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Writing My Way to Six Figures - A Progress Thread

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mjb234

Contributor
Read Fastlane!
Read Unscripted!
Sep 18, 2018
31
70
Two years ago I started a progress thread about building a successful web design business. While I’ve managed to land some decent projects and a few long-term clients since then, I haven’t come close to the level of success I was aiming for.

Truth be told, I’m still struggling to bring in a liveable monthly income with web design.

All hope isn’t lost though. Instead of giving up on my entrepreneurial dreams altogether (something I briefly considered at the end of November), I’ve decided to pivot and pursue freelance copywriting instead.

Why copywriting?

There are plenty of reasons, but here are my top three:
  1. I was already writing the copy for most of the websites I built, so it’s something I know can excel at with enough time and dedication
  2. It’s easier to offer “entry-level” services to businesses that may not be ready to invest in a new website (email campaigns, blog posts, etc.)
  3. I enjoy copywriting a hell of a lot more than building websites
Now let’s get to the good stuff…

My long-term goal with copywriting is to hit $100k/year in revenue.

While that exact number is pretty arbitrary for me, I know that $100k would allow me to live a very comfortable life here in Spain. So that’s where I’m going to start.

Short-term though, my first priority is earning a consistent liveable income. My financial situation has been pretty unstable for the past two years, and it’s starting to take a toll on both my mental health and my relationship with my girlfriend.

While I’d love to aim big from the very start, I know I need a baseline level of stability before I can really focus on pushing towards that $100k goal.

Fortunately, my monthly expenses are pretty low. Around $2.5k/month would be enough to cover my monthly expenses and allow me to start chipping away at my student loans.

Here’s where I’m at now:
  • I created an Upwork account last month and already landed my first website copywriting project for $620 ($750 minus Upwork’s fee). It’s a “grind-it-out” type of project that won’t really add much to my portfolio, but it will give me some much-needed income and the opportunity to get my first positive review on Upwork. That should be wrapped up in a couple of weeks.

  • I’m potentially starting a monthly SEO contract with a current web design client for $750/month. It’s not purely copywriting, but I will be writing some blog posts and new landing page copy each month.

    Even though I’m transitioning to copywriting, I plan on keeping my current web design clients on board for as long as possible. They’re great clients and I’m willing to keep providing web design/marketing services if that’s what they need.

  • I have four web design clients on monthly retainers for website maintenance. That’s only $350/month, but it covers my recurring business expenses (hosting, SEO software, email, etc)
Assuming the SEO project goes forward, that will leave me at $1,720 for January. Not quite where I want to be, but it’s a decent start for the year.

My core actions for January:
  • Send out 20 pitches per week for copywriting work. So 80 pitches total in January.

    I’ll pitch at least 10 jobs on sites like Upwork and Problogger, and send at least 10 cold emails to web design/marketing agencies to see if they need help with overflow.

    While I don't plan on sticking with sites like Upwork long-term, I do think they're my best bet for getting consistent work in the short term. I'll reevaluate this strategy at the end of January.

  • Finish 1 Blog Post (to use as a writing sample for applying to content writing gigs)

  • Update this thread at the start of each week (Sunday or Monday).

My core actions for this week:
  • Finish the first draft of website copy for my current Upwork client
  • Create a sample email sequence for my portfolio (I applied to a job on Problogger and they emailed me back asking for samples)
  • Create a list of 10 agencies to pitch
  • Pitch those 10 agencies
  • Rewrite my Upwork bio to make it more compelling (my current one is okay but I think I can do a much better job of selling my copywriting abilities)
  • Pitch 10 jobs on Upwork/Problogger
  • Finish blog post

Now it's time to get to work.
 
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SimpleJ

New Contributor
Dec 7, 2021
7
7
Two years ago I started a progress thread about building a successful web design business. While I’ve managed to land some decent projects and a few long-term clients since then, I haven’t come close to the level of success I was aiming for.

Truth be told, I’m still struggling to bring in a liveable monthly income with web design.

All hope isn’t lost though. Instead of giving up on my entrepreneurial dreams altogether (something I briefly considered at the end of November), I’ve decided to pivot and pursue freelance copywriting instead.

Why copywriting?

There are plenty of reasons, but here are my top three:
  1. I was already writing the copy for most of the websites I built, so it’s something I know can excel at with enough time and dedication
  2. It’s easier to offer “entry-level” services to businesses that may not be ready to invest in a new website (email campaigns, blog posts, etc.)
  3. I enjoy copywriting a hell of a lot more than building websites
Now let’s get to the good stuff…

My long-term goal with copywriting is to hit $100k/year in revenue.

While that exact number is pretty arbitrary for me, I know that $100k would allow me to live a very comfortable life here in Spain. So that’s where I’m going to start.

Short-term though, my first priority is earning a consistent liveable income. My financial situation has been pretty unstable for the past two years, and it’s starting to take a toll on both my mental health and my relationship with my girlfriend.

While I’d love to aim big from the very start, I know I need a baseline level of stability before I can really focus on pushing towards that $100k goal.

Fortunately, my monthly expenses are pretty low. Around $2.5k/month would be enough to cover my monthly expenses and allow me to start chipping away at my student loans.

