A copywriter left a job at Nike to start her own business and surpassed her corporate earnings in less than a year. Here’s how she did it.

woman sitting on the floor in jeans and white tank top

Last November, Rachel Leslie, 30, left her full-time contract position as a digital copywriter at Nike to launch her own copywriting business RL Studio. Eight months later, she now manages a team of five and works with more than 50 clients worldwide.

When the pandemic hit, Leslie was able to add freelance work to her plate since she no longer had a commute. She eventually brought on so many clients that she knew she was ready to leave her 9-to-5 job. 

While at Nike, Leslie’s hourly contract rate of $28 an hour netted her around $48,000 a year. She told Insider that she already surpassed that amount halfway through this year — with year-to-date sales of $50,000 at the end of June — and is on track to make over six figures in sales in 2021.

She shared with Insider the steps she took to quickly surpass her corporate earnings. 

Invest in coaching

When Leslie first decided to start her business, she invested in a group-coaching business program with other entrepreneurs, Cara Barone’s Group Mastermind. She described it as one of the "most transformative" steps in her life and business. 

"Not only was I surrounded by some of the strongest women I’d ever met, but that coaching program laid the foundation for everything I needed to build my business today — content marketing, developing services, how to conduct sales calls, understanding your personality type," she said.

Widen your market

Initially, Leslie said she wanted to work specifically with travel brands and entrepreneurs, given her previous work experience — but at the height of the pandemic, many travel businesses couldn’t afford to bring on a copywriter. 

So she explored working with other brands, like an organic farm in Kauai, a marketing agency working with mission-driven brands, and travel advisors making travel more accessible. 

woman sitting on her floor in front of a couch on her laptop

Share your story widely and proactively seek out clients

Leslie leveraged social media to communicate her passion for writing, her previous work experience, and her approach to writing in general. She also proactively reached out to people who she identified as "ideal clients and other creatives" and expanded her network on Instagram and LinkedIn

"I started finding people in roles who were the decision-makers when it came to marketing projects or budgets," Leslie said. 

Offer other services as soft marketing

Leslie also expanded her reach by providing free online training, which helped her tap into different audiences and talk about her services in an authentic way. 

"Instead of me writing a sales Instagram post about my copywriting services, I could softly sell my expertise and approach through a workshop that focused on copywriting strategies that every business owner needs to know," Leslie said.

Partner with other creatives

Leslie often collaborated with brand and website designers. 

"I came to realize how important having strong design and copy pairings are for any business," she said. She began reaching out to fellow designers whose style and work she appreciated and complemented her own, building a network of "go-to" designers who she’d recommend to her clients and partner with as needed to bring a full client project to life. 

Raise your prices

Once Leslie reached a point where she’d booked several projects, had a handful of successful clients, and saw inquiries grow, she assessed her pricing structure. 

"The demand was there, my workload was increasing, and I knew the value I could bring to my clients," Leslie said.

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Robin Madell July 19, 2021 at 07:57PM

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