Haris Halkic: Hi Veronika, thanks a lot for agreeing to share some tips on copywriting and your background. Let’s start with how you got started in copywriting? Please tell me more about your story.
Veronika Kabarguina: Thanks for having me, Haris!
I went to university for History and took classes in Creative Writing in years 2-4. I liked understanding cause and effect and I loved being creative, however, I wasn’t one of those writers who liked to write for the sake of writing.
So in 4th year I started to read everything I could find on content marketing, SEO, and consumer behaviour (my email inbox was FULL and so were my shelves) because that coincided with a part-time coordinator role I had for a wellness festival in Toronto. I did a lot of writing for that too, from social media to brochures to web copywriting.
After university I got a few clients and worked as a contractor at a marketing agency. I wrote emails, websites, landing pages, product descriptions, blog posts, social media content, and more, for industries such as energy efficiency, automotive, software applications, and renovation.
Haris Halkic: How did you transition to freelance copywriting from your previous job? What’s your best piece of advice for someone who is employed and wants to become a freelance copywriter?
Veronika Kabarguina: While I was at Sears Canada during their rebranding, I still took on a few clients. I did some projects like sales email campaigns, surveys, and blog posts. After Sears Canada collapsed, I went on dozens of interviews for full-time positions, but I was always too shy and nervous in their eyes.
I did a few projects through recruitment agencies, through past clients, and mutual connections, but I always felt something was missing!
I wanted to get into SaaS. So I got a couple of clients through cold email. It opened up a lot of opportunities and increased my confidence tenfold.
My best piece of advice, other than to make sure you can financially support your decision is:
- Be prepared to take on everything (from lead generation, to client communication, to invoices, etc.) because in year 1 of going FULLY freelance, don’t expect margaritas on the beach—and you shouldn’t be discouraged by that. If you’re someone who gets easily discouraged with uncertain processes and being patient, then you will have a hard time being successful.
- Pick a niche. It makes you the go-to person. I hesitated and wasted time for months. I forget who, but someone, either Brennan Dunn or Kai Davis, mentioned that you can always change your niche later. THAT made me finally pick SaaS.
Haris Halkic: Getting clients is one of the greatest challenges for freelance copywriters. Could you tell me more about how you get clients?
Veronika Kabarguina: I love cold emailing. I think it’s one of the most misunderstood and underused ways to get someone’s attention. There are so many cold email experts with incredible templates, but none of that beats perfecting your own process.
With cold emailing I learned that timing is impeccable, and by timing I don’t mean morning vs. night.
I mean if you know the industry then you should know at what point in time they will need a copywriter like yourself. For example, I work with Heads of Marketing or Growth, so if it’s an early stage startup, there might not be someone there with that position. I’ll wait about a year to reach out after the person with that position started.
You also shouldn’t be afraid to email the C-suite directly. Sometimes one sentence works best, and they forward you to the right person.
It’s been an excellent process so far.
Also, after I started posting about what I know about customer-driven copy in Linkedin posts, I started getting inbound requests.
Plus, leads I pitched through cold email told me they loved reading my content and saw me as a great source of knowledge!
Haris Halkic: How did you learn to write copy? Are there teachers, books or resources that you can recommend?
Veronika Kabarguina: Oh gosh, a lot of practice. Learning how other copywriters became great at copywriting helped most, so these interviews are definitely awesome for copywriters confused with how to learn copywriting. The Copywriter Club podcast is also a great resource for learning how other awesome copywriters became so great. The “greats” like Ogilvy, Kennedy, Bly, Sugarman, etc. are great and all but I love learning from copywriters I can reach out to and email.
Nick Kolenda is probably my favourite resource, not just on copywriting but on consumer behaviour, UX/UI, conversion optimization, and decision-making.
I also took a few Copyhackers courses.
I also recommend posting on Linkedin for your target audience. It’s free and there’s a 1,300 character limit so it teaches you to be concise.
Most importantly, consume everything that’s free first. Hit up your library, online databases, etc. And don’t forget to actually write every day with a target audience in mind.
Haris Halkic: How do you prepare for a writing session?
Veronika Kabarguina: I make sure to get social media tasks out of the way before I get into any heavy writing, even though most experts say you should start with the hardest tasks first, but I find if I don’t check my email, Linkedin, etc. before starting, then I’m just itching to look it up. Site blockers don’t help because then I just check my phone.
Then, I make myself a cup of Buckingham Garden Party tea!
Haris Halkic: Who’s your favorite copywriter or piece of copywriting?
Veronika Kabarguina: I definitely have to say Joel Klettke and Josh Garofalo in the SaaS sphere. I’m pretty intimidated by them, and always strive to be as professional as them.
Hillary Weiss because her brand is so inviting.
Claire Suellentrop is incredible at creating a seamless experience. The first day I found out about her was the same day I bought her insanely useful e-book. And I have never bought an e-book before.
Haris Halkic: In your opinion, what are the greatest advantages of being a freelance copywriter? What makes this lifestyle so special?
Veronika Kabarguina: You have to figure out everything yourself. It’s both an advantage and disadvantage. It’s a tremendous professional and emotional growth opportunity.
You can work anywhere you want provided there’s wifi and you don’t need to go to any client meetings.
You can choose which clients you want to work with and which clients you want to pass on.
Haris Halkic: What’s one daily habit that has contributed to your success more than any other?
Veronika Kabarguina: This isn’t exactly a habit, but I try to talk about my wins or what I’m grateful for with my significant other, friends, and/or family. It keeps me grounded.
Haris Halkic: If someone wants to hire you, what is the best way to get in touch?
Veronika Kabarguina: You can send me a Linkedin connection request, adding a note as to why you’d like to add me as a connection (even if it’s just to ask for a few tips! I love helping people) or you can email me at email@example.com with a subject line like “Copywriting project?” or “Copywriting Availability?”. Something that doesn’t sound like spam would get my attention. I read every non-newsletter within 48 hours.