You might not think that becoming a freelance copywriter involves setting up a business, but in many ways, that’s exactly what freelancing is. If you’re planning to make a career out of copywriting, then rather than picking up the odd job in your spare time, you should consider starting your own copywriting business.
Calling your side-hustle a business may have you, and many other writers, feeling anxious, especially if you don’t have an entrepreneurial bone in your body. But starting a copywriting business is much simpler than opening your own restaurant and involves considerably fewer risks, making it an ideal avenue to take for those who want to work for themselves but don’t envision themselves as particularly competent CEOs.
How to start a copywriting business
Begin with a website
Creating your own website is the easiest way to centralise your copywriting business, giving any current or potential clients a base from which they can contact you or learn more. Unlike other businesses, you don’t need to worry about coming up with a name unless you want to. Having your name followed by ‘copywriting services’ is perfectly acceptable and an approach that many freelancers use.
Many websites allow you to have a blog alongside your main site, which is a tool that many businesses have been seizing to improve their brand message and marketing strategies. Not only will you be able to showcase your skills, but you can also boost people’s awareness of your business by using SEO.
Having a social media presence will certainly help to send clients your way but, in the beginning, you’ll need to put in a lot of work reaching out to people and finding work yourself. Over time, you’ll become an established business with a reputation, but you can’t expect clients to come flocking to your website when you first create it.
You can find freelance writing work on job boards or through agencies, like Copify, which will help you to grow your portfolio. You can also get your name out there by writing guest posts for other publications. Although these might not pay in the beginning, they’re really valuable in the long-term as you build a solid web presence.
This is something many writers don’t think about until after they’ve completed their first job and realise they don’t know how their client is going to pay them. Creating a professional invoice template alongside your website will save you a lot of hassle in the future, and it’s really easy to do, even if you lack design skills. Sites like Canva offer you the option of creating your own design or using one of their many templates, and it’s completely free!
You’ll also need to keep on top of your invoice organisation, as this can quickly get out of hand. Make sure you number each invoice and keep them in neat folders, as having them scattered across your desktop can make it difficult to verify exactly which clients have paid you and which ones haven’t. A top tip for when taking on new clients is asking for the payment to be made before you send on the work. You could ask for the full amount or 50%, but getting some cash beforehand gives you extra security and saves you a lot of time chasing late payments.
Pay attention to taxes
It doesn’t matter how successful your copywriting business is, you’ll still be responsible for calculating and paying your own taxes. A lot of startups push this to one side because nobody likes to think about their outgoings! But it really is best to factor in these costs as soon as possible to avoid scrambling for figures and encountering any nasty surprises at the last minute.
If you’ve organised all your invoices properly, it’s simple to create a spreadsheet of all the money you’ve earned and apply this information to GOV.uk’s guidelines. It’s best not to hire an accountant until you’re sure your business is doing well enough to afford one, though it’s unlikely you’ll need to do any complex sums in the early stages anyway.
Remember, even if you haven’t earnt a taxable amount of income, you’ll still need to declare these earnings to HMRC, so make sure you’re keeping track of all your earnings from the very beginning, no matter how small.
Take out insurance
It’s up to you whether you decide to take out any insurance, but you should consider covering yourself with professional indemnity insurance. Although you won’t be offering your clients advice, you may be offering their audience advice or information in the writing you produce. If any of these facts are incorrect and cause your client to incur financial losses, your insurance will be there to cover you. You can avoid situations like this by always using reliable sources when researching, and ensuring you fact check everything thoroughly. But sometimes mistakes are unavoidable, so it’s best to be prepared for these scenarios that have the potential to derail your success.
Now you know how to start a copywriting business, it’s time to put your plan into action. As with any kind of business, it will take time to build and grow, so although you may be excited, start small and don’t be too quick to leave your day job. But getting started is the hardest part, so once you’re over the initial hurdle, getting into the swing of your new way of life is sure to be simple.