Do you freelance for clients? Learn how to raise your rates, work with clients, and master SEO writing.

Should you publish your SEO copywriting rates online?

“How much?” Those two words are chilling enough to cause frostbite. Sure, it’s a perfectly logical and, quite frankly, inevitable question for prospective customers to ask. Nevertheless, it terrifies me.

The problem with “How much?” is that there are too many ways to get the answer wrong.

One answer wins you the job, but leaves you feeling cheated or rushed. Another answer causes the customer to walk away, looking for a cheaper option. And another is so low it convinces the customer you suck at what you do.

Worse, determining what number is wrong for which reason is near-impossible, because the whole thing is subjective.

Excuses for NOT listing SEO copywriting prices online

So, is it any wonder we freelance writers tend to shy away from posting our prices publicly? The first time someone suggested I put my SEO copywriting rates on my website I blanched. What if a potential customer isn’t willing to pay that much? I’ll scare them off. Or, what if they’re willing to pay more? I’ll lose money.

How can I be flexible and negotiate if my prices are out there for all to see? Besides, each project is different so doesn’t it just make sense to create an individual price quote for each.

My opinion was only bolstered as I looked around the web and found very few SEO copywriters publishing their rates online. This is standard industry practice, I told myself. I’m doing the right thing.


The fact of the matter is that after nearly four years in this business I know what I WANT to charge.

I also know there are copywriters who charge significantly more, and scores who charge significantly less. That puts me comfortably in the middle, and I believe I’m worth my asking price. So, why am I still afraid to answer “how much?”

Because I’m afraid of being told “no.”

My epiphany about publishing SEO copywriting rates online

Over the years I’ve performed mental gymnastics trying to come up with the right answer to “how much?” I’ve spent hours putting together fancy proposals hoping they’d convince prospects to pay more. And I’ve suffered the frustration and disappointment of losing bids I thought were a sure thing.

So, I recently asked a negotiations expert how I can know the right answer to “how much?”

She said, “Ask yourself, what is the value of my services in the hands of my market? If your market can’t afford you, change your market!

Huh? You mean I’ve been wasting time and energy trying to fit my prices into my market, when I should’ve been finding a market that fits my price?


The benefits of posting your SEO copywriting rates online

So I’m taking the plunge. I’m establishing standard rates and posting them on my website.

Does this mean I’m unwilling to negotiate? No. But it does mean I’m facing my fears and taking charge of my pricing . If someone sees my rates and decides to go elsewhere, then they weren’t the right customer for me anyway.

I figure this is going to help me:

1) Generate higher quality leads from my website.
2) Save time by focusing my sales efforts on the right people.
3) Establish credibility with people who visit my website.
4) Close more sales.

What about you? Do you publish your prices online? What are your reasons for or against doing so? I’d love to hear your answers in the comments section below. (And please join the discussion in my Network of Web Professionals group on Facebook and LinkedIn).


About the AuthorAlexa Steele

Alexa Steele is The Website Wordsmith and founder of Mystique Marketing Communication. She and her nationwide team of Internet marketing specialists provide premium services including website design and development, SEO, social media marketing, and website copywriting. In short, “we communicate with the people who make you money.”

photo thanks to Tax Credits

Want to get your freelance copywriting business rolling without working so dam hard? Check into my Copywriting Business Bootcamp and my SEO Copywriting Certification training!

SEO copywriting Q & A from my Writer’s Digest Webinar

pens for writing seo contentYesterday, I had the pleasure of running a Webinar for Writer’s Digest. The presentation ran ten minutes overtime, so I promised  audience members that their questions would be answered in today’s blog post.

If you were on the Webinar – thank you so much! And if you’re a freelance (or in-house) writer wondering if SEO copywriting would be a smart skill set to have, read on. You may find the answers to your questions here!

Have a question that I didn’t address? Please feel free to contact me. I’m happy to help!

Q: How often does a new Google algorithm come out? Does every new algorithm mean you change your copywriting style?

