How to create a copywriting contract - copify

How to create a copywriting contract

You’re a creative person, and you chose a copywriting career because writing and creating new copy is what you want to do. If creativity is your superpower, chances are you don’t really want to spend any time thinking about boring things like accounts and contracts.

However, the fact is, unless you create copy as a hobby, you are running a business, and with that comes the responsibility to have everything in place from a legal point of view.

You’re probably asking yourself, ‘Do I even need a copywriting contract?’ After all, you’ve already agreed with your new client what you’re doing for them and what you’ll charge, so why do you need a contract?

4 reasons you need a copywriting contract

1. First and foremost, a written contract that’s signed by you and your client is what you will rely on if something goes wrong. If the worst happens, you’ve got back up in court. Your client signed your contract, and they agreed to your terms, and that’s strong evidence in your favour.

2. If there are any disputes over work, your contract clearly establishes what the agreed scope of work was, and helps prevent scope creep. It gives you a clear point of reference to decide whether to throw in that extra bit of work your client wants for goodwill; or to firmly point out what was initially agreed, and say that you can accommodate the extra work for X additional amount.

How to create a copywriting contract - copify 2

3. A good contract helps stop the whole back and forth of what to do or what to say if your client has a problem or a disagreement with you. What was agreed is there in black and white, and what to do about that particular situation is right there, too. Does the client want a refund for some reason, for example? Instead of getting worked up about what to say or whether you should offer a refund, you can simply look at what the contract says your refund policy is and go from there.

4. A contract establishes boundaries for both of you. Ever had one of those clients that calls you several times a day and after hours to ‘just check up on how it’s going’? Your contract should lay out when and how updates will be communicated, and what your availability is.

Basically, your contract is protection for both of you so you both know exactly where you stand and what to expect. And it can take the heat and frustration out of a situation if there’s a problem on either side. Instead of having an argument, you can simply point calmly to the appropriate section of the contract, and there’s the answer.

What should be in a copywriting contract?

This isn’t an ultimate or exhaustive list of everything that should be in a contract, because your contract should be particular to the way you run your business, and what you want. It’s not simply about legal protection. It’s about writing down what’s acceptable to you, and how you want to work with your clients.

Also, we’re not solicitors or crystal ball gazers, and we couldn’t possibly know every situation that you might want to include for your specific circumstances.

Having said that, here are the basics:

• Your payment terms – how much the project is in total, when your invoices will be sent, i.e., if you’ve agreed an upfront payment; will your invoice be sent as soon as you finish the work, or on approval; are there staged invoice payments along the way? How will you get paid?

You could also include what will happen if your invoice is not paid on time, including late payment fees and possible further action.

And if you need further advice on that, here’s an excellent article from Carol Tice of Make a Living Writing on how to deal with a client who doesn’t pay on time. Note that she also emphasises that you do need a contract!

• The length and type of the project, and the deadline for delivery.

• When updates will be given to your client, and how communication will be done, whether by email, telephone, or online app, such as Zoom. When your office hours are and when you’re available to talk.

• How many drafts will you do? How many sets of edits will you do? How will you handle input and suggestions?

• Does copyright transfer from you to your client, and when does that happen?

• What happens if the client isn’t satisfied with your work, or decides they no longer need it when you’ve already started. This happens sometimes on magazines, where they’ve been planning a feature, but have made a decision for some reason that they are no longer running it. If you’ve already done the work, there should be room in your contract for a ‘kill fee’ so you still get paid. If you’ve done part of the work and they cancel, you should also get paid for what you’ve done up to that point.

How to create a copywriting contract - copify

• What happens if something happens to you part way through the work – accident, sickness, family emergency, etc. Will you give a refund in full, a partial refund, or offer an alternative such as credit towards their next project?

• What do you do if the client is very difficult to work with, or asks you to do something you aren’t comfortable with, and you want to cancel the contract?

There’s a lot more you could put in, and as we said, you need to consider your individual business needs, but if you have answers to everything above, you’ll be well on your way.

How to create a copywriting contract

Before you agree to work with a client, you should receive a comprehensive brief from them, covering what they want, what their goals are for the copy, and when they need it by. From this, you should be able to copy and paste a lot of the information you need to include in your contract. Here’s an article from Copify’s blog on how to create the perfect brief. While the blog does approach it from the point of view of a client, reading through it will also give you an idea of the type of information you can expect and will need.

