Six month health and sanity check #FreelanceLife

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I’ve been living the dream for well and truly six months, going it alone as a freelance copywriter and journalist. While my bank account was a lot healthier during my days at Yahoo!, I’m finally feeling like I’m starting to earn something resembling a living. I’m proud of how far I’ve come this year, but if I could go back to January and tell myself a few things, I’d save myself a few headaches. Here are some of the pieces of freelance copywriter advice worth sharing:

1. Start as you mean to continue Don’t get all excited because you finally have a client and tell them it’s not a problem to do some work for them on a Saturday afternoon. Don’t proceed to let your eagerness give them the impression that it’s totally fine for you to cancel your plans and sit by the computer for two hours waiting for them to email the details you need to get started. All this does is give the client licence to continue to walk all over you. Then they’ll be disappointed and confused when you finally bluntly decline a 10pm request with a three hour turnaround. Set your standards early, include your availability and how and when you want to be paid.

2. Toughen up Princess There’s a heck of a lot of scouting for work required when you’re starting out as a freelancer. You have to be bold enough to repeatedly knock on doors. When the rejections happen (and they do, constantly) you have to figure out fast how to shrug them off and look for the next thing.

3. Brush up on Marketing 101 And Sales 101. Then there’s Accounting 101, Client Management, Customer Service, Quality Control, Operations and Tech Support. It’s all you baby. The sooner you get comfortable with the standards and practices that work for you, the sooner you’ll be able to stop faffing about with invoice software and focus on making $$$.

4. Figure out how to network Showing up with a smile and a business card won’t get you clients. Be prepared to engage in real conversation and think about what you can do for people in terms of using their service or referring business to them before you start hassling them to let you rewrite their web copy.

5. Find your stress outlet “The dream” is to work from home, with your feet up on the coffee table and a plate of Tim Tams within arms reach. The reality can be lonely and even a bit depressing. I’ve found I have to make an effort to get out of the house and make contact with real people (toddlers don’t count) on a regular basis. Catching up with friends or peers energises me and digs me out of the sole operator funk that I slide into after a few consecutive days of Tim Tam munching.

The final piece of advice that I’d give myself? Outsource the tech support!

Clea Sherman is a freelance copywriter based on Sydney’s Northern Beaches. Find out more at   Photo by Dr Farouk

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