Google is constantly tweaking their algorithm. Some are minor updates – and some are pretty far-reaching (such as the Panda update.) However, that doesn’t mean that you need to change your copywriting style. Focus on your readers first, and follow SEO content writing best practices.

Having said that, it’s very important that you keep up with what’s happening in the industry. You may learn that you need to handle certain situations differently (such as hyperlinking keyphrases or using synonyms in your content.) You won’t need to spend hours a day digging into the latest SEO news. But do plan to spend some time every week reading the trades.

Q: When choosing a keyphrase, as on Google keywords, is there an ideal number we should look for? How much weight should we give the “high” competitive terms? What if we need to go after those terms?

This depends on a lot of factors. For instance, an authority site that’s been up for years has a better chance of scoring a competitive keyphrase than a brand-new, small business site. Additionally, it’s always nice when you can go after the keyphrase “sweet spot” (highly trafficked keyphrases that aren’t as competitive.) For instance, the keyphrase [freelance writer] may be tough to position for. However, the phrase, [lab supply freelance writer] will be much easier.

You may want to check out the Writer’s Digest tutorial for more information about keyphrase research.

Q: How do you access the Google keyword research tool.

Easy! You can find it here.

Q: How does the SEO Certificate program work (cost, length, etc.)?

Thanks so much for asking. You can learn more the SEO Copywriting Certification training here.

Q: I’m hearing a lot of rumbling that search is changing dramatically because of mobile, and that within a couple of years Google will be moot, because everyone will be using mobile apps. True?

Ah yes. This is a variation of the “SEO is dead” conversation that happens a couple times a year. :) It’s true that mobile is changing the game – but people still use Google (and Bing) on their Android devices, iPads, iPhones, etc. And even if Google did suddenly go away (doubtful,) whatever solution would be left would still be providing answers based on content.

Search has been “changing dramatically” since I’ve been in the business. And actually, that’s one of the fun things about search. If you like working in an industry that’s ever-changing, SEO copywriting could be a great career choice for you!

Q: Does hyperlinking around two different keyphrases in a blog post help or hurt your SEO?

You should optimize for two to three keyphrases per page. Hyperlinking is fine – the key is to do it intelligently and mix up your anchor text. If you’re hyperlinking every instance of “cashmere sweaters,” that won’t help your SEO (it could actually hurt it.) Here’s an interesting article about how Google’s Penguin update impacted hyperlinking the keyphrase.

Q: Do you have any recommendations for raising your ranking for seasonal sites (like Christmas only) since they’re only seasonal, they aren’t updated as often, even though it’s formatted as a blog (santa’s elf’s blog for children).

Ideally, you’d create content year ’round. If you’re just looking for seasonal traffic, PPC (pay per click,) may be a better marketing avenue. You may also consider building a social media campaign to drive traffic (say a Facebook or Twitter campaign.)

Q: Approximately how many days/weeks, fulltime, of SEO training and beginner’s work would it take for an experienced writer/journalist to reach a level of competency to work professionally with corporate clients for $100-plus/hour?

It depends on the type of “issues” you want to deal with. If you’re a great writer and understand SEO content, you could accomplish this in a few months. If you want to work hand-in-hand with the IT department, consult on content changes and deal with more “hairy” issues, you’ll need a year (or more) of increasing experience under your belt. Having said that, one of the big issues that writers have is charging what they’re worth. Case studies and testimonials will help showcase your value (and congratulations for thinking ahead – that’s great!)

Q: Are there ways to include key phrases as hidden text?

Yes, but Google will spot it and punish you with a spam penalty. The “hidden text” trick is an old one that has been around as long as I’ve been in SEO (and that’s a really long time!) Anytime you’re thinking of “hiding” text (or including light grey text on a white background so it’s less noticeable,) you’re walking on very thin ice. It’s better to focus producing quality content instead.

Q: Is it true that Google is putting less emphasis on inbound links, and penalizing sites for having link wheels, etc.?

