouth, or organic traffic and they land on this page.

 

 

There’s more to the page if you click over and take a look at it, but the basis here is that he gives a description of his services on the page and provides social proof via testimonials.

If someone is interested, they click through to the contact page.

 

 

They then fill out the short application to qualify themselves and give Andy some information that he needs, and then they get on a call with Andy or one of his team members.

That’s it.

No fancy custom website or anything else. All it is is:

  • An ad
  • A couple of web pages 
  • Someone who can sell over the phone

You aren’t going to scale to multiple six-figures on Upwork, but you can certainly build a real business outside of Upwork.

Step #8 Learn How To Run Paid Ads

Once you have your simple funnel setup, you need to learn how to run ads to your page.

While you can build out an organic traffic strategy to bring traffic to your funnel without paying for it, it does take consistent effort over a longer period of time.

The quickest way for you to get started with driving people to your funnel is to run paid ads to your page.

To start, choose one platform:

While there are other platforms out there, these are going to be easiest for you to get started.

Let’s look at Google Search ads for just a moment as an example.

If you were a copywriter based out the Cincinnati, Ohio area, you could run targeted search ads for the query, “copywriter Cincinnati, Ohio” since that query is likely something a person would search if they were looking to hire a copywriter.

This is what they would see.

 

 

These copywriters are paying to appear at the top of the search results so that when someone comes to Google with buyer’s intent, they’ll show up at the top of the results.

So, being able to show up for a highly targeted search query is a big benefit here.

Your other option, Facebook, has some of the most powerful targeting options out there. You can have a Facebook ad up today that gets just about as granular as you could hope for in terms of targeting.

As long as you have a clear target demographic, you can find them on Facebook.

The dark horse here is LinkedIn.

While LinkedIn ads haven’t arrived at quite the level as Google ads or Facebook ads have, they remain an interesting option for B2B service providers. LinkedIn is a great place to target people at the executive level who likely would be looking to work with a copywriter.

Facebook and Google are better options for beginners, but LinkedIn is definitely worth looking into.

Step #9 Learn How To Close On The Phone

 

If you want to start running ads, putting people through your funnel and eventually scaling up to becoming an operation bigger than just yourself, it’s a good idea to start getting comfortable with selling over the phone.

Many clients will want to have a conversation with you before putting you on a big project (or even a retainer).

Now, I get that most people aren’t that comfortable with sales.

However, the video above goes through the M.T.N.U.T. framework of sales and learning it will go a long way in helping you sell yourself to clients.

In the M.T.N.U.T. framework, customers don’t buy for any of five reasons. They have no:

  • Money
  • Time
  • Need
  • Urgency
  • Trust

Let’s take a closer look.

Money

Money is one of the most common objections you’ll encounter.

Even when people have the money to pay for your services, they’ll likely tell you that they don’t just because it’s an easy objection.

Most people have the money, or will come up with the money, if you’re able to show them the value of what you’re offering.

Time

Again, people love to say that they don’t have the time for something.

But what they’re really saying is they don’t value the product or activity enough to make the time for it.

So, your job is to prove the value so that they make the time.

If someone tells you that they can help you make more money, you’ll make the time to talk with that person. If someone tells you they can make you healthier, stronger, or smarter, you’ll make time for that person if you value those things.

Need

Some people know they need something, while other people have no idea.

So, what do you?

Through talking with someone, you’ll see whether they understand the need for your service. If it’s clear that they don’t, it’s up to you to prove to them why they need your service.

And just because someone knows they need your service, it doesn’t mean they’re ready to buy.

In that situation, you need to create urgency.

Urgency

If you’ve addressed the first three objections (and none of them are preventing you from closing the deal), you need to convince people why it’s important to close on your service now, not later.

So, what’s going to happen if they don’t close on your service immediately?

Maybe you can show them they’re going to lose money. Maybe you can show them your calendar is filling up and that you won’t be available for much longer.

Figure out how you can make the decision urgent.

Trust

Assuming you’ve done the first four steps, the only thing left that will prevent you from closing a deal is trust.

In other words, why should they trust you over someone else?

You need to find a way to convince prospects that you’re more trustworthy than the other person selling a similar service. Remember those reviews and testimonials you got earlier in the process?

This is where they're helpful.

So, every time you go through the sales process with a client and are unable to close the deal, you need to go through these five steps and see where you went wrong.

Over time, you’ll learn how to position your services in a way that addresses all five objections.

Step #10 Run People Through Your Funnel

Once you’ve gone through all nine of these steps, you’re officially ready to start running people through your sales funnel outside of a platform like Upwork:

  • You know how to write like a copywriter.
  • You know how to work with clients.
  • You have social proof.
  • You know what a funnel is and have your first one built.
  • You know how to run ads on Facebook, Google, or LinkedIn.
  • You know how to sell your service.

With all of those skills, it’s a matter of turning on your paid advertising and converting your leads into paying customers. Now, what happens often with people who are new to funnels and paid traffic is that they panic a little bit when their ad spend is going up and they don’t have any converted clients yet.

But if you go into Freelance Blueprint and watch our case study with Andy Brackpool, you’ll find that he spends around $75 to talk to a lead and up to $750 before he closes a client.

That sounds like a lot, and it is, but that $750 turns into a client that’s worth around $8,500 to his company. So, it’s important that you don’t panic when you first start running ads as long as you have a strong offer in place and have a funnel that’s been properly set up.

In the beginning, you have to figure out exactly how much it’s going to cost you to convert a lead.

Just make sure that what you’re selling will cover those costs.

Want More On How To Become A Copywriter?

This is a really simple, straightforward way to go from being a complete beginner to growing your operation into more than just a single person.

However, the skills that you need along the way do take time to master.

While I’ve highlighted some of the most important ones for you to learn, you’ll need to dive deeper into all of them if mastery is your goal.

(Note: Want even MORE info about how to use copywriting to grow your business? Grab your spot in this FREE course to learn about the tools and strategies you (and your business) have been missing out on.)