Last year, Jules Costa was making $10 a blog post. In August of this year, she hit her first $10,000 month as a copywriter and she doesn’t charge less than $200 a blog post.
I’ve been following Jules’s entrepreneurial journey probably a little too obsessively. (You can too on Instagram at @julesontap). Not only is Jules talented but she embodies the abundance mindset and is committed to helping other freelancers get started.
She has played a massive role in my freelancing journey. One of the many things I admire about Jules is how generous she is with sharing her skills and industry knowledge.
A few things Jules has taught me:
- How to land clients
- Raising rates
- Managing finances
Here’s what we chatted about in this Q&A:
What bringing in $10,000 in revenue entails.
Finding your first clients.
The best free copywriting courses.
Whether or not to quit your 9 to 5 for freelancing.
Building a copywriting portfolio.
Keeping track of metrics and capitalizing on these as a copywriter.
To hear what Jules has to say, check out the video! Otherwise, you can find a video transcription below.
When you’re done watching, I’d love to hear from you. Was this helpful? Would you like to see different content? Let me know!
The first question that I want to ask you is just who you are and what can you do? What is copywriting? What does your business look like?
Sure. So that was a great introduction. My name is Jules, I am a copywriter and content strategist, my business looks like I write things for other people. Um, and more than that I work with them to create a strategy—so that they’re not only creating helpful, useful, comprehensive content—but that that content is actually being seen and shared and used by other people. Because obviously, you can write the best thing in the world, but if nobody ever sees it, it’s not going to do you any good. So that’s kind of my pride and joy and what I do. And then I also kind of run my Instagram and everything on the side and I’m just very passionate about helping other people out because I got helped out so much on my journey. And, you know, one of the core principles I would say about freelancing is that there’s enough for everybody and the more that we can, you know, uplift each other and bring each other up, the better It is for everyone.
Awesome. Thank you. And yeah, on that note, so Jules, I think you recently shared how you used to write blog posts. Like you got paid you like $10. And then everything changed when you met Brooke [Jules’s mentor]. So like, yeah, I think having help from other people is always so key when you start out your own business.
And so when I posted about this on Instagram, I mentioned that you brought in $10,000 in revenue in August, which I know you shared, and so the first question is how?
[Laughs] Yeah, that’s a great question. Um, you know, it’s really about having, I think, multiple avenues where you’re talking to different people, constantly.
So I would say I would have I’d have to actually like do the breakdown of this to give you like real numbers and answers, but I’m going to give you like guesses/ I would say about three to four people that I worked with that month came from Brooke somehow like either directly from Brooke or it was like Brooke introduced me to this person who then introduced me to that person and all of that.
And it’s important to know also that like, there’s a difference between recurring revenue and like one off projects right. So my recurring revenue for August was still $2,000, the same as it’s been basically this whole year. But then I got put on some spontaneous projects that I was able to charge double my rate for because they they just had like, really quick turnarounds. And so that was like a large portion of my revenue. And that was also from Brooke. Um, and then on the other side, I was also talking to a lot of tech people who needed copywriters, and I was doing all of that on LinkedIn. And so those things kind of just merged. They’re all one off projects. There’s some people that I’m still like talking to and some of those projects have turned into other projects with other people. But I do want to be clear that it’s not $10,000 of recurring revenue. It was $10,000 for that month.
But still, I mean it’s amazing to bring that in. And you also made important points on Instagram about all the business expenses that come off that—
Exactly yeah, I would I mean, I wouldn’t be able to do it if I hadn’t—like you work for me, you’re a subcontractor for me, like if I didn’t have your support or if I didn’t have Micayla’s support, if I didn’t have Anna as my VA—like yeah none of it would have been possible. I wouldn’t be able to do what I do without the support of a team.
Um, and I think, yeah, as you mentioned, that’s something that a lot of people forget when you talk about revenue. And then I know this is something you’ve spoken about a lot. But one of the questions is, how do you start and how do you find your first clients?
Yeah, I always suggest that people start on Facebook, just because I think it’s a little bit friendlier and a little less permanent than LinkedIn.
I like LinkedIn a lot as an inbound source, which means like, the way I use LinkedIn is I post things and I use those posts to create relationships with people, and then that eventually turns into them either contracting me or like recommending me to somebody else as a contractor. The reason I say that that’s a little bit more permanent is because, you know, it’s out there for everybody to see. So if you, you know, say something, and this is an important note, everyone can see everything that you post on LinkedIn. So even if you’re commenting on someone else’s thing, everybody in your network is going to see that and so it’s permanent because it’s always out there. And that’s just kind of how LinkedIn gets used. So that’s over there.