Google has certainly cracked down on spammy link campaigns. Gaining quality inbound links is still important – and the key word is “quality.” Submitting your content to random article sites won’t help you.

For some great advice on link building, check out Debra Mastaler’s site Alliance-Link (and sign up for her newsletter.) You’ll learn how smart link building is more about smart PR and marketing than “I’ll link to you if you link to me.”

Q: How do you find out about the algorithmic changes?

Here’s a fun way to learn more about the “weather” patterns of Google’s algorithm. You’ll also want to pay attention to the trade sites such as:

Search Engine Land

Search Engine Watch

Search Engine Roundtable

Matt Cutt’s blog (Matt works for Google and is known as “Google Guy.”)

Q: My google analytics usually blocks the keywords that people have typed in to get to my site – is there any way around this, as I’d like to know how people find me.

Ah, yes. That is irritating, isn’t it?  If folks are logged into Google (and a huge number of folks are,) their keyword data won’t show in your analytics. Here’s a way around it, compliments of Jill Whalen (I would recommend signing up for her newsletter, too – it’s a good one!

Thanks to @writersdigest for inviting me to speak!

Are you looking for a fast, low-cost way to learn about your SEO content opportunities and problems? Check out my new SEO Content Site Review.



The A-B-Cs of SEO copywriting

Today’s post goes back to the SEO copywriting basics. If you’ve been in the business for awhile, this will serve as a great refresher (and it’s a great post to share with your  clients, too!). :) And if you’re new to SEO copywriting, this post is a good way learn your SEO copywriting A-B-Cs. Enjoy!

Always test your content (or in the words of Brian Eisenberg “Always Be Testing.”) Yes, a piece of content may work “just fine.” But what if you could turn that content up to 11 and REALLY make it perform?

Be picky about the content that comes out of your company. “Thin” content written just for Google – or so-so content that’s not very good – reflects on your brand.

Content curation is a fantastic way to provide value to your readers, without having to write your own content. Beware – although this sounds “easy,” content curation is time consuming. Read Laura’s tips on how to do it well.

Don’t worry about keyword density. It’s been a myth for years (and even Matt Cutts has said the same thing.) Finally, it’s safe to let this one go. Really.

Examine ways that you can repurpose existing content. This is a great way to save time, extend the reach of your content assets and reach people across platforms. Here’s how to do it.

Focus on the benefits (what’s in it for your prospect) rather than company and product features. You’ll sell much more product that way (or capture many more leads!)

Get educated! If you’re writing SEO content, learn everything you can about SEO, copywriting, neuromarketing and consumer psychology. The more you know, the better your content.

Hire smart, talented copywriters – not the cheapest one you can find. Make sure they know exactly what they’re doing, and that they keep up with the latest SEO news. Here are some tips about how to hire an SEO copywriter.

In-house training is a super-smart investment if your company employs copywriters. Why outsource when your training investment can pay for itself in just 10 pages?

Just say “no” to making sure that your articles/sales pages/blog posts are a certain word count “for Google.” Google will not give you the keys to their algorithmic kingdom if every page on your site is  500 words. How long should your copy be? As long as it needs to be to clearly explain the topic and make the desired impact.

Keyphrases are still important. Some writers ignore this step, figuring “I know exactly how our readers are searching.” Quit fooling yourself. Unless your name is “Google,” you don’t have access to this information. Don’t fall into this trap.

Long-tail keyphrases are golden – especially for blog posts and FAQ pages. Learn why you should learn to love the long tail. 

Mine your analytics for cool content opportunities. As soon as you learn what kind of your content your readers love, you can make sure to create more of it!

Never spam Google figuring that you won’t get caught. Techniques like invisible text or link spam has been bad for many years (and yes, Google will catch you eventually!).

Optimizing Web pages is only half the battle. It’s one thing to make them “good for Google.” It’s another to make them great for your readers. Know the difference.

