Copywriting as a Freelancer: The Quest for Greatness
You awake in an old-time bar that—for reasons you’ll likely never discover—moonlights as a motel. You have some basic supplies, a Walmart-quality weapon, and the physical fortitude of an undernourished teenager.
Little do you know that you’re in a game of grown-up play-pretend—much like Whose Line Is It Anyway?—with slightly higher stakes. In other words, you’re a fledging freelance copywriter, which might feel a lot like being a level 1 half-elf bard in your first game of Dungeons and Dragons.
The next question is crucial to your gameplay—err, career success. How do you navigate this strange, unfamiliar world?
The Main Quest: Writing
Copywriting as a freelancer (not unlike a riveting D&D game) is driven by a quest—a crusade that drives the entire plotline of your career. That quest? Writing with the strength and dexterity of a thousand rogues.
But any seasoned D&D player—or freelance copywriter—will tell you that finding the main quest isn’t always easy. Before you start your journey, you’ll have to prepare.
Step 1: Finding Work
In D&D, after you awake in your rented accommodations, you’ll likely head downstairs for some vittles and coffee that may or may not make you sick (depending on the outcome of your Constitution check).
Then, you’ll do what any stranger in a strange land would do—start asking questions.
Finding freelance copywriting work requires a similar strategy. But, instead of risking your neck asking semi-humanoid beasts for directions to the nearest armory, you can start with the weapon that will never fail you—the internet.
There are a few different ways to find freelance work:
- Browse Craigslist – The world’s favorite market for antique furniture and missed connections also features job listings. Pro tip—sift through listings throughout the country. Many copywriting jobs are virtual!
- Apply to agencies – Googling “copywriting” will lead to countless agency results. Find a brand that resonates with you and send them your expertly-crafted portfolio.
- Try traditional cold calls – While it might not be the most efficient way to find your next gig, don’t be afraid to pitch your services to local businesses. Your favorite bar, your trusty mechanic, or even your dentist might just need some high-quality copy.
The D&D party finds the main quest (or at least some XP-riddled distractions) the same way copywriters find their first jobs—asking around at the proverbial tavern.
Step 2: Learning Voice
As you proceed on the adventure assigned to you by a day-drunk halfling who can smell Level 1s from a mile away—or start working on your first freelance copywriting assignments—you’ll begin to get a feel for the magical world you now call home.
Just like you might try to find a lost artifact or stockpile your spellcasting materials by rolling investigation in D&D, gathering information about your client will help you become proficient in the most important copywriting skill—crafting your words with the perfect voice.
Explore various resources to find (and mimic) your client’s brand voice, such as:
- Instagram captions – The hometown of the voice-iest copy a brand has to offer
- Brand website – Where you’ll find the sales-iest verbiage (and establish a brand’s upper limit for self-plugging)
- Customer reviews – A gold mine of information about your client’s target demographic, which may determine your copy’s concentration of slang
Looking for (and using) brand voice information is crucial to your freelance copywriting quest—and the success of your first assignments. Why? Voice conveys brand identity and can help customers build an emotional connection to the brand, burying the company—and you—in mountains of golden coins.
Step 3: Leveling Up
Putting more meat on your bones, learning new spells, and becoming an expert swordsperson are part and parcel of leveling up your D&D character. You gain the power to take on more dangerous quests, widen your weapon and spell arsenal, and learn how to creatively execute your harebrained ideas.
But, to level up in copywriting, you can’t just complete the quests—you also have to reflect on what worked and what didn’t.
After you submit a few assignments, reach out to your client (or their editor) and ask for feedback. You’ll likely receive one of the following responses:
- A line-by-line breakdown of your most recent piece
- General feedback in the body of an email
- Encouragement and affirmation
No matter what manner of feedback you receive, be willing to learn from your mistakes and act differently on your next quest—whether that means slaying long sentences or avoiding complex headers that only speak in riddles.
The Side Quest: Not Writing
While writing crown-worthy copy is your primary goal, it isn’t the only task at hand. To support the success of your main quest, you’ll also need to embark on a few self-care side quests as you go.
In D&D, time spent away from the primary objective is often taken up by resting, meditating, keeping watch, or completing side quests. But, what happens to the freelance copywriter when they’re not crafting quippy prose?
They’re Scripting a Perfect Work-Life Balance
Resting is crucial to a successful D&D player party. And you can draw inspiration from the two types of rest in the game—short and long—to create a healthy work-life balance when freelancing as a copywriter:
- The short rest – During an in-game short rest, players spend at least two hours doing less-than-strenuous activities. They gain back some (but usually not all) of their health lost in skirmishes before rejoining the waking world. Take at least one short rest during your workday to eat a meal, stretch, do a quick chore, or simply take a screen break.
- The long rest – To recover all of their lost health, re-energize their spellcasting abilities, and catch some much-needed shut-eye, characters can complete a long rest—a period of at least eight hours. A long rest returns a character to homeostasis. In a similar vein, try to stick to a regular schedule, including committing to a time each day when business hours are closed. When you’re off the clock, steer clear of your email, Slack, and job search.
If you spend too much time wordsmithing, your health points—both mental and physical—can deplete, setting you up for real-world burnout.
They’re Cultivating a Creative Outlet
Speaking of avoiding burnout, don’t forget to create time for your beloved creature comforts and creative hobbies.
While D&D monks might dedicate time to brewing and druids to their allotted tree-hugging, successful freelance copywriters must rehabilitate their mind (and soul) with their favorite creative undertakings.
Whether you record some audio for your next podcast episode, sketch the landscape outside of your apartment window, or write a sick D&D session for next week’s meet-up, committing to time to be artistic or innovative can replenish your creative juices.
Instead of showing up to your “workplace” (virtual or otherwise) feeling unfulfilled and unrested, make efforts to grow professionally and personally with a work-life balance that improves your constitution.
Building a Sustainable, Fulfilling Freelance Career
Copywriting as a freelancer is a lot like fumbling through a confusing, magical land populated by dragons and mischievous ne'er-do-wells. While you won’t literally have to face a fire-breathing monster, you may certainly encounter a few quest-halting obstacles along the way.
However, in the world of wordsmithing and copywriting, magical opportunities to grow as a researcher, writer, and editor are limitless. At least when your boss is a cat.
Take it from a seasoned D&D player and a relatively-new freelancer—Copycat is the place to find your niche in copywriting. In a supportive environment that encourages creativity, work-life balance, and professional development, business owners and writers alike will find exactly what they’re looking for in a copywriting team.
If you’re ready to dive into the world of freelance copywriting, the time has come—roll initiative.
D&D Beyond. Chapter 8: Adventuring. https://www.dndbeyond.com/sources/basic-rules/adventuring#Resting
University of California, Berkeley. Doing Something Creative Can Boost Your Well-Being. https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/doing_something_creative_can_boost_your_well_being