I always suggest that people start on Facebook, because Facebook is a lot less permanent. It doesn’t have as much visibility in that, if you write a comment and it has like seven typos in it, like only the people who see that comment, will know. And they might not even associate it really with your account because they might not be linked up to you.I don’t know, there’s
several reasons why Facebook is a little more anonymous. So I always suggest, go into these groups and use the search bar function to figure out what people are talking about in your field. Like if you’re a copywriter, type in copywriter. If you’re a graphic designer, type that in.
Figure out what the demand is, you know, like, okay, you’re a copywriter. Great, but do people need emails? Or do they need blog posts? Are they paying more for somebody who does social media? Or are they paying more for somebody who does, you know, something else? Like, it’s really important to gauge where that demand is. And then it’s also really important to just try—. You know, you hear about ‘I help statements’ and you hear about knowing your niche and all that stuff. Like, yeah, it’s important, but you need a playground to be able to figure out what works for you, what resonates and what feels natural. And I think that Facebook is a really good place to just kind of go and like, change it up every you know, every time you say something, say it differently and see if that sparks more interest.
Yeah, and I think even just being in groups and seeing what other people are talking about, even if you feel like you’re not actively doing something and it sort of adds up in the back of your mind.
Yeah, yeah, be like a little lurker and gather all that information. It’s important.
Yeah. And then this question I think is quite good. Do you have any courses you recommend or resources in terms of keeping up to date? Which could be for beginners or even seasoned copywriters?
Yeah, I would say, um, my answer is different if you’re seasoned or if you’re not.
I do not recommend that you pay for any courses up front when you’re starting with freelancing, just because, I mean, I’m sure that there are some good ones out there. But just from a business standpoint, you know, there’s a lot of really great free courses I really recommend. There’s one by I’ve never figured out how to say their name out loud, but it’s like Ahrefs. That’s a really great free course. You know look on YouTube. I’m sure even Khan Academy has something in terms of just like figuring out how to pitch something or negotiate [rates].
There’s like a lot of really basic skills that might not be marketed directly towards freelancers but it’s going to help you as a freelancer. And these are all free online, you know. So it’s that kind of thing where like, go back to the Facebook group, figure out what people need, and then look for free resources to help you do that. There’s like, Very Good Copy, which I’m pretty sure has a bunch of examples of good copy. But it’s really just doing a quick Google search.
Once you’re a little bit more experienced, then yeah, then you’re making money from what you’re doing. And then you can use that money to reinvest and grow your business. I think that’s a different strategy, right? It’s different than starting from zero and maybe going into debt or something in order to do a course. I really don’t recommend that. Once you have your money and you’re maybe just trying to look to level up, then I actually recommend just talking to mentors first. And I guess I recommend this to anybody, like talk to people first to figure out if there’s anything free that you can do. And then if you really want to do a course, I would say look specifically in the niches in your field and like very honed in, to refine your talents.
Yeah, I think maybe finding out from someone else who’s done the course whether it’s worthwhile…
Yeah, word of mouth is great.
Yeah. Cool. Um I don’t know how much [you can add] because I think you started working remotely straightaway. But someone wants to know, if you’re working a nine to five, how do you know whether you should quit or how do you balance the two together? I don’t know if you have any advice on that?
Yeah, so I’ve actually never worked a nine to five but I worked in an office, it was like, one to eight or something ridiculous. It was technically a half day. I was in an office for three months and I hated it.
And, um, I would say like, number one for me was I wasn’t getting the feedback that I needed in order to excel. And I didn’t feel like there was a lot of investment in my growth. There was a lot of investment in growing the company and you know, that kind of stuff. And it was the sort of thing where, like, if some if, if I turn something in and it was bad, there was no real direction as to like, okay, this needs to be changed in this way. And you need to hone your skills here. It was just kind of like this is bad and it took us a really long time to edit and blah, blah, blah. And so, the number one thing that I would say is, yes, you want to get paid well and you want people that respect you and, you know, all of these very baseline things. But beyond that, make sure that you’re getting what you need to excel in what you need to grow, you know. That’s the draw for me in working online and in being a freelancer is that, number one, I choose who I work with, right? Like always. And number two, I have a lot of time to just go and find my own resources and invest in my own growth, which is something that unless you have a really, really good boss—a lot of people just aren’t as invested in you as you are.