Personas are soooo important. After all, how can you write targeted content if you don’t know who you’re writing it for? If you haven’t created a customer/reader customer persona document, do it now (and here’s how!)

Quit obsessing over Google’s latest algorithmic change. You can “chase the algorithm” or you can write great content.

Rest is important. It does no good to crank out Web pages when you’re tired, hungry, cranky or just plain burned-out.

Title tags are exceptionally important. Well-written, “clickable” Titles get the clicks from the search engine results page. Plus, they help with positioning. Learn how to write Titles right.

Understand the difference between writing to sell, and writing for social media. They represent two different skill sets (and may require two different writers.)

Vary your keyphrases. Focusing your very large site on a very few keyphrases will cause you to miss opportunities. And yes, synonyms are OK, too.

Winning in SEO copywriting means more sales, more shares, happier readers and more money in your pocket. Focus your efforts around those elements – not what Google may do next.

You is an incredibly powerful marketing word. Use it in your copy. A lot.

Zzzzz is the sound your reader makes when your copy is limp, lifeless and drab. Put some personality in your copy (check out 37signals as an example. You’ll find that people will read more of your content (and even convert at higher rates, too!)



Working today? Here’s why you shouldn’t have to…


In honor and celebration of the U.S. Labor Day holiday, we’re giving our labors a rest and forgoing the usual SEO copywriting video post.

Instead we would like to ask you, freelance copywriters: Were you able to give your labors a rest today? Yesterday? Were you able to enjoy a work-free holiday weekend at all? Or any weekend? When was the last time you were able to go off for awhile, anywhere, and leave your laptop behind?

And…feel okay about it?

In the spirit of claiming freedom from laboring overmuch for too little money for too much time, we decided to acknowledge this Labor Day by sharing a few of our “liberating” posts with you! Our hope is that this Labor Day edition of “a slice of Heather” inspires you to move from merely surviving to thriving in your freelance copywriting career  – enjoy!


Does your online copywriting business own you?

“My confession: Whenever I read one of those headlines that scream, ‘Imagine the freedom you’ll have being your own boss,’ I laugh.

Why? Because I know how easy it is to go from, ‘Hey, I can work from anywhere,’ to ‘Hey, I have to bring my laptop wherever I go.’

In other words, how quickly it can go from ‘owning a business’ to ‘the business owning you.’ “[Including working weekends and holidays!]…


What’s your freelance writing manifesto?

“What’s important to your freelance writing life?

“I was thinking about all the ‘rules’ I live by as a freelance writer – most of them learned the hard way.  I started surfing around, and I found this post by Carol Tice outlining her freelance writing manifesto.

‘Great idea,’ I thought. ‘I need to do that too.’

So, here you go – my 15-point freelance writer manifesto. How many of these points resonate with you?”…


What’s holding you back?

“Who knew that my post, “Why do freelance writers hate SEO copywriting” would stir up so many comments?

After the post, I received a bunch of emails and blog comments like this one:

I like being able to work from home, but I really do despise the articles that I write. I would run away from these articles as quickly as possible if I had a client willing to pay a decent wage for excellent content.

Unfortunately, I cannot find these clients. To be honest, I don’t really know where to look because the only thing I find are the companies wanting quantity and care very little about quality.

Ugh. This writer is obviously in misery. Writing bad copy for low wages can’t be fun – at all.

But here’s the deal: If you’re in an uncomfortable situation, the only person holding you back is you.” …


6 freelance copywriting success tips

“Are you feeling ‘stuck’ in your copywriting career?

Maybe you’ve been in business for awhile, but you can’t seem to find high-paying, quality clients. Maybe you’ve gotten burned by a bad contract that meant you had to revise a page six times before the client finally signed off.

Or maybe, you’re wanting to make the jump into the freelance writer’s life…but you’ve been afraid to start.

