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How To Make Money Freelance Writing

make money from homeReading Time: 11 minutes

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So, you want to know how to make money freelance writing?

Maybe you are trying to break free from low paid writing jobs and content mills.   Perhaps you want to find a way to make money from home.

Regardless of the ins and outs, you have landed on the right page.

I have been a freelance writer since 2012.  It was a side hustle for a few years while I worked full-time.  But since the start of 2017, my freelance writing business earns a generous part-time salary while I work on other projects.

I’m going to show you how you can:

  • Get well-paid freelance writing jobs
  • Earn money while you sleep
  • Make money freelance writing from home (or anywhere)

What I’ll be talking about:

  1. What To Write About
  2. Start Showing Off
  3. Charge More Money (Your Clients Won’t Mind)
  4. Write For Free And Still Make Money
  5. How To Get Well Paid Freelance Writing Jobs

Start Making Money Freelance Writing Now

Free 6 Part Course: How To Land Freelance Writing Jobs

1.  WHAT TO WRITE ABOUT

Who are you?  A newbie freelance writer?  Someone who has been freelance writing for years but not earning enough?

Regardless of where you are in your journey, you are your biggest marketing tool.  So you need to put out your style, abilities and knowledge for everyone to see.

When trying to make money freelance writing, you need a niche that will make you money.

It is a good idea to choose a topic that you are passionate and/or knowledgeable about.  But since this post is about making money freelance writing, you should also consider how profitable your chosen niche is.

Unfortunately, not every niche is profitable.  Here are some ways to find one that is:

Perform searches on Buzzsumo

Buzzsumo gives you a list of top performing online content.  You can see who is posting them, how many people are sharing them on social media and the level of interaction with it.

Google searches

Carry out some Google searches and note the types of websites that show up in results.  If you see that there are many online shops, blogs etc. in your chosen niche, it is an indication of how much demand there is for it.  It is also a sign of how competitive your chosen niche is.  But more about how that affects you, shortly.

Browse through job boards

Job boards like ProBlogger give you indications of the types of writing projects and topics that people are willing to pay for.  You can also check out marketplace websites like PeoplePerHour.

On PeoplePerHour for instance, I have seen a recent rise of clients wanting writers for blockchain and online currency related articles.  This tells me that it is a profitable niche because lots of buyers are willing to pay freelancers to write about it.

Although there are many freelancer marketplaces, for instance, Upwork, I have personally used PeoplePerHour the most.  In fact I used it to initially establish my writing business.

Within just a few months of starting, I increased my earnings fivefold.  Keep reading to find out how…

Check out your competition  

If you want to make money freelance writing then you must position yourself correctly in the market.

Let’s say you wanted to create a blog all about finding freelance writing jobs.

When I type ‘freelance writing jobs’ into Google this is what I see:

make money freelance writing

make money freelance writing 2

As you can see, the majority of results show websites from well-established companies.  So competing with them would be tough.

So although there is clearly a demand for information about freelance writing jobs, starting a blog about it is unlikely to be profitable.  At least not for a long while.  The positive side of this is that it is clearly a profitable subject area.  So you can instead, find a niche within it like, ‘tips on finding freelance writing jobs’.

Bonus:  not only does this help you find your profitable niche for freelance writing, but also gives you great ideas for blog posts!

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2.   START SHOWING OFF

Now that you have decided what to write about, it is time to show off your knowledge and writing skills.  The best way to do this is by starting your own blog – essential if you want to make money freelance writing.

A blog is great for a number of things including:

  • Building a portfolio
  • Practising writing
  • Generating leads (attract clients)
  • Gaining credibility in your niche
  • Improving your rank position on search engines (SEO)
  • Making money (I show you how in the next section)

It doesn’t matter what industry your business is in.  A blog serves as a platform to spread your message from and to create samples around your niche topics.

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How To Set Up A Blog

Setting up a blog is quick and easy.  My favourite blogging platform is WordPress.com (in fact, I have used it to create this entire website).

Follow my step-by-step guide to setting up a WordPress blog or watch the video below.

