No matter your background, there’s a way to make a good living from anywhere in the world. It requires a strategic pivot, but one that many have done successfully before you—including me.
Taking the skills and experience you acquired from your career, or even your hobby, you can become an industry-focused copywriter.
Copywriting is a type of writing that’s specifically geared for turning readers into buyers. Essentially, the goal is to clearly identify the main value of a product or service, then describe it in a captivating way. Websites, emails, marketing handouts, blogs—all of these things have copywriters behind them, trying to build a relationship between you and the company so that, one day, you’ll finally click “buy now.”
Most copywriters are “generalists,” meaning they don’t have any particular focus and will accept any kind of work. However, by specializing in the industry you’ve worked in for years, you can quickly carve out a niche for yourself as an expert—and get paid more.
Nikita Morell realized architecture firms can rarely find qualified writers, so she used her experience as a sales executive for an architecture magazine to transition into architecture-focused copywriting. Liz Farr set aside her accounting days to start copywriting for the industry from an insider’s perspective. And I quit managing a coffee shop to help food and beverage companies around the world better engage with customers (all while traveling full-time as a digital nomad).
Here’s how you can start leveraging your industry expertise as a copywriter:
Get your first writing sample. You want to be able to demonstrate an ability to write in an engaging way for your industry. Pick a topic you know well, shape it into an article idea, and start pitching industry blogs or magazines. It doesn’t have to be perfect—the hardest part is getting started—so just get that first sample.
My first gig was for a small coffee roaster. I spent hours and hours on that blog so that I could use it for cold pitching down the road, and it paid off. I still show it to leads years later.
Use that first sample as a launchpad. With a sample in the bag, start pitching. Maybe that means pitching more blogs for industry-focused software, product descriptions for an industry ecommerce store, a newsletter for a professional organization, social media captions for a local shop, or something else entirely. Make a big list of potential clients, then just start emailing them.
I’ve emailed hundreds of companies over the years. Most say no—or just don’t respond—but the thrill of getting a “yes” (and the payment deposit that ensues) is worth it all.
Refine your offering. Proactive learners really excel as copywriters. If you keep learning, you’ll do better work, which will lead to better testimonials, which will result in more (higher paying) clients.
Within a year I had moved from writing coffee-related blogs, to coffee-related emails, to food company websites, to food technology case studies and beyond. Never stop growing.
Take your business seriously. Make sure to charge enough to cover any taxes and expenses. Keep track of people you pitch writing services to and follow-up later by keeping a spreadsheet or using software like Streak. Use a call scheduling app like Calendly to avoid the back-and-forth of setting up a meeting. Free project management software will help you track tasks and deadlines.
Optimizing my business processes has taken me from being a freelancer who needs cheap work to a respectable professional that clients feel like they can rely on for years.
Freelance copywriting isn’t easy, but it’s a legitimate way to parlay your industry knowledge into a skill that you can use to earn money from anywhere. It enabled me to live all over the world—from Estonia to Peru to Morocco—and it can enable you too.
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