Taking the freelance plunge in 2015 -- encouragement/advice
Hi all -- after 15 years in various 9-5 positions I am planning to strike out on my own as a copywriter this year -- a.s.a.p, really.
I am mostly excited about it. My DW is being very supportive, which hopefully will remain the case in the early days when I am trying to drum up clients. We have bought a house, which I know is hard to do when you're a freelancer, so once we make the move in a few weeks I will formally hand in my notice and see how I can do on my own.
To those of you who have already made this move, what single piece of advice would you give me? Also, if you're loving the freelance life I am keen to hear some success stories to keep me focused in the coming months.
Congrats on the plan to freelance.
My piece of advice would be to stick with what you know - so try to find clients in the market(s) you already have experience in. I (marketing freelancer) dabbled with other markets, but have had the most success with my niche based on my experience and I now focus on that. I know another freelancer that also dabbled in other markets and has gone back to 'her' markets. It is much easier to sell yourself to a market where you have form. I am guessing the same will go for copywriting.
Freelancing has lots of benefits. The week before Xmas I was able to take time off to go to the DC's Christmas plays, sit in a pub at 16:00 having a drink with a friend one day and sort out some home stuff. I had worked like a slave for the past 3 months...but I savoured the downtime etc.
I set up my own business 2 years ago and although there are some downsides I do love it.
I love being my own boss, Like margot above I could go to all the school plays/xmas events without having to beg a manager for time off or feeling guilty. It feels very satisfying to have my own business and I really feel I have achieved something. I can also decide to put my rates up when I need to so don't have to ask for pay rises from managers etc and basically I am my brand so I can run things and market them how I like them to be.
The stressful side is that I never really feel like I get a break as I work from home so there is always the temptation to check emails in the evening or at weekends which you wouldn't tend to do in a 9-5 job. It's also hard balancing work and life and it is a resolution of mine to do this in 2015!
Good luck with your new venture!
I'm a freelance copywriter, and I agree with the recommendation to stick to your own niches as the pay is better. Also, try to hold out for a good rate initially. I get a lot of business through sites like PeoplePerHour and Elance, but the rates aren't great so if you've got a network you can tap into I'd focus on that first. Hope all goes well with the move & the new role.
Have confidence in your rates - it's easy to drum up clients who don't pay in the hope that you'll be able to get your rates up later once they've realised how brilliant you are but that never happens - they just move on to the next low-charging keen bean on the block.
If you charge fixed rates for jobs then state in writing how many drafts/amends that generally includes. Early on I did a fixed rate, all went swimmingly till it went to the very last decision-maker for approval, she hated the entire approach and it had to be rewritten from scratch. I had quoted on a fixed rate with no caveats and just had to swallow the extra work.
Now as standard I quote for one draft, one lot of substantial amends (ie getting the draft to a point where we're all happy) then one lot of minor amends.
I will do more than that if I have to, but reserve the right to re-quote for additional work.
Network network network. Work comes from people who know you already usually. Occasionally word of mouth. But generally websites etc are just to "seal the deal", networking face to face is the best way to get work.
As already said - my main advice (as a freelance copywriter for the last five years) is to never under sell yourself unless you are starting from scratch.
if you have zero experience then sites such as PPH are brilliant. You can easily pick up some easy and quick jobs to get something decent into your portfolio. Then strike out and start getting proper clients.
Have set working hours and stick to them. I failed to do this and now work my job around my day. This involves getting up early, popping to the shops, housework breaks, impromptu lunches with my husband. etc.
it sounds lovely, but it really eats into your work time and earnings and removes your focus.
Turn off your computer at 5.30pm and don't check your emails!
Agree about networking.
Agree about finding a specialised niche.
And agree about not underselling yourself (something I am not very good at!)
This is all good advice. I have about 15 yrs experience as a writer and for the past 4 yrs I've been at an agency (last 2 as Senior Copywriter) so I feel fairly secure in my abilities. Need to think about pricing that is fair to both sides. I am going to have a website but mainly as an online portfolio.
When you network, be confident about asking people you know personally if they know anyone else who might be interested in you. Then mention the personal contact at the beginning of any contact you have with the new person. Ie if Sue says you should talk to Fred, email Fred mentioning Sue in the subject line and starting with 'Sue recommended I contact you (or similar'. I've got work from contacts-of-contacts this way in the past.
And thank everyone who recommends you to anyone.
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