A millennial who left the corporate world and scaled a 6-figure copywriting business explains how she did it

  • Sarah Turner was working as a research assistant when her dog died, sparking an “existential crisis.” 
  • She quit her job and launched a copywriting business that booked $2.6 million in revenue last year. 
  • She details the 5 steps necessary to scale copywriting from a hobby to a thriving business. 
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Sarah Turner was working as a research associate in 2013 and miserable with her job, when her beloved dog was hit and killed by a car. The accident sparked an “existential crisis,” leading Turner to march into her boss’s office and quit her job  — dressed in her pajamas. 

“I think I was miserable not being my own boss,” said Turner, who launched her own copywriting agency the same year. “I learned you can start a business without an MBA.” 

Sarah Turner Agency offers freelance copywriting for clients in the medical and health sectors, content marketing strategy, and training programs for future copywriters. Last year, Turner booked $2.6 million in revenue, according to documents verified by Insider. 

Turner details how she built a copywriting business from scratch, including how to find worthwhile clients, create recurring revenue streams, and craft the perfect cold email. 

Find clients or projects that excite and motivate you 

When Turner was building her client roster, she aimed to freelance for companies that interested or excited her. When younger, she entertained dreams of working in healthcare, so she sought work from medical and health businesses. 

“Choosing who you work with creates a writing job that has more meaning,” Turner said. “For me to write for doctors who’re helping people with chronic illnesses is a dream come true.” 

If you’re going to cold email prospective clients, make it personal 

When seeking clients that interest you, don’t shy away from reaching out to strangers, Turner said, noting that she initially built her business on cold outreach. If you have a dream brand or company in mind, send their CEO an email that grabs their attention, she suggested. 

To craft the perfect email, start by researching and studying the client, Turner said. Craft your message around what that business, leader, or brand is articulating to customers and offer your assistance with that mission. 

Additionally, sweeten the deal by including something helpful in your cold email, Turner suggested. For example, if the business is very active on Instagram, craft a mock post that shows you follow their outreach strategy. 

“It’s not time consuming for you and sets you apart in the sea of cold emails,” Turner said. “It also shows how you want the relationship to look.” 

Build a stable roster of clients that will guarantee recurring revenue

In addition to finding projects that motivate you, Turner advises copywriters build a stable roster of customers they can rely on for recurring revenue. 

Instead of wasting time on job boards trolling for one-off assignments, copywriters should aim to find clients who will continually seek their services and pay fair rates, she added. While this isn’t something easily established in a cold email, copywriters should try and build long-lasting relationships with clients instead of jumping from customer to customer. 

Set a price that’s worth your work

When Turner teaches her students about the copywriting industry, she encourages them to charge no less than $150 for a blog post. That is a bit higher than what freelance copywriters might find on job boards, but it’s a good starting point as beginners learn what price is worth their time. 

Turner also teaches her students to set a minimum price for themselves, based on the standard amount of time it takes to research and write content. Establishing a threshold sets a standard for yourself and can prevent you from backsliding into lower pay, Turner said. 

Create a schedule that compliments your work rhythms 

When you work for yourself, you must determine the times of the day when you’re the most effective, Turner said. For instance, she’s more productive in the morning but knows some of her students prefer to write in the evenings.

“Give yourself permission to experiment with systems to find what really works for you,” Turner said. Once you find those blocks of time, use them to improve your skills, focus on client outreach, or other ways to grow your business, she added.

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