Pro Tip:  When you have the budget to do so, upgrade to a business plan.  It gives you flexibility over design, features and plug-ins.  The latter is useful if you want your digital content to be search engine optimised.

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Setting Up A Website

Once you have a blog up and running, you can set up your website.  If you chose WordPress.com, adding pages so that your blog becomes a part of a larger website is easy to do.

To start with I would recommend the following pages:

  • Home – introduce your business and provide links for actions you want visitors to take.
  • About Me – introduce yourself and tell your target audience why they should trust you.
  • Blog – this should be a link to your blogroll.
  • Contact – make it easy for potential clients to get in touch.

Once your freelance writing business has gained momentum, you could add the following pages to your website:

  • Hire Me – show and tell your target audience why they should hire you.
  • Portfolio – start guest blogging if you haven’t got any samples of client work to show yet and include links to the posts on this page. If you do have live samples of work, display them here.
  • Testimonials – you can publish client feedback elsewhere but having a dedicated page makes it easy to find.
  • Pricing – many freelance writers don’t publish their prices. You will find that pricing will vary job-to-job but I like to give clients a rough guide.

Here is a useful list of websites that accept guest posts.

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3.   CHARGE MORE MONEY (YOUR CLIENTS WON’T MIND)

It was 2012 and I was on low paid trainee teacher’s salary.  With a mortgage and bills to pay, I needed to supplement my income with something.  And that something was freelance writing.  I stumbled across PeoplePerHour, signed up and started bidding for jobs.

My first client wanted twenty, keyword-stuffed blog posts, per week.  I took it.  But, I only charged £5 for 500 words!  Although this gig was bringing in £100 per week, it was nowhere near what I should have been charging.

In less than six months I was making five times that amount.  With some experience and client testimonials under my belt, I had the confidence to charge £25 per 500 words.  Miraculously, my client paid.  Now I charge a minimum of £30.

The moral of the story: don’t undervalue yourself!

It was a quick lesson in marketing.  I found that by charging higher rates, clients had more confidence in my abilities.  It also reflected the quality of work I was producing more accurately.

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4.   WRITE FOR FREE AND STILL MAKE MONEY

I talked earlier about how valuable a blog can.  I’m going to show one way to monetise your blog that will make money while you sleep (literally).

Two words.  Affiliate Marketing.

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What is affiliate marketing and how do I do it?

Blogging can attract a lot of attention.  Some of the most successful blogs have thousands of followers and social shares.  So naturally, many companies want a piece of the action.  One of the ways they do this is through affiliate marketing.

This is how affiliate marketing works:

  1. Your chosen company provides a unique link to their products and services.
  2. You embed the link in your content e.g. a blog post.
  3. Visitors click on the link (because you have made it so enticing).
  4. When the visitor purchases the product or service, you get paid a commission.

To find companies who offer affiliate marketing, perform an online search like the one below.

make money affiliate marketing

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What To Watch Out For

I would advise promoting products and services that are related to your niche.  Why?  Well, put yourself in the reader’s shoes.  Let’s say you are reading a blog post on social media marketing.  You click on a link within the post, assuming that it will be useful.  But it takes you to a website that sells dog food.  How would you feel?  I’m guessing you would be irritated and unlikely to return to reading the original blog post.

Another good tip is to promote services and products you have actually used.  It means you can write about it in depth and is a good way of gaining your reader’s trust.

Pro Tip: in some countries, it is a legal obligation to make clear that your blog post contains affiliate links.  Since your content is online, you are likely to attract readers globally.  So if you use affiliate links, state this at the start of your blog post (like I have).

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Other Ways Of Monetising Your Blog

Affiliate marketing is not the only way to make money blogging.  You can also:

  • Display adverts e.g. Google AdSense
  • Sell your own products and services e.g. eBooks and courses
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5.   How To Get Well Paid Freelance Writing Jobs

In an ideal world, clients will come across your website and hire you directly.  This is not an unrealistic goal but is difficult to achieve, especially if you are just starting out as a freelance writer.