You have several options when creating a contract:

• You could hire a solicitor to write one that’s specific to you and your company. It can be expensive, but you will get something completely individual to your business, with the security of knowing it’s been done by a professional, and you are covered.

• You could buy a ready-done pack of legal documents that you can amend to suit from someone like Ash Ambirge or Lisa Fraley.

Lisa Fraley is an attorney in the US and has written all the legal documents you might need for your business.

Ash Ambirge is an amazing woman who runs a business encouraging women to get out there and take the world by storm. That’s not quite how she puts it, which you’ll see when you click through (language warning!) but her business savvy and excellent advice are hard to beat.

She is firm on the subject of whether you need a contract and has also written a brilliant bundle of legal documents you can buy to use in your business. Get on her mailing list to find out more about the kit.

While you’ll probably still need a solicitor to go through and make sure the templates have everything you need for UK law, it will cost you less than starting from scratch.

• Finally, you could download the free template from ProCopywriter, written by John McGarvey, and change your details.

While you’re there, take a look at their other resources, such as brief templates and project trackers.

What sort of language to use

People tend to think of contracts as being scary things, stuffed full of impenetrable legalese and many-syllabled words, but they don’t have to be. A plain English contract is very often appreciated by your clients, and can even reflect your brand.

How to create a copywriting contract - copify 1

If you look at the ProCopywriter contract template mentioned above, you’ll see it’s extremely easy to read, and there’s even some humour in there, but it still covers all the major points that it needs to cover.

Ash Ambirge even takes it further and uses every bit of her personality in her contracts and terms & conditions. It’s part of her brand. While you might not like the language, it’s hard to argue that it’s bland or boring.

Think about how you can do that with your contracts and other legal documents, so not only will you get documents that cover you and your business legally, but you could even enhance your brand, and show your potential customers your personality, and what it’s like to work with you.

* Please note, we’re not solicitors, and nothing in this article is intended to be taken as legal advice.


Main image credit: Jessica Spengler
Image credits: perzonseo.comKyle, Allen Allen

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How to make a copywriting portfolio

How to make a copywriting portfolio: tutorial

Copywriting is a very viable and interesting career, especially if you embark upon the route of freelance copywriting.

Being a freelance copywriter means that you will be able to write different types of copy and content for a variety of clients, as well as adapting your writing skills according to the brief you’re given. It’s a fantastic career choice for those who love to write and those who love to use words creatively. It’s a great career option for those such as graduates with essay-based degrees – e.g. English, History, Sociology, Politics, Public Relations, etc – or those who come from a marketing, advertising and digital media background.

How to make a copywriting portfolio - copify

However, in order to succeed as a copywriter, you must have a portfolio. You need this in order to be able to showcase your work, skills and talents in order to convince potential clients to work with you. After all, as stated by Bubble Jobs, copywriting is “one area where employers like to see a sample of the candidate’s work before they invite them in for an interview.”

That rule generally applies to roles across the digital sector. A portfolio is “your shop window, the place where you showcase your writing and highlight your talents. It’s especially useful if you’re just starting out, because people need to be able to see what you can do,” says John Mello, of LetterPile.

To put it simply, your portfolio is the best way to market yourself and your services to clients.

Here are our top tips on creating a killer copywriting portfolio that will not just make you attractive to clients, but will make them keep on hiring you over and over again!

1. Add writing pieces

Of course, this is the number one tip: showcase your work on your portfolio. Clients want to see the kind of work you’ve done previously, so add this to your portfolio. If you don’t have any work to showcase or you are just starting out as a copywriter, then don’t fret! You can create pieces to add to your portfolio by guest posting for other websites or starting your own blog.

2. Introduce yourself

Clients want to know about you because they want to get a rough idea How to make a copywriting portfolio - copifyof who they’ll be working with. After all, you’re not just a copywriter, you’re a person with an identity too. You don’t have to give away personal details but at least state your home town/city, your educational background, career highlights to date and your hobbies and interests. Add a bit of extra information by stating an interesting fact about yourself!

3. Outline your niche

While copywriters typically write for a variety of clients, it’s also important to have a speciality. What’s your focus? What’s your area of interest? Where does your high level of expertise lie? Figure out your niche area. It could be in SEO copywriting, or writing beauty content, or writing IT/technical support guides, or fashion blogging, or writing reports and case studies for charities, or writing travel brochures – anything! Once you’ve worked out your niche area, establish yourself within it. You can do this by setting up a blog or business website advertising your expertise and marketing your services. Crucially, state it in your portfolio.