Here are six tips the experts in my Turn Content Into Cash Copywriting Business Bootcamp recommend. Implementing just one of them can launch (or turn around) your business in no time.” …

Thanks for checking in with us today! Tomorrow we pick up the “usual” flow of great content for you with a fantastic guest post by an expert in the field! Stay tuned!


photo thanks to Leo Reynolds (LEOL30)

Liberate yourself from the chains of “owning” a business that is running you ragged! Learn how to truly own and manage a happy, healthy copywriting business at 30% off, through September 24th! Hurry – at this hefty $300 discount and limited class size, the remaining spots are going fast!!

How to find a Google-savvy SEO copywriter

Greetings! In today’s SEO copywriting video post, Heather addresses a topic that is very important if you are looking to hire an SEO copywriter, which is: how to find an SEO copywriter who won’t screw up your Google listings.

As you know, Google has made a lot of changes to its algorithm, and those changes have been largely focused on content quality, so the key to hiring an SEO copywriter is finding someone who is keeping up to date with all of what Google is doing.

So yes, you want your new hire to be an excellent writer, and yes, you want them to understand conversion theory and how to get people to take action, and how to write content that is shareable, but you also want to make sure that they know how to stay on Google’s good side!

Here’s how to do it:

Review their writing

The first thing you want to do is review their writing.

Always ask for clips, and not just from one client, but from a variety of clients that they’ve worked with.

  • Look at their Website. Do they even have a Website?
  • Are their articles well written? Or do they look like they were written quickly?
  • Would you consider their articles to be a valuable resource?
  • Do they repeat the same words over and over?

You want to see if their articles are well written. In judging this, think of their articles as if you were scanning the Web and just happened to land on one of their articles. Would you want to delve in and read more, or does it look like the article was written hastily?

You also want to get a sense for how they integrate keyphrases into the copy. If you are able to “catch” the keyphrases very easily, and it appears that the same word (or phrase) is being repeated over and over again: huge red flag!

And of course, you also want to look at their own website, and see how the copywriter has worked with an optimizer on-site.

If they don’t have a website and they are an SEO copywriter, that might also be a red flag because that’s a basic foundational step for an SEO copywriter – to have their own (well written and well optimized) site.

Ask about their process

The second thing you want to do is get on the phone with them and ask them about their process.

Ask something like: “Let’s say we sign the contract today – what would you need from me in order to get started? What is the process for how you write Web pages?”

Note their answers and beware these danger signs – the things you do not want to hear in response to your questions.

“Danger signs” include:

  • “Every article is X words for Google.”

You do not want to hear something like: “Well, every article I write is 500 words. I write that way for Google because that’s what Google wants.”

Wrong. That’s not what Google wants – that’s a myth that’s out there.

  • “Every article has a X percent keyphrase density.”

You also don’t want to hear the words “keyphrase density” come out of their mouth. Even Google’s head of spam, Matt Cutts, has come out and said there is no such thing.

  • The copywriter doesn’t ask about your target market or conversion goals.

You also want to pay attention to what questions the copywriter is asking you: are they asking about your conversion goals and your target market, or are they saying something like “When we sign the contract, then we will have a kick-off called ‘We’ll ask you a lot of questions’”?

If they are not asking these kinds of questions, that means that the content they’re writing is not going to be good for you: it will probably be too general, it’s not going to fit your target market because they didn’t ask what it was, and it won’t fit your conversion goals.

So make sure that the copywriter is asking you really good questions, as well!

Ask about the latest Google updates

The final thing you want to do is ask them about the latest Google updates.

Ask something like: “Well, so can explain a little bit about what Google has been doing lately with their algorithm updates? I’ve heard about this Panda and Penguin thing – what does that mean?”

  • If the copywriter can’t clearly explain Google’s Panda and Penguin updates…
  • Run away.
  • Run quickly.

You want someone who actually knows the answers. If they can’t clearly explain what Panda and Penguin mean to the SEO industry and to content generation, it’s time for you to run away, and run away quickly, because these are things that any experienced SEO copywriter should know about.

If they do not know, that means that they are not keeping up with the industry, and that can come back to bite you later!