The key to getting well paid freelance writing jobs is to know three things:

  1. Where to look for writing jobs
  2. How to judge whether jobs will pay well
  3. How to spot a scam

Let’s get stuck in.

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Where To Find Writing Jobs

A great place to start is by performing a Google search like the one below:

find writing jobs

This will give you access to various job boards.

But beware of content mills.  Typically these are websites that earn a lot of money through content but pay their writers very little.  You can earn a lot through them but when you compare your earnings to the number of hours you work, your hourly rate will be low.

As well as looking for freelance writing job vacancies, you can sign up to job boards targeted specifically at freelance writers like ProBlogger.

But even these websites can lead you to low-paid freelance writing jobs and scams.

Choosing the right clients and jobs makes all the difference.

For instance, a start-up business is unlikely to have a big budget.  However, getting involved with them may lead to long-term and more lucrative work.  You have to judge whether it is a worthwhile investment for you.

I am always wary of job descriptions with very little information (like the one below).

low paid freelance writing jobs

In my experience, they are usually low-paying and in some instances, have turned out to be a scam.

When growing your client base, I would advise trying to forge long-term relationships wherever possible.  One of my clients, Acuity Training, hired me for two years.  Not only did I earn a steady income but the quality of content was consistently high because I was so familiar with the brand.

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How To Spot A Scam

Ben Taylor from HomeWorking Club shares a real-life example of a suspicious experience – about a month ago, I had a very similar one.

Here was the freelance writing job description:

writing job scam

He highlights three main areas:

  • The unverified payment method was a red flag – although a new user may not have set this up, it is still noteworthy.
  • Looking for ’20 Freelancers’ is either suspicious or likely to be from a content agency
  • The rate of pay wasn’t bad but surprisingly high for a starting rate on Upwork.

Also, the advert lacks specific information.  The description is very broad e.g. ‘Create website content, articles, and blogs.’  There is no mention of the subject matter.

Ben goes on to share that when he applied, they contacted him on Skype and sent him a suspicious file.  It turned out to be a scam.

An offer that seems too good to be true usually is.

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Other Ways To Get Freelance Writing Jobs

Cold Pitching

This is when you contact companies directly about your services.  For example, you may find a local business who does not have a blog.  You could pitch your content writing services and explain how you can help them grow their business.

Advantages:

  • Less competition than applying for freelance writing jobs
  • Can lead to recurring business
  • Great way to forge long-term relationships
  • A way to grow your client base while you take the lead on projects (rather than the other way around)

Disadvantages:

  • You may need to send a lot of pitches with only a few taking you up on your offer
  • Companies may steal your ideas and write in-house
  • As these businesses don’t know you, they may assume your email is spam and delete without even reading it

Applying For Jobs

This can be hard for new freelance writers who do not have extensive portfolios.  But on job boards like ProBlogger and Blogging Pro, you will find a variety of jobs suited to different levels of experience.

Advantages:

  • Access to jobs that match your experience level and skill set
  • Great way of building your portfolio and collecting client testimonials
  • Many of them are free to use

Disadvantages:

  • You may have a lot of competition, especially with freelance marketplaces

Keep An Eye On Social Media

Many people advertise jobs on social media networks like LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.  A good tip is to join freelance writing groups and follow users who represent job boards.

Advantages:

  • Visibility of freelance writing jobs that may not be posted elsewhere
  • An opportunity to grow your social network as a freelance writer
  • Work with other freelance writers

Disadvantages:

  • Many people use social networks to advertise low paid jobs

Write Guest Posts

Although guest posting doesn’t help you make immediate money through freelance writing, it is a great way of increasing how many people actually see your work.  And with more visibility, you increase the chances of professional opportunities heading in your direction.

Publishing your writing on other websites is also a great way to diversify your portfolio.

To find websites that welcome guest posts, perform these Google searches:

  • Blogs + write for us
  • Guest posting for bloggers
  • Guest posts + content writers

Advantages:

  • Writing for specialist websites helps you gain credibility in your niche
  • Helps a new freelance writer show examples of published content
  • Increases the visibility of your work

Disadvantages:

  • Writers do not usually get paid for guest posts

Warm Up Old Leads

If in the past you have liaised with potential clients that didn’t quite lead to a job, there is no harm of re-visiting them later.  Also, contacting past clients from time to time can be lucrative – it has certainly worked for me.  Simply writing a short email that reminds them of who I am and offering my services, has secured a lot of recurring freelance writing work.

