How to Start a Copywriting Business in 14 Steps (In-Depth Guide)

Updated: February 1, 2024

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Copywriting is a lucrative niche, with an estimated 7.6% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) from 2023 to 2030. This means the market could reach a whipping of $42.22 billion by 2030.

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Whether you’re an aspiring writer looking to monetize your skills or a marketing professional wanting to offer copywriting services, now is an excellent time to start a copywriting business. The low barriers to entry mean you can get up and running with just a laptop and internet connection.

This guide will walk you through how to start a copywriting business. From honing your writing abilities to identifying ideal clients and pricing your services competitively, you’ll have all the information required to establish yourself as an in-demand copywriter.

1. Conduct Copywriting Market Research

Market research is an important part of developing your own freelance copywriting business. From understanding the potential of a freelance copywriter business to gathering insight on market trends, and learning about your target market. Market research opens the doors to success in your own business.

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Some information you might learn about becoming a successful copywriting business through market research includes:

  • As brands invest more in content, demand for copywriters is skyrocketing.
  • This growth is fueled by rising content marketing budgets across industries.
  • This supply-demand imbalance means strong tailwinds for aspiring copywriters. Especially those who specialize in high-ROI areas like:
  • With SEO now responsible for 52% of website traffic, writers skilled in optimizing content rank well in Google are prized.
  • The SEO copywriting market alone may be worth up to $80 billion globally based on search ad spend.
  • Persuasive copy aimed at converting visitors into leads and sales is critical for brands.
  • Specializing in landing pages and conversion rate optimization (CRO) copy presents a $156 million market based on actual CRO software spend.
  • From drip campaigns to one-off promos, email generates $44 for every $1 spent.
  • Copywriters able to craft effective email and social campaigns have no shortage of demand.

The key is identifying which segments present the best path to fast growth and high income as an independent copywriter breaking into this vast market brimming with potential. Conducting rigorous competitive analysis allows you to carve out a specialty that taps into the strongest business needs.

2. Analyze the Competition

Unlike location-dependent businesses, copywriters compete in a global marketplace of freelancers and agencies. Your competition extends far beyond your city limits.

  • To start, search industry association directories. This lets you benchmark rates in your specialty area while also spotting service gaps to potentially fill.
  • Examine freelancing platforms like FlexJobs, searching for “copywriter” and “content writer” profiles.
  • Check out competitor skill focuses, client ratings, cost structures, and more.
  • Explore industry forums including ProBlogger for new copywriting job opportunities.
  • Note the precise talents asked for, subject matter needs, and budgets listed.

Together, these demand-side insights let you construct a competitive analysis framework, call out your differentiation, and discover open niches to pursue. The data informs crafting a unique specialty that attracts clients without solely competing on price.

3. Costs to Start a Copywriting Business

Unlike capital-intensive ventures, commencing a copywriting company takes a modest upfront investment. By working from home instead of leasing office space, overhead remains low.

Start-up Costs

Your major initial costs when starting will include:

  • Incorporation fees: Depending on your state, expect to spend $100-$800 to legally form an LLC or S-Corp. This shields your assets from any business legal liability.
  • Website & hosting: An online presence legitimizes your services to prospective clients. Budget $300-5000 for a quality custom site including copy, design, and domain registration through web developers like Wix or WordPress.
  • Computer & Software: A recent Mac or Windows laptop with a minimum of 8GB RAM and a strong WiFi connection provides your office hub. Entry-level options start around $450, scaling higher for video and graphics needs.
  • Branding & marketing: Developing logos, style guides, branded templates, and business cards lends professionalism. If outsourcing creative through online marketplaces like Fiverr, allot $500-1500 for robust visual assets.
  • Specialization courses & conferences: Leading seminars range from the American Writers and Artists 4-week program ($497+) to AWAI’s Accelerated Program for Six-Figure Copywriting” ($995+).
  • Home office accouterments: Outfit your home workspace with key tools for productivity like a quality headset ($200+), external monitor ($180+), keyboard ($50+), laptop stand ($20+), and background screen ($60+) at minimum. An ergonomic chair ($300+) prevents long-term strain.
  • Contingency savings: Earmark at least 6 months of personal living expenses while ramping fledging businesses. Most successful ventures don’t break even on costs before a full year.

