To Maximize Your Income as an Online Copywriter, Broaden Your Skill Set

One of my favorite pieces of advice for freelance online copywriters is to “expand the scope of the project.”

Let me explain what I mean by that.

A client may approach me and ask that I write a landing page for their site. Sounds like a good gig. But, I don’t just agree and begin work. I ask for an overview of the bigger picture. I want to see how this landing page will fit in to their broader marketing campaign.

During that discussion, I might find out that traffic will be directed to the landing page through email and Pay-Per-Click (PPC) ads.

At that point, I might suggest that I also write the emails and the PPC ads. It would make sense for me to do that, so there is a clear flow between the emails and the landing page and the PPC ads and the landing page.

The client will likely see the logic in my suggestion and hire me to write the landing page, the emails, and the ads.

That’s what I mean by expanding the scope of the engagement. They had one project they wanted me to work on, but I ended up with three projects.

In fact, as I look back, it is very rare that I simply said yes when asked to work on something. I always want to understand the bigger picture, and I always look for ways to expand on their original project suggestion.

To follow this strategy, you need to be able to take on a wide variety of online copywriting projects.

For example, if I knew nothing about writing PPC ads, I wouldn’t have been able to suggest that I write them.

Using another example, you might be asked to write an online buyer’s guide for a client. You ask for some background, and discover the buyer’s guide is part of a broader plan to educate and engage the company’s prospects. So, you might suggest that after you have done the guide, you could help them with publishing a regular e-newsletter to that same group of prospects. In fact, you could use the guide as a means to get them to sign up for the e-newsletter.

Again, this strategy works only if you have some knowledge when it comes to writing successful e-newsletters.

The point being that your ability to expand the scope of every project that comes your way is dependent on your offering a fairly broad range of skills.

Let’s take a look at what some of those online copywriting skills might be.

1. Writing sales pages and landing pages

If you have direct-response writing skills, and you know the difference between writing for print and writing for the Web, this can be a great area to specialize in.

Ways to expand the project: Email and PPC, as described above.

2. Writing and optimizing home pages

Writing or rewriting home pages is a fun challenge. It not only involves writing skills, but also an awareness of design, plus knowledge of website usability and navigation.

Ways to expand the project: Suggest you also write or rewrite the second level pages, so they work well with the new home page approach, look, and feel.

3. SEO copywriting

This involves optimizing pages for specific keywords. This is a fun skill, because it combines writing and copywriting skills with a deep knowledge of Search Engine Optimization.

Ways to expand the project: If you are asked to optimize one page, suggest you also do the same for their other key pages. Your knowledge of SEO also puts you in a good position to suggest you write their PPC ads as well.

4. Writing sales emails

Writing sales emails is a critical skill, for which you can get paid very well. Simply lift a client’s click-through-rate a few points, and you’ll be their hero. Again, you need to know direct-response copywriting, and understand the very specific skills of writing promotional emails.

Ways to expand the project: If you are asked to write one email, suggest writing a series instead. It’s also a short step to suggesting you write their e-newsletters. Also, if you demonstrate you can write to sell with emails, you can suggest you also try writing or rewriting one of their landing pages.

5. Writing e-newsletters

Great work if you can get it, because this isn’t a one-off project. If they publish a monthly e-newsletter, you’ll be getting a monthly check indefinitely.

Ways to expand the project: It you do a great job with their newsletter, suggest you also write their emails. Also, if the e-newsletter is largely informational, you can suggest you write some informational content pages for their website.

6. Writing PPC ads

Another nice gig, if you learn the craft. You need to have writing skills, and knowledge of SEO.

Ways to expand the project: It’s not much of a leap to suggest that as well as doing their PPC ads, you also handle the Search Engine Optimization for their website pages.

To summarize …

You can make good money copywriting online as a one-trick pony. There is no doubt about that.

But … if you expand your base of online skills, you will have more opportunities to expand the scope of each project you take on, and be in a position to make a great deal more money.

Also, in my own experience, working on a variety of different types of online copywriting projects makes for a more interesting work life!

This article, To Maximize Your Income as an Online Copywriter, Broaden Your Skill Set, was originally published by Wealthy Web Writer.

The Digital Copywriter's Handbook

The Digital Copywriter's Handbook

Learn how to become an in-demand online copywriter for companies big and small. Online copywriting expert Nick Usborne shows you how to write web copy that converts. Learn More »

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Published: November 9, 2011

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