If you’ve ever thought about being a writer, copywriting might be a fun side hustle to pursue.
The benefits are many (extra cash, online business, making extra money with your writing skills…). And the barrier to entry is low. Plus, it’s one of the most lucrative side hustles.
You can choose between the copywriter path or the content writer path (or do both, like some freelance writers).
What is copywriting?
When we talk about copywriting in this article, we’re talking about conversion copywriting — copywriting that focuses on getting the reader to take a desired action.
“Conversion copywriting is data-driven copy that gets prospects and visitors to say yes. It’s a science-based process that helps you determine what to write and how to write it.”Jessica Noel
Conversion copywriters write copy for website pages like this Podia homepage.
Or this email for running shoe retailer Brooks.
But that’s not all. Copywriters write copy for a wide range of channels and media, including:
- Landing pages
- Sales pages
- Video scripts
- Physical product descriptions
- Ads (Facebook ads are just one popular freelance writing project)
- Product pages
- Direct mail sales letters
- Radio and TV commercials
If you’re wondering why I don’t have blog posts on this list, there’s a good reason.
Copywriting is not content writing
Seriously. It’s not. Blog posts are content, not copy.
The fact that many marketers and business owners use the terms interchangeably only increases confusion.
Conversion copywriter Jessica Noel shares a simple way to think of the difference between the two.
Copywriters work on copy that’s directly tied to making a sale. Content writers work on content that’s focused on education, entertainment, and/or information – typically further from the point of sale.
If this still seems a bit confusing, you can check out this other article from content writer and copywriter Michelle Chow.
Fundamentals of copywriting
Being a copywriter is about a lot more than just writing copy to convince your reader to act.
Great copywriters are good at planning, conducting researching, and communicating their ideas clearly.
You will spend a lot of time on other activities like research before the writing phase, planning, communicating with clients, and marketing your business.
The copywriting process
As for the actual writing process, copywriting includes three critical phases:
1. Research and discovery
This is the phase where you gather all the data you can find on your client’s brand — their customers, potential customers, competitors, and the industry.
Why do people buy? For those who don’t, what are their reasons? Are there testimonials or reviews that you can read through and take notes on?
2. Writing, wireframing, and editing
This is where you use the findings from the research and discovery phase to start planning the structure of your messaging and writing your copy.
Once your copy is finished, editing is an important step that should never be skipped.
3. Validation and experimentation
Depending on the project, this final phase may not always apply.
Why copywriting is the best side hustle
Now that we have a better understanding of copywriting, here are 7 solid reasons why it’s one of the most profitable side hustles to start in 2023.
1. Low barrier to entry (no degree required)
If you’re a decent writer who’s willing to put in the time to learn the fundamentals of copywriting, you can get started very quickly with just a computer.
No specialized skills or equipment are required.
Copywriting is one of those high-earning potential side hustles that does not require a degree.
Once you can demonstrate to prospects that you have the skills and experience required to do the job well, you will be able to land clients.
2. Work remotely and control your hours
One of the best benefits of working as a copywriter is being able to work remotely and control your hours.
You can get a full-time job, part-time job or work as a freelance copywriter.
Even if you choose to take an in-house role, many copywriting roles allow you to work remotely. It’s a job that can be done from anywhere with a reliable internet connection.
This also makes it a great option if you want to travel or explore a nomadic lifestyle.
3. Limitless earning potential
When you work on your own as a copywriter, your earning potential is limitless. You get to decide how many hours you want to work and how much you want to charge.
As you become more experienced, you can increase your rates to earn even more over time.
4. Use your copywriting skills to earn in another side hustle
Copywriting skills are transferable. That means you can use them to get extra income from another side hustle.
You could start a newsletter or a blog, write the emails, ad copy and website copy for your e-commerce side hustle, or even write all direct mail marketing copy for your local service providers (dog sitting anyone?)
5. Opportunity to transition to a full-time gig
Once you start working with clients and getting results for them, it’s easier to transition to a full-time, in-house role as a copywriter.
Many successful copywriters go on to accept in-house roles after running successful solo businesses. It all depends on your personal goals.
6. Opportunity to use your transferable knowledge
Many copywriters transitioning from other industries tend to find greater success as copywriters when they apply their knowledge from another area.
I know of teachers, lawyers, healthcare professionals, and many others who’ve transitioned to copywriting and used their industry knowledge to command higher rates by niching down.
7. Every business needs a copywriter
Whether it’s e-commerce or Saas, B2B or DTC, small businesses or large corporations — every business needs a copywriter.
This means there will never be a shortage of work for the copywriter who knows how to market themself well.
How to get started as a copywriter
Now that you understand what’s involved in being a great copywriter, you can start your own journey to the perfect side hustle (in your spare time).
1. Learn copywriting
Even if you’re a great writer, you will still need to learn the fundamentals of copywriting. There are many principles, formulas, and techniques that make the job of a copywriter easier.
It’s also helpful to understand buyer psychology since this will be critical to the process of persuasion.
The right copywriting courses and resources will cover all of this and more.
Conversion Copywriting 101 by Copyhackers is the perfect introduction to copywriting.
The free course covers fundamentals like writing for the different stages of awareness, how to format web copy, and how to write headlines.
You may also supplement Conversion Copywriting 101 with the wealth of free tutorials and training videos available on Copyhackers.
2. Create your portfolio
If you’re wondering, ‘Anna, how can I create a portfolio if no one’s paid me to write copy yet?’ I have good news.
You don’t need to wait until you land your first client to build a portfolio.
Make a list of the clients you want to work with, then create the kind of copy those clients are looking for.
Here’s how that could work.
If you want to write emails for e-commerce brands, create 2-3 fictitious e-commerce brands and write email copy that speaks to their ideal customers.
If you’re taking this approach, you should include all the emails your prospective clients would be looking for — welcome sequence, abandoned cart emails, post-purchase emails, etc.
3. Find clients
Once you have your writing samples, it’s time to find copywriting jobs. And for this, you need to know where to look.
Where you look will depend on what kind of work you’re looking for.
If you’re looking to build your own roster of clients and start your own copywriting business, here’s the approach I recommend.
Reach out to your network
Ask around if any of your friends, relatives, colleagues, or former coworkers need — or know anyone who needs — a copywriter. Then make it super easy for people to refer you by giving them a template to use.
The right referral system can net you thousands of dollars.
Join a community
You should consider becoming part of a community of copywriters. The advantage of this is twofold.
You get to improve your skills by learning from your peers and other copywriters with more experience.
Plus you also get access to a referral network, which can result in job opportunities.
Consider joining our Word Workers Facebook group.
Be active on social media
Choose a social platform and become active on that platform. (It should be one where your ideal clients hang out). Abi Prendergast makes bank with the clients she finds on Facebook.
As a bonus, here’s what I recommend
You should focus on getting your first client.
That’s it. Just put your head down and get that first client.
And here’s the best resource to do just that…
Use this book to get your first client.
Then, use it to make your first $1000.
And when you need a little side hustle motivation…
Go to the free $1K Library that comes with the book.
(Your link to the free $1K Library is in the book).
In the library, you’ll have hours of interviews with freelance writers who once sat just where you are today.
You can listen to their stories. Try their tactics. And get some motivation.
So go grab the book. And get your first copywriting client.