Starting a Copywriting Business as a Work-At-Home-Mother

So You Want To Be A Work-At-Home-Mother

Making the decision to be a work-at-home-mother (WAHM) can be a difficult process. Before you jump in, weigh the possible costs and benefits. The obvious benefit is that you’ll be able to spend more time raising your own child. With high-cost, low-quality daycare, this may easily outweigh any negative factors.

But working at home with your children is not that easy. You’ll have constant interruptions, and you may wind up spending a lot of time working, rather than raising your children. T.V. may wind up being the “babysitter,” something you and your children won’t be happy with for long. Young children in particular need a lot of attention, and may get very upset when mommy isn’t there for them.

Childcare

First things first. Plan for some type of daycare arrangement. Sure, your plan is to be at home with your child while you work. But unless you’re Super Mom, you will need some help. Having help for just a few hours 2 or 3 times a week will make a world of difference. Here are a few options:

  • Hire a mother’s helper to babysit in your home.
  • Enroll your child in part-time daycare a few days a week.
  • Enlist the help of family and friends.
  • Join a babysitting group with other WAHMs.

Ready to get started? Writing samples

Okay. You’re ready to begin your new career. You need to have writing samples to sell your service. How do you get them?

  • Find items you’ve written for past jobs.
  • Make them up! Write copy for a fictional company’s brochure (perhaps your own), write a press release, or rewrite an ad.

Be creative. Just have about 5-6 samples ready for your site.

Building A Website

Why do you need a website? Having a website adds credibility to your business. Websites also make it a breeze to deliver your portfolio. You just mention your site in your email, or tell prospects you’ll send them a link to your website.

  • Come up with an easy domain name (like “yourname.com”)
  • If you’re not savvy with web design, find a hosting company that makes it easy to setup a quality website (I recommend Homestead). 
  • If you really want to showcase your writing, make your website both a blog and static website in one. You’ll need a blogging platform like WordPress, and you’ll need a hosting company that supports blogs (AN Hosting is a good choice). Blogging is a great way to show your writing abilities.

Cold Contact Methods

Now that you have your website and samples raring to go, it’s time to start making contact with your future clients. Using both cold calls and cold emails works well for WAHMs. You can make cold calls when your children aren’t home, and you can still reach out to prospects via email even when the kids are running around screaming.

Before you pick up the phone or press “send,” you have to plan what you’ll say. Write out a script, and keep it in front of you when you make phone calls. Even if you have to deviate, it’s helpful to have something in front of you to keep you calm and steady.

Use a script for email messages also. Again, feel free to customize it for each prospect. But having a basic email makes things go more smoothly. I always phrase my emails with a question. “Can you direct me to the person I need to contact?””How can I be informed about freelance writing opportunities with your firm?” Things like that. Ask genuine questions instead of making a sales pitch. If they’re interested, and you put your website in the email, they’ll contact you.

3-2-1 Contact!

Now it’s time to reach out. Choose a business or niche that appeals to you. Use the yellow pages, a Book of Lists, or your library’s online database.

As a WAHM, your time is limited. Set a goal to spend a certain amount of time making calls or emailing. Don’t worry about the results. Focus on the time spent.

Phone calls are easy. Just find a number and dial! It’s great if you know who to ask for, but it’s not a requirement. You probably won’t get to talk to them anyway.

For cold emailing, use your library’s database to get web addresses. Go to the website and search around for the contact person’s email. If you don’t find a name, email the general information address to find out where you should direct your inquiry.

Follow-up!

This is probably the most important step. When a prospect says, “I’ll keep your information on file,” make sure you follow-up in a few months. If they say, “Contact me in a couple of weeks. I may have something,” be sure to call them right away! Here are a few hints:

  • If you get no response from a cold email, it’s okay to follow-up with a call.
  • If they say they’re not interested, send a quick note thanking them for their reply, adding that you hope they’ll keep you in mind should their needs ever change.

Setting A Price

Figuring out what to charge is one of the hardest parts of this business. It’s an art, really. I know you may consider yourself a beginner. But if you charge too little, you’ll be treated like an amateur. Check out the rates in your area. Generally speaking, though, $50-$75 per hour is a reasonable starting rate.

  • Take a guess at how long you think a project will take, and multiply that by your hourly rate.
  • Always get half up-front (sign up with PayPal). Don’t start on the project until you get your deposit.
  • Itemize extras (like meetings, visits to the client’s business, extra time spent).

Final Thoughts

Get a timer. This tool will help you keep track of how long you’re actually spending on projects. Get one that you can stop and restart. This is essential when you have constant interruptions. Knowing how long you spend on tasks will help you make better estimates for future projects. It also keeps you focused on your task.

With kids underfoot, running a home-based copywriting business is just plain hard. But the rewards are many. Good luck! You can do it!

12 Responses to “Starting a Copywriting Business as a Work-At-Home-Mother”

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  3. Marie D says:

    Hi Theda, I just found your blog through BlogHer and it’s relly interesting. I am currently working full time in the marketing field and part of my job is copywriting. I’ve been doing some for friends, too and I am considering starting a small complementary business.
    About your “use a timer” advice, I’d like to recommend one I’ve been using for years – see http://www.timepanic.com; it is very easy to switch between tasks/clients and to customize it to your needs.

  4. Theda K. says:

    Hi Marie! Thanks for the compliments. I also recommend reading the book, The Well-Fed Writer, Back for Seconds (by Peter Bowerman). I modeled my business after his book, with a few tweaks here and there.

    My problem with computer timers is that I’ll forget to turn it on! :) That’s why a handheld timer works better for me (for now). It’s the “toddler factor.” I have to have something I can remember to turn on, and that I can pause in time to catch her before she throws her toy in the toilet. LOL!

    But I think the timer you mentioned will be a valuable tool for many.

    I’ll go check out your site too, and I hope you visit again!

  5. Hi, Theda,

    I’m also visiting from BlogHer…

    GREAT tips shared in this post!

    Your blog looks and feels great.

    Angela.

  6. Theda K. says:

    Thanks Angela,

    I’m glad I joined BlogHer. It seems like a great community. I’m glad you found my tips useful. They’re from my own personal experience (so far) as a copywriter. Now…to take my own advice, especially about following-up!

    I hope you visit again!

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  8. Debo Hobo says:

    Theda,

    This has got to be the most information I have found on freelance writting. Your article has answered many of the questions I had. Thanks :)

  9. Cheap Ipods says:

    Hey there! Nice blog, I stumbled upon it after my friend told to to check out one of your posts. Btw, what wp template theme are you using?

  10. lillian says:

    Hi Theda,
    I just came across your site while “researching” othere copywriting sites. I’m expecting my first child in another month, and am looking for work from home opportunities and have always always seemed to come back to the idea of freelance copywriting. thank you for such an informative article on ho to get started, it’s a great help in my search for legitimate information and help since i am a novice in the marketing field. Thanks!

    • Theda K. says:

      Hi Lillian,

      Thanks for dropping by! I’m glad to know you found me through searching online.

      I highly recommend Peter Bowerman’s book “The Well-Fed Writer.” There’s a link to it in the column to the right (a picture link). He has stories of successful work-at-home parents, and the book really provides a great blueprint to getting started.

      My personal advice is to really build your business while your baby is young (or before he or she is born). I thought (incorrectly), that things got easier as they get older. When they’re young, though they need lots of care, they aren’t needing you so much. You can actually complete a thought with an infant…my almost 5-year-old doesn’t let me get a thought in edgewise when she’s home.

      Good luck! And thanks again!

  11. How much do you work everyday?