How to 5–10x Your Copywriting Rate
Anybody can be a copywriter.
No, really. Anybody can be a copywriter.
All you have to do is start calling yourself one and trying to land projects.
But if you’re just starting out, it’s gonna be hard to convince a stranger they should pay you thousands of dollars to write emails.
One thing that makes it easier is credibility.
And this is the struggle of beginning copywriters.
No one wants to hire them, because they don’t have any credibility. And they can’t get any credibility, because no one will hire them…
Or can they?
Is it possible for a beginning copywriter to build credibility without ever doing client work?
Oh yeah. Let me explain.
Last November, I wrote 29 sales pages about 29 different products in 29 days.
It was draining.
I know people joke about freelancers working from home in their pajamas, but that was absolutely me for 29 days.
I didn’t get paid for a single one of those sales pages. And I don’t think I had worked so hard on any project prior to that month.
So — why did I do it?
Why did I subject myself to such an excessive amount of work for absolutely zero pay?
First, because I can be a bit masochistic at times.
Second, I wanted to challenge myself. I wanted to see if I could do it.
Third, I wanted to write sales pages…and barely any of my clients were giving me that type of work.
And that made sense. Because I didn’t have any credibility for that type of writing.
Why should a client be confident in my ability if I wasn’t?
I knew that if I wanted to land the types of projects I dreamed of, I needed some credibility. And I wasn’t getting it from my current clients. So I set out to do it on my own.
That’s why I wrote 29 sales pages in 29 days.
The hard truth is that if you want to succeed as a copywriter, you’ll need to do A LOT of work for free.
If you want to build a pipeline that makes clients come to you, you’ll need to write content, you’ll need to appear on blog posts, you’ll need to give talks at conferences, or at the very least, you’ll need to take the time to set up a referral system.
To me, the idea that some beginning copywriters are unwilling to work for free is unfounded.
Because if you do the right work, working for free isn’t really working for free.
If you do the right work and establish credibility and authority as a copywriter, the work you do for free will eventually turn into higher-paying projects.
For example, one month before I did the 29x29 Project, I quoted a sales page project at a VERY low price.
3 months later, I quoted a new sales page project at 5–10x that price…
And I landed the gig.
But here’s what’s crazy:
Even though I was pitching a MUCH higher price than I previously had, I still think I was the lowest bid for this project.
(Full disclosure: I was also friends with the guy leading the project, and that probably helped me land the gig. But I would not have pitched the price I did — which was the highest price I had ever quoted — without gaining confidence from the free work I did during the 29x29 Project.)
Regardless, I landed it and wrote a sales page that has generated over $300k at the time I’m writing this.
I still have a lot of work to do, but now I have some credibility. I have some results. Because I was willing to work for free. And because doing so gave me the confidence to charge more.
That’s how you 5–10x your rate.
You put in the work. It’s slow. It’s painful. It’s hard. And that’s kind of the point.
No one else is willing to do it, so if you do, you’ll stand way above everyone else.
So, if you’re a beginner copywriter wondering if you should do work for free, my answer is an emphatic YES, as long as you do the right work.
Here’s what I mean by that:
YOU pick the product and company you write about.
That way, you get to have fun writing and you don’t have to deal with the client management side of things. Doing work for free is about practice. It’s about getting reps under your belt. It’s about YOU.
Choose the type of projects you want to do based on where you hope to be in the future.
What type of projects do you want to be working on this time next year? What about 5 years from now? Do those types of projects RIGHT NOW. Practice. Get good. Don’t operate from where you’re at. Operate from where you want to be.
Share you work publicly — no matter how scared you are
During the 29x29 Project, I posted every sales page I wrote, along with an analysis of it. I was nervous AF to do that, because I didn’t consider myself a highly skilled copywriter. I was afraid people would judge me, call me out, or throw out some criticism that I couldn’t handle. I promoted the project a little, but my one regret is that I didn’t promote it MORE. I was doing something unique. I think I could have gotten much more results from that project had I been more emphatic about sharing my experience publicly.
So, that’s it.
Do work for free. Do the right work. Do it for the sake of getting better. Share your experience. And realize that the most successful copywriters have done A LOT of work for free.
It is possible to 5x and even 10x your rate. I’m proof of that, but if you want to do it the right way — it’s gonna take some effort.