Freelancer - Getting those well paid gigs

(3 Posts)
rememberthetime Wed 06-Jul-16 15:01:38

I have been freelancing for 8 years now and that's a lot of experience. Recruitment agents I have spoken to say I could earn upwards of £40,000 if I got a "normal" copywriting job. This is simply due to my experience and ability.
So why is it that I have averaged around £15,000 per year for all of those years?
I have some answers to this: I lacked confidence, I had family commitments and I suffered from imposter syndrome. But also I lack a basic understanding of what to do next.

I have already this year managed to increase my average earnings to about £25,000 per year (mostly from just being able to work longer hours) - but I still have so much scope to improve. I suppose I just don't know how to market myself.

I want to work with digital or marketing agencies or direct with local clients - but how do I approach them? What do I say to make them give me a go?

Should I email them? Call?

I don't want to burn bridges by doing the wrong thing and just annoying them.

I am getting close to just taking on a full time well paid job - but I enjoy my flexible lifestyle and work best on my own.

What do you do to market yourself?

MrsMargoLeadbetter Wed 06-Jul-16 16:27:01

I'd start with the money first, if you haven't already.

How many days can you work over the year taking away holiday and a few for sickness? Then consider halving it (or maybe even less), they should be your billable days, the others are for biz dev & admin. Then take the amount you want to earn and divide.

Something like: 46 weeks x 5 days = 230 days, so 115 days to earn £40K is £347 a day or £50 an hour which is probably toward the high side for copywriting but isn't ridiculous...?

I find being specific about money really helps me to focus.

I (marketing freelancer) get most of my work from recommendation. So I use LinkedIn a lot to connect to people I meet as it helps to keep you top of mind if you share relevant content.

I produce a monthly enews and then share the blog articles across my social channels. I think having a social media presence is important too, as people check out mine to see what I am saying. It shows you are active. There are lots of websites of consultants/businesses that are dormant.

I also put myself forward for speaking and guest blog spots. I attend networking events too. I am always on the hustle!

What has helped me is being clear about my niche - do you have one? I re-branded last financial year and billed xx% more than the year before. I wonder how willing local companies will be to pay for professional copywriting? Agencies might be a better bet?

I think emailing potential clients is fine, but I'd try to be as tailored as you can. Look at their site, social channels - be relevant with your comments. Think about the problems you can solve - ie great affordable copy which will help them deliver to their clients etc.

I would also think about handwritten or hardcopy leaflets/notes. They stand out today...Marketing agency ppl might appreciate a creative approach. If your niche is healthcare you could send some plasters etc. Or if they win an industry award drop off a bottle of Prosecco with a note? You want to get their attention...

I would suggest the message is 'I am a copywriter, I'd love to help you by providing great copy when you next need freelance help'? I'd keep it simple?

Do you know any agency people you can ask about how they choose their freelance suppliers? I am sure it is recommendation or people they have met.

Have you checked if there are LinkedIn and Facebook Groups relevant to your niche, it is a good way to make contacts and potentially to pick up work.

rememberthetime Thu 07-Jul-16 11:03:51

Fantastic advice thank you! Yes, I have thought about my hourly rate and billable days. Generally I work every day but the billable hours are only 3-4 a day. I have been trying to change that to full days which has improved my bottom line.

I am getting £35 (or even more) per hour - so I don't think my rate is too shabby, but at 3-4 hours billable - my days feel wasted. I would like a minimum of £200 per day across 5 days a week (which is my day rate for local work). I don't set time aside for admin - but do it as and when.

I currently work for one local agency who are fab and always offer me work when things are slow - but it isn't set days or hours.

I have a few niches (if that is possible?). I generally focus on small businesses, marketing and renewable energy. Property and building is also something I write about as many of my small clients are builders/property agents.

I have spent some time today updating my website - but I have to admit that my profiles and social media channels are not really well used. So that is something to work on. I am also not especially tech savvy. Maybe I should outsource that...

Today I sent a quick email message to a local digital agency just to test the waters. If I get no response to that I will call them tomorrow and try to set up a meeting. That thought terrifies me though.

Wish me luck!

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