How to be a self-employed copywriter

Do you love combining the perfect words to create engaging content? If so, a career as a self-employed copywriter might be a great path for you. 

Copywriters help people turn content ideas into quality finished products. The digital world is always in need of copywriters, with nearly endless writing opportunities in a variety of shapes and sizes. 

Wondering how to be a copywriter? It may seem like a big endeavour, but starting a copywriting business can be low-cost and easy to start from home. If you want to take on this venture, you’ve come to the right place. 

This guide covers how to be a self-employed copywriter, including:

  • Planning your self-employed copywriting career
  • Setting up the logistics of your business
  • Organising your self-employed operations
  • Promoting yourself as a copywriter

What is a self-employed copywriter is 

Self-employed copywriters write various types of content for individuals, small businesses, or even big brands. They act as the client’s voice, writing with their needs in mind. 

Instead of working for one agency or business, you’ll jump around to different clients and brands. The amount you earn depends on how many clients hire your services. 

Here are a few jobs you might do as a self-employed copywriter: 

  • Marketing materials 
  • E-books
  • Website content 
  • Jingles 
  • Social media posts 
  • Article and blog content 

How to be a copywriter: planning for success

If you’re considering how to be a copywriter, start with a plan that sets you up for success. Let’s go over the key things to think through.

Research the market 

Knowing the copywriting market makes it easier to offer the best services and find clients. Market research can show you important information about this industry, including: 

  • The size – how many copywriters there are, compared to the number of clients.
  • Demand – which services people need more, such as digital marketing or social media writing. 
  • Competitors – who you’ll be fighting against to win jobs, such as larger agencies or other self-employed copywriters. 
  • Target audience – who would most likely benefit from and search for your particular services, such as business owners or public figures. 

To find this information, search copywriting services in your area and see what others offer and charge. Then, look to platforms like Statista, Google Trends, or the National Career Service to find industry statistics.

Check out our article on how to conduct market research to learn more.

Find your niche

Copywriting is a broad term, so consider narrowing your services to find a specific audience. 

Offering a wide range of services can be like creating a restaurant menu with too many options. You could confuse potential customers or appear less knowledgeable about customers’ specific needs. 

Picking a niche allows you to stick to what you most enjoy and become an expert in your particular services. It’ll also help you find clients that you can help the most. 

Here are a few things you might choose to focus on: 

  • A form of written content – such as social media marketing, blog writing, e-books, or advertising.  
  • An industry or customer – such as the technology industry or small business owners. 
  • A technique or skill – such as SEO optimisation or repurposing content.

Sharpen your skills 

It’s essential to have sharp copywriting skills to win over clients. You’ll need to be able to write professional copy that earns readers and grows brands

The following are some of the essential skills for copywriting:

  • Writing and editing – you need to have a way with words and the ability to switch your voice to match a client’s brand. Plus, it’s crucial to edit that content to create a professional product. 
  • Search engine optimisation (SEO)  – for digital copywriting, you’ll need a working knowledge of SEO to help it rank and increase website traffic, driving measurable results. 
  • Research abilities – you may not be an expert in everything you write about, but you need to be able to find the right information to write knowingly about various topics. 
  • Content marketing – knowing the process of writing content for marketing purposes will help you guide your clients and create outstanding work.

There are plenty of courses you could take to enhance your copywriting skills and earn credentials that clients look for. 

For example, consider taking the free HubSpot Content Marketing Certification. You can also find copywriting courses at Udemy

Set your rates 

Setting clear rates lets you profit from your services sufficiently while remaining competitive. You might charge by the hour, the word, or the project

To set realistic fees, look at the average rates of self-employed copywriters in the UK, which is £379 per day according to the ProCopywriters Survey

When you take on new clients, it’s important to write up a clear contract for the work. Say a client wants you to write ten blog articles. Your contract can determine the length, specifics, and total cost of this project. 

A detailed contract establishes expectations and holds both you and the client accountable

How to set up your self-employed copywriting business

Once you have everything you need, you can set up the logistics of your new business. Here’s a few things you’ll need to do.

Register your business

To work as self-employed, register as a sole trader with the UK government. Sole traders work for themselves and keep all of their earnings after tax. But they’re also legally responsible for their business. 

Prepare for taxes

As a self-employed person, you must track your finances and report them to HMRC for tax purposes. You’ll need to pay income tax and likely national insurance. 

To report your earnings and determine what tax you owe, you’ll submit a Self Assessment tax return. 

Find insurance 

Insurance shields your business from financial loss or legal action. You may want to insure any expensive equipment you use for your services, such as your laptop.

On top of this, you might need:

  • Professional indemnity insurance – protects you from loss or damage clients experience due to your advice. 
  • Public liability insurance – defends you from damage or injury your clients experience that your business is found responsible for.  

How to organise your self-employed copywriting services 

Since you act as your own boss, it’s up to you to organise your day and overall operations. Doing so can be challenging, especially as your workload and finances grow. 

