Copywriting: A Great Freelance Gig, But Is the Market Overcrowded?

I’m retired but I need income. What’s the best part-time retirement job?
I’m sick of the nine-to-five. How can I make good money working from home?

Whenever I’m asked these questions, I do my best to list four or five options. But my favorite – the one I want to recommend to everybody – is copywriting.

Copywriting has always been a lucrative and rewarding profession, especially for independent-minded people. But since the internet revolution changed global commerce, it’s become one of the very best ways to make part-time freelance money.

In addition to far-above-average compensation, copywriting offers many lifestyle advantages:

* working from home or while traveling

* being in charge of your own time

* choosing your clients

* choosing your work

* having an unlimited intellectual challenge

And if you master a niche, you can get rich. Multimillion-dollar rich.

Perhaps the most surprising thing about copywriting is that you don’t have to be a good writer to do it. Many successful copywriters would deny this. They want you to believe that the work they do is art. They want to think of themselves as direct-response Fitzgeralds and Hemingways. But they are not.

That’s because copywriting is fundamentally a selling – not a writing – skill. And anyone that is willing to put in the work can learn how to sell.

As you may know, I have an interest in a business that teaches copywriting (AWAI), so it would be fair to accuse me of bias. But that doesn’t mean I’m wrong.

However, because of AWAI’s 20-year history of successfully training thousands of people to be copywriters, dozens of smaller programs have popped up. And this has led to speculation that the supply has overstepped the demand, and that the prospects for new people coming aboard are not good.

That may be true… unless, of course, you get really good at copywriting.

This is the position that Master Copywriter Bob Bly took in a recent blog post. He made his point by quoting this from P.T. Barnum’s The Art of Money Getting (Great title!):

No profession, trade, or calling is overcrowded in the upper story. The basement is much crowded, but there is plenty of room upstairs.

Wherever you find the most honest and intelligent merchant, or the best anything, that man is most sought for, and has always enough to do.

Whoever excels all others in his own line, if his habits are good and his integrity undoubted, cannot fail to secure abundant patronage, and the wealth that naturally follows.

“Study and practice, coupled with dedication and effort,” Bob says, “can propel you into the top 10% of copywriters in terms of ability and results – enabling you to enjoy success, good income,and financial security. Do that and you will have all the work you need and you will earn more. And you’ll earn 2 to 10 times more than 90% of the other copywriters out there.”

But there are so many opportunities! So you really don’t have to become one of the best to get all the work you want. And although you probably do need to be an elite copywriter to make $500,000 to more than a million a year, you can make good money – $50 to $200 an hour on a part-time freelance basis – with just mediocre skills.

Consider this: In my day, you’d need a college degree to land a job in the advertising industry. But as a freelance copywriter, nobody’s going to ask you for a CV. They will just want to know what you have done and they’ll want to see samples. And even if the only thing you have is samples that you did as a copywriting student, it’s not difficult to get a test assignment. If you do well with that, you’re on your way.

Eventually, you’ll have more work than you can handle. That’s when you raise your fees – 50 grand, 100 grand… the sky’s the limit!

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If you or someone you know is a fledgling copywriter (or wants to be), here are some facts to think about:

* The industry is huge – $2.3 trillion by some estimates. That’s almost twice as much as the finance industry.

* Job growth for copywriters is on the rise, running neck-and-neck with massive industries like customer service.

* Almost 94% of business owners plan to increase or maintain their budgets for Search Engine Optimization (SEO) this year. And 81% will be outsourcing – a great opportunity for freelance SEO writers.

* With almost 3 billion active users, social media writing has become the heart of almost every business plan. And according to research company eMarketer, we’re less than a year away from the moment when the marketing budget for social media alone will exceed current spending levels on TV.

* Companies that are looking for web copywriters are looking to spend $335 billion this year on content, video scripts, and copy.

* The 5.7 million B2B companies in the US are increasing their budgets for marketing. In 2018, they spent $4.6 billion, a jump from $4.07 billion in 2017 – and a major chunk goes to copywriters.

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Cerebrate (verb) – To cerebrate (SARE-uh-brate) isto use the mind; to think or think about. As used by Michael Innes in An Awkward Lie: “If you simply retire to your own room, shove your backside into an excessively sprung easy chair, and there grimly cerebrate, the chances are that you will eventually do no more than crawl into bed – to wake up six to eight hours later with an unsolved conundrum and a filthy headache.”

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The latest issue of AWAI’s The Barefoot Writer


* Online Pandemonium Sparks Billion-Dollar Needs; Only ONE Kind of Writer Can Sort It Out

* Is Kitchen Sink Syndrome Killing Your Productivity?

* The Antidote to Failure: 3 Words and a Foolproof Formula

* In a Writing Rut? Change Things Up!

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This presentation is naive in a big way. It is very true that giving makes one happier… but she never questions what giving does to the recipient. The answer is that it may make them temporarily happy – but in the long term, it makes them dependent and entitled. And that makes them LESS happy. What my family and I are doing (and what I’ve been writing about) is the real challenge of charity: How can you help people without damaging them?

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