The Triple-Win Guide to Securing a Profitable Future as a Freelance Copywriter

Win #1: Follow billions of dollars online.

According to a report by Econsultancy and Exact Target earlier this year, companies are moving fast to shift their marketing dollars from offline to online.

"The shift from offline to online is in full swing as marketers look to measure direct increases in top-line sales, site traffic and improve overall marketing return on investment," says Morgan Stewart, ExactTarget's director of research and strategy and co-author of the report.

Here are some of the figures from that report:

  • 41% of marketers plan to decrease spending on print and radio marketing in 2010.
  • 64% of companies plan to increase budgets in search engine optimization.
  • 54% plan to increase budgets for email marketing.
  • 51% plan to increase budgets for paid search.

It’s all too easy to take those kinds of figures for granted. When it comes to anything to do with the Internet, all the figures seem to be big.

But when you look at these figures carefully, there are some huge changes taking place.

And some huge opportunities to be exploited.

Think about it.

Think of what happens inside the marketing division of a company when it decides to move much of its spending from offline media to online media.

Suddenly, the expertise it has built up within that division over decades plunges in value. The expert in print media buying gets fewer calls. The expert in print production works less and less. The hot-shot expert in writing print ads and radio commercials is no longer indispensable.

In short, their in-house expertise falls in value.

These companies – and there are hundreds of thousands of them – desperately need expertise in new media.

They need marketers and copywriters who know how to write for the web, write emails, write e-newsletters, and write for the search engines.

They don’t have any of these experts within the company.

So they have no choice – they have to look outside of the company and contract with freelancers.

You might think they would simply turn to ad agencies. Well, many of those agencies are shrinking too, after failing to keep up with the changing demands of new media.

Therein lies your opportunity.

It’s tough finding new copywriting clients within a shrinking market, like offline marketing. It’s a lot easier when a market is expanding. And it is easier still when that market is expanding at an unprecedented rate.

Win #2: Seek out companies focused on direct sales.

The web is a direct response medium.

In fact, it is the largest and purest direct response medium of all time. Think of it in terms of actions taken. Every click on a link is an action. Every form completed and submitted is an action. Every Buy or Subscribe button clicked is an action.

If a site’s visitors take no actions, then the site fails.

As a copywriter working online, you’ll always do best if you can seek out those companies that really “get’ this, and use the web as a means to generate direct sales or generate valuable leads.

Look at it this way. The site for a high-end law firm probably isn’t focused much on direct sales or lead generation. Almost all of their business will come through referrals. Their site will be largely informational.

But a company selling consumer goods directly from its site will be very focused on increasing conversion rates and sales. This company will place a very high value on any copywriter who can move their key metrics in an upward direction.

The same goes for a B2B company looking to generate leads. They need copywriters who can maximize leads captured, leads nurtured and leads converted.

When you target companies that depend on clicks, your value and your worth will rise in the eyes of your clients.

Win #3: Get close to the point of sale.

You’re working for online clients. You are targeting clients who get the value of a click.

Now it’s time to target individual engagements which are most likely to make you shine.

How can you do that?

You aim your services at those points which are closest to the point of sale.

Just in case you glossed over that, let me say it again.

You aim your services at those points which are closest to the point of sale.

Here is what that means in the world of online copywriting. (I know this to be true, because I have done this time and time again.)

It means writing online copy that is directly responsible for generating sales from the moment it is published.

Examples include:

  • Online sales pages
  • Online landing pages
  • PPC campaigns
  • Email campaigns
  • eNewsletters

All of the above will include links or buy buttons which either immediately or indirectly lead to a sale, subscription or registration.

As an example, when a promotional email goes out, it will include a link that either takes the reader to a shopping cart, or to an online sales page.

The proximity of the email to the moment of sale means your clients can measure sales which are made as a direct and almost immediate result of your work.

So when the work you do results in increased sales, you become an instant hero to your client, and you’ll get more work.

By way of contrast, if you write a purely informational web page, which is three clicks away from the shopping cart, your client can’t track ever even know whether your work contributed to that month’s bottom line.

I’m not saying there is no money in writing information pages. But it is easier to impress your clients and charge more money if you clients can see that your skill as a copywriter made them a ton of extra money.

The 3-Win combo.

Become an online copywriter. That’s where the dollars are flowing.

Target companies which depend on direct response success.

Seek out projects that demonstrate how you can make your client money, and fast.

If you have direct response copywriting skills and experience, this 3-win combo will put you at the center of where the most money is to be made.

If you don’t have direct response copywriting skills, plus online copywriting skills (they are not the same) – then maybe it’s time to learn.

Freelancing is always more profitable and enjoyable when you go where the money is at.

The Professional Writers’ Alliance

The Professional Writers’ Alliance

At last, a professional organization that caters to the needs of direct-response industry writers. Find out how membership can change the course of your career. Learn More »

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Published: September 27, 2010

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