So in terms of balancing a nine to five, I’m going to be real and say, I did it very poorly. To the point where I was about to quit and then they fired me. And so, I don’t know if I’m the person to ask about that. I would say honestly, if you’re sure that freelancing is for you, I would try to do it full time. That’s my honest advice. I would either like, save up as much as you can, and then put in your two weeks notice at your job and try to go full in. Or, if you’re not sure, then you know, it can be like a Saturday, Sunday side hustle. But make sure that your goals align with that. And how you’re measuring success considers the fact that it’s just a side hustle.
It’s not like a full time thing because, you know, the fact of the matter is that you’re probably not going to make $10,000 or, you know, maybe even $2,000 if you’re just doing it two days a week. You have to be realistic and be like, okay, like, I’m going to define success in a way that makes sense for like a weekend venture rather than a full time deal.
Yes, I think just looking at the monetary side and figuring out how many hours you’re at and whether you can afford to quit your nine to five—
Yeah and maybe [think] about it less as like, ‘Okay, I have these goals that I’m trying to reach’ and more like ‘I’m going to use the weekend to research in order to figure out like, Is there a demand that I can meet? Do I know, do I have like, at least a strong idea of where clients could come from?’. Answering those base questions. So rather than just be like, you know, I want to make $500—kind of approach it more from a research angle because you might not be able to deliver that value in that amount of time.
Yeah. Cool. Thanks. And then my last question is, what is like an effective way of building a brand or profile as a copywriter? So that when you do get a client and they look you up, that you look like someone who knows what they’re doing?
Yeah, um, again, I would say word of mouth is huge. I have a lot of clients that don’t even look at my website, that don’t even look at my social media, and that don’t really even care. They are with me because so and so recommended me to them, you know. I got a message like just last week where they were literally just like, “Um, hi, like Brian recommended to you, I just kind of trust whatever he says. So I don’t even know how you can help me but let’s go.” And we got on a call today, you know.
So that’s like, number one, is that reputation is still very much word of mouth. And so that’s important to keep in mind. Um, obviously, you want to have some sort of portfolio that you can, like, quickly share with somebody. And I would say don’t go crazy with your portfolio. I see so many portfolios that have, like, every single thing that has ever been written by this person for their entire lives. I really think that it’s overwhelming. I would say create three buckets. I write about technology and I write for female entrepreneurs and so I kind of have my feminist strong language kind of buckets and I have my three examples from that. And then I have my, techie, very dry, technical how-to kind of buckets and I have my three examples for that.
And then the other thing that I would say that a lot of copywriters don’t capitalize on is they don’t know their numbers and they don’t know the effect of what their words actually do. And that’s one of the best ways to convince—.
High-paying clients especially are always going to be looking for ROI and so if you don’t know how many viewers that got or how many clients it caught or how your clients are actually utilizing your content, um, you know, it can be very difficult to convince some someone to pay a certain amount. Unless you really know what the effects you’re having.
That’s actually something I’ve always appreciated about you. But also, how do you keep on track of numbers? I know it’s easier to know how many views like a blog post gets, but like, other numbers, like how many sales and stuff? Like, is it always easy to sort of know that?
It’s not always easy to know that especially depending on what you’re actually doing. Um, I would say like, number one is being friends with your clients helps because, you know, you can kind of ask them, you know, “Hey, how’s it going? Like, are you getting any clients mentioning this?” and like all of that kind of stuff.
It’s very easy if you’re like an email marketer because all of those numbers are already on like MailChimp or whatever. So social media, I would say like people make the mistake of always looking at vanity metrics, which are the likes and comments and stuff like that. I always go with reach, you know? Somebody might never like your post and might still reach out to you for your advice, you know? So that’s happening to me right now on my Instagram. So I care a lot more about how many people see it versus how many people interact with it. Um, for blog posts, obviously like the number that they see but then also you can go a little bit more quality with blog posts.
Sometimes where it’s like, oh, this blog post got a backlink to a different article and it’s a really popular site or sometimes my blog posts will get picked up by really big names in terms of newsletters or something. Like I don’t know, somebody will like find the blog post and be like this is really cool and they’ll add it into their newsletter or their roundup or whatever. It’s important to know those kinds of qualitative effects as well.
Yeah, cool. Yeah, I think backlinks can really boost—
Yeah, yeah, usually you’ll get a ping. If it gets back linked and you’re associated with the article, you’ll usually get an email that says that it’s been backlinked.
Okay, yeah. Well, thank you so much, Jules and I won’t take any more of your time for this.
Yeah, this was fun!
Yeah! Thank you — and everyone should follow her on Instagram at @julesontap. So yeah, definitely follow!