4. Use a reputable platform

There are plenty of platforms available that will allow you to create a killer portfolio, such as Squarespace, Wix and WordPress. Nicki Krawczyk, of Filthy Rich Writer, explains the importance of setting up a standalone online portfolio site.

5. Add testimonials

Before hiring a copywriter, clients always like to hear fellow clients’ experiences of working with you. Even though we now live in the digital world, traditional marketing methods such as word of mouth reviews, positive feedback and personal recommendations are still powerful and significant ways to drum up business for yourself. If you’ve got experience, then get in touch with the people that you’ve worked with and ask if they could give your services positive feedback. A testimonial doesn’t need to be long – it just needs to be two sentences describing how great your work was and how great it was to work with you.

6. Make sure your design is on point

How to make a copywriting portfolio - copifyA copywriting portfolio needs to look professional at all times. If the design isn’t right – i.e. the page is hard to navigate – then the person viewing it could lose interest and that could cost you a potential client. You don’t need to be a graphic design expert and your portfolio doesn’t need to be spectacular – but be creative and make sure it stands out! Your portfolio needs to be clear and concise and designed in a way that it catches the eye of the viewer and tells the potential clients who you are and what you do in 15 seconds. There are many portfolio templates online – WordPress has plenty of these – but if you’d prefer, then outsource the design aspect to a graphic designer.

7. Make sure it is SEO-optimised

You’d obviously want to ensure your clients can find you easily, so make sure it’s SEO optimised. Aim to rank for your chosen niche/expertise and add relevant keywords when building your portfolio site so that you can attract relevant clients. For example, if you are a B2B technology copywriter, then make sure you use keywords such as ‘B2B technology writer,’ ‘tech’, ‘technology’, ‘B2B,’ ‘B2B writer’, etc.

8. Contact details

This seems like such an obvious aspect to add to your killer copywriting portfolio, but it’s very surprising how many people forget this vital piece of information, which is bizarre because potential clients need to get in touch with you in some way. You can add your email address and mobile number, or you can add a contact form. Also, add links to your social media channels.

By following these tips, you will be able to create a killer portfolio in no time, and by doing that you can be sure to attract some amazing clients and kick-start your copywriting portfolio sooner rather than later.

Konrad (of Creative Copywriter) and Susan Greene both have some more information and tips on creating a portfolio. For more information on how to become a copywriter, take a look at our guide.


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best copywriter training courses

Get certified: Our guide to the best copywriter training courses

If you’re looking to become a copywriter or you would like to improve your existing skills, there are plenty of copywriting training courses now available both on and offline. Considering you’re likely to be investing a substantial amount of money in your training, you should take your time and ensure you select the right course for your goals.

Why should you complete a copywriter training course?

Although completing a copywriting course is not always essential, you may find the expertise shared by qualified professionals will provide you with valuable training and resources that you can refer back to throughout your career.

It doesn’t matter whether you are a complete novice or you already have some copywriting experience, understanding the basic and fundamental concepts is important for effective writing and successful copy. You wouldn’t drive a car without a licence (at least we hope not), so you shouldn’t write copy without the correct guidance and tools from some of the leading experts in the field. While there is no substitute for experience, a copywriter training programme can be really beneficial in other ways.

What will you learn from a copywriting course?

Although course content varies depending on the training programme and institute you choose, there are some fundamental elements that are covered in most courses. These include:

  • Understanding copywriting briefs
  • Structural and planning tools
  • Mastering tone of voice
  • Punctuation, grammar and spelling
  • Similes, metaphors, and clichés
  • Crafting winning headlines
  • Storytelling and creativity
  • Editing and proofreading

Here’s our selection of the best copywriter training courses available:

The Andy Maslen Copywriting Academy – Breakthrough Copywriting

Available online using 10 video seminars and a 300-page manual, the Breakthrough Copywriting course was created by Andy Maslen, who has written copy for clients including Prudential, The Economist, World Vision, and Christies. Andy is also the mastermind behind ‘Write to Sell, Persuasive Copywriting’ and three other copywriting books.

The 10 video seminars last around 26 minutes on average – 5.5 hours in total. As well as a bonus video, there are 33 practical exercises to do with model answers available on the Academy website.

