Got this question from an aspiring copywriter the other day:
When do you know you’re ready to go full time into freelance copywriting?
Reason I ask is cause I’m working a mind-numbing full time gig and I’m just having a hard time getting good fast and also working my way up to higher paying clients.
I know I still have a lot to learn and do to get better at copy but how do you manage it all – getting great at copy while working a full time gig and kids and the whole nine?
I just wanna leave and commit to copy full time but I know I can’t quit on a whim lol, don’t wanna ever make that silly mistake.
I respect this sensible approach.
Too many people want results fast, and they take stupid risks to achieve it.
I’m not saying it can’t work … but often it doesn’t.
Here are five more sensible steps I would take if I had a full-time job and kids, and wanted to become a copywriter …
Start building an email list
An email list is the most valuable asset in your business.
My biggest mistake was not starting one for 4 years.
Immediately set up a landing page, an opt-in box, and some form of bait for your ideal clients.
Promote your email list everywhere your ideal clients hang out.
And then start emailing it regularly … at least once a week.
In every email, offer to sell something — your services, or a product, or even just to join a waitlist for something you WILL do in future.
These relationships are what will eventually be the most valuable thing you have. But they take time to form.
Also, managing and mailing a list gives you precious experience and portfolio samples for any future jobs you try to win.
Today, you wish you had done this 3 years ago. In 3 years, you’ll wish you had started today. So do it now.
Save up 6-12 months’ living expenses in cash
This comes from my time working at the Barefoot Investor … you should ALWAYS have a fall-back fund so you are never, ever desperate in what you do.
Right now Hayley and I maintain a cash buffer of 6-8 months’ living expenses.
AND Hayley has a part-time job as a doctor.
AND my business has enough cash to cover 6 months’ expenses (more if I stopped drawing a salary), independent of my personal savings.
Is this overkill?
Could I earn more money if I invested some of that cash instead?
I am VERY conservative with my finances … and in exchange for a few % in lost interest gains, I get the confidence of knowing I am not dependent on ANY single client or project to feed my family. I approach everything from a place of non-neediness, because I do not need anyone’s money. This allows me to sell freely and honestly, and genuinely not care if someone doesn’t buy.
And if I were doing something even riskier — like switching career — I’d want that safety net even more.
Begin saving 10% of your income (more if you can, less if you can’t) into a fund just for this purpose.
Don’t put everything on hold till you have 6 months’ worth, but aim for that and never let it fall below that when you get there.
The obvious thing to say is … you shouldn’t go “full time” in one fell swoop.
The great thing about freelancing is, it lets you build up your workload bit by bit until you’re confident it can provide enough income.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again:
The easiest way to do this is Upwork.
The clients are already there.
They don’t need convincing that they need a copywriter.
They’re ready and willing to pay for help.
You can get up and running (and possibly even winning clients) by tomorrow.
And you can even raise your rates quite quickly.
This is how I got my own start, working 28-day shifts of 12 hours a day. I did Upwork gigs in my lunch breaks and after work. And I was at $200/hr within 9 months.
For more on how I did that, check out my new course, Upwork in One Hour.
But what if you truly don’t have the time even for this?
Use copywriting to change your current job circumstances
Being a copywriter is a HUGE advantage to holding even a ‘regular’ job.
You can use your copywriting skills to figure out how to engineer better circumstances for yourself.
Do some market research:
Ask yourself what your boss/supervisor really wants … and what the real ‘offer’ of your job role really is to them.
And think about how you could focus your job to deliver MORE of that … and LESS of the things that don’t contribute to that.
Odds are, at least 20% of what you do now is irrelevant to what your boss wants.
That’s the equivalent of a day a week.
As a copywriter, can’t you write a convincing pitch to your boss to refocus your role on more important things, so you end up with less to do, while being more valuable to your boss?
Not only does this put you in line for a raise, and puts your boss ‘on your side’ …
… but it also allows you to free up more time for the previous step: freelancing.
I can’t be any more specific than this since it’s going to vary so much job-by-job. But there’s almost always a way to do this.
But … what if there isn’t?
Well, your last resort is …
Use your copywriting skills to land yourself a better (non-copywriting) job
Let’s face it. If you’re in a job you hate, doing menial work, AND you have literally no leverage to improve your circumstances … you are in a precarious position anyway.
So you might as well prepare for what happens if you lose that job.
As a copywriter, again, you have a huge advantage here.
You should be able to use your copywriting skills to write a killer resume and job application for pretty much any other job you want to apply for.
My mobile app has an article with tips on how to do this, based on how I won a copywriting job offer from I Will Teach You To Be Rich even when I didn’t qualify for it.
But it shouldn’t be too hard. 99% of applicants for ANY job don’t know what you know about the art of persuasion and salesmanship. You have a massive advantage.
Again, this is a last resort, but it is an option if you’re serious about copywriting.
Anyway, this is the rough process I’d follow if I had to start from scratch and transition into copywriting again.