What is Copywriting Freelance? How Does It Work?

by John McIntyre

Copywriting freelance (or freelance copywriting) is a type of work arrangement where individuals, known as copywriters, offer their writing services to clients on a project or ad hoc basis.

Freelance copywriters are not employed by a single company, but work with a range of clients in various industries. Freelance copywriting has increased in recent years, especially as remote-working becomes more sought after.

Most freelance copywriters work project-by-project, but it’s becoming more common for copywriters to use retainer style setups, or be paid performance fees.

Copywriting retainers = you get paid a fixed monthly fee to complete a set amount of work (e.g. a weekly email and two blog posts per month).

Performance fees = you are paid a base fee for a project and a percentage or sales / net profit based on the results of your copywriting (for example 2% of sales generated from the blog posts, sales funnel, or email campaigns you create).

Retainers and performance fees are highly advantageous and lucrative, because they result in less time spent reaching out to clients, and are based on your performance as a copywriter (not linked to hours worked).

person holding US money

However, most beginner freelance copywriters start on a hourly rate (usually via Upwork), or by quoting a fixed price per project.

Freelance copywriters create written content for various purposes, such as advertising, marketing, promotional materials, websites, social media, and more.

They write headlines, taglines, product descriptions, blog posts, email campaigns, ads, and any other kind of written content aimed at engaging readers, and encouraging them to take an action.

A freelance copywriter’s main goal is to create persuasive and compelling copy that effectively communicates the client’s message.

It’s about creating high-converting copy, which means you’re converting the reader from a lead (i.e. website visitor) into a customer.

To break it down, you might initially want your reader to take an action (like clicking on a link or signing up to an email newsletter) – which is known as “direct-response” copywriting.

This is where your goal is to get a direct response from the reader, i.e. you guide them to take an action.

Most (if not, ALL) copywriting should be written this way.

Copy should motivate your target audience to take a desired action, with the end goal being to convert them into a customer (providing that they have a problem that you or your client can solve).

However, this might take several steps (because no one likes pushy, aggressive sales tactics, right?).

And because, building a relationship with your client’s leads and customers is a journey. Your readers are human beings that want to feel connected and understood.

Freelance copywriter making notes in a book

Copywriting on a freelance basis means you have the flexibility to choose the projects you work on.

As a freelance copywriter, you can set your own schedule and have the freedom to work remotely (like in the middle of the Redwood National Park in California, providing you have a wifi connection of course).

Or, on a huge fancy yacht, while sailing through the Croatian sea (again, a wifi connection is probably ideal here).

But it’s something to aim for… right?

As a freelance copywriter, you’ll likely collaborate with a diverse range of clients, including:

  • Small businesses
  • Startups
  • Larger corporations
  • Agencies
  • Service providers
  • Ecommerce stores
  • Individuals

As a freelance copywriter, you can negotiate your rates according to your ability, results, and experience.

You can quote on a per-word, per-project, hourly, fixed-fee, or sales percentage basis, depending on the nature of the work requested by your clients.

The better your copywriting results and style (and the more clients you have access to), the more you can charge.

Everyone has to start somewhere, but because copywriting is such a valuable skill, you can almost always charge more than you think.


Because you’re getting your client leads, customers, and sales (i.e. you’re making them money).

This is why copywriting is one of the most valuable jobs out there — because you’re directly impacting your client’s sales.

You’re helping them build their business.

So don’t underestimate yourself. 

Especially if you’re an experienced freelance copywriter. Keep increasing your rates until you hit a ceiling and people start saying no.

Charge whatever your clients will pay.

And then deliver on your work.

freelance copywriter working from a cafe with coffee

If you’re going to charge high fees, you need to deliver winning results for your clients.

Especially if you want them to stick with you for the long-term.

But – creating value is not about delivering a huge volume of copy.

It’s about being strategic and asking yourself: “what does my client truly want?”.

If you can get your client’s website ranking in Google with your expertly crafted blog posts, and you double or triple their organic traffic in 6-12 months, then you’re going to cause their annual revenues and profits to surge.

So you can justify charging MUCH higher fees for this type of copywriting.

Traffic from Google (i.e. SEO) is a lot more valuable than daily social media posts (unless you have a strong strategy and analytics to back it up).


Because social media engagement is a form of interruptive marketing, and has lower conversion rates than SEO traffic.

According to AHREFS, SEO drives 1000%+ more traffic than organic social media.

By choosing a form of copywriting that drives traffic to your client’s website, you can deliver much better results, and charge much higher fees.

When it comes to freelance copywriting, quality is better than quantity. 

If you can do both, then great!

Creating fortnightly SEO-optimised blog posts that rank in Google and bring in loads of fresh traffic (which is measurable) is going to be far more valuable than refreshing your client’s general website copy (e.g. an About Us or Contact page).

Anything that contributes to sales is always going to be worth more to your client, and thus you can charge higher fees for it.

Copywriting is all about results.

If you can get great results for your clients (and measure them with an analytics tool like Fathom) – they’ll keep paying you and spread the word.

So now you know what copywriting freelance is (or rather “freelance copywriting” as it’s more commonly known).

To succeed at freelance copywriting, you’ll need a solid understanding of SEO, consumer psychology, writing, and effective communication techniques (both written and verbal).

As a freelance copywriter, you need to adapt your writing style to suit different target audiences and industries. You need to write copy that aligns with your clients goals.

Your client’s success = your success.

Overall, freelance copywriting offers you the opportunity to leverage your writing talents and creativity, while enjoying the benefits of a flexible work arrangement, and an interesting portfolio of projects and clients to work with.

Here at Drop Dead Copy, we highly recommend it!

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