“So…What Is It That You Do?” – The Life of a Copywriter

As the holidays wrap up, so will my time at Lush in Brisbane. My sixth Christmas slinging bath bombs gifted me amazing friends and a wild appreciation for Australian pay rates. I’m sad to go but have to move on to New Zealand. While Becky and I are taking a big road trip in the Ilanamobile, I’ll be working about 10 hours a week for my copywriting job (I was doing about 5 while I was working at Lush.) The 10 hours of work will go toward day to day expenses (although I have a majority of them saved up from Lush,) and American taxes.

I’ve discussed living the ~digital nomad~ life in a previous post, but I figured I’d dive in deeper to what I actually do. So I work as a copywriter. But what does that mean, and why are copywriters needed?

What Is Copywriting? 

Here is a list of things that I’ve written while working as a copywriter:

  • Blog posts for defense lawyers about the penalties of a DUI
  • Blog posts about investing in cryptocurrency
  • Blog posts about different cosmetic dentistry procedures
  • Tweets for a real estate photographer
  • Facebook posts for a content marketing agency
  • An eBook about bonding with your step-children
  • Website copy for a lawncare company…I think?

Basically, I write a bunch of content for marketing purposes. With the recent shift to digital marketing strategies, there is much more demand for content marketers and copywriters who can produce material from their computers.

…Why? The Basics of Inbound Marketing

The theory behind what I do is based on inbound and content marketing. Google and mobile devices make it so much easier for us to research brands and make informed decisions before we make purchases. Cold calling and advertisements are becoming less and less effective; why would we want to be sold to when we can just seek out the answers to our problems from our phones?

Say you are looking to rent a van in New Zealand. Before you look for a van, you may do some research online about what it’s like to rent a van in New Zealand, where you can camp, things to do in New Zealand, etc. Once you’ve done research, you may sign up to receive deals on van rentals. Maybe you’re grabbing deals or further info from a few rental companies. Eventually, you choose one.

Or at least, that’s what the rental van company is hoping you do.

Copywriters and content marketers are with you every step of the way. We’re writing blog posts about what to do in New Zealand on a rental car’s website, writing eBooks that give travelers a comprehensive guide to insurance, road rules, and campsites in New Zealand, writing those salesy emails that offer a free test drive once you’ve signed up for the company’s mailing list. We may be finding photos of customers using the company’s services and reposting those photos on social media pages. We follow an audience and customers throughout their relationship with a brand and help them move from strangers to customers to active promoters.

Copywriters need to produce authentic, informational, and interesting content that will appeal to potential customers as they make their way along the buyer’s journey. And that’s not as easy as it looks.

What You Need to Be a Copywriter

Making money remotely and writing blog posts sounds easy and glamorous, but in order to grab a job with an agency, you’ll need to have the experience and skills to show that you can produce high-quality content for clients.

Ability to Research 

In order to make a decent amount of money writing, you’ll have to juggle quite a few clients. When I was working full-time in Austin, I wrote for 15 different lawyers and other professionals, plus three or four relationship therapists and other clients, and they needed fresh content each week.

I am not a lawyer. I am not a relationship therapist. I am not a dentist or a chiropractor or a real estate photographer. In order to write for these clients, I have to do a bit of research and then adapt the tone and style of my writing to their other content. Since I do most of my work through agencies, I get keyword information and topics and don’t spend time with strategy…which would require additional research of the industry and the audience that I’m writing for.

Experience

In college, I worked and interned as a content creator for a social media marketing firm and a singer-songwriter, and I interned for a public relations firm and a music label. My major was Strategic Communications, so I had to take a ton of writing classes. I’m not telling you about this to brag, but to let you know that if you want to make the switch to becoming a content creator or content marketer, you have to know how to write.

Knowledge of Inbound Marketing

I didn’t know what Hubspot was until I was working as a full-time copywriter in Austin. My bosses gave me some time to take the Inbound Certification course, and as dorky as I felt being interested in the subject matter, I was interested to learn more. The theory that fuels blog posts and eBooks is often neglected by businesses but should be at the top of any copywriter’s mind.

Keep in mind that I’ve only been at this for close to two years. I feel like a total newbie and hope to grow in my job and learn more about branding strategy and how to work directly with clients. As I continue to learn more about content marketing strategy, I plan on working more directly with clients outside of sites like Upwork.

How to Start Making Money as a Copywriter

I got lucky and found my first full-time job on Craigslist. I sent in blog posts from BBB and Peaceful Dumpling, along with my resume. There are some crazy writing jobs that you can find on Craigslist, but there’s a lot of work to do in the meantime.

Read more about Weird Ways to Make Money as a Writer.

Write.

If you want to write, write. Write in a journal, write for blogs that accept guest submissions, write for your own blog. Read stories or material that you want to write, take writing courses, just keep writing. Practicing makes you a better writer and gives you pieces to send potential employers when you’re answering a dozen Craigslist ads trying to get jobs. Write.

Learn About Inbound Marketing

Hubspot is going to be your best friend here. I took their Inbound Marketing Certification Course, which explains Inbound in-depth. It’s free, so you can take it, get certified, and share your knowledge on your LinkedIn or other profiles. The certification is a great way to know if you will be interested in pursuing this field. If not, there are plenty of other ways to become a digital nomad.

Start with Freelancing Sites…But Know Your Worth

There are tons of content mills and websites that will allow you to sign up, write a profile, and start applying for one-time jobs writing blog posts and similar content for clients. I was on Textbroker for a hot minute to see what these sites were all about. I made absolute shit money. Many freelancers write off Upwork as another scam, but if you’re picky, you can still make a decent amount of money. (My tip? Look for Australian clients.)

I wasn’t a huge fan of Freelancer because I didn’t want to pay money upfront (Upwork just takes money out of your pay. I usually ask for more money per assignment to account for the money that will be taken out.)

Fiverr’s latest advertising campaign pisses me off, and it’s notorious for low-paying clients, so no thanks.

Working in content marketing can help you make your own hours and make money freelancing from anywhere in the world, but it requires a lot of research and knowledge about how to sell yourself to businesses and clients looking for high-quality content.

 

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