Thanks for tuning in to today’s video how-to! If you have any questions or topic suggestions for Heather, please let her know: email [email protected], or tweet her @heatherlloyd. (And she’d love to know what you think about the new site design!)

Be sure to check back next week for the next webinar – see you then!


photo thanks to dannysullivan (Danny Sullivan)


You’re invited! This Wednesday, August 22nd, Heather will be holding an open SEO copywriting Q & A at noon Pacific / 3pm Eastern. Email our Heather G. for call-in information: [email protected]. Look forward to “seeing” you there!

Also, there’s one more week left to enter our contest to win a full scholarship to the SEO Copywriting Certification training – see Win an SEO Copywriting Certification Scholarship! for details!




3 things SEO copywriters need to know…right now!

Greetings and welcome back! In this week’s SEO copywriting how-to video, Heather addresses 3 separate questions posed to her from the SEO Copywriting Facebook group.

Heather’s initial question to the group was: What are your burning questions about being a freelance SEO copywriter?

Their three responses resounded with relevance for all freelance SEO copywriters, so she answers each one in detail via this week’s video post…

Question #1:  How do I find clients?

This is very common question, and an important concern for freelancers, because you want to be able to find and work with folks who value your expertise and are happy to pay you for it!

So one of the tips I have is to find your niche.

  • You’ll make more money, faster, if you find a niche.

For example, I work a lot with catalog copy and B2B companies, so people call on me because I have that type of expertise as an SEO copywriter.

So think about what you specialize in, and/or love to write about. Maybe you used to work in-house in a particular type of vertical and you know it through and through. It could be credit unions and financial institutions, or perhaps gyms and health clubs.

  • Once you have one, consider where your target audience “hangs out” online and offline.

For instance, do they favor certain LinkedIn groups? Do they read particular types of trade magazines (offline as well as online)? Are there certain bloggers that are big “influencers” in their industry?

The point is, get to know where these folks are, what they read, and what they pay attention to!

  • Don’t forget in-person networking!

Yes, this can be scary. You may prefer to hang out behind your computer and do your business strictly by email, but meeting other folks in person can really make a huge impact!

Once you push yourself out the door and start engaging with folks via events and conferences, after awhile it will feel more natural and you’ll no doubt start seeing some leads coming out of it. So don’t be afraid to get out there and mix it up!

Question #2:  How can I establish myself (as a trusted authority)?

Again, this goes back to securing that niche specialty…

  • This is easier if you have a niche – check out and

These two sites are great examples of freelance copywriting business owners, just like you, who decided that they wanted to work within a specific industry – so their websites and every piece of marketing that they do reflect that.

And once you’ve honed in on your own niche as these copywriters did, you can consider building your credibility and authority with content creation and marketing strategies…

  • Write case studies, e-guides, newsletters – and show up at industry conferences.

Also, brainstorm things that will be useful to your chosen niche industry, then get on Twitter and chirp those things. You could also start a LinkedIn group for your colleagues/audience. And going back to that in-person networking, you can choose to attend industry conferences.

On the matter of attending industry conferences…yes, it will cost some money to get in the door, but that networking – especially when you can say “this is what I specialize in and this is how I can help you” – can prove to be very powerful!

  • And just know that this [brand building] takes time.

While we all would love to be able to establish our brand within a couple of months, the reality is that, in most cases, it’s going to take 6 months to a year. Like all good things meant to last, building a brand takes some time.

Try to be patient with yourself and with the process, and go on out there and make those contacts…and you will start to see results!

Question #3:  How can I manage client expectations?

This third question from the SEO Copywriting Facebook Group is especially good – especially given that clients often look to the SEO copywriter/copywriting to solve all of their inbound marketing problems.

So, how do you balance that all out? How do you help your client understand what they can realistically expect from an SEO copywriting service?

  • Work as a team. Partner with other experts (designers, programmers, social media gurus.)

