Stefan Georgi toyed with many careers before he landed on the success he's found as a freelance copywriter. He worked as an admissions advisor at a college then-called Bridgepoint Education; he was a brand ambassador for companies like Nissan Leaf and Purina Puppy Chow; and he was a door-to-door political fundraiser in college.
In 2011, he discovered the freedom that could come with a career as a copywriter and quit his job at a Fortune 500 company to try his hand at it. Today, he's landed on writing infomercial scripts, specifically, and brings in $50,000 per script. So far this year, he says, he's brought in more than $432,000 from such writing projects.
As many as 36% of professionals earn a living as full-time freelancers, according to a 2020 Upwork study of more than 6,000 U.S. workers. For anyone curious to try freelance copywriting as either a side hustle or full-time job, here's Georgi's advice.
Anyone looking to dive into the world of freelance writing should find relevant writing groups on Facebook and join them, Georgi says: "Going in there and immersing yourself in that world [is] really valuable."
These groups regularly offer advice to members and address any issues people might be having as they begin, and they can even present job opportunities.
Georgi has his own Facebook group for freelance copywriters, called "Justin [his business partner] & Stefan talk copy," where they and more than 4,000 other writers share experience and advice about the business.
Video by Stephen Parkhurst
One of the "biggest hang-ups" beginner writers have, says Georgi, is not having a portfolio to show prospective clients. "So just create your own portfolio," he says.
Say you're looking to get into copywriting for advertisements. Look up ads made for some of your favorite companies, then create your own. When you talk to prospective clients, you can show them those ads as examples of your work.
"As far as getting gigs and jobs," says Georgi, "leverage the traditional freelancing platforms out there." Plenty of employers post one-time gigs as well as ongoing work on sites like Upwork, Fiverr, Freelancer.com, and FlexJobs. Log on frequently, peruse the jobs posted, and don't be "afraid to apply," says Georgi.
Facebook groups for writers can also be a good place to find jobs. Some groups see jobs being posted directly on them, and business owners peruse these groups looking for possible collaborators. So make sure to join, post examples of your work, and be an active participant.
Think of some of your favorite small companies, such as niche clothing companies or local coffee shops, and write some copy for them along the lines of the type of writing you're aiming to do. If you want to be a blogger, write them a sample blog post, for example. If you want to write website copy, write them a sample website page.
Then reach out and make your pitch. Begin by saying something like, "Hey, I'm a big fan," says Georgi. Tell them you're a copywriter and you've written an ad for them. They can use it if it suits, free of charge, and you'd love to talk to them about working together sometime in the future if they're open to the idea.
Video David Fang
"They're gonna feel like they should respond at the very least," he says, so you can begin a correspondence. They can see immediately if your work is a fit for them, and "they may have an urgent need and just hire you."
If they end up using your work without telling you, "that would still be a huge win," says Georgi. "Now you can put a Facebook post, a LinkedIn post, etc. saying, 'Wow, I'm so excited! I provided XYZ to [this client] a few weeks back, and I just saw that they took it live and are using it.'" You can leverage the credibility from the brand using your work.
"Typically that won't happen," though, he says. "Most of the time the client will respond and you'll start a dialogue." From there, you can begin to build a relationship with a potential client.
Georgi recently asked members of his Facebook group if this tactic had been effective for them. More than a dozen people responded that it had. One member wrote: "I've used it several times and it's worked really well. [...] I [wrote a new lede] for V Shred. Ended up negotiating it into writing them a full new sales letter."
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