I got my first client from a freelancing site in the Netherlands. It’s something like Upwork – I tried that too – but here, clients are actually willing to pay you good money. So I received 100 euro for some creative web copy around 600 words. And actually I think I could have charged more. The client said it was a decent price. Maybe I could have charged double!
I won't pull any punches: I started, and it took a while to stop. That is to say you're about to dive into a pretty in-depth post (that's a nice way of saying "long") about content marketing, one which you may want to bookmark to read later. But I think it covers most of the aspects of content marketing that modern inbound marketers need to consider, beyond the basics of simply writing content optimized for the web.
The personal finance site Mint.com used content marketing, specifically their personal finance blog MintLife, to build an audience for a product they planned to sell. According to entrepreneur Sachin Rekhi, Mint.com concentrated on building the audience for MintLife "independent of the eventual Mint.com product."[18] Content on the blog included how-to guides on paying for college, saving for a house, and getting out of debt. Other popular content included in-depth interviews and a series of financial disasters called "Trainwreck Tuesdays." The popularity of the site surged as did demand for the product. "Mint grew quickly enough to sell to Intuit for $170 million after three years in business. By 2013, the tool reached 10 million users, many of whom trusted Mint to handle their sensitive banking information because of the blog’s smart, helpful content."[19]
Building this page I try to keep in mind Seth Godin’s saying in The Purple Cow : “Marketing is not done to the product, Marketing is the product”. I believe this apply also to copywriting as you’re not only trying to sell something, the copy itself is providing (or should, from what I learn from you) some valuable information. Somehow, the copy is a product itself.
I’ve just set up my own website, now, and those early gigs have provided some great testimonials, which is a huge boost to confidence. I used Blogger for my own website – it’s free, apart from a fiver a year for a custom domain, and it’s surprising how versatile Blogger can be, with a little practice. I’m now ready to start doing all the things Neville recommends in the above article, and the future looks loaded with potential.
Obviously there are dozens of very large companies offering home insurance, and so differentiating yourself in this particular market could be pretty tricky. However, EverQuote has done a pretty good job of making this ad compelling. Note that the very first copy in the headline—a price—is “$97," which helps overcome prospects’ fear of being gouged for insurance.
Competitor research is important, but you also have to be extremely familiar with your own product or service. Rolls Royce was one of the first major accounts Ogilvy won when his agency was in its early years. In his book, he talks about spending a full three weeks reading about the car to come up with one simple headline: “At sixty miles an hour, the loudest noise comes from the electric clock.” This might not seem like the type of detail that would take you three weeks to find, but sometimes you need to give your brain time to let the information soak in.
Thanks for the advice. I have gone though the templates and done what you suggested and joined groups relevant to the area I want to service. However I have now been blocked by Facebook for two weeks and I am not sure why. I was just joining as many groups as possible. Is there a limit to how many I can join at one time? Everywhere I turn I am hitting brick walls.

Though I am not writing copy for advertising, I have learnt a lot about writing by offering myself as a copywriter on Fiverr. I was paid to find out that I didn’t like writing texts for web pages, that I am average at writing short blog posts, but that I really like writing long blog posts about more technical subjects (even subjects I didn’t have a clue about before I started writing). Doing different writing assignments for different people and different audiences is a good way to learn it.


Since then I’ve been trying to recapture the same flame I had going on Elance on the Upwork platform. I’m honestly just frustrated with platforms such as these. I’m an experienced Copywriter, with a Journalism degree. I want to make this a career. I know that I have services that many can benefit from. All of your advice is what Ive been searching for. It’s extremely difficult to to find resources on how to carve out a writing career. You genuinely want to help others, and I thank you. I’m going to put everything I’ve just learned from you to work today!
2. I also read a lot about SEO, CRO, and marketing in general, so I do my best to be a triple, or even a quadruple threat. Very recently I’ve done a 30-minute CRO consult with a client that *tripled* her checkout conversion (like, actually increased sales 3x), taking her from 5 figures per month to six figures per month in revenue. It definitely pays off to know how to do things that are related to copywriting. :)
Regardless of team size, it's common for visual content to be created by nearly everyone except, perhaps, the SEO specialist. While designers will do the bulk of the advanced creative work, bloggers, content creators, and social media managers will all get involved in lighter-weight design. Often, designers will also create templates for the writers on the team so they can be more independent -- like creating ebook templates so premium content can be laid out by just about anyone with an InDesign license.