Expect your total minimum first-year investment to fall between $5000-$15,000 depending on extras like team subcontractors. These larger early outlays allow focusing wholly on service delivery instead of business development initially.

Ongoing Costs

Key ongoing expenses tally to roughly:

  • Liability insurance: $500+ yearly
  • Website and software subscriptions: $100+ monthly
  • Professional development and conferences: $2000+ annually
  • Targeted advertising and promotions: $300+ monthly
  • Coworking membership (optional): $150+ monthly

Maintain slashes in controllable costs like team, amenities, and advertising during the often long ramp-up process for agency-style businesses. Securing a handful of retainer contracts with reputable brands can wholly fund scaling operations.

4. Form a Legal Business Entity

When launching a copywriting venture, selecting the right legal business structure impacts everything from taxes and liability to raising capital for growth. While sole proprietorships and partnerships offer simplicity for brand-new enterprises, copywriters should form a limited liability company (LLC) from day one.

Sole Proprietorship

Sole proprietorships incur zero formation costs and need only a DBA for operating under a business name versus a personal name. However, owners face unlimited liability if sued, risking personal assets like savings and property. Taxes also flow directly through owners’ returns lacking any corporate shields. For solos starting, such exposure proves dangerous amidst frequent client disputes in creative fields.

Partnership

Partnerships enable sharing ownership with others like a business co-founder. This expands potential funding pools and divides managerial workloads. Nevertheless, each partner carries full liability for business decisions and debts, hazardous in litigious sectors like professional services. Partnerships also complicate profit-sharing and eventual dissolution if going separate ways down the road.

Limited Liability Company (LLC)

For copywriters seeking sustainable ventures with room for organic team additions over time, LLCs provide ideal structures. LLCs only saddle owners with liability to their investment stake rather than risking personal assets. Taxes flow through the entity shielding individuals somewhat. LLC operating agreements also allow flexibility in splitting equity with future workers or partners.

Corporation

Corporations sometimes appeal to mid-sized professional practices seeking VC funding to scale aggressively. But added tax paperwork and ownership limitations outweigh benefits for self-employed copywriters unlikely to court quick capital infusions from angels or funds. Focus instead on profitability first.

5. Register Your Business For Taxes

With any registered business entity from sole proprietorships to corporations, securing an Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the IRS proves mandatory for proper tax handling and payroll should you eventually hire staff.

An EIN essentially serves as a social security number for your company. The unique 9-digit code identifies your business to state and federal tax agencies, allowing opening business bank accounts protected under the entity shield.

As a copywriting LLC, obtaining your EIN takes just minutes online.

Simply follow the following steps:

  1. Navigate to the IRS EIN Assistant and select the option to view additional resources.
  2. Access the dedicated EIN application. Select view application as a non-affiliated, established business without employees or hiring plans in the near term.
  3. Work through the online fields detailing your LLC’s legal name, address, ownership structure, and tax year-end to generate the EIN instantly.

The automated process means no waiting period for an essential tax credential used for myriad business finance and compliance purposes. Expect a confirmation notice containing your new EIN via email immediately.

With your federal EIN secured, don’t forget about potential state and local requirements before accepting client payments. For example, if making over $[local threshold] in annual sales, your state can mandate collecting sales tax via business permits and remittance.

Lookup specific state seller’s permit stipulations through resources like the Sales Tax Handbook. Depending on jurisdiction, expect online registrations with fees from $0 to over $100. The small-time tradeoff helps ensure full legal business operations and avoidance of penalties down the road.

6. Setup Your Accounting

With client projects rolling in, properly managing your copywriting company’s finances proves paramount. The separation between personal and business accounts/cards, using dedicated accounting software, and leveraging professional oversight prevent major tax mistakes down the road.

