How To Build a Copywriting Portfolio With No Experience

To make money as a freelance copywriter, you need clients. Prospective clients want to see past success.

Good news is, starting your copywriting career isn't that difficult. There are plenty of ways to get off the ground.

Want copywriting clients? Read this first:

When you're just getting into freelance work, there will be plenty of times where you think you'll never land your first clients. You will.

But before we dive into the ways to build your copywriting portfolio with no experience, let's talk about what clients want to see and how you can stand out in a crowded market.

What clients actually want

Depending on your copywriting niche, clients will want one of three things:

  • Results
  • Convenience
  • Both

If you're in a newer niche like Twitter/LinkedIn ghostwriting or a largely success-based one like direct response or email copywriting, you'll need to prove results. They don't know they need your service yet.

"Results" could be:

  • Revenue performance numbers
  • Social media growth/engagement metrics
  • Email open/click-through rates

If you're in a more traditional niche, like blog content or creative writing, convenience is usually the most essential factor.

Clients already know they need articles on their site, so they want someone who:

  • is chill and easy to work with
  • meets deadlines
  • adds value by contributing ideas
  • can write copy they don't have to revise 100 times

Grandmaster copywriters are good at both. If you're able to deliver 5-10x the value you charge and you don't need oversight, you're a walking six-figure business.

How to sell them what they want

You need more than just a great portfolio to find copywriting clients. You need to create an offer they're interested in. And you need to sell it.

You'll have to create an offer that's:

  • clear and easy to understand
  • solves a major problem or pain point for the client
  • provides value that significantly outweighs the cost
  • differentiates you from other copywriters in your niche

Since you're starting from square one, you have no leverage here. Part of your offer is you're willing to take on more risk than established copywriters to prove yourself.

You need to offer something no-risk, like:

"I'll write sales pages for a month. If they don't convert, you don't pay."

That's almost impossible to turn down. Who doesn't want their own personal writer who won't charge if things go wrong?

How To Build A Copywriting Portfolio With No Experience

Here’s how to make a copywriting portfolio with no experience:

  • Work for free
  • Join a copywriting mentorship program
  • Create one amazing case study
  • Start a blog
  • Rewrite hooks
  • Rewrite leads
  • Rewrite offers

Work for free.

Most successful copywriters you see on social media got started by working for free (or, at the very least, measly pay).

This is by far the best way to get better at copywriting. You'll learn how to deal with clients, which niche you fit best in, and, most importantly, what it's like to really grind.

Plus, they'll start paying you or sending you more potential clients if you're worth their time.

Aside from that, it's the fastest way to get a potential client to look at you when you have zero experience.

Marketing agencies are the easiest companies to offer your writing skills for free. In my experience, a lot of people who run them have literally no idea what they're doing. You'll realize that as soon as you work with a few (though there is value in learning what not to do).

But, agencies always have a system for managing freelancers. And a good amount of them are always looking for new talent. So, you might not even have to work for free.

Finding an agency to give you a copywriting job is easy as 1-2-3.

  • Find 5-10 agency owners who are active on LinkedIn/Twitter (these are usually the most competent).
  • Reach out to them and be completely real. Say you're a novice who's hungry for experience in the industry. Mention you'll work for free.
  • Show them writing you've done (even if it's just a few samples).

These guys (and gals) are the ones you'll get the most value from. You'll get to work with a variety of clients, learn how businesses operate, and meet their in-house marketers (who might send you their copywriting jobs).

Join a copywriting mentorship program.

A mentor will get you out of the beginner phase 10x faster. They'll help you refine your copywriting skills, create a compelling portfolio once you have clients, and (ideally) introduce you to people who will hire you.

After I spent two years falling on my face, hiring a mentor is what got me to the next level.

A few considerations if you choose to go this route:

  • Don't bother if you aren't 100% committed. You're wasting their time and yours if you aren't serious about building your copywriter portfolio.
  • Your mentor also has a life. Respect their time and book regular meetings in advance. Each time, come prepared with questions, progress, and an agenda.
  • Results are based on your actions, not their advice. Mentors can help you get where you need to go, but they themselves won't take you there.

I know exactly what it's like to be in your shoes. That's why I've created my own mentorship program. And, I'm currently taking applicants (more on that later).

Create one AMAZING case study.

You won't technically be able to do this with no experience, but you can with your first successful client.

how to build a copywriting portfolio with no experience

But, before you can create a headline like the one above, you have to work with your client to establish:

  • A measurable goal
  • A strategy
  • A timeline

Then, it's all about using your copywriting skills to create a compelling story.

Your case study should include:

  • The client's problem and what they were looking for
  • Your process, plan, and timeline
  • What you delivered (anything that drove results)
  • The outcome

You don't necessarily need a portfolio website for this (though that's more professional). You'll mostly be doing cold outreach, so you can the case study in PDF format for potential clients who are interested in your offer.

Start a blog.

A portfolio page is fine, but the only people reading it are the few you've sent it to. If you publish articles in your realm of expertise, you'll have hundreds of web pages filled with content.

By reading your content, they'll know how you write. Plus, they'll see you as "the expert."

As an added benefit, you can use the blog to rank higher on Google (and drive inbound leads).

Rewrite hooks.

Instead of providing your own samples, it's often better to take your potential client's work and make it better. If they like it, you're hired.

All you have to do is find brands with boring hooks (trust me, there are plenty). Then, take a stab at making it better.

To find these companies:

  • Find products/services in the niche you're targeting
  • Click on their web pages from Google and read landing page hooks
  • Search their sites on Facebook Ad Library for previous ad creative

This works especially well with DTC ecommerce brands, which primarily rely on creative branded content. You'll be able to write ads and product headlines for them and let your creative writing juices flow.

Rewrite magnets.

Same concept as rewriting hooks, but keep an eye out for email/landing pages that need a lot of improvement. Newsletter companies are especially good for this.

All you have to do is:

  • Sign up for their newsletters
  • Wait for them to come in
  • Find ways to write more compelling copy
  • Reach out to them saying, "I've been subscribed to your newsletter for awhile..."

Rewrite offers.

Some companies would make a lot more money if they just sold their offer right. You can be the one who fixes it.

An offer could be:

  • regular product pricing
  • a short-term deal
  • an abandoned cart sequence
  • a loyalty promo

You can find these companies by searching their websites for product offers. You can also pay attention to brands you currently shop.

It takes work...

When I alluded to finding your first clients, remember how I said, "You will?"

What I really mean is, "You will if you commit to the process." That's the caveat.

If you're a lazy NPC who shies away from challenges and gives up the first time you hear "no," copywriting isn't for you.

Now... If you're the opposite of 'lazy NPC', apply to join my Growth Ghosts cohort. I'll teach you everything about the systems you need to run a $10k+/month copywriting business, how to grow on social media, and the fundamentals of ghostwriting.

Who is Dakota?

I show you how to build a high-paying creative business without doing work you hate.

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