#112: eCommerce — An Under-the-Radar Opportunity for Freelance Copywriters

Part of my job as host of this show is to present new ideas and opportunities to my listeners.

I do this by showcasing:

  • Different types of writing assignments and what they entail
  • New ideas and strategies
  • Industries or markets you may not have considered before

In this episode, we’re going to focus on the latter: an industry and a market opportunity you may not have previously considered: copywriting for eCommerce companies.

Full disclosure: My guest has a company that hires freelance copywriters and places them with eCommerce clients. His name is Nathan Hirsch, and he’s the founder of Freeeup.com.

(Note: I have NO affiliate relationship with Nathan or his company.)

So yes, he’s biased. He has a vested interest in getting you to check out this eCommerce copywriting opportunity.

However, you should also know that I’m very selective about who I bring on this show. I get pitched several times a month by companies that are trying to sell to freelancers. Yet when I press them for a show topic and content that would add value to my listeners, they fall short.

It’s clear that all they want to do is get free publicity.

Nathan was different. I grilled him pretty hard when he first approached me. And I’m glad I had him on the show, because he has some great ideas to share.

This opportunity is NOT for everyone. And frankly, it’s not the path I would recommend if you’re trying to follow the “smarter freelancing” objectives of earning more in less time doing work you love for better clients.

I’m just not fond of the hourly model Freeeup.com uses… or the production-focused approach that’s necessary to make their model work.

However, if you’re a good copywriter and have some experience with this type of writing, this might be a good way to either kick start your freelance business or to fill a temporary gap in project work.

If anything, it may trigger some new ideas, show you how to get started, or give you a backup plan should you find yourself needing some sort of stopgap now or in the future.

The notes that follow are a very basic, unedited summary of the show. There’s a lot more detail in the audio version. You can listen to the show using the audio player below. Or you can subscribe in iTunes to get this show delivered straight to the Podcasts app on your smart phone, tablet or iPod.

Tell us about yourself

As a college student, Nathan bought and sold textbooks for profit. Eventually, he started buying products on deal sites and selling them on Amazon. Before long, we was running a multi-million dollar business out of his dorm room.

Once he graduated, he decided to move to Florida and grow his business.

He used oDesk to find workers for his business. Based on that experience, he decided to launch the freelance job site FreeeUp.

What exactly are eCommerce companies?

The term “eCommerce” simply means selling stuff online.

Amazon is a common example. Amazon sells from its own warehouse and on behalf of third-party sellers.

Many other third-party marketplaces exist, such as eBay and Bonanza. In addition, many other people have created websites to sell products online.

What opportunities are there for writers and copywriters in eCommerce?

eCommerce is a huge market for writers and copywriters. When businesses are selling thousands of products, they need really good product descriptions. In particular, they need writers who are good with SEO, can research keywords and write better than the competition.

eCommerce writing work tends to be recurring. Businesses need descriptions for new products. They also need to adjust existing product descriptions for different seasons, to meet industry standards and to improve optimization.

What kind of writer would be a good fit for this type of work?

FreeeUp requires its writers to have experience writing eCommerce copy.

You can familiarize yourself with the industry by taking a course on how to sell products through Amazon. Udemy offers many of these courses.

Also, take a look at the product descriptions on Wayfair.com and Overstock.com. They hire the best of the best, so you can see what you’re aiming for.

But sometimes the best way to learn about eCommerce is to give it a try yourself.

If you want to get into eCommerce writing, you can learn the ropes by becoming a seller.

In addition, you can offer to work at a reduced rate to get some experience. Usually, you’ll need to start with small mom and pop stores and then move up to bigger sellers.

What are eCommerce companies looking for in a writer or copywriter?

They want writers with good English and grammar skills. They’re also looking for SEO and keywords expertise.

SEO and optimization are what separates good writers from good eCommerce writers.

Having a track record of results is important. How can eCommerce writers get that kind of feedback from clients?

You have to ask. Offer to write product descriptions for cheap and, in return, ask for a reference. Take screenshots of your product descriptions or provide links to them. Find out how many of those products were sold over a period of time and share that number with prospects.

How do these companies work with writers?

On FreeeUp, writers bill by the hour. When a FreeeUp client asks for a writer, Nathan will send the client one to three samples. The client will choose one writer or provide further direction.

Usually, writers are assigned small portions of larger projects to start. This allows the client to review the work early on and provide feedback.

Some writers work 40 hours a week for one client. Other writers have three to four clients. The number of clients and the number of hours varies with supply and demand.

What’s the pay range for this kind of work?

FreeeUp writers earn anywhere from $5.00 to $50.00 an hour.

Some international workers are in the $5 to $12 range. Some U.S. writers are in $10 to $50 range.

Writers charging $50 an hour are usually versed in marketing and branding.

What kind of temperament do you need to work in this environment?

You have to be able to accept feedback and not take it personally.

You need to be able to adjust your writing style. People in this industry are passionate about their products and often have specific ideas about how they want their products displayed and described. You have to be able to adapt to what the client wants.

Clients expect you to get better over time. They expect sales.

Clients also want consistency. They don’t like it when writers take one hour to write one description and then three hours to write the next.

The work is fast paced. When clients bring new products into their warehouse, they want to get them out the door fast. You need to be able to meet their deadlines.

Where can listeners learn more about you and FreeeUp?

Nathan’s website: FreeeUp.com.

Use Ed’s name as a referral to receive discounts when you sign up as a client.