If you’re looking at a website and can tell that it has “other issues” besides the (SEO) copywriting – for instance, the design isn’t too great or the site owner clearly could stand some social media help – then working as a team with other specialists can be really powerful…and profitable!

That way, you can let the client know that while your SEO copywriting can help them immensely, it isn’t the alpha & omega of website rankings.

You can define what exactly you can do for them with your copywriting; then you can introduce the client to your talented colleagues that can make things happen in concert with your exceptional SEO copywriting…

  • Consider an initial inbound marketing opportunity audit.

This is a way to help your client while creating a deliverable that you can make money from: gather your team and look at the client’s site, and determine what the client can do – or what you can do for your client, as a team – to drive more qualified traffic to their site, and convert visitors at a higher rate.

  • Educate your clients about how unethical tactics can harm their site.

As you probably know already, client education is crucial.

Explain to your client why keyword stuffing is not a good tactic, edify them about Google’s Panda and Penguin updates and consequences, and then let them know what tactics will really work for them…versus what tactics will get them in trouble.

And around the copywriting itself, it is typical for a (misinformed or simply unaware) client to wonder what their site ranking will be after you’ve written a Web page (or entire site).

The honest answer? “I don’t know.” Because you don’t! It can be different for each client, as there are so many factors at work, such as personalization.

  • Focus the benefits on conversions – as well as shares and “likes.”

Stress the benefits of conversions – they are actually more important than the search engine page ranking, because in the end that copy has to generate money!

Emphasize how you can test your client’s copy and discern what is going to convert better, regardless of rankings.

Also, discuss the importance of social media with your client, and specifically, how well-written content is going to be linked to, shared, and liked.

When you focus on the benefits of conversions and social media sharing, it helps move the discussion away from “I need to be #1 on Google, otherwise I won’t work with you” trap.  Show the client all the other good things that great copywriting can do, and what you bring to the table.

Thanks so much for tuning into this week’s SEO Copywriting video post! Do you have a question or topic suggestion for the video blog? We’d love to hear from you! Email Heather Lloyd via [email protected], or give her a 140-character shout on Twitter, via @heatherlloyd. See you next Monday!


Bad, fluff-stuffed marketing subscriptions got you down? Cheer up! Sign up for the SEO Copywriting’s free daily or weekly newsletter, lean with industry news, expert interviews, and otherwise meaningful content, and receive Heather Lloyd’s How to write for Google whitepaper free!


photo thanks to saaleha  (Saaleha Bamjee)











3 business-killing freelance copywriting traps

Welcome back! In today’s SEO copywriting video how-to, Heather discusses the three common traps she has seen freelance copywriters – both experienced and new – repeatedly fall into, all too often bringing their copywriting businesses down with them.

Tune in to see if any of these trap scenarios resonate with you, and find out what to do instead to enjoy a more profitable, happier, and healthier freelance copywriting business…

Freelance Copywriting Trap #1:  Taking on every client you can just because “it’s money,”

This trap is not solely one that freelance copywriters often fall into – anyone with their own business is at risk for taking this tumble.  But for those freelance copywriters who are first starting out, it is especially easy to do this because it’s exciting to get that paycheck and realize that wow! you’re on your way to having your own business.

Or if you’ve been in business for awhile, you may feel like you need to take on every client you can because you’ve got expenses, and if someone wants to pay you, then you should let them pay you – right? But…

It’s important to…

  • Enjoy the work

Taking on every client possible can back fire on you, because sometimes that means you’re taking on work you don’t enjoy. And even though you can turn it around and collect, chances are you won’t enjoy the process and your work can suffer for it. You may mean to turn in quality writing, but chances are it will not be as good as it would be if you enjoyed the work.

  • Get paid what you need to earn

Another consequence of taking on every client you can is that you risk accepting less money than you’d like to make, or need to make.

This is another situation where, if you start slicing your rates figuring “All right, well it’s money in the door – I might as well take it,” then you’re not going to do that good of a job for the client in question, and you might start resenting the client – even though it was you who decided to take the gig in the first place.

