They say that it takes money to make money … but that’s not always true. Case in point: Your copywriting business. How much does it cost to start copywriting? Not much once you have training.
Which, it should go without saying that you need training in order to work as a copywriter. You have to know how to actually provide the service you want to provide, right?
And you also know that it’s a specialized form of writing that’s very different from any other one. Copywriting is a career and, like any other career, it requires training. So, let’s agree on that and move on.
Beyond the training, what are common copywriting business costs? And how much will they set you back?
The #1 Essential Copywriting Business Cost
Are there all kinds of extra costs you’ll need to pay to become a copywriter? Home office requirements? Multiple software subscriptions? Professional fees?
Really, there’s only one essential cost: The cost of setting up and hosting your portfolio website. And guess what? That should only cost you about $20/month using a website builder such as Squarespace, Wix, or WordPress.
4 More Essential Copywriting Business Costs
There are four other must-haves for your business—two of which have free options. And, many of you will already have the first two items on this list, so you may not have any essential expenses to get started beyond your portfolio.
For many, you may be able to check this essential off the list! But if you don’t have a laptop or desktop computer, it’s definitely a must. While you can learn about copywriting on your phone or tablet, it is much harder to actually write copy when you have such a tiny screen.
Admittedly, there are free options for Internet, including your local library, coffeeshops, hotel lobbies, and other venues offering free Wi-Fi. But you will eventually need a quiet spot to take client calls, so unless your library has rooms you can reserve, it helps to have a strong Internet connection at home.
The good news for freelance copywriters is a portion of your Internet bill may be a home business expense. Talk to your accountant.
Video Conferencing Software
you do need some video conferencing capabilities – but Skype is free and the base level of Zoom is free. You don’t need to pay for it.
“I completed the project and then dropped water on my laptop and now I need an extension!” is not a good excuse in today’s day and age for missing a copywriting deadline.
You need a cloud-based storage solution.
For copywriters using Google Chrome and Gmail, Google Drive is a natural option. You get 15 GB of storage free (which is more than enough for most of us and our copy docs!). Dropbox does not have a free option, but does have various pricing options based on the amount of storage you need.
100% Optional Copywriting Business Costs
There are, of course, tools you may decide to add as your business grows that help streamline your processes or otherwise make your life easier. The Filthy Rich Writer philosophy (and our very strong recommendation) is that unless you are COMPLETELY positive that an expense is going to pay for itself and then some, you don’t need it.
There are items on this list that definitely make us feel more professional. If that’s the case, and you have extra money to spend, go for it. But, before you do, consider whether it’s actually just a form of resistance.
What will make us truly feel professional is being a working copywriter with clients. And doing that requires pitching clients. So, if you’re spending several days debating on your email address or creating business cards instead of focusing on what’s really going to move your business forward (pitching clients), you may want to take a look at
Many copywriters get hung up on the professionalism of their email address. It’s a valid concern—you want to put your best foot forward with clients and an email can leave a first impression.
However, if your email is YourName@gmail.com, for example, that’s perfectly fine! There’s absolutely 0 need to pay for a custom email domain. What you want to avoid is your AOL screen name from 2000
Managing passwords is a pain if you’re a copywriter or not. This one needs a special character. This one can’t have special characters. And this one needs to be 15 characters long. It’s too much to remember. As with most software, there are free options! Our team particularly likes 1Password, but other options include LastPass or the built-in option with Google Chrome.
(Side note: we strongly recommend two-factor authentication for sites that allow it.)
It’s not a terrible idea to also have some business cards so that you can hand over your contact information when you meet potential clients out and about, but online printers like Moo.com and Vistaprint.com make them very affordable.
Consider printing the lowest amount these services offer. It may seem like a good idea to buy in bulk to “save” money. But all too often you don’t use all of them before you need to change your information or want to update the aesthetic of the cards.
Business Phone Number
Nope. If you need to have client calls that aren’t happening via Zoom, Google Meet, or other video conferencing, you can use your number.
Talk with your accountant about the percentage of your phone bill that you can deduct as a business expense.
Project Management Software
There are plenty of free project management tools to help organize your business. The Filthy Rich Writer team is huge fans of Asana. The free version may be more than enough for your needs, but if you need to upgrade or eventually just want some of the paid features, you can seamlessly upgrade to a paid version.
Other Comprehensive Copywriting Academy students love using Trello. Either option lets you keep all your projects and deadlines organized in one place. If staying on top of multiple client projects concerns you, this may be a good option to stay organized from the start.
You don’t need invoicing programs. Really. You can send your clients a very simple invoice—no bells or whistles needed. (After all, we’re willing to bet your point of contact barely glances at the invoice before forwarding on to the finance department. They don’t care about branding!)
But if you really, really want to use invoicing software, there are plenty of free options. Dubsado has a free trial that has no time limit. You are limited to the number of clients you can add (three the last time we checked!), but for many copywriters that’s more than enough at the beginning. Once you get your fourth client, you can easily upgrade to the paid version if you want to.
HoneyBook is another option. If that’s a route you want to explore, you can get 50% off one year of HoneyBook using this link.
Don’t let the idea of all kinds of extra expenses keep you from pursuing a copywriting career because none of those expenses (again, except for your website) are necessary.
Maybe, eventually, once you’re earning plenty of money from your copywriting business you might see a need for upgrading to a paid version of your video conferencing platform or any of those other things I mentioned. But you don’t have to.
And you definitely don’t need them now.
When it comes to digital tools and software, there are tons of free options to help your business get up and running. Then, once you start making money, you can consider whether you need the paid versions. Listen as Nicki and Kate share some of the free tools you can use and how to avoid complicating your tools when you’re just starting out.
Your turn! Have you been tempted (or…distracted?) by “essential” purchases that aren’t actually essential at all? Let me know in the comments below.
Last Updated on September 12, 2023