The bread and butter of any freelance copywriter is clients. Cultivating a good client base is critical to your business success when you first start as a freelance copywriter and throughout your career.
One of the best places to find new clients, keep the work coming in, and get referrals is through small businesses. Freelance copywriters who can write persuasive copy are extremely valuable to small businesses. Great messaging can mean the difference between a small business thriving and a small business having to shutter its doors.
Let’s look at some of the challenges of small businesses and why small businesses make great first (and long-standing!) clients for copywriters.
Challenges of Small Businesses
Small businesses, which are typically defined as those with 500 employees or fewer by the Small Business Administration, are a sweet spot for new and seasoned copywriters. (Note: some industries, “small businesses” may have a higher or lower number qualifying it as “small” or even go by a certain annual revenue number.)
For any size business, communicating well with your audience is the key to success.
However, small business owners often lack the time, ability, and resources to effectively craft messaging. In one statistic, as of March 2021, only 80% of startups survived after one year, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (you can review the data here). According to business owners, one reason for failure includes ineffective marketing.
As you know, copywriting is a way for a business to differentiate itself and position itself as a better pick than its competitors. Small businesses face the difficulty of competing with larger corporations and companies. Not having the correct messaging, branding, and compelling marketing to distinguish itself put a small business at a great disadvantage.
Lastly, small businesses usually do not have an in-house marketing or creative team so they often need to outsource these projects to freelancers.
Copywriting for Small Businesses is a Huge Opportunity
That’s where you come in!
Even when you’re just starting as a copywriter, you already have a good understanding of the basic principles of copywriting and are regularly practicing them. You don’t have to have attained mastery to land your first clients. After all, mastery comes partially from working with clients!
(Exact step-by-step ways to land the clients is covered in the Comprehensive Copywriting Academy. But for those readers who aren’t in the CCA, here’s a high-level answer.)
You know more about copywriting than a small business owner. The business owner’s expertise is in their business—whatever product or service they offer. Their expertise is not in writing compelling messaging. You also have a basic understanding of marketing. That means that you have the skills to help them make a difference in their business.
1. Start Small
Start small…really small. Target small business owners in your city or, better, your neighborhood. And I mean the mom-and-pop, brick-and-mortar stores that you pass each day.
This group, too, is more likely to take you and your marketing at face value without asking to see a portfolio. And, since you’re looking for your first clients, it’s likely that this work can help you build your portfolio.
2. Review the Business’s Existing Marketing Materials
For each potential client you target, you’ll want to do a thorough review of their website, emails, marketing materials, social media accounts, etc. so that you can target where you can best help them. This sounds like a lot, but once you start doing it, I guarantee you’ll be pleased: Most of these businesses need a lot of help! (Obviously, we go into how to create your prospecting and marketing materials much more in-depth in the CCA.)
3. Send Them a Value-Packed Pitch
CCA students have an entire masterclass on how to send value-packed pitches that business owners regularly thank us for. But a very basic level, you’re saying, “Hey, I love your business. Here’s this idea I saw that could help you bring in even more business. Let’s chat.”
You’re coming with an idea for them. This is very different than most pitches where people are asking for work.
You’re not giving them copy at this point or telling them how to do it. You’re telling them what copywriting opportunities they have and how doing that project will help their business. It’s all about them.
Learn more about sending value-packed pitches here >>
Copywriting for small business clients is the ideal way for you to get started (even with minimal experience). Small business clients land you the magic triumvirate for new copywriters: They get you more experience, they get you pieces for your portfolio, and they get you income!
How you worked as a copywriter for small businesses? Let us know in the comments below!
Last Updated on May 10, 2023
Great informative post, I’m starting out and trying to target people in my local area but I’m wondering, how can you tell if copywriting is going to be a service they know/will want? A lot of small businesses around me have been operating with word and mouth marketing and repeat business.
How can I determine who the best clients to go for are?
Nicki Krawczyk says
Well, the good news is that solid, effective messaging is something that *all* businesses and organizations need, whether they realize or not. It’ll be up to you in your pitching emails to tell them what you could work on for them and convey how that would benefit their business. Some businesses just need us to connect the dots.
Thanks for commenting!