Can you guess the number one question I get asked on email or through my form?
"I don't have a budget. but can you write some content for me?"
But that's irrelevant here so let's jump to the next most common question on the list, which is:
"How do I make it as a copywriter?"
I wish there were some sort of magical formula to making it as a copywriter. There isn't– it's only what works for you. That said, I do have some advice to give that is born out of my experience as a content writer.
You're not an individual, you're a business
A rookie mistake that nearly every freelance content writer in India has made is thinking of themselves as an individual writer and not a business. When you shift your perspective to embrace every other aspect of your freelancing setup– admin, emails, bills, taxes, proposals, analytics– you'll start seeing the larger picture.
Why is this larger picture important? Firstly, you'll learn to charge better. You might have a price per word in mind, but does that cover the research, proposal, outline, proposal, SEO research, images or any other extra effort you're putting in besides writing your article? If it doesn't, it's back to the drawing board for you.
Secondly, you'll keep better tabs on your finances. You'll know how much you're spending on business needs (think subscriptions, websites, domain fees) and match it up to how much you're earning. If your expenses trump your income, you'll need to re-evaluate your spending and cut costs where you can. It might seem like you don't need to do this as a freelance content writer with an active income from elsewhere, but swaying expenses to match income levels is how businesses are run, and that's how you should, too.
Send out your terms and conditions
If you were renting a house, would you take it without a contract? Would you buy something without a receipt? If your answer to both those is "no", then you've understood the essential need for terms and conditions documents.
Writing and sending out your terms to clients can be daunting. Have I written this right? What if I have to dispute a clause? Can't I just trust the client? You might be able to trust your client, but unfortunately, not all companies are as magnanimous as these ones.
Trust me. I've been scammed of a few articles by companies requesting samples and vanishing off the face of the earth only to publish my "sample" a few days later. Don't be me. Send your terms, have them acknowledge it in writing.
Try not to give out long free samples
This seems a bit counterintuitive considering, as a freelance content writer in India or overseas, you'd want the client to know how well you write. And I totally agree with you. All I ask is that you set a word count as well as the kind of content verticals you can give out as samples. I had a client ask me for 800-word website copy, which is a whole different ballgame compared to listicle-style articles that most others asked.
It's always best to include previously-written samples when pitching to clients. Redact client names if required and put it all into a PDF for review. Or create a portfolio website like mine and refer your clients here. If they do ask for a free sample (which is totally okay), let them know what your sample terms and limits are.
Try to balance between being reasonable and not giving everything away for free– I find that 300 words usually hits the mark. You can always expand on that as a proper (paid) project if the client approves.
Be honest and upfront
Way too many client shave been scammed by freelance content writers who've given them sub-part articles or run away with their advance. Naturally, the mutual trust diminishes which really hinders your chances of success.
Work hard to prove to potential clients that you're not one of those people. Be honest and upfront about how you work, so you don't have to end discussions at a later stage. Use client testimonials as your flag; certifications and success statistics will also work.
And if you can avoid it, don't be the bad guy. Set up automation for invoices, keep documentation ready and make sure the client fully understands what they're signing up for.
As a freelance content writer in India or anywhere in the world, you're running a little one-person army. Give yourself that room– in your rate card, in your client interactions, in your day-to-day.