Advantages:

  • Helps you maintain long-term relationships and therefore recurring work
  • You are already familiar with the business and their preferred writing style so can get working on projects straight away
  • You can feel secure in knowing they are a reliable client

Disadvantages:

  • Like ‘cold pitching’, the number of jobs you get versus how many emails you send can be low

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Start Making Money Freelance Writing Now

I adore being a freelance writer.  I get to work from wherever I want, write about interesting topics and make money doing something I love.  Although it can get busy at times with tight deadlines, I am in full control of maintaining a healthy work-life balance.

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If you are interested, you can take my free course (a series of 6 lessons straight into your inbox):  How To Land Freelance Writing Jobs.

Email me the FREE course: How To Land Freelance Writing Jobs



In summary

It is not hard to make money freelance writing as long as you have a strategy.

  1. Choose a profitable niche
  2. Keep growing your portfolio through blogging, guest blogs and freelance writing jobs
  3. Monetise your blog e.g. affiliate marketing
  4. Explore different avenues for getting freelance writing work instead of sticking to one

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Copywriter or Content Writer – Who Should I Hire?

copywriter or content writerReading Time: 9 minutes

 

This page contains affiliate links which means I may earn a commission if you use them.  I only recommend tools and products that I use and trust.

If you want more sales you need the right writer.  But how do you know whether you need a copywriter or content writer?

This guide will help you to:

  • Understand the differences between a copywriter and content writer
  • Identify the best fit for your content marketing strategy
  • Judge who you need to hire according to where you are in your marketing funnel

Contents

  1. What is a content writer?
  2. Why long-form content help businesses grow
  3. What is a copywriter?
  4. Types of copywriters
  5. What content writers and copywriters have in common
  6. How your marketing funnel will help you decide who you need
  7. The verdict

1.  What is a content writer?

Alan Smith gets it. “Content writing means creating content that markets well.”

A content writer aims to influence, educate and engage an audience.  Their purpose is to create content that will attract potential customers and keep existing customers interested.

Content marketing is not about making a sale.  In fact, it is not unusual for content writers to produce pieces without even mentioning the brand name.

Content writers specialise in writing in-line with your content marketing strategy.  Some of the ways they achieve this is by:

  • Creating SEO-friendly content
  • Structuring content so that it is easy to scan and read
  • Telling your brand story

Their work can be in the form of blog posts, articles, website content, eBooks, social media posts, press releases etc.

Unlike copywriters, content writers typically create ‘long-form‘ content.  There is no strict word count that defines ‘long-form’.  But typically it is high-quality and detailed.

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2.  Why long-form content help businesses grow

If you ask a consumer whether they would prefer to read a 200 or 2,000 worded blog post, they would probably choose the former.  But  longer pieces have been proven to:

  • Get more hits
  • Encourage readers to stay on a page for longer

Also, long-form content help websites climb the search engine ranking ladder.  This is because search engines like Google, recognise that longer pieces demonstrate more topic-depth.  In the eyes of a search engine, this makes long-form content more useful to visitors than shorter content.   As you can see in the graph below from serpIQ, top-ranked content is well over 2,000 words.

content writer

Long-form content, however, is not the same as great content.

Regardless of the benefits of long-form content, quality should still trump word count.

It should:

  • Be related to visitors’ intent e.g. answering a question, guiding them through a process etc.
  • Provide an easy and enjoyable user experience e.g. links should be provided for them to quickly get to the right content

So although content that is over 2,000 words have been proven to perform well, it is because they contain useful, targeted and high-quality material.  Their excellent performance is not solely due to a high word count.  In fact, Moz shares some interesting examples of effective short-form content.

What is the moral of the story?  That content is king.

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3.  What is a copywriter?

