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How To Start a Copywriting Side Hustle: The Ultimate Guide

Updated on September 28, 2023

Copywriting as a side hustle is one of the best ways to earn extra money at the start of your creator journey.

Even if you wanna keep thriving at your day job…

While I don’t do much freelance work anymore…

I used to back when I was the marketing manager for various high-growth startups.

So if you want to start a Copywriting side hustle…

Continue reading.

Is Copywriting a Good Side Hustle?

Yes. Copywriting is absolutely a good side hustle…

Especially if you are a creator with a full-time job.

You’re already using this skill anyway… so why not get paid to master it?

But it isn’t just slapping a few words together.

You’ll need to put in some elbow grease to become a pro that clients can trust.

ZipRecruiter.com says a freelance copywriter in the US can pull in a cool $6,000 to $7,000 a month.

But if it’s as a side gig… you’re looking at around $500 to $2000 each month.

Decent, right? 

And top dogs can charge up to $250 for a landing page copy, according to LinkedIn

Just starting?

Start by charging between $0.10 to $1 per word or per project.

Bump it up once you gain more experience.

How to Start a Copywriting Side Hustle

You don’t have to be an ultra-talented writing wizard to begin.

But just like any skill, you need to practice copywriting and get good before you can start charging for it.

Because who would pay you if they can just use ChatGPT?

Enjoying writing is also definitely a good place to start. 

Anyway, here’s what you should do.

1. Learn the Basics

Your success will depend on a solid foundation of skills and knowledge. That means having an excellent grasp of the basic principles. 

Luckily, you’ll find many great and free resources like my guide to copywriting frameworks.

Use these frameworks as training wheels till you have mastered how to structure words most compellingly without even in your sleep.

It will initially seem overwhelming, but there’s no way around it. You have to get the basics right.

Did you think I had the balls to charge anyone when I started?

Back then…

I even thought copywriting and copyrighting were the same thing.

A damn fool I was.

Trust me.

2. Build Your Portfolio 

Once you’re confident enough, then it’s time to start building your copywriting portfolio.

Yes, it can seem intimidating to build one without prior experience.

So here are a few things you can do:

  • On-Spec writing: On-Spec writing is when someone creates copy for a “speculative” client. It’s basically cold outreach, but it shows initiative, and it’s even better if the copy is good.
  • Write for free: Know someone who needs promotional content? Offer your services for free. Whether it’s for social media or landing pages, this experience is invaluable.
  • Self-publish: Establishing a blog like mine is a testament to your skills. Be your own client and craft compelling content.
  • Pitch to publications and blogs: Pitch your ideas to other blogs or publications. While challenging without a track record… it’s excellent for your portfolio and reputation.
  • Join a practical workshop: Practical training courses need students to generate copywriting material. You could add these to your portfolio while earning a certificate as a bonus. 
  • Create affiliate-marketing articles: In addition to running this blog, I also write commercial or affiliate articles. The goal is to write extremely engaging and compelling copy to get customers to use my affiliate links. So this is a great way to build up a portfolio if you intend to start a blog.

3. Create an Online Presence

If you got time to scroll social media or Netflix and chill…

You got time to create content to get more online exposure for yourself.

Forget all other platforms for now and focus on:

  • Starting a blog or website
  • X (Formerly Twitter)
  • LinkedIn

Why a blog?

It’s your main content hub to demonstrate your writing depth through long-form content while leveraging SEO for organic traffic.

X and LinkedIn are very similar with slightly different nuances.

If you post on one…

You might as post on the other.

They are both platforms to:

  • Network with other creators
  • Build your personal brand
  • Repurpose blog content
  • Attract clients
  • Validate copy

Start with 1 blog post a week…

Then repurpose that into bite size pieces for X and LinkedIn daily.

4. Learn SEO 

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is improving your copy for search engine visibility.

SEO strategies for copywriting have become pretty much mandatory nowadays.

Because it’s not enough to know how to write pretty words…

You need to add more value to your potential clients.

Here’s an example of me ranking on the top spot of Google in the featured snippet.

How To Make AI Content Undetectable Featured SnippetPin

Writing to invoke emotion and knowing how to rank on search engines is a KILLER combination that will put you miles ahead of most copywriters.

Once you get these 4 settled, you are essentially ready to launch your side hustle and start reaching out to clients.

Types of Copywriting Side Hustles

Copywriting is the art of persuading readers to believe in an idea and take action.

Basically, it’s the art of persuasion with text.

The amount or intensity of “persuasion” in copywriting varies. It depends on the goal and intention of the material. Some forms of copywriting are more direct and “salesy”, while others are more informational. 

There are many types of projects you can try:

Pay per Click (PPC) Ad Writing

This type of copywriting job will focus a lot on the element of persuasion. The writer needs to have strong direct response copywriting skills because the end goal is always to get readers to take action.

It could be signing up for a promo, subscribing to a newsletter, or checking out an item. 

PPC writers would work with their clients to maximize a certain advertising budget to create effective ads. This would involve writing copy for display ads, text ads, and perhaps even scripts for video ads.

And they can usually earn $40-$60/hour, but The rate would depend on skills and experience. 

Content Writing

Content writers help brands build a better connection with the audience through content marketing and informational content.

Much like this blog.

Some businesses use articles to drive traffic to their websites and landing pages. Some would also need to build a large amount of content to improve SEO for their website.

If you’re also a content marketer, finding a steady flow of projects would be easy.

Articles’ length is commonly 500 to 1500 per word.

The average pricing is $0.05 to $0.15 per word.

Experienced writers can charge higher.

