The Secret To Getting Experience As A New Copywriter (That No One Tells You)

How to get experience as a new copywriter

Guest post alert! This article was written by Annie Bacher, a SaaS copywriter and copywriting agency owner. In this article, Annie shares her advice on how to get experience as a freelance copywriter (and get paid while you do it). Take it away, Annie!

When first starting out, the #1 thing freelance copywriters look for are new clients.

The typical advice on getting those clients is:

  • Cold pitch / cold email
  • Post on social media consistently
  • Work your way up slowly and gain experience

While those methods can work, there’s an entirely different approach that most copywriters either ignore, or don’t even know about – but can totally level up your career:

Work as a subcontractor for more experienced writers and get paid to learn from them. 

That’s right. Selling your services directly to clients is not the only way to book awesome projects and get experience in a niche.

In fact, subcontracting for other writers was one of the best things I did to move forward in my career, get experience, and level up quickly.

In this article, I’ll share why subcontracting is actually one of the best ways to level up as a copywriter, how to find opportunities to subcontract for other writers, and how to get the most out of the experience.

Subcontracting for other copywriters is awesome; but are there any downsides?

Subcontracting for more experienced writers is awesome, but first, let’s look at the possible downsides:

You can’t always claim 100% ownership of a project

Depending on who you work with, you might be able to use the client work in your portfolio, or claim that you “contributed to XYZ results.” But if you sign an NDA, you may be unable to claim your contribution to the work.

Of course, signing NDA’s can happen whether you’re working directly with the client or not, so take this one with a grain of salt.

You don’t always get direct access to the client

This can be a pro and a con. On one hand, you don’t have to deal with the client management side of a project.

But on the other hand, you have to rely on the main copywriter’s research and communication skills to make sure you get everything you need to do your best work.

If you feel you’re not getting enough client information, you can try one of these workarounds:

  • Ask to join calls with the client (so you can ask questions directly)
  • Share a questionnaire for the main copywriter to pass on to the client — make it as easy as possible for them to give you what you need

You may have negative/limiting beliefs around subcontracting

When I was working for other copywriters, I was embarrassed that I wasn’t working directly with big fancy clients and couldn’t splash their logos all over my website. I thought I was doing something wrong.

At the time, I didn’t see the hidden benefits of not working directly with clients.

I didn’t realize how many people collaborate or subcontract on projects, and I didn’t know that there’s nothing shameful about subcontracting for other writers.

Now that we’ve covered the potential downsides, let’s dig into all the amazing benefits of subcontracting.

Why you’ll love subcontracting for other copywriters

You get paid to get feedback on your work

When you work as a subcontractor with another copywriter, you get their feedback on your work and you get paid for it.

You can take as many copywriting classes as you want, but nothing beats real feedback on your work, especially from someone who’s an expert in a specific niche.

You get to see behind the scenes of a real copywriting business

When you take a course about copywriting or freelancing, you only get the shiny, polished version of a person’s processes or systems.

But when you work inside someone else’s business, you get to see everything: their systems for managing Google docs, how they handle client feedback, and all the other details you might never learn from a course or program.

You (might) get free mentorship

Depending on your relationship with the person, they might offer to answer questions about freelancing or mentor you in their niche.

When I subcontracted for another copywriter, she met with me monthly to answer questions, talk about my goals, and give me homework assignments to figure out my career path.

When contractors work with me, they get invited to a bi-weekly “copy huddle” where we talk about topics related to copywriting and freelance business.

When to subcontract for other writers (hint: it’s not just for newbies)

I used to think that only beginners needed to subcontract for more experienced copywriters.

But now that I’m further along in my career, I realize that there are tons of times where subcontracting makes sense.

For example, you may enjoy subcontracting for other copywriters if:

  • You want to build confidence in a specific skill
  • You’re moving into a new niche and want to learn alongside a seasoned pro
  • You’re feeling lonely as a freelancer and want to collaborate closely with another writer
  • You’re burnt out from client work and want to focus on the writing, without all of the client management

I’ve hired both new and experienced writers to work with me.

I often hire junior writers to create first drafts, knowing that my editor and I will be responsible for more of the work and mentorship. But I’ve also hired other expert copywriters to serve as more of an advisor or collaborator on client projects.

For example, I wrote a sales page in a new niche I wasn’t as familiar with, and hired a launch strategist to work with me on the sales page so I could be super confident about the copy and messaging.

Experienced copywriters need you (even if you feel like a total newbie) 

It’s easy to look at experienced copywriters and think “they’re so successful, they don’t need any help.”

But here’s the secret: experienced copywriters often need the most help. And they’re likely too busy to put out a proper job description asking for exactly what they need.

​​I know because I’ve been there.

In January 2021, I desperately wanted to work with a junior copywriter on some of my client work, but I was intimidated to put up a job posting, and too busy to do a proper job search.