Great list, Sonia. Many of these are new to me. One blog that somewhat fits in this list, is Michael Hyatt’s blog. Since he is the former CEO of a publishing company, he has a lot of great insights about actually getting a book published and how the whole process works. If there is a book in your future, Michael’s blog may be a good place to start. (michaelhyatt.com)
Here are some copywriting exercises that can help a junior or beginner copywriter become a master copywriter more quickly and easily. These are copywriting exercises I swear by, that will help you become a more successful and more confident copywriter. The exercises include things like handwriting a great piece of copy (written by a master) over and over again in the master’s exact words, word-for-word, to download their style into your brain. Performing this copywriting exercise, along with other exercises such as reading your copy out loud to yourself, are copywriting tips that give you a competitive edge.
I love your voice. Thank you for your emails and all the knowledge you share. Sometimes I’m a bit suspicious and wonder why do freelancers share their knowledge and let others do and grow in the same field… Well, let me tell you that although I had never thought that I could write for money, six months ago I got my first freelance writing gig… and I was not looking for that. I used to be an export director but after having kids my life changed drammatically, so my last job was as an account manager in a company that builds websites for state agencies. I realised that most of my clients got blocked when I asked them to send me the copy for their brand new website. They didn’t know how to describe their services, how to talk about the team, etc and they sent the copy full of old-fashioned expressions that I don’t like myself to find anywhere. So I used to write the copy for them… for free! I just wanted to help them and have the job done, you know, I got paid when the website was finished. So one of these clients told to a friend that I wrote the whole copy of their new website for them, and this guy came to me asking if I would rewrite his company’s website (300 employees, that’s quite a big company in Spain). I did it (not for free, but I just counted the invested hours). Afterwards, he wanted me writing the weekly posts for the company’s blog. This time I’m getting paid not only for the invested hours but also for my creativeness. Last week another big company asked me for a quotation, we will start working on his blog after summer. I’m so happy with my new career! Now I’m part of my husband’s small company and I offer my services as a marketer and copywriter.
I’ve spent the last 2 years doing a lot of resumes and LinkedIn profiles for job seekers. I’ve also done a lot of biographies and social media marketing copy and consulting for coaches, authors and other solo business owners along the way. But now I’m leveraging my last two years of experiences (all of which were paying gigs, so no need to smack my pen out of my hand, LOL!) and I am positioning myself to expand and work with bigger companies like my first one.
2. I also read a lot about SEO, CRO, and marketing in general, so I do my best to be a triple, or even a quadruple threat. Very recently I’ve done a 30-minute CRO consult with a client that *tripled* her checkout conversion (like, actually increased sales 3x), taking her from 5 figures per month to six figures per month in revenue. It definitely pays off to know how to do things that are related to copywriting. :)
There are many firms that offer content marketing services, often paired with SEO or PR. If you’re simply too busy to do it yourself and aren’t ready to manage it in-house, then hiring a firm may be your best option. But if you want to jump in and do your own content marketing the easiest way is to start blogging. It will likely be hard at first, but the more you do it, the better you’ll get at it. Following tips from websites like Copyblogger you’ll quickly learn how to craft content for your website or blog that will engage readers and turn them into customers or clients. But while technically good writing and the right headlines can help, it’s not the key to creating great content that is the best form of content marketing.
Traditionally, marketers have had to “rent attention” from other people’s media through display ads on websites, booths at trade shows, or emails sent to third-party lists. For example, when a brand pays out millions of dollars for a Super Bowl ad, they are renting the attention that the TV networks have built. Content marketing, on the other hand, allows marketers to become publishers by building their own audiences and attracting their own attention. By creating and distributing content that buyers find useful, marketers increase their brand awareness and preference by establishing a relationship of trust with consumers as they move through the sales funnel. Additionally, content marketing is considered a less costly strategy than some others. It can have a bit of a slower start while your content library grows and reaches a larger audience.
My big mistake was quoting based on hours at first — because I’m really fast, I’d quote a ridiculously low rate. Now I quote based on the value of what people will get. Because I’ve been in online business for about 6 years, I bring a ton of experience and strategy as well as a way with words. :) They’re happy, I’m happy, and my old “friends” now have to stand in line to book me. Bwahahahah!
