3 Essential Tools for Copywriting Freelancers

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Photo by Ewan Robertson on Unsplash

In 2021, I quit my job as an inbound marketing specialist at a small agency to transition into the world of freelancing. I’d been seeing a lot of hype around working for yourself on social media, and it went hand in hand with the stuff I was seeing about Upwork and Fiverr.

It wasn’t a tough decision (I was overworked and underpaid), but there was definitely a learning curve when it came to working as a freelancer. You’re the outreach specialist, billing department, implementer, and prime point of contact for clients, which made it hard to find a work-life balance.

But, after a year and a half of freelancing, I can look back and say I’ve made a lot of progress. I couldn’t have done it without consuming hundreds of articles and YouTube videos, so I want this article to be a kind of primer for anyone looking to break into the freelancing world.

I’m a writer by trade, so many of these tools are specific to that field. But I’ve found all of them to be invaluable resources, and hopefully you do too.

SEMRush

SEMRush is a market research tool that can help you identify high-quality keywords in almost every niche. They pull stats right from Google, so their data is always accurate.

Let’s say a client comes to you and wants to publish a website or beef up their blog. Sometimes their goal is to get more people in their chat widget or maybe they want people to purchase their product/service. It all starts with website traffic.

You’d then hop into SEMRush and do some research for keywords in their niche. Let’s say they work in the Software as a Service niche (SaaS). You can do a quick search to find out what words/phrases you should be using in the copy.

As you can see, it’s a pretty competitive niche, but there are a few keywords that are really good. B2B SaaS is one that you’d certainly want to be using.

example of SEMRush

Features of SEMRush I Like

  • The copy button in the Keyword Magic tool makes it easy to bulk move keywords into spreadsheets.
  • Keyword Gap tool lets you analyze what kind of keywords your competitors are ranking for that you’re not.
  • The Domain Analytics tool gives you detailed data about how well your websites are performing, including organic, paid, and social traffic, domain authority, and backlinks.

How I Use SEMRush

It’s no secret that SEMRush is expensive, so I partnered up with a freelancer friend of mine and we paid for the subscription together. We only have one login, so we have to coordinate when each of us uses it, but I’ve never run into a problem there.

I work a lot with affiliate sites now, and SEMRush has been a great resource for finding low-difficulty, high-volume keywords and for analyzing competitor websites.

Before SEMRush, I used Ubersuggest. It’s a similar tool with a much lower price point (Ubersuggest is $29 a month, whereas SEMRush can be more than $100 per month depending on the plan you choose).

I found that Ubersuggest’s data and SEMRush’s data for the same keywords was sometimes vastly different, and ultimately the jump to SEMRush helped me better target niches because of their accurate data.

SEO Minion

SEO Minion is a Google Chrome extension that pulls data about specific webpages to help identify areas for improvement.

When you’re working with a client who has an existing website, SEO Minion can make your life a lot easier. All you have to do is poke around their website and use the SEO Minion extension to look at the page’s:

  • SEO Title
  • Meta description and robots
  • All the headings
  • Valid or broken links
  • SERP preview

I found that the “Analyze On-Page SEO” tab is the most insightful at first glance. You can find out if a page’s meta is too long, see all the headings in one place, and get a total word count for the page.

If you’re looking at hundreds of pages a day, this tool is a must have. And it’s free!

example of SEO Minion

Jasper.ai

Formerly known as Jarvis.ai, Jasper is an artificial intelligence tool that helps brainstorm content ideas and write everything from blogs to product descriptions.

At first, I was hesitant to use Jasper.ai, because the fear of AI overlords was seeded deep in my subconscious. But, after playing around with it for a few weeks, I found that using Jasper was like having an intern. You create a detailed outline, tell it what and where to write new content, and it will generate ideas in a matter of seconds.

A lot of people drag AI writing assistants through the mud because of “original content” and “you didn’t write it, why should I pay you for it?” Those arguments are largely reactionary, because having used Jasper for over a year, it’s not as simple as clicking a button and getting a finished blog.

You still have to put in the work, guide the AI, and revise what it wrote. Plus, you have to fact check it too, because sometimes Jasper doesn’t do the best research.

But I definitely think Jasper is worth it. It helped me maintain a consistent word count each week, and when I was in a writing slump, Jasper was essential for developing new ideas and fleshing out existing ones.

How I Use Jasper.ai

Jasper has a lot of fancy features, but I usually just start a blank document and paste in an outline I’d done. You can spend the time filling out the title, description, and keywords, but I find that in-text commands are a lot more useful.

Use the > and a brief description of what you want to write for better results. After, just highlight the section and hit CTRL + Enter. Here’s an example of what a brief looks like:

example of jasper.ai

I use Jasper almost every day, and it’s a useful tool for increasing productivity. Like SEMRush, the pricing is a bit high, so I’ve also split this subscription with the same freelancer friend.

Conclusion

I am sure there are additional resources I could add to this list, but these are the three that I use everyday as a freelance copywriter. I held a steady gig for a few months that eventually turned into a full-time position, and I still use these tools for that job as well.

When I first started out, it was hard to justify the cost of SEMRush and Jasper.ai. I was barely scraping by, and an additional charge each month wasn’t what I needed. But, if you can find someone to split a subscription with, it’s an easy way to lower the cost. Plus, after using the free trials on these services, I easily was able to justify paying for them each month.

SEMRush allows me to better help my clients reach their goals, and Jasper.ai takes some of the strain off of big tasks with hefty word counts.

I hope you found this article helpful, and consider following me on Medium! I plan on posting more informative content about my journey as a freelancer on Upwork and I want to help other writers improve their work-life balance.