“A copywriter is a salesperson behind a typewriter.”  I couldn’t have said it better than Judith Charles, President of Judith K. Charles Creative Communication.  I took this quote from Robert W. Bly’s famous book ‘The Copywriter’s Handbook’.

 

copywriter

Think of an advertisement you have seen recently.

Now, ask yourself why that one, in particular, sprung to mind.  Was it because it was funny?  Perhaps it was so bad, that it was good.  Maybe it had an annoying jingle that you couldn’t shake.

Regardless, the most important question to ask is – did it make you want to buy the product or service?  If the answer is ‘no’ then it doesn’t matter how entertaining or clever it was.  It didn’t do its job.  Copy that sells includes elements like compelling headlines, straplines and calls-to-action.

Most copywriters are the people behind advertising – their purpose is to sell.  Like content writers, copywriters want to attract the attention of a target audience.  But the key difference is that:

Copywriters aim to encourage the audience to take action whereas content writers aim to generate interest.

Since you are not always guaranteed to sell, copywriting should not be prioritised at the cost of content writing.

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4.  Types Of Copywriters

Although copywriting is commonly associated with advertising, this isn’t a copywriter’s only purpose.  Copywriters tend to specialise in particular areas – it is rare to find one person who can do it all.

Here is a breakdown of some of the most common types of copywriters.

Marketing Copywriters

These guys are storytellers.  Great storytellers.

Good marketing copywriters will know how to get the attention of your customer.  Excellent ones will take them on a journey.  And exceptional ones will make the journey end with your customer feeling like they need what you are offering.

Marketing copywriters connect your target audience to your brand.  They understand how to use emotive language and concepts to make your audience react.

Their portfolios should include things like direct marketing campaigns (e.g. email or direct mail), video scripting and product literature.

Look at this great example from UrbanDaddy:

marketing copywriting

This an email that they sent customers.  It gets to the point, is fun (which was the subject line) and is easy to scan.  They know their customers and although the copy is about rubber band guns, you want to read it!

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SEO Writers

An SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) writer will create content that will help your website rank high in search engine results.

They understand how to perform keyword research, can select the best keywords, and know how to embed them into the natural flow of digital content.  Aside from this, they understand how search engines ‘crawl’ through websites.  So, a good SEO writer will also structure content in a way that works.

Don’t confuse an SEO copywriter with an SEO expert.  A strong SEO game is enabled by a network of professionals, not just a copywriter.  But if you have an SEO strategy, an SEO copywriter will certainly help you rank higher in search engine results.  More importantly, they will also help you maintain your position.

Their portfolios should include things like post and website copy.  Even better if their own website ranks high on search engine result pages.

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Creative Copywriters

Creative copywriters craft zippy one-liners and memorable concepts for advertisements.

They are all about the brand.  And they know how to connect the brand to the target audience with the aim of converting them to customers.

Their portfolios should include things like advertising campaigns, headlines and straplines.

Here are some examples of great creative copy (click on images to enlarge).

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Technical Authors

Unlike other types of copywriters, technical copywriters’ work is underpinned by specialist knowledge and research.  They are a unique blend of being technical specialists and writers.  So if it’s a technical writer you are after, don’t forget to look through their credentials.

You’ll find them creating content pieces like manuals since they are experts in explaining complex details in a clear language that an end-user will understand.

Their portfolios should include things like user manuals, whitepapers and knowledge base articles.

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5.  What content writers and copywriters have in common

The main thing that separates content writers and copywriters, is the purpose of their content.   Content writers may still produce material that aims to sell but unlike most copywriters, selling is not their primary aim.

Earlier, I said that “copywriting should not be prioritised at the cost of content writing.”  This is because usually, one does not work without the other.  They are both important components of digital marketing.

Here are some examples of combined copywriting and content writing at its best:

Click images to enlarge.

These examples show how copywriting and content writing complement one another.  They feature headlines that make you want to read on.  And then the high-quality content kicks in.

Because copywriting and content writing go hand in hand, both types of writers have certain things in common.

Here are some of them.

They appreciate how one word can be a game-changer.