Problem: I need to reach more customers, while keeping my costs low. According to Forrester research, today’s customers distrust and resent marketing that interrupts or intercepts them. Engaging content marketing should be part of a natural conversation with current and potential customers, be relevant to their interests and behaviors, and build a continuous story over time. Content marketing pays dividends for a very long time, and this effect multiplies as you build out your content library. 
Throughout this training the instructor Ian Lurie will show you how to write copy that conveys your story and sells your product. Explore the different types of copywriting, benefits of drafting on paper, going over the general rules and optimize the content based on the outlet and platform. The lectures are accompanied by exercises and quizzes that let you get hands-on.
It's important to do regular reporting -- I recommend monthly -- on each of these metrics so you know where your growth levers lie. Regular reporting also helps you identify negative trends or plateaus early-on so you can address them before they become bigger issues. Most importantly, however, tracking the success of your initiatives makes it easy for you to repeat what works, eliminate what doesn't, and promote the success of your content marketing program so you can justify its expansion, and its seat at the modern marketing table.
Premium or gated assets are typically longer form, and/or more time-intensive pieces that don't exist on a blog. They might be used to generate leads or contacts, or for brand-building purposes. These are typically created by the dedicated long-form content creator if your team is large enough to have one, but sometimes bloggers get involved too, as blog posts are good testing grounds for what performs well and is thus worth investing in.
Simply master short form copy before you learn long form copy. Long form copy could be a 5-page landing page, or writing the script for a long webinar, or crafting a lengthy direct-mail piece. It often takes years to hone in on your craft and learn how to write really great long form copy. That’s why it’s best to start by learning short form copy, especially when you’re first starting out.

Ricardo specializes in content marketing for real estate professionals, and he’s got lots of resources for using blogs, social media, and content to create effective marketing for that market. I love this example of a content marketer working within a well-defined niche. (If you’re a writer struggling to stand out, think about the niche you could be serving.)
Great stuff Neville! I love what you’ve posted here; I have been searching for information on freelance and copywriting for some time now. Everyone has done an awesome job posting on your site, it only motivates me to keep going. I’m aware of some of the obstacles and aware there will be more for me to cross, but its sites like this that encourage beginners, such as myself, to dive right into the writing world. You pointed out key points: “just start writing”, join groups that are already writing, and read material pertaining to writing. I only did one of the 3, read about copywriting, lol, I know what your thinking, “this guy must have JUST started”, yes, and thankfully, your site has opened a new portal for me. I’ll join a writing group or some writing groups after this post, and I’m taken your advice today by just start writing on your site. I know its a long way up the latter, but I’m determined to use my skills that has been repressed for sometime now. I actually have a great paying job, but, like most writers, I want more time for me; I spend entirely to much time doing someone else work making them rich, when I can use my own skills to make a decent living and have fun while doing it, its a no brainer for me now. Although, I know it will take dedication and consistency, which I know I have, I’m eager and filled with writer passion. Again, thanks to everyone and good luck to all, including myself. “Here we go”!
Problem: I need to reach more customers, while keeping my costs low. According to Forrester research, today’s customers distrust and resent marketing that interrupts or intercepts them. Engaging content marketing should be part of a natural conversation with current and potential customers, be relevant to their interests and behaviors, and build a continuous story over time. Content marketing pays dividends for a very long time, and this effect multiplies as you build out your content library. 
Usually, businesses don't completely cease all other marketing activities and switch to content marketing cold turkey. In fact, most veteran content marketing programs typically incorporate other marketing techniques to complement their content initiatives. But the impetus for most of the companies I've worked with to initiate a content marketing program has been the need for a more cost-effective, predictable, and scalable source of traffic and leads than what they've been receiving from their current marketing programs.
Books. Like movies, people often think of books as selling themselves, but savvy marketers don’t sell books just to sell books, they sell books as marketing tools. Michael Port’s sales manual Book Yourself Solid is a great read for entrepreneurs, salespeople, and marketers, and while I’m sure Port enjoys selling his book, the book is a tool for driving customers to his coaching and speaking services. Although with self-publishing it’s easier than ever to publish a book, there is still the perception that it’s difficult and that only reputable professionals can publish a business book. Publish your own, and even if people don’t read it you can still use it as a form of content marketing every time you’re introduced as “Author of…”
×