Accounting Software

Tools like QuickBooks integrate directly with your business bank/credit accounts and key SaaS platforms. This automation captures every financial transaction in one dashboard, aiding reporting. QuickBooks plans start around $30/month for core invoicing, expense logging, and cash flow analysis essentials.

Hire an Accountant

Supplement DIY accounting with an experienced freelance bookkeeper or CPA firm specializing in creative agencies. Expect to invest $200-500 monthly for outsourced reconciliation and financial statement preparation so you can focus solely on delivering superb writing services.

Open a Business Bank Account

Open a dedicated business checking account to silo all client payments and corresponding expenditures. Keep this wholly separate from any personal bank accounts tapping the same funds. Doing so not only enables accurate categorization in accounting software but proves where business earnings originate during any potential IRS reviews.

Apply for a Business Credit Card

Likewise, launch a business credit card solely for larger purchases like software subscriptions, travel to client meetings, and laptop replacements. Issuers weigh company creditworthiness factors differently than consumer scoring, but LLC financials support healthy limits. Expect approval within minutes through online applications.

7. Obtain Licenses and Permits

Copywriting is considered a professional service business, and professional services generally do not require occupational licenses or other permits to practice legally. Find federal license information through the U.S. Small Business Administration. The SBA also offers a local search tool for state and city requirements.

The establishment of legal, tax, and regulatory requirements already covered like forming a registered LLC entity, obtaining an EIN, and staying current with income taxes represent the major mandatory government compliance tasks for solopreneurs or small copywriting consultancies.

Unlike industries involving food service, alcohol, medical care, construction, retail sales, or manufacturing, the practice of selling a skillset like writing talent itself to clients does not trigger additional credentialing or approvals. Simply abiding by broad regulations around truth in advertising, contract law, anti-discrimination, and general business statutes enables full legal operations.

Of course, specific municipalities do occasionally impose sweeping requirements on all local businesses like general business permits, zoning allowances if seeing clients on-premises, and industry-agnostic occupational taxes.

For a streamlined consultancy with limited overhead and equipment needs conducting business nationwide via internet and courier services, locking down core necessities for opening like taxes and insurance meets lawful diligence. Local municipalities seldom burden mobile enterprise models or services lacking set customer premises.

With no unique constraints around practicing copywriting outside universal small business norms, sharpening writing expertise that brings tangible results for diverse clients deserves full attention. Let the considerations covered so far handle legal obligations so that exceeding buyer content expectations may thrive.

8. Get Business Insurance

Despite seeming like mere pen-pushers, copywriters still face risks like cyber attacks and client allegation damages worth insuring against even as lean LLCs. The right insurance defends your hard-built business should the worst occur while crafting client content.

Unlike personal policies, business insurance directly covers company assets and income streams. Options like general liability defends against third-party accusations like plagiarism or harm from errant advice while errors & omissions insurance handles direct client disputes.

Without coverage, a single catastrophe could wipe out everything. Imagine losing a high-paying finance client due to missed content deadlines from a flooded home office. Or a customer threatens to sue over perceived copyright infringement despite diligent sourcing. Having applicable plans prevents massive outlays and defends the company’s reputation.

Initiating policies begins with assessing exposures unique to your copywriting model and then collecting key documents:

  • Step 1) Determine needs – general liability, professional coverage, cyber liability, etc. based on clientele served.
  • Step 2) Gather your business legal documents like formation filings, contracts, and financial statements.
  • Step 3) Obtain quotes from leading insurers like The Hartford and State Farm via advisor chatbots.
  • Step 4) Purchase recommended plan(s) starting from $30 monthly based on risk exposures and income activity.

Safeguarding enterprise value from surprising catastrophes allows full focus on core copywriting without disruptive distractions. Tap experienced agents guiding suitable policies to manage risks.