Luckily, a few tricks can help you stay on top of things. 

Structure your schedule 

As your to-do list grows, you can get it all done with strong time and project management skills, plus a few handy tools. 

Start by finding a suitable business management platform to organise your schedule, client communications, and documents. 

Google Workspace or Microsoft 365 let you link each piece of your copywriting operations. You can easily manage your copy, share the files with clients, and check your calendar to track due dates. 

Additionally, a project management tool like monday or ClickUp can help you prioritise your workload and break up your writing projects. With these platforms, you’ll coordinate your one-person operations and finish work on time. 

Organise your finances 

Since you’ll need to track and report your finances to HMRC, it’s crucial to organise them. In fact, HMRC expects you to maintain these records for about six years

So how can you stay on top of the money coming in and out of your business? Let’s go over the best tips. 

A business current account 

Start by separating your self-employed finances from your personal ones. With a business current account, or a unique account just for your business, you can oversee what you spend and earn. 

With a separate account for your business, you won’t need to riffle through a bunch of transactions to find relevant ones. Everything will be in one place. 

Accounting software

Aside from separating your finances, an accounting tool allows you to track your performance and make informed decisions for your business.  

Modern accounting tools automate your bookkeeping tasks to simplify your financial management. They offer tools like automatic expense categorisation and receipt capture to help track what you spend. 

Plus, ongoing cash flow insights and year-round tax estimates let you maintain a comprehensive understanding of your finances. 

If you wonder where to find the best accounting tool, check out Countingup. It’s a business current account and accounting software in one app

Countingup automates time-consuming bookkeeping admin for thousands of self-employed people across the UK. This app saves you time so you can focus on jumpstarting your business. 

Start your three-month free trial today

How to be a copywriter who gets clients: marketing 

Ready to take on some clients in need of copy? A huge part of how to be a self-employed copywriter is marketing yourself to find jobs. We’ll go over a few tried and tested tactics. 

Create a brand for yourself 

When you market yourself, first think about your appearance. How do you want to present yourself to potential clients? This information will help you brand your business

A brand helps you control how you come across to reach your target audience. It consists of design, tone, values, and overall personality. 

For example, you might want to write marketing copy for clients in the food industry. If so, you could focus on this passion by incorporating cuisine into your design and marketing. 

You may also use a straightforward but knowledgeable tone on your marketing materials and website. Doing so makes your services more accessible to people and shows that you can write copy people engage with. 

Use digital marketing 

You might perform most of your copywriting work for digital platforms, so it’s important to market yourself this way too. 

Business website 

Design a business website that fits your brand, which you can do yourself using a platform like WordPress or Squarespace

Your website acts as the foundation of your marketing. It offers interested people a look into who you are, what you can do, and what services you offer. 

Here are a few things to include on your website: 

  • An introduction of yourself – including your qualifications and experiences.
  • Your services and fees – or info on how to seek a quote.
  • Your portfolio – to provide examples of your work and prove your abilities. 
  • Testimonials from satisfied clients – to show your dependability.
  • A blog – to regularly add content about copywriting services or writing practices. These articles can show your knowledge and writing skills. 

Social media marketing 

Social media marketing can help you reach more people and find leads for your copywriting services. 

Start by creating accounts using your business name, logo, and a consistent design. You can also add your website URL to the profiles and include a brief description of your services. 

Here are a few platforms you might want to try: 

  • Twitter – this platform is great for short snippets of written content, such as tips and updates. You can also share links to articles or blog content. 
  • Instagram – this platform focuses on visual content, but it’s a great way to develop your professional brand with posts of your favourite quotes or shots of you at work.
  • LinkedIn – this platform caters to networking professionals. You could use it to post about your services and build connections with relevant people within the industry to find work opportunities. 
  • TikTok – this platform lets you create short videos so you might upload quick guides to your favourite books on writing or tips for creating strong copy. The audience on TikTok skews younger, so it might be a good fit if you plan to work with young professionals. 

List your services on freelance platforms

Searching for your first clients may feel time-consuming. But you may be able to find your work opportunities quickly by listing yourself on freelance platforms that can get your services in front of people who need them

With that said, some platforms charge a fee or keep the earnings from your jobs. 

Still, it’s a great way to win a few clients and build your experience. As you build a client base, you might transition off the platforms to optimise your earnings. 

Here are a few freelance copywriting platforms to try: 

How to prepare for a successful future as self employed 

Now that you know how to be a self-employed copywriter, you can turn your writing skills into a profitable business. The tips in this guide can help you sharpen your skills, organise your operations, and find your first clients.

With a little time and commitment, you can build a name for yourself as a whiz at writing professional copy. Just focus on satisfying your first clients to create a domino effect and build a sustainable client base. 

But to keep those creative juices flowing and maintain the quality of your work, you’ll need to consider your health as a self-employed person. Next, check out our article on how to be mindful at work when you’re self-employed.