Here’s where I’m at now:
  • I created an Upwork account last month and already landed my first website copywriting project for $620 ($750 minus Upwork’s fee). It’s a “grind-it-out” type of project that won’t really add much to my portfolio, but it will give me some much-needed income and the opportunity to get my first positive review on Upwork. That should be wrapped up in a couple of weeks.

  • I’m potentially starting a monthly SEO contract with a current web design client for $750/month. It’s not purely copywriting, but I will be writing some blog posts and new landing page copy each month.

    Even though I’m transitioning to copywriting, I plan on keeping my current web design clients on board for as long as possible. They’re great clients and I’m willing to keep providing web design/marketing services if that’s what they need.

  • I have four web design clients on monthly retainers for website maintenance. That’s only $350/month, but it covers my recurring business expenses (hosting, SEO software, email, etc)
Assuming the SEO project goes forward, that will leave me at $1,720 for January. Not quite where I want to be, but it’s a decent start for the year.

My core actions for January:
  • Send out 20 pitches per week for copywriting work. So 80 pitches total in January.

    I’ll pitch at least 10 jobs on sites like Upwork and Problogger, and send at least 10 cold emails to web design/marketing agencies to see if they need help with overflow.

    While I don't plan on sticking with sites like Upwork long-term, I do think they're my best bet for getting consistent work in the short term. I'll reevaluate this strategy at the end of January.

  • Finish 1 Blog Post (to use as a writing sample for applying to content writing gigs)

  • Update this thread at the start of each week (Sunday or Monday).

My core actions for this week:
  • Finish the first draft of website copy for my current Upwork client
  • Create a sample email sequence for my portfolio (I applied to a job on Problogger and they emailed me back asking for samples)
  • Create a list of 10 agencies to pitch
  • Pitch those 10 agencies
  • Rewrite my Upwork bio to make it more compelling (my current one is okay but I think I can do a much better job of selling my copywriting abilities)
  • Pitch 10 jobs on Upwork/Problogger
  • Finish blog post

Now it's time to get to work.
Thank you for sharing your journey! I'm new to the forum so just supporting as I really don't know much about copywriting.
 

mjb234

Contributor
Read Fastlane!
Read Unscripted!
Sep 18, 2018
31
70
Weekly Update #1:

Here's what I managed to accomplish last week:
  • Sent out 9 cold emails to web design/digital marketing agencies
  • Applied to one job on Upwork
  • Reached out to two people in my network letting them know about my copywriting services
  • Finished a sample email for my portfolio
  • 95% done with my current Upwork copywriting project
  • Started posting "Daily Copywriting Tips" on Facebook
  • Started a course on how to write sales pages
While I wasn't the productivity powerhouse that I wanted to be, I did learn a couple of things...

Slow Down to Speed Up

I've always had a bad habit of trying to do too many things at once. I get into a sort of manic frenzy where it feels like I need to get everything on my to-do list done RIGHT NOW or the world's going to end.

This habit came out in full force last week. I was constantly switching back and forth between tasks and never giving myself enough time to finish what I was working on.

I'm realizing I need to start slowing down and focusing on ONE thing at a time.

It's tough to do, especially when there's so much that needs to get done, but I know it's the only way to make consistent progress towards my goals (and not burn out).

Upwork Ain't For Me

This one is pretty self-explanatory.

I know there are plenty of people doing well on Upwork, but I think there are better ways for me to get copywriting jobs than competing with 20-30 other writers for the same gig.

Going forward, I'm going to use the time I would have spent on Upwork to send out personalized cold emails to clients I actually want to work with.

My Core Actions for This Week
  • Finish current Upwork copywriting project
  • Send out 10 cold emails to agencies for overflow
  • Send out 10 highly personalized cold emails
  • Finish Sales Page Course
  • Daily Copywriting Tips (Mon-Fri)
  • Spend at least 30 minutes/day helping out in FB groups
Honestly, I still feel like this isn't enough action. But this is as much as I can do right now without burning myself out.
 
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Simon Angel

Gold Contributor
Speedway Pass
Apr 24, 2016
571
1,520
Upwork Ain't For Me

This one is pretty self-explanatory.

I know there are plenty of people doing well on Upwork, but I think there are better ways for me to get copywriting jobs than competing with 20-30 other writers for the same gig.

Businesses get plenty of cold emails every day from agencies and/or contractors. And they're all unsolicited.

Going forward, I'm going to use the time I would have spent on Upwork to send out personalized cold emails to clients I actually want to work with.

Does this mean you weren't sending personalized proposals on Upwork?

I started out by sending hundreds of personalized cold emails and I earned $0.

After months of this torture, I reluctantly tried Upwork. Got a few 4-figure projects almost immediately and a month or two later I landed my current one, which has been a WILD ride.

Here's the difference between cold emailing and Upwork:

Getting an unsolicited email as a business will rarely lead to more business. Most people are highly skeptical.

Getting a personalized, you-focused proposal on Upwork among tens of other self-serving ones? You're hired.

Remember, people who post gigs on Upwork are ACTIVELY looking for someone like you. Leverage that.

Tip: Don't shy away from agencies on Upwork. I started out as a copywriter for Facebook ads and now I'm managing 6 clients. Two of them are in the 7-figure range and one is a high 8-figure business.
 

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