How one copywriting course took me from unemployed to freelance success
This page contains affiliate links for kickass stuff I love. If you click through and purchase, I’ll earn a small commission to keep me stocked up on tea and chocolate at no additional cost to you. See my full affiliate disclaimer (scroll to “Affiliate Links”), and email me if you have questions!
I’m grateful every day that a Facebook ad caught my attention in 2018, and changed the course of my life. For really realsies.
That fateful doomscroll put Nicki Krawczyk’s Filthy Rich Writer ad in front of me. Which led me to their Comprehensive Copywriting Academy. Maybe you’ve heard — it’s this online copywriting course for beginners. If you’re wondering how to become a copywriter with no experience, like I did, I’ve got a story for you.
Keep reading for my insider’s take on why the CCA is the best place to learn copywriting. I’ll also answer some of the questions you’re probably asking, like:
Will the CCA pay for itself?
Will the CCA help me become a full-time (/part-time/freelance/staff) copywriter?
How comprehensive is the CCA?
How soon can I start making money with the CCA?
Can I really get paid copywriting jobs, with no previous experience?
I’m spilling it all. Here we go!
Why I joined the Comprehensive Copywriting Academy
Since 2016, I’ve been disabled by a chronic illness called ME/CFS that affects my nervous system. It cost me my job, and I spent a couple of years unemployed, looking for a new career. One that paid well for my creative and analytic skills, maybe had room for some fun, gave me some control and flexibility, and let me put my health above all else. My health is the limiting factor in everything I do. But I’d never been paid to write a thing, so writing wasn’t on my radar.
Enter the CCA’s Facebook ad. It led me to take the quizzes, do the free trainings, and wonder if copywriting could be for me. Though I was skeptical, I was in such a low place, I really had nothing to lose. So in 2019, I decided to join the CCA and give it a fair shot. I’ve been a freelance copywriter ever since, continually setting and hitting bigger goals, with continued support and inspiration from my CCA fam.*
My n00b impressions of the Comprehensive Copywriting Academy
As a former educator, I was impressed when I saw how thoroughly the course had been planned out. There’s a ton to learn, with bonus courses still being added periodically. But everything is structured around the Foundations course to give you a solid... well... foundation. Once you work through that, you decide which additional materials are most important to your goals. And there’s a big emphasis on practice and learning through giving feedback. Nicki knows what she’s doing!
When life knocked me down, and I had to make a choice
I mentioned that my health is the limiting factor in everything I do. When life dealt me some blows, I had to pause my CCA work for a few months. But I proudly branded myself as a tortoise, determined to reach that finish line at my own pace. And when I was ready to come back, that’s exactly what I did. There’s nothing but support in the CCA for making the choice that’s right for you.
How I started landing paid freelance copywriting work
I started networking online through a business mentor (look up small business mentors in your state!). I immediately was introduced to someone who needed a new copywriter. I didn’t have my portfolio finished yet... but they were ready for me! That led to referrals for more work, and it snowballed from there. =)
In fact, let’s talk goals. I have significant disabilities, remember. So I hoped that by the end of my first year, part-time, I’d be able to pull $1,000 a month in gross revenue. (I’d seen job bidding sites like Upwork and Fiverr—yeeeeesh!) But within a month of signing my first client, and with two projects, I’d surpassed the $1,000 goal that had seemed so far off.
The full-time freelance life: how it started, and how it’s going
I started small and grew slowly to protect my health. And to give you an idea, because new students always ask how to find copywriting clients — here's a breakdown of where I got my first 20 clients:
Networking: 7 (35%)
Referrals: 4 (20%)
Social media: 3 (15%)
Pitching: 3 (15%)**
Other: 3 (15%)
And now? A little over 2 years in, repeat clients bring a consistent chunk of my projects, even though I don’t do retainers.
In the last 12 months, with very little time spent on marketing, I did 31 one-off copywriting and branding projects. Here’s where they came from:
Repeat clients: 8 (26%)
Networking: 5 (16%)
Referrals: 7 (23%)
Social media: 1 (3%)
Pitching: 2 (6%)
Other: 8 (26%)
Point is, I’ve always got options. And because of the CCA, I went from disabled, unemployed, and adrift to disabled, successful, and unfuckwithable. I get to be crazy selective about the clients and projects I take on. I have a waiting list. And financially? This disabled introvert makes full-time money working part-time hours. Take that, doubters. 😜
"But what about all my questions?"