So it’s always a smart idea to work with clients who are going to pay you your rates, rather than discounting your services just to get money in the door.

  • Know you can easily meet the client’s deadline

Here’s a scenario: You take on a client who requires a next-day turnaround, even though you already have five other projects on your plate. So you burn the midnight oil trying to get everything done on time, and again, the quality of the work suffers, you burn yourself out, and it isn’t a good experience for either you or the client.

So consider all of these points when taking on a new client: will you enjoy the work? will it pay what you need to earn? can you easily meet the client’s deadline? If you can answer “yes” to all three of these questions, then definitely, take the gig!

Freelance Copywriting Trap #2:  Not paying attention to taxes and contracts

The second trap common to both established and new copywriters is to ignore the business side of their business, like contracts and taxes.

If this sounds like you, then this is something to get a handle on, and fast. In fact…

  • If you want to stay in business, this is crucial.
  • You need to learn everything you can to protect yourself.

Not only will getting a handle on the business side of your business help you make more money, but it will also help you protect yourself.

For instance, suppose you have a disagreement with a client who seems to think they’re entitled to 15 revisions of a web page. If you have a solid contract you can point to it and say, “Well, I’m not going to do 15 revisions of your web page; my contract states that I will provide two.” End of argument.

  • Talking to a professional doesn’t have to be expensive…

Many folks get stuck in this trap by thinking that consulting with an attorney or CPA will be prohibitively expensive. Not so!

My attorney Bob Ellis, who teaches a class in the Copywriting Business Boot Camp, makes it clear that talking with a legal (or other) professional doesn’t have to be expensive. Attorneys are accustomed to dealing with folks who don’t necessarily have that much money, especially for drawing up a very simple client contract.

You probably don’t need a big, complex contract. So find professionals you can work with and let them know that you have a limited budget and that you are trying to grow your business. They’ll often be happy to work with you, knowing that down the road, as your business grows, you’ll likely be using their services much more – and they want to grow with you!

Freelance Copywriting Trap #3:  Using low-value referral sources as your only marketing avenue

The third common trap of freelance copywriters – which I hear about literally every day – is to rely solely on low-value referral sources such as Elance and Odesk. My advice:

  • Snap out of it!

If you’re using low-value referral sources, and if they’re not working for you – meaning, you’re not making the money you want or need to make, or you’re not finding the clients you want to find – then it’s time to do something different.

  • Get your marketing plan in order and figure out your uniqueness.

This is where you need to define your niche market, and define what it is that makes you unique. This is also where you need to figure out how to market yourself: just like you do for your clients, you need to do for yourself!

  • You shouldn’t have to apologize for making a liveable wage.

If you don’t want to make only $10 for a 500-word article, it’s okay to say no, and find those clients who will pay you what you want to be paid.

  • Figure out your rates and stick to them!

Once you have all the pieces of the puzzle in place, it’s a lot easier to find the type of clients that you want to work with, and they will be more than happy to pay you the money that you need to be paid, because they understand the value.

If you’re interested in becoming (or transitioning into) a full-time freelance copywriter, or even part-time, or if you already have a business that you’re looking to make better, I’m starting the next Turn Content Into Cash Copywriting Business Boot Camp next Monday, July 16th, taught by 12 of the world’s leading experts – at a special summer rate of 30% off (a value of $300)!

Space is limited to 15 participants, so apply now to reserve your space (and please be sure to carefully follow the application process to ensure that the training will be a good fit for you).  Here are some of the highlights of the training:

  • Learn how to make much more money as a copywriter – and have a happier, healthier business, too!
  • Learn from Bob Bly, Eva Rosenberg, Sean D’Souza and other leading experts.
  • Six week program with lifetime access!

Classes are starting soon – apply today!

Thanks for tuning in! If you have a question for Heather, or a suggestion for a blog or video topic, please let her know: [email protected] or via Twitter @heatherlloyd.  See you next week!


image thanks to Patrick Hoesly