Agency work isn’t for everybody. After a few years experience in the biz, you may decide to give freelancing a try. Many writers have different reasons for wanting to become a freelance copywriter – you get to choose your hours, you can work from anywhere and you can write your own paycheck (which can be a scary thought if you don’t have a proper business plan). Here are some tips to follow to make sure you kick-start your freelance copywriting career in the right direction:

Get a website

If you think simply posting a classified ad titled “Need a freelance copywriter?” on Craigslist will get clients queuing for your services – guess again. These copywriters all sing the same tune (such as “years of experience”, “can produce flawless copy” etc), but it’s not believable. If you truly have years of experience and you can produce great marketing copy, you should have a portfolio to prove it.

Set up a website (there are many easy-to-use website builders) and make a simple website that gives a full introduction about yourself – from where you studied to who you worked for. Also give potential clients an idea of how you work with clients, what type of briefs you will need, what kind of turnaround time they can expect and what your skills are (such as SEO copywriting, B to B copywriting and so forth). If possible, give a list of references and link to some of the websites you have written for.

Make your own leads

It’s not always advisable to target web design companies and agencies (especially if you haven’t worked with them before). Most of these companies have their own in-house writers or a handful of trusted copywriters who they have been outsourcing to for years (doing quality control on a number of writers is a time consuming job and agencies usually don’t have the time and resources to give every freelance copywriter a break).

Start networking with people in the industry and gather the contact details of people who may need copywriting in the future or have colleagues, friends or family who need articles, reviews or marketing material written on a regular basis. Let them know that you are freelancing full-time, give them a business card (with your website’s URL) and leave a lasting impression so that you are top of mind whenever they need work done.

If you’re doing niche writing – give clients some samples

You may have some niche competencies that will set you apart from other freelance copywriters. If you’ve spent a few years in the Telecoms industry, for example, start by cold-calling some of the companies who could use your services and offer to write some sample articles for them.