Haris Halkic: Hi Sarah, 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 us more about your story.
Sarah Anderson: I didn’t have the most direct path to copywriting. I always liked writing and I studied English Writing in college, but I couldn’t find a job in my field. After graduation, I worked a few odd jobs in retail. I worked at a library for awhile, but I wasn’t satisfied with work and wanted to do something more fulfilling.
Things shifted when I started my own business selling hand dyed yarns on Etsy. (I’m obsessed with knitting, by the way!)
That’s when I started to learn about online marketing and what it takes to run a business. I really liked the marketing side of business. I spent a lot of time studying successful online businesses and learning everything I could.
I was on a webinar and the presenter referenced Ash Ambirge of The Middle Finger Project. When I checked out her site, a light bulb went off.
Copywriting was the perfect combination of two things I loved — marketing and writing.
At that point, I became obsessed with learning as much as I could about copywriting. It felt like the perfect job for me.
Haris Halkic: How did you transition to freelance copywriting from your previous business? What’s your best advice for someone who is in a similar situation and wants to become a freelance copywriter?
Sarah Anderson: Once I learned that copywriting was a thing, I jumped in! I read books, took courses, and tried to learn everything I could. My first clients came from Elance, which was an easy way to get some experience and see if I liked writing copy for other people. After a few months and a few samples, I transitioned to marketing my own website.
At the same time, I was still running my Etsy shop. I did both for about a year before I transitioned to copywriting full time.
If you’re in a similar situation, I recommend giving yourself some cushion as you build up your copywriting business.
If you’re a total newbie like I was, it takes time to learn the craft and gain some confidence. Make the transition easier by taking some of the pressure off yourself when you’re getting started.
Haris Halkic: Why did you decide to focus on email marketing?
Sarah Anderson: Looking back, it was a bit of a happy coincidence. I was originally doing a lot of web copy, but I didn’t actually like writing it. I wanted to pivot and focus on something else, but I wasn’t sure where to go next.
I hadn’t really made the formal decision to focus on email, but I was thinking about it and researching it. Almost immediately I got two inquiries for email projects. I liked the work, I was good at it, and I’d found my new niche.
When I shared my new focus with my tiny email list I got two more clients from there. After that early success, I decided to go all in.
It’s been a bit over a year since I made the switch and I love writing emails. (And I love that I never have to write another about page again.)
Haris Halkic: Getting clients is one of the greatest challenges for freelance copywriters. Could you tell us more about how you get clients?
Sarah Anderson: Referrals have been a great source of clients for me.
Having a clear niche has been a huge help for getting referrals. When someone needs an email sequence, people know to send them to me!
I’ve also used email marketing to get clients. I regularly email my list, so when they need a copywriter I’m top of mind. It’s a longer term strategy, but it’s worked well for me.
Haris Halkic: How do you prepare for a writing session?
Sarah Anderson: I can’t write without an outline. I need words on the page and a direction for where I’m going. After I research the project, I’ll outline the sequence and the individual emails. Once all that’s in place, I put on brain.fm and get to work!
Haris Halkic: What do you think about the importance of email subject lines? What makes a good subject line and how to create one?
Sarah Anderson: Subject lines are definitely important, but I don’t think they’re as important as your relationship with your list.
People open emails from people they know, like, and trust. Early on you want to establish yourself as the person whose emails are a must-read. Once they see your name in the from field, the subject line doesn’t matter as much.
A good subject line gives people a reason to open the email. It could be a benefit, like what they’ll get if they take 5 minutes to read your email. Curiosity is another powerful trigger. Open a loop that only gets closed when they read the email.
Haris Halkic: How did you learn to write copy? Are there teachers, books or resources you can recommend?
Sarah Anderson: I’m still learning! I’ve invested a lot of time and money in self-education and it’s been a huge benefit to me (and my clients).
I highly recommend 10X Emails and 10X Launches from Copyhackers for anyone looking to get into email copywriting.
Another great resource is The Copywriter Club podcast hosted by Kira Hug and Rob Marsh. I wish this was available when I started. It would have shortened my learning curve by a lot!
If you’re studying email, look at your inbox. Follow the big launches. Sign up for funnels from Facebook ads. Get on the list of top marketers in your industry and study what they’re doing. Save those emails and start building your swipe file.
Haris Halkic: Who’s your favorite copywriter or piece of copywriting?
Sarah Anderson: I love Laura Belgray’s emails! Her emails are fun to read. She’s great at blending storytelling and selling. She was part of an affiliate launch for a program I’d already bought, but I stayed on her launch list just so I could read her emails.
Haris Halkic: You are doing a video series on email marketing on LinkedIn right now which is amazing. I highly recommend it. What was your goal with this and how does LinkedIn fit into your overall strategy of marketing your services?
Sarah Anderson: My goal with getting on video is to increase visibility. As copywriters, a lot of have a tendency to hide behind the keyboard. But people want to see us! I’ve been experimenting with Facebook Live, so I thought I’d try sharing videos on LinkedIn too. The response has been really positive.
LinkedIn is still very new to me, so I’m testing stuff out and seeing how it goes. After a few weeks of videos, I’m already seeing a lot more activity on my profile. I’ve even had a few people inquire about my services.
Haris Halkic: In your opinion, what are the greatest advantages of being a freelance copywriter? What makes this lifestyle so special?
I’m so grateful for the freedom this lifestyle provides. I get to choose who I work with, how I work, and where I work. If I don’t like something, I can change it.
I can’t imagine going back to a regular 9-5 now. I wouldn’t want to give up the ability to build a great business without leaving the house.
Haris Halkic: If someone wants to hire you, what is the best way to get in touch?
Sarah Anderson: Head over to my website and say hello! You can find me at www.proemailcopy.com.