9. Create an Office Space

While home offices allow bootstrapping consultancies, upgrading environments boost productivity and client confidence as projects scale.

Home Office

Home offices offer total autonomy at zero costs beyond desks and wifi. However, roommates and cluttered living spaces lack the peace some writers need for intense concentration. Home clients may also doubt seriousness.

Coworking Office

Coworking spaces like WeWork provide stylish, modern environs conducive to quality work starting at around $300 monthly. Perks like lounges, conference rooms, printing, events, and mixing with other solopreneurs alleviate isolation. Coworking locations place professional infrastructure steps from home.

Commercial Office

Private offices in boutique rented spaces provide fully controlled rooms beyond bedrooms for unbroken focus. While costing $800+ monthly, facilities like Regus offer customizable sites replicating sleek agencies filled with amenities. For higher-end clientele expecting luxury, private offices showcase credibility.

10. Source Your Equipment

As online ventures, copywriting companies need little more than laptops and reliable internet to deliver services and collect payment. With minimal overhead required, focus spending on robust tools boosting productivity rather than lavish offices.

Buy New

Buying new through major electronics brands ensures peak performance for processor-intensive creative applications. While buying new computers, accessories, and printers carries higher upfront costs, the 3-5-year lifespans justify investments into speed and capacity. Leading retailers like Apple, Dell, HP, and Lenovo offer broad selections across budgets.

Buy Used

Buying used/refurbished through sellers like Amazon and Best Buy helps smaller startups acquire solid tech for light tasks at 50%+ discounts off new options. Refurbished mid-tier Lenovo ThinkPads and HP ProBooks sport decent power for writing, researching, and client communication at just a few hundred dollars.

Rent

Renting equipment through services like Outer brings total flexibility, enabling scaling up for rendering video content or handling resource-intensive editing work before downsizing again. However, monthly rental fees add up over longer terms versus strategically purchasing tools that empower business growth. Consider renting mainly for temporary needs.

Lease

Leasing via insurers like Marco allows bundling pro-grade computers, tablets, routers, monitors, and printers for pennies on the dollar versus retail pricing through managed packages. While lease payments persist for set contract terms, the equipment bundles speed productivity. Credit checks allow approval despite earlier business stages.

11. Establish Your Brand Assets

Distinct branding sets professional consultancies apart while conveying services. For copywriters, elements like logos, websites, and business cards create cohesive identities that inspire client confidence.

Get a Business Phone Number

Getting a business phone line using systems like RingCentral replaces personal numbers with dedicated extensions broadcasting legitimacy. Expect just $30+ monthly for digital call routing, greetings, voicemail, and analytics revealing gaps needing improvement.

Design a Logo

Creating a logo and assets through affordable designers like Looka crystallizes mission statements into recognizable visual emblems. Given copywriting’s intangibility, strong icons build awareness better than verbose descriptions. When paired with complementary letterheads, images, and folders, companies seem established rather than fly-by-night ventures.

Print Business Cards

Printing business cards and signage via Vistaprint offers endless applications for establishing credibility upon first meetings. Beyond introducing key details like services and site addresses, weighted cardstock and elegant finishes signal stability where competitors use home printers. For client reception areas or company vehicles, quality signs build subconscious connections between brands and writing excellence.

Buy a Domain Name

Purchasing domains through registrars like Namecheap snags website real estate matching hard-won name recognition. Ideally.COM domains with concise, keyword-rich names correlating to niche competencies telegraph services offered while supporting SEO. Once owned, redirect to primary sites. Acquire common typos too.

Design a Website

Building sites through user-friendly platforms like Wix turns great copy into sales centers. Well-designed pages, convincing content, and clear calls to action either convert ideal prospects into leads, improving overall lead generation, or help influencers advocate for the brand. For under $300 annually, compelling sites provide foundations for all digital marketing. Or work with seasoned web developers on Fiverr for more advanced, custom-coded designs.

12. Join Associations and Groups

While successful freelancing relies on talent, cultivating local professional circles speeds up gaining insider knowledge and coveted referrals. Savvy writers join these key industry organizations.

