From Employee To Freelance Copywriter: Ryan Carr’s 3 Best Tips

freelance copywriter
Copywroter Ryan Carr

Haris Halkic: Hi Ryan, 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.

Ryan Carr: At the time, I was eking out a living teaching lighting and screenwriting classes. Then, a friend of mine introduced me to copywriting. I guess it never occurred to me that they actually pay people to write all those sales letters you get in the mail, lol.

I’ve always loved to write so I thought it would be a perfect fit. To get started I did some pro-bono work for a non-profit. That led to a job as a grant writer. After a year I felt burned out and decided to go freelance by specializing as a financial copywriter.

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?

Ryan Carr: After my grant-writing job, I studied AWAI’s program on how to write for the financial niche. Since I didn’t have any experience, I reached out to a publisher and offered to do a couple of small assignments on spec. That led to good-paying assignments with a wide variety of clients.

My best piece of advice for someone who is employed and wants to become a freelance copywriter is, first, study as much as you can in your free time. That means reading the masters like Clayton Makepeace, Mark Ford, Bob Bly, Gary Bencivenga and David Ogilvy.

It also means going through and studying some of AWAI’s many copywriting programs. They’re invaluable when it comes to understanding and mastering the fundamentals. I highly recommend them.

Second, make sure you know what niche you want to specialize in. What kind of copy do you want to write and for what kind of market?

The niche you pick must be something you’re excited and passionate about, or have experience in.

Taking a scattershot approach and reaching out to any and everyone who you think might need a copywriter is not the way to do it. In other words, “casting a wide net” just doesn’t work when it comes to getting clients.

Third, once you know what kind of clients you want to work for, use whatever available time you have to contact them, even if it means dedicating a large portion of your lunch break to do so.

Haris Halkic: Getting clients is one of the greatest challenges for freelance copywriters. Could you tell me more about how you get clients?

Ryan Carr: 

For me, the best way to get clients is through cold-calling. I know a lot of people hate it, but in my experience it’s the easiest and fastest way to know if someone is interested in your services.

And if you don’t have any experience don’t hesitate to offer to do an assignment or two on spec. That will definitely get their attention. Of course, there’s also AWAI’s copywriting bootcamp, which has been enormously beneficial to me and many other writers in finding good-paying clients.

Haris Halkic: How did you learn to write copy? Are there teachers, books or resources that you can recommend?

Ryan Carr: Most of my copywriting education came from AWAI courses and reading the masters like David Ogilvy, Bob Bly, Mark Ford, Gary Bencivenga and Clayton Makepeace. I’d recommend reading any and everything by them. I was also fortunate to have great mentors like Brien Lundin of Jefferson Financial and Mike Ward of Money Map Press. If you can get yourself a mentor, you’ll progress enormously in much less time.

Haris Halkic: How do you prepare for a writing session?

Ryan Carr: First of all, you have to know what you are going to be writing about—and that means you need to do as much research as possible. Although it’s tempting to just start writing on a project you’re excited about, you’ve got to know it backwards and forward first. Because your research will provide you with the ideas for hooks and angles you can use in your headline, lead and body copy.

Haris Halkic: Who’s your favorite copywriter or piece of copywriting?

Ryan Carr: Clayton Makepeace. I love how he’s able to press readers’ emotional hot buttons without sounding hype-y.

Haris Halkic: In your opinion, what are the greatest advantages of being a freelance copywriter? What makes this lifestyle so special?

Ryan Carr: 

For me, it’s the independence—of being able to live life on your own terms and come and go as you please.

You can work from anywhere, anytime and with that comes an enormous amount of freedom and flexibility most people don’t have. Of course, the money doesn’t hurt either ;-).

Haris Halkic: What one daily habit has contributed to your success more than any other?

Ryan Carr: I know this may sound corny, but for me taking the time each day to feel grateful for everything I have keeps me feeling optimistic and confident.

An attitude of gratitude is key to attracting more of what you want in life.

Haris Halkic: If someone wants to hire you, what is the best way to get in touch?

Ryan Carr: They can visit my website at They’ll find my contact info there and a portfolio with much of my work.