I didn’t forget about you. Lemme answer some of the most common questions and concerns I hear:
1. What makes the Comprehensive Copywriting Academy different?
I know CCA alums who have also taken multiple other copywriting courses, sometimes for upwards of 3x the investment. They’ll all tell you that other copywriting courses lack balance. There’s always something important missing. But the CCA prepares you for a huge range of opportunities in marketing and sales copywriting, so you have the tools to choose what’s right for you.
Now I hear you asking, “But Dorothy, what’s your experience with other copywriting courses?” And the answer is, I don’t have any. Why? I started with the CCA, and that was the only course I needed to become a successful freelancer. It walks you through how to:
Execute a wide variety of in-demand digital and print projects (no content-mill nonsense)
Collaborate effectively with designers
Write copy full-time, part-time, or as a side gig to your 9-5
Build a portfolio that sells your services for you
Land freelance, agency, and/or on-staff copywriting work
Proactively find clients with effective cold pitches (seriously!), so you always have work
2. Can I be sure the Comprehensive Copywriting Academy will pay for itself?
As long as you follow the steps and push through setbacks, it’s hard not to earn your money back. I had it paid off with my second project, a few weeks after I started my part-time business. Lots of folks pay off the course with copywriting work before they’ve finished the trainings. And if you decide you like copywriting, you’ve got a new career that will earn you a great income for years. You’ll likely pay off the course many times over!
3. Will the Comprehensive Copywriting Academy help me become a full-time (/part-time/freelance/staff) copywriter?
Yep. Whatever arrangement works for you, on-staff, freelance, etc., you’ll be prepared. And when you need to make a shift, you’ll be ready for that too. You can even move back and forth, if that’s what you want!
4. How quickly can I finish the Comprehensive Copywriting Academy?
It’s entirely self-paced, so it depends on your available time and other priorities. I’ve seen people race through it in a month or two, and others (like me!) need a few months longer. 😉
5. How soon can I start making money with the Comprehensive Copywriting Academy?
This depends on you, but it’s not uncommon to start landing work a few weeks after signing up. The sooner you call yourself a copywriter and offer your services, the sooner you’ll get paid.
6. How much support is included in the Comprehensive Copywriting Academy?
SO MUCH. Your fellow students show up to give each other pep talks, constructive criticism, and laffs. It’s a pretty remarkable space. There’s also a team of coaches who pop in daily for additional help, monthly coaching calls, portfolio reviews, and more stuff than I can remember.... When you join the CCA, you are never alone.
7. How will I get paid copywriting jobs with no previous copywriting experience?
It’s all in the portfolio! You’ll learn exactly how to build a portfolio without paid copywriting experience. And you’ll have guidance on what belongs in a copywriting portfolio, and what doesn’t. (Bloggers, journalists, and authors, I’m looking at you.)
8. Can’t I just learn from Filthy Rich Writer's free content?
Man, I hear you. There is a slew of great free content from FRW, including the Build Your Copywriting Business podcast. Which I've been a guest on twice at the time of this writing, thankyouverymuch, talking about building a copywriting business with a chronic illness and as a mom. But if you’re serious about making a change? And you don’t want to spend years figuring it out alone like Nicki Krawczyk did? Getting a step-by-step hand up from the CCA is the way to go. You’ll thank me when you’re looking back, margarita in hand, laughing at the doubters and haters.
It’s your move
That’s my take on FRW and the CCA. They gave me back my life, and my agency as a human and professional. I have a career, of my own design. Even though I’m still disabled. And I’ve been sick literally every day since 2016. Imagine what they can do for you!
* And it’s a fam I know well. I’ve been a student coach for the CCA, written copy for Nicki K Media, presented at FRW’s freelancer summit, spoken on the Build Your Copywriting Business podcast (more than once), and been a guest copy coach for a multiple-7-figure coaching business, all because of my CCA connections. I also doubled down and joined the CCA Next Level mastermind.
** I made an intentional choice in the beginning not to pitch much, as I learned what workload I could physically handle..