Are you a van lifer looking to put your writing skills to use to fund your nomadic lifestyle? Do you want to learn how to become a copywriter?
If so, I have good news: you can easily make money while living on the road as a copywriter!
It’s a convenient option for van lifers and anyone looking for a remote career since you can work from anywhere, work flexible hours, and draw on your travels for inspiration.
You have the freedom to write about anything that interests you. You could even focus on van life in your writing to teach others about life on the road.
Today, I’m diving into how I make a portion of my income as a full-time van lifer by working as a copywriter.
I started van life in June 2023 and made a complete career switch. Before becoming a copywriter, I had a career as an English teacher. To make the shift to copywriting, I used a combination of my writing abilities, research skills from my teaching days, and trial and error.
If you’re considering leaping into the world of copywriting but have questions such as:
- What does a typical day for a copywriter look like?
- How do I find my first writing gigs to become a copywriter?
- What tips do you have for someone interested in trying copywriting?
…then you’re in the right place! I’ll touch on these questions and more to help you start your journey as a copywriter.
Table of Contents
How to Become a Copywriter
Please give us a little background on yourself and how you got started as a copywriter.
Writing has always come naturally to me. As a middle school student, I started writing how-to articles for WikiHow in my free time and became an administrator on the website in 8th grade! I became editor-in-chief of my high school newspaper and continued writing throughout college.
My love for writing led me to pursue an English education. While working as a teacher, I started an education blog and wrote for national publications but eventually stopped writing outside of school due to a lack of time and energy. Grading 180 essays each month is no joke! After teaching middle school English for six years, I decided to put my writing skills to use in a new way.
Since I was already transitioning from apartment living to van life, I figured I might as well switch careers, too. I started applying for freelance copywriting roles and eventually landed a few part-time jobs that provided guaranteed income each month.
What does a typical day for a copywriter look like?
With van life, no two days are ever the same. Thankfully, my role as a copywriter accommodates my unpredictable and ever-changing schedule.
I currently have two part-time copywriting jobs creating content for van life blogs (including The Wayward Home!) and work a set number of hours each week. I work 25 hours per week between both of these jobs. As long as I meet the hours, I can choose which days and times I want to work.
Most days, I work during traditional 8-5 hours on weekdays since these are the hours when my husband works his marketing job. However, if we want to hike during the week or devote a day to driving, I like how I can spontaneously shift my schedule and work my hours during the evenings or on weekends.
Throughout the day, my typical tasks include:
- Responding to emails
- Researching information on the topics I’m writing about
- Writing or ghostwriting blog articles
- Editing and revising my writing
- Uploading and resizing photos for the blog
- Formatting blog posts in WordPress
I also do some freelance copywriting for gigs that I find on Upwork. Upwork is a site where businesses or individuals can pay freelancers to do jobs as needed.
I used Upwork to find another very part-time position (only 10 hours per month) for an education nonprofit. I write email newsletter copy, social media post copy, and email responses on behalf of the nonprofit. I also update their website copy and content as needed.
Through Upwork, I’ve also landed contract positions to write articles for van life magazines and weekly blog posts for RV/van life blogs. Most jobs on Upwork are short-term contracts, but I have repeat clients on Upwork who contact me when they need my services again.
Each week, I spend a little time browsing and applying for freelance opportunities on Upwork. Freelancing means always being on the hunt for the next client. You won’t have work unless you actively seek out opportunities for yourself!
How much does a copywriter earn monthly?
Between my three part-time positions, I make just under $3,000/month before taxes. I set aside about 15-20% each month for taxes.
Depending on the freelance gig and the amount of gigs I have, I can make an additional $150-$500 each month. If you want copywriting to be your sole source of income, you’ll want to devote even more time to securing freelance writing gigs so you can earn more income through them.
I spend less time seeking new freelance copywriting opportunities since I also work as a social media content creator in addition to my three part-time jobs.
What do you like about copywriting?
I like how copywriting allows me to share my experiences with others and relive my adventures as I write about them. As a former teacher, I think part of me will always want to help others learn. Copywriting has become my new tool to educate others about things they want to know.
Copywriting gives me a new perspective and meaning to my hikes, backpacking trips, and travels in the van. I often write about travel itineraries, tips for visiting places, outdoor gear reviews, and other van life topics that I live every single day.
I enjoy using my travel experiences to help save time and stress for others. I think about what I wish I’d known before visiting a place, trying an outdoor activity, or using a product for the first time. I now write the content that would have been helpful for me!
How do I find my first writing gigs to become a copywriter?
When starting, I highly recommend creating an account on popular freelance websites such as Upwork or Fiverr. Although the rates might be a bit lower than what you would typically charge or hope to make, they’re excellent ways to get your foot into the copywriting world and have some samples to add to your portfolio.
I also started a travel blog on WordPress and wrote the website copy myself. Each month, I wrote 10-15 blog articles, a newsletter to send to my subscribers, and social media copy for my blog account on Instagram and Facebook.
I used my initial freelance work and the content from my blog to create a digital portfolio. I created a free website portfolio on Canva that explains my background and links to examples of website copy, social media copy, newsletter copy, blog copy, and contact info. When I apply for jobs and freelance writing gigs, I include a link to my portfolio in my application.
I also recommend updating your LinkedIn profile with recent examples of your work and adding colleagues as connections. Coming from an education background, I didn’t realize how helpful LinkedIn can be during a job search (or how often employers check it when scoping out candidates).
You can share your portfolio on LinkedIn, apply for positions, and potentially land copywriting jobs or gigs through this platform.
Do you have any other tips for someone who wants to try copywriting?
My biggest tip is to believe in yourself above all else. Like many other writers, I often struggle with self-doubt and think I’m not good enough to apply for a specific job, write for a magazine, etc. Instead of thinking about why you’re not a good fit or the wrong person for a copywriting opportunity, ask yourself: “Why NOT me?”
The truth is you never know unless you try, and you may surprise yourself. The worst that can happen when applying for a gig is receiving no response or being told “No.” And if this happens, plenty of other opportunities are out there.
It took me about six months of applying for hundreds (yes, hundreds) of part-time and full-time jobs related to writing and social media before I landed my three part-time copywriting positions. I heard “no” so many times I lost track. The job market is tough, and it’s even more difficult when you’re switching careers and building up your portfolio.
Many jobs list that they are looking for someone with “2 years of experience” or a specific qualification. Don’t let this keep you from applying if you feel you’re a strong fit and possess the skills needed for the job. I applied for a role like this and got the job anyway!
My final tip is to focus on what makes you stand out or gives you an “edge” as a candidate. Seek opportunities that align with the unique value and experiences you bring.
Because I live full-time in a van, I was an excellent candidate for my current copywriting jobs for van life blogs. Because I used to be a teacher with a master’s degree in educational leadership, I was a no-brainer for my role as an assistant for an education nonprofit.
Think Copywriting Might Be For You?
As you can see, copywriting is a convenient way to work remotely, have flexible hours, and make side money or a full-time income while living on the road.
If you want to ask me any questions about copywriting, please drop them in the comments below. I hope this article helps you get started on your copywriting journey today!
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