CopywriterIn 2013, Michael Aagaard, Copywriter, shared the results of several experiments for his “How to Optimize and Test:  Calls-to-Action for Maximum Conversions” presentation.

From one of his experiments, he discovered that changing “Start your free trial” to “Start my free trial” resulted in a 90% rise in sign-ups.

Content writers and copywriters hone in on the microcopy.

They write for specific target audiences

Whether the aim is to sell or attract attention, any copywriter or content writer worth their salt will ask you the ‘target audience’ question.

They should want to know as much as possible about the potential customers you want to reach out to.  And if they are really good, they’ll do some independent research too.

Once they are confident that they can create accurate buyer personas, their understanding will steer the content, style and tone.

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6.  How your marketing funnel will help you decide who you need

If you have read this far then you will understand the similarities and differences between content writers and copywriters.  You’ll also be aware of the different types of copywriters.  But, you may not be entirely clear on who to hire.  Especially since the broad conclusion is that both types of writers are important for business marketing.

Realistically, you will need different types of writers during the phases of your marketing journey.

Moz shares a useful illustration of a marketing funnel:

marketing content writer

Let’s go through the phases and identify what type of professional copywriter or content writer is best suited to each.

Discovery

Aim: To increase brand visibility so that potential customers discover you

Tone of Content: Educational, informative, influential

Examples of Content: Advertorials, blog posts, newsletters

Ideal Writer: A content writer with copywriting skills

At this stage, you will be trying to generate interest and establish trust so you need long-form content.  A hard sell will be off-putting especially for people who are unfamiliar with your brand.  However, regardless of how good the content is, nobody will read it without a magnetic headline.  That is why your content writer should have good copywriting skills.

Consideration

Aim: To convince the audience to become customers

Tone of Content: Solutions-based, factual, interactive

Examples of Content: Demonstration videos, how-to guides, case studies

Ideal Writer: A content writer with copywriting skills

The ‘consideration’ stage of the marketing funnel is all about demonstrating your product or service’s features and benefits.  This is because a potential customer can only become an actual customer once they are convinced that you can solve their problem.  So a content writer is your best bet.  Again, copywriting skills will help attract attention but the high-quality content will retain it.

Conversion

Aim: To make sales

Tone of Content: Evidence-based, clear, concise

Examples of Content: Testimonials, reviews, transparent sales process, product descriptions, advertisements

Ideal Writer: A copywriter with content writing skills

This is the narrowest part of your funnel and is the phase where you need to make a direct pitch to customers.  If your customer is still hanging around then you know that they’re interested.  Now it’s time to convince them to purchase.

That is why a copywriter is useful here.  You need memorable content that is persuasive.  But, you cannot forget the importance of content too.  For instance, a great product name without a useful description will fall flat on its face.

Retention

Aim: To keep existing customers, as customers

Tone of Content: Benefits based, supportive

Examples of Content: Customer support, special offers, email outreach, upgrade options

Ideal Writer: A content writer with copywriting skills

This phase is particularly important for businesses that rely on a subscription model.  But even if your business isn’t based on continued subscriptions, you will still benefit from repeat custom.

Once you have convinced someone to buy your product, you want two further things from them.  Firstly, your customer should not regret their purchase.  That is why customer service and support documentation is so important.  After all, their testimonials and reviews will help you during the ‘conversion’ phase.  Secondly, you want them to keep purchasing.  Things like email newsletters to keep them updated about the latest products and special offers are effective.

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Want to know about creating a marketing funnel?  Watch Neil Patel’s video below.

7.  The Verdict

The answer isn’t a one (or two) worded one.

This is because copywriting and content writing are like two sides of the same coin.

For example, a copywriter may have written an advert that encourages you to order a product on a company’s website.  But when you go to the website, are you likely to order the product if the content is poor?  I realise that this isn’t the only influencing factor but, it is an important one.

In an ideal world, every copywriter will have content writing skills and vice versa.  But this is not the reality.

The thing to remember is that, while all copywriters write content, not all content writers write copy.  But if a copywriter lacks content writing skills, it is like a book with a cover but no pages.

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