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Freelance writers are usually referred to as copywriters. If you’re already familiar with the world of copywriting then it’s pretty simple.

Copywriting is ‘the use of words to promote a person, business, opinion or idea’. Although the word copy may be applied to any content intended for printing (as in the body of a newspaper article or book), the term copywriter is generally limited to such promotional situations, regardless of media …’

As a freelance writer you would be hired to work on an assignment to write an article on a specific subject. The brief you could be given could really vary. Sometimes you may be given finer details such as what it should be about, the title and an idea of the content that should be included. Other times you may just be given a word count and the subject.

A copywriter writes the words to your favourite television advert, the words on a flyer or billboard, the words on a website . . . The list really is endless! Usually you are oblivious to the work of a copywriter, as you absorb their work without even thinking about it as promotional text and on consumer products. Think of your box of Cornflakes. A copywriter was responsible for the text on the front and the back of the box.

As well though, a copywriter writes for a ‘business to business’ situation. For example if Apple needed a new chip to go in their new iPod. A copywriter would write a pitch to grab the attention of chip manufactures who in turn will get a copywriter to write a pitch to Apple of why they should get the contract in hope of being successful.

Really when you think about it, whenever something is sold, a copywriter is being paid to write sales and marketing material.

Writing for the Internet

Generally most jobs will be for internet marketers and webmasters needing new content for websites and blogs. Some clients may pay you more for top quality content, however others may prefer quantity over quality and pay less per article, but need more articles in one go.

Typical fees could be anything from £50 to £1,000 per article depending on who you’re writing for (the authority of the company), the word count of the article and the skills and knowledge required to write.

To be a successful freelance writer and get paid for the work you do, you must ensure that:

  • Articles are delivered on time
  • The content is unique and of good quality, whatever they are paying you
  • Grammar is used correctly
  • Spelling is accurate
  • You have a basic understanding of keywords
  • You have an understanding of the client’s target audience, so you can capture them in your writing

Article marketing

Article marketing involves promoting affiliate products by writing reviews or articles about them. Usually this will include a link back to the website. The link is either used for link gathering purposes, or to track purchases made by visitors, which you could then make commission from.

Article marketing usually doesn’t cost anything to get started, as there is no need for you to invest in domain names or hosting. Usually you would utilise free article posting sites, social media and other free sites that allow you to use affiliate links.

It isn’t as straight forward as it sounds though. There are many guidelines to follow, as many postings do not allow you to profit from articles on their site, though this is a hurdle you can learn to overcome with experience.


Blogging involves a variety of opportunities and can bring in a decent income. It doesn’t require a lot of dedication like with a freelance writer, which often requires you to write 8 to 10 articles per day and pay could be low.

As a blogger, usually you start your own Blog and write about interesting things and attract a following ‘Interesting’ could be anything, as long as people want to read about. It helps though to have a theme to your Blog to get a good following. No point writing about how to train a ferret one day and the history of World War two the next! You get the gist . . .

The main advantage of writing your own blog is that the articles will be able to generate cash for you over and over again. As unlike an article you sell once, you have the opportunity to sell affiliate links within your copy or the ability to put adverts on your Blog. The great thing with this is, it is less work than an article writer, as it requires much less effort.

To become a successful blogger it is advisable to go on a course and learn the techniques. It may be expensive, though it will help you reap awards quicker than going it alone.

Can you make a living as a freelance writer?

You could choose to be a freelance copywriter. Giving you the freedom to work from home and chose which jobs you do and how much to demand as daily/hourly rates. However these factors do depend on your success rate and this lifestyle isn’t ideal for everyone.

It would be advisable to start off working for someone else, such as a copywriter with an advertising agency. These jobs aren’t that easy to secure but perseverance and determination will get you a long way. The main advantages of working in an agency are you can learn from other colleagues and even clients! Also you can benefit from working for numerous clients.

It’s slightly easier though to secure a contract within the advertising department of a company. Mostly companies decide to do the advertising work themselves instead of outsourcing projects, as this is much cheaper. Rates of pay depend on what type of employment and what area of copywriting you get into. The most lucrative industries to get into are Finance, IT, Health and alternative Healthcare.

Finding work as a freelance writer

Despite copywriting being a popular profession, there are still is plenty of jobs to go around. The biggest challenge is setting yourself apart from all the other copywriters out there, which is hardest when you’re starting out.

It is a must have as a freelance copywriter to have your own website to profile your work. Usually these tend to be in a ‘blog’ style and based on a WordPress theme and include information about what you offer. Projects you have completed and obviously your contact details.

So where do you start looking?

Elance is an online marketplace for freelancers which has a good following, giving you access to thousands of potential clients. As a freelancer, you sign up, fill out your profile and then you bid on jobs.

Being the lowest price though doesn’t guarantee the job, as potential clients have the option to pick more skilled bidders. This said, there are hundreds of positions to bid on and as long as your profile showcases your work successfully, your chances of successfully securing a contract is high.

Elance also gives you access to a daily newsletter with targeted jobs, so you don’t need to worry about missing out on any opportunities. A subscription to Elance does cost, but it is a great tool for a freelance writers, especially if you are new to the scene.

Another avenue to explore is People Per Hour. This works on a subscription basis as well, and the higher the monthly package you invest in, the less commission you need to pay on the contracts you secure. Jobs which you can bid on are posted by potential clients, which is similar to Elance, but you also benefit from your profile being searchable, so clients can contact you directly. This feature means your profile really needs to shine.

Having made the decision to give it a go, whether full or part time and whether to set up as a sole trader or limited company, you’re going to need a wide range of tax and accountancy advice and support in the early days when setting up as a freelancer.

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