Andy Maslen Breakthrough - best copywriter training courses

Course content includes everything from planning, headlines, briefs, and structuring to tone of voice, grammar, punctuation, editing, proofing and insider tips and tricks. Andy also says this course will explain the fundamentals of writing to persuade, influence and sell.

Price: £116.40

London College of Communication – Confident Copywriting

Confident Copywriting is perfect for beginners looking to develop a tone of voice and for those who would like to review, edit and improve their own writing skills. A six-week programme, Confident Copywriting will cover the basics of writing copy and will provide you with tips and tricks for coming up with new ideas.

The course will be taught over University of the Arts London’s online platform and each session will last between one and two hours. Homework assignments may be set and attendees will be expected to tackle briefs and take part in writing exercises.

By the end of the course, you should be able to write better and faster, answer a real-life brief with confidence, and boost the power of persuasion in your writing.

Price: £485

College of Media and Publishing – Copywriting Level 4 Diploma

Suitable for beginners and those who wish to refresh their existing skills, the Copywriting Level 4 Diploma teaches you how to present professional copy, conduct effective research and comply with any relevant codes of practice.

College of media and publishing - best copywriter training courses

This course is completely flexible, which means you can fit it around your lifestyle or other studies. The course tutor is Justine Holman, who will mentor and guide you through assignments. Justine has a wealth of experience and has written for many large publications, including The Express, Elle, Women’s Weekly and TV Times.

Price: £294.50

The Institute of Direct and Digital Marketing – Copywriting: an Introduction

IDM offer a vast range of copywriting courses, and each one aims to help you deliver copy that engages, attracts and prompts action from your audience. There are training programmes for digital, not-for-profit, social media, blogs, web and email copywriting, as well as a copywriting masterclass.

However, their Copywriting: an Introduction course offers hands-on practice and will ensure you understand the principles and theory behind responsive copywriting.

Note: this course is taught in Central London and is not available online.

Price: £549.00 – £599.00

Blackford Centre for Copywriting – Diploma in Copywriting

The Diploma in Copywriting is a quick start guide and provides training using 35 videos and 63,000 words of how-to text. There are also 11 assignments to complete which are marked by an experienced tutor. On top of this, there are 61 self-assessment exercises you can complete that’ll help you tackle each type and style of copywriting.

Blackford Inst for Copywriting - best copywriter training courses

The course is typically completed in five months, but you can do it as slowly or quickly as you like. The Diploma in Copywriting is also endorsed by the ABC Awards’ Quality Licence Scheme. This means it has faced an external quality check to guarantee quality is consistently met. This particular diploma has been benchmarked at the Level 4 Award.

Price: £580/$972

American Writers & Artists Inc. (AWAI) – The Accelerated Program for Six-Figure Copywriting

The Accelerated Program for Six-Figure Copywriting by AWAI was described by Copyblogger as a comprehensive course and a down-to-earth guide to professional copywriting. Also known as Michael Masterton’s course, Michael is one of the most successful copywriters ever and he’s the real reason everyone heads to AWAI for their training. But the course’s biggest selling point is how straightforward it is. Offering a step-by-step blueprint, it is unbelievably clear to follow and will provide you with a strong understanding of how the copywriting business works.

The AWAI course is great for those who don’t want to be restricted by a time limit. You can complete The Accelerated Program for Six-Figure Copywriting at your own pace. Some trainees complete the course in six weeks, while others take up to a year – it really is up to you.

Price: $497.00

What’s next after copywriter training?

If you decide to complete a copywriter training course, the next move would be to gain more experience in the field. With Copify you can access an array of paid copywriting jobs and you’ll gain the confidence you need to launch your new career.

Note: All prices are correct at the time of publishing.


Main image credit: Taylor Johnson
Image credits: Andy Maslen, College of Media and PublishingBlackford Centre

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What is an SEO copywriter

What is an SEO copywriter?

Most businesses know that SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation, and Search Engine Land defines it as “…the process of getting traffic from the ‘free,’ ‘organic,’ ‘editorial’ or ‘natural’ search results on search engines.”

Taking that a little further, SEO copywriting is a specific form of content writing that works to rank online content higher in the search engines, and drives targeted traffic from the search engines to your website. SEO copywritten content contains keywords and phrases to allow the search engines to classify content and decide how relevant it is, in order to serve up the best results to their users.