Local Associations

Local associations like the American Advertising Federation and Business Marketing Association offer networking with established agencies relying on ace freelance copy support. Attend member meetings to connect directly with potential steady clients. Industry giants also sponsor events like the BMA Annual Conference for deeper relationship building with executives managing millions in content budgets.

Local Meetups

Local meetups found via sites like Meetup provide low-key networking right in your city. Groups like NYC Copywriters Collective or Philly Freelance Writers meet regularly for new business workshops, micro-training sessions, open discussions, and brainstorming other regional opportunities useful for solos. The casual atmosphere gets conversations flowing more freely.

Facebook Groups

Once established locally, targeted Facebook Groups help you find other freelance writers, target future clients, and even network with copywriter-focused advertising agencies. For copywriters specifically, The Copywriting Job Hub and Content Writing & Copywriting Forum share job leads, client experience, pricing data, technique tips, and inspiration between over 25,000 industry peers, no matter your location. The volumes accelerate skills.

13. How to Market a Copywriting Business

Without promotion, even exceptional writing talent struggles to turn profits. Marketing helps you find new potential clients. Combining select advertising with nurturing referrer relationships jumpstarts client acquisitions for new freelance copywriters.

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Personal Networking

Credibility hinges on expertise and satisfaction spreading through past customers. Early on, tap personal networks by explicitly offering services to startup founders or regional brands already known while highlighting successful partnerships via websites and social media.

For example, gifting free monthly content to a trusted restaurant owner for several months allows for demonstrating measurable business growth in exchange for a glowing testimonial. Their advocacy holds much greater sway than self-promotion alone.

Digital Marketing

  • Launch Google Ads campaigns optimized for niche keywords to attract searchers actively needing copywriting now
  • Run LinkedIn ads focused on specific buyer demographics rather than spraying across their entire network
  • Consider retargeting pixels on websites allowing messaging site visitors to show initial interest
  • Test Facebook and Instagram lead gen promotions focused on ideal customer profiling
  • Guest post on industry publishing sites like Business2Community
  • Start blogging and sharing practical writing advice driving organic search traffic
  • Post videos showcasing processes on YouTube
  • Use your copywriter expertise to deliver direct response copywriting, send sales letters, and curate web content.

Traditional Marketing

  • Create direct mail postcards with unique offers mailed to targeted firms
  • Get listed in local services directories frequently searched when needs arise unexpectedly
  • Seek earned local news profiles and expert commentary placements being helpful first before heavy self-promotion
  • Attend select conferences to network with prospects firsthand during dedicated events
  • Sponsor relevant industry events to get brand visibility in front of many key decision-makers directly

The most effective marketing balances push and pull tactics across both digital and tangible channels. Driving traffic through paid advertisements works best when budgets allow testing messages while continuously improving organic assets like posts and pages pulling viewers through relevance over time.

14. Focus on the Customer

With repeat business essential for freelance copywriting businesses, customer retention proves vital alongside constant new customer acquisition. However, creative agencies often overlook critical post-project nurturing that earns loyalty.

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Some ways to improve customer focus in your own copywriting business include:

Rather than abandoning clients after delivering written assets, establish consistent check-ins showcasing further value. Set up automatic touchpoints through email drips that share relevant industry insights, trends that influence messaging, or optimized snippets improving old materials.

This proactive guidance strengthens bonds while conveying continual caring beyond billable work. Consider offering discounted refresh rates or exclusive early access to new service introductions for VIP patrons.

Excelling at post-sales relationship building earns incredible word-of-mouth referrals. Satisfied retained accounts need little incentive to recommend trusted partners. This organic outreach builds awareness better than any advertisement could ever achieve.

Rather than chasing sales with cold messages, prioritize nurturing warmth with standing customers. The smaller client base then blooms into a network of advocates backing your brand because it backs theirs first. Put long-term service above short-term wins.

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