Social Media Marketing

There are billions of social media users that’s why social media marketing is one of the most lucrative copywriting niches. It will involve a mix of different styles like direct-response and ad copywriting. 

Both new and established businesses go to social media to capture their share of the audience.

Social media copywriting jobs are pretty much in demand. Copywriters craft marketing messages into photo captions, hashtags, and sometimes long-form posts.

In the US, a social media copywriter can earn around $23 per hour. Writing for social media can easily be fitted into a few hours a day on top of a day job. 

Newsletter Copywriting

Newsletter copy tends to be more lengthy and informational than other types of copywriting.

These are usually sent out via emails to a customer mailing list. Email newsletters are used to build brand loyalty or generate leads. 

You can join my newsletter, The Raw Baw, if you want to have a peek inside and get a good idea of what to expect.

Businesses look for email copywriters who can get users to open their emails and engage in a conversion. Talented copywriters can earn up to $800-1500 per issue.

Some even charge around $29 per hour.  

All the different copywriting styles have the same goal.

They all aim to attract attention and call the reader to action.

So pick one and get to it.

Tips on Copywriting as a Side Hustle

Once you start your copywriter side hustle, treat it as a business and not some hobby.

When I first started, I knew I had to invest time and effort in upgrading my copywriting skills.

I started small, but my efforts remained consistent until clients and projects steadily emerged.

Here are more copywriting tips that will assist you.

Train Yourself To Write in a Direct and Concise Way

This is probably one of the most challenging aspects for many newbie copywriters.

Most of them tend to add a ton of fluff. A.K.A unnecessary words or phrases that don’t add any additional value, just the word count.

To make it, you need to focus on delivering value and benefits with simple but direct words.

Be Creative and Original

If you want to create compelling copywriting, AI-generated content won’t cut it.

It does a good job for an average copywriter, but it lacks wit, creativity, and context nuance. 

It’s also only a matter of time before search engines detect AI-made copy, so I’m not sure how well it will do in search results. Probably not good.

As a copywriter, your greatest asset is your creativity, so take time to master it. 

Grow Your Network

Don’t hesitate to ask for referrals once your land your first few clients.

As mentioned earlier, treat your side hustle copywriting as a business. 

Be consistent in your work and maintain good relationships with your clients.

Sooner or later, client referrals will flow in.

Here’s a secret tip for you that not many people will do. 

Collect testimonials using a tool like Senja and display them wherever you go.

Brendan Aw Homepage Senja Wall of LovePin

No website? No problem.

They even let you display all your testimonials on a landing which they call the “Wall of Love.”

Show that juicy social proof, and I promise you clients will come to you.

Assuming you do a good job, of course.

Copywriter Side Hustle (FAQs)

What Is The Biggest Mistake a Copywriter Should Avoid Making?

One of the biggest mistakes a copywriter can make is not understanding the copy’s intended target and problem point. This usually ends up in non-persuasive material with boring generalizations.

Can I Use AI Software for Copywriting?

While it’s not recommended to rely on AI copywriting software to generate copy, it can definitely be a useful source of ideas. But nothing beats human creativity, and please be honest with your clients. 

How Do I Choose the Type of Copywriting To Specialize In?

The best way is to explore different types of copywriting first. This is the only way you’ll know which you prefer. Also, consider which types of clients and platforms you would like to work on.

Can You Make a Lot of Money Copywriting?

Ziprecruiter has mentioned some of the best copywriters can earn up to $165,000 per year. I’d say that’s a huge chunk of cash.

How Can a Copywriting Side Hustle Increase My Income?

A copywriting side hustle can bring in extra cash if you consistently put in the effort to find new clients and projects. You can charge clients based on project size, complexity or offer a fixed hourly rate. The more skilled and experienced you become, the more you can charge your clients, which will ultimately increase your income along with your full-time job.

What Types of Content and Projects Can I Expect in This Kind of Side Hustle?

You can expect various projects, including writing sales letters, blog posts, landing pages, email campaigns, social media content, case studies, and more. The more versatile you are, the more appealing you’ll be to potential clients.

Can I Learn Copywriting Quickly Enough To Start This as a Side Hustle?

Any skill takes time to learn, and Copywriting is no exception. I suggest you take as much time as you need to be proficient enough to charge people for your service. 

How Can I Find Clients for My Copywriting Side Hustle?

You can head to job boards, freelance platforms, social media, and your professional network to find clients for your copywriting side hustle. 

Do I Need Any Specific Experience or Qualifications To Start a Copywriting Side Hustle?

You don’t need any qualifications because all the required skills of a copywriter can be acquired online through courses, copywriting books and good old practice.

But you do need some experience and a portfolio first before you begin charging clients.

Can I Turn My Copywriting Side Hustle Into a Full-Time Business?

You can definitely turn your copywriting side hustle into a full-time business. Many copywriters begin as part-timers and eventually transition to full-time work. If you begin earning more from this than your job, that’s an excellent opportunity to go full-time. 

To Sum Up

Copywriting is one of the most valuable skills you can learn.

It is definitely a lucrative and accessible side hustle.

In today’s fast-paced world of digital marketing, it won’t be hard to find clients and opportunities.

That’s why investing time and effort in learning and excelling in the craft is worth it.

I hope this inspired you to become a copywriter and start monetizing your skills in the background of your life.

Leave a comment, and feel free to share this with people who might find it useful.

brendan aw black pic

About Brendan Aw

I’m an ex-marketing executive for 6 & 7-figures high-growth startups turned writer, creator & entrepreneur. I share my learnings on digital entrepreneurship, personal finance, and remote working while helping run my family’s crystal chandelier business.

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