Put simply, SEO copywriting is the ability to write excellent content that suits both the search engine bots and human readers. It shouldn’t sound like it’s been written around keywords, even though it has. Great SEO content should sound entirely natural, while still targeting the required keywords and phrases.

According to HubSpot, “61% of marketers say improving SEO and growing their organic presence is their top inbound marketing priority”, so SEO copywriting is a skill that’s worth developing.

You can read about SEO copywriting in more detail on our blog.

What is an SEO copywriter?

Someone with the skill to manage the finely balanced art of keeping both audience and search engines happy. Someone who can produce educational, entertaining, authentic and authoritative content for their readers, while seamlessly blending the right keywords and phrases into the copy that will get that content rocketing up the search engine results.

what is an SEO copywriter

SEO copywriters are both experts in writing content and experts in search engine optimisation.

Some people still think that not caring about quality and stuffing a bunch of keywords into a blog post will fool Google and get their website found. While that might work for a little while, the second Google finds that sloppy, keyword-stuffed content is the second that business’s website disappears to the bottom depths of whatever passes for website hell, never to be seen again.

What does an SEO copywriter do all day?

Much like any other copywriter, they’ll have a variety of things to do that are nothing to do with writing: admin, sending out invoices and doing accounts, marketing their business, networking, taking client meetings, checking emails and project planning.

SEO copywriters often work with other professionals as part of a team to bring a project to a successful conclusion. They might work with web designers, content strategists, programmers, app builders and social media marketers.

And when they do get to the writing, just like any other writer, they could be creating anything from ebooks, blogs, sales copy, articles and web copy to social media posts.

The difference between an SEO copywriter and any other writer is that every brief is carefully researched to understand what keywords and phrases should be included to boost the content in the search engines (if the client hasn’t already supplied these). And an SEO copywriter knows how to smoothly and invisibly weave those keywords and phrases throughout the copy in a way that sounds completely natural and unforced.

What is an SEO copywriter That’s not to say that other writers ignore SEO and keywords, because they don’t, but SEO copywriters are specialists in this area.

It is the SEO copywriter who writes the type of content that will drive traffic, increase search engine rankings, grab the attention of the client’s audience and improve conversion rates.

Here’s an idea of the process an SEO copywriter goes through with a piece of content:

  1. Select keywords and phrases that people are actually searching for on your topic.
  2. Plan out the page or blog post to provide the best value for the audience, and to engage and entertain.
  3. Write, while weaving the keywords and phrases throughout the content so that the copy is completely seamless and natural sounding.
  4. The SEO copywriter will write a captivating meta description, which is what will appear in the search results and draw the eye to read the copy.
  5. The writer will also create title tags, select categories for the article, add the keyword to the alt text of any images and more, to get your article found.
  6. Add in internal and external links with converting anchor text.

Note that none of that has anything to do with keyword stuffing. It’s not forcing or attempting to cheat their way to a better ranking. It’s simply writing the copy correctly for both the human audience and for the search engines.

“72% of marketers say relevant content creation was the most effective SEO tactic.” – Ascend2 via HubSpot. Given that statistic, it’s highly unlikely that the job of SEO copywriter is going to disappear anytime soon.

If you’d like to learn how to make SEO copywriting your career, check out this helpful article from Heather Lloyd-Martin of SuccessWorks.

The benefits of hiring an SEO copywriter for your business

  • Higher ranking in the search resultsWhat is an SEO copywriter
  • More organic, targeted traffic
  • Lower bounce rates on your site, with people sticking around longer to read your brilliant content
  • Increase in social sharing
  • Better conversion rates, whether that’s reading another page, asking for a quote, signing up to your newsletter or buying something
  • More people contacting you via emails or phone calls – basically more leads!
  • Building your mailing list quicker
  • Having someone around who can catch any SEO problems on your site and fix them
  • Working with someone who can help you improve your site and your user experience
  • Less stress because you have someone you can rely on to do your copywriting so you can focus on other things
  • More income due to… all of the above!

SEO copywriting, like any other copywriting, isn’t just about being found in the search engines. It’s about providing brilliant content that grabs your readers, builds trust, and engages them by being authentic and passionate about your topic.

“When trust sells, what’s the real message the consumer is trying to convey to marketers? Make it real, and we’ll stick around.” – Marketing Insider Group

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