Kaitlyn Hickmann, a writer who had no copywriting experience at the time, reached out just to learn a little more about copywriting. It happened to be perfect timing, and I asked her to work with me on a small SaaS project.

Since then, Kaitlyn and I have worked on dozens of projects together, including website copy projects, case studies, and emails. I’ve also hired a bunch of other writers, most of whom had little or no experience in copywriting when we started.

How to reach out to other copywriters about subcontracting opportunities

If you’re sold on working as a subcontractor for other writers, here are some tips on what to do (and not to do) as you get started:


Be honest about your experience

When you’re looking to subcontract for another writer, they’re looking to hire you to fill a specific gap, whether it’s to save them time or offer expertise in a certain area.

They don’t expect you to be the best at everything. So if you’re a brand new writer with no copywriting experience, don’t lie about how much experience you have. 

However, you can mention other experiences you’ve had.

For example, one writer I hired to collaborate with me was just finishing her first novel — that wasn’t related to copywriting, but it let me know she has a lot of writing experience.

Be specific about what you’re interested in

If you have an idea of what you’re interested in, share that! It’s way easier to find an opportunity for someone who says, “I’m really interested in tech” than someone who says “I’ll do anything!”

That said, it’s ok if you have no clue. When I started out, I took on any and every project, and my mentor helped me figure out my niche.

Follow up

I’ve talked to multiple writers where I don’t have any projects for them at the moment, but may need their help in the future.

One writer I’ve worked with reaches out every month or two, and it helps remind me to find opportunities to work with her. 

So if you’ve connected with a writer who doesn’t need help right now, don’t be afraid to follow up a few times (just remember that following up and badgering are two very different things).

Do your research

Recently, an aspiring SaaS copywriter reached out to me with some questions. It was clear she knew what I’m about, and it made me much happier to respond to her questions because I felt like she had put in some effort.


Don’t make it all about you

You’re a copywriter, so don’t forget to write good copy when you reach out to other writers. 

Be clear, honest, and persuasive about what you have to offer and how it will benefit them, but don’t write an essay about yourself. This isn’t a cover letter.

Don’t badger them

Following up is one thing, but replying seven times to the same email, even after they’ve clearly said they don’t need help right now (true story) is a sure way to get put on the “never work with this person” list.

So you got the job: how to actually level up when you’re working as a subcontractor

You’ve found a copywriter who wants to hire you! Congrats! If they’re willing to provide some additional mentorship to you as well, you’ve found an amazing opportunity.

First of all, remember that mentorship is a reciprocal relationship, not a hierarchical one. Your mentor doesn’t just give you things with no effort on your part. The best mentoring relationships involve effort on both sides.

Here are some tips to leverage that mentorship and get the most out of the experience.

Do solid work

Above all, deliver great copy. The writer you’re working with cares about you as a person, but they’re also paying you to do a great job. 

The best thing you can do to nurture the relationship with another copywriter is to show up consistently and deliver your best work.

Ask for feedback early and often

As you build trust, don’t be afraid to share an earlier draft with your mentor. Bonus points for being specific about what type of feedback you’re looking for. The 30/60/90 framework is a great way to have a shared language about what feedback is most helpful.

And when they do give you feedback, accept it graciously, and keep it in mind for future projects. The best way to say “thank you” to a mentor? Show that you’re taking their feedback seriously and growing as a writer.

Be thoughtful about the questions you ask

What’s Google-able? What’s not? What would be interesting for your mentor to talk about? Having access to this person’s mentorship doesn’t mean you have to ask them everything, so choose wisely.

Leverage your curiosity

Want to be connected with another copywriter? Ask! Want to know more about the process of writing a sales page? Ask! 

If your mentor is a copywriting nerd like me, they’ll love connecting you with resources or giving you more of a peek into certain processes.

Negotiate your rates

This tip comes from Kaitlyn Hickmann, sextech and femtech copywriter, and mentee/subcontractor of mine.

When Kaitlyn first started working with me, we set a project rate per assignment. Because Kaitlyn was brand new to the tech space, she was getting a lot of feedback, and it took me a lot of time to edit and provide guidance on those first few assignments, her rate was low-ish, but fair.

After a few months though, Kaitlyn recognized the value she was bringing to each project, and proposed a new rate that was double our original rate.

I didn’t say yes right away — we went back and forth a couple times to figure out a plan for getting to those higher rates. But Kaitlyn made it easy for me to see the value of her work. She consistently delivers stellar work, and I barely have to make any edits at this point.

It’s easy to think “I’m a newbie, I should be grateful for the opportunity to work alongside this copywriter.” But as Kaitlyn proved to me, if you’re consistently delivering A+ work, getting great feedback, and improving, you should absolutely negotiate higher rates.

The bottom line: subcontracting helps you level up, but it takes a little work 

If you’re sold on the idea of working as a subcontractor for other writers, take the time to think about why you might want to work for another copywriter.

What will it help you do? And what kind of mentor/copywriter would help you achieve your goals?

Then, take action! And good luck.

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