Do you have dreams of being your own boss? Being able to pick and choose your hours and work at home in your pyjamas and slippers? If so, freelance copywriting may be what you’re looking for.

But before you pack up your desk and fire your boss, you need to understand what you’re in for, when you choose to work for yourself.

Freelance copywriting is rewarding. But it takes a lot of grit, determination, and discipline to make it work Click To Tweet

The buck stops with you

While it probably sounds great not to have a boss, the reality is you still have one — it’s you! You are now solely responsible for all business decisions (and consequences of them). There is no longer any up-line manager to direct your work flow, and you can’t blame anyone else for your failures. On the flip-side, you get to make all the decisions, and take all credit for your success. Are you ready to be 100% accountable?

You’ll wear many hats

When you run your own freelance copywriting business you’ll need to wear many hats. The obvious one is the ‘creative’ hat. However, you’ll also need to be a ‘manager’, ‘marketer’, ‘financial controller’, and ‘accountant’. You’ll also be in charge of ‘customer relations’, dealing with difficult and delightful clients alike.

Freelancer copywriters often wear many hats - marketing managers, account managers, financial controllers, web desginers - and then you have to find time to write on top of all that! Click To Tweet

Prepare to learn new things

Following on from the above, you’ll need to learn new skills. You might be the world’s best copywriter, but unless you know how to market those services, you won’t get much work. Key skills you need to learn include social media management, networking, budgeting, accounting and invoicing, and web design (unless you outsource, but not many newbies can afford that). You’ll also need to have a basic grasp of SEO — unless you can afford to fork out thousands of dollars for someone else to do that for you too.

No work = no pay

This is probably the scariest of all, but it’s a cold, hard reality. Unless you work, you don’t get paid. That means you’ll need to have a pipeline of work that is constantly full, if you expect to earn a full-time wage from freelance copywriting. This often takes time, so make sure you have some savings to live off, until your business starts turning a profit, and begins earning you a decent wage.

Not all your hours are ‘billable’

Even if you have a steady stream of work coming in, not all your working hours are ‘billable’, so you’ll need to factor ‘unbillable’ hours into your workflow. This is so you can do tasks such as updating your website, writing your blog, attending to your accounts and invoices, etc. Don’t get caught filling your week with ‘paid jobs’, and no time for the other important stuff, or you’ll find yourself working around the clock, and over your weekends to get it all done.

Freelance copywriting can be lonely

Being a freelancer means working alone. Sure, you’ll be dealing with clients, and you may even get out and network every now and then. However, the majority of your work days will involve you sitting alone with your cuppa and your laptop. This can feel lonely at times. If you enjoyed the bustle of a busy office, you may wish to investigate co-working spaces.

If you love your own company, a laptop and a cuppa, then freelancing might be for you. If you love chats around the water-cooler, you might want to think again. Click To Tweet

You need self-discipline

Being your own boss means you can pick and choose your hours of work. It’s one of the things I like best about working for myself. While this freedom is a definite perk of owning your own business, you’ll need to temper the freedom with a good dose of self-discipline. When the deadlines are calling, but you’re not in the mood to work, will you be disciplined enough to get on with it anyway? Even if you don’t have a lot of deadlines, will you resist the temptation to skive off instead of working on business-building activities? If you aren’t a self-starter who’s self-disciplined, then the freelance copywriting gig is probably not for you.

You’ll make difficult decisions

One of the down-sides of working as a freelance copywriter is that you have to make all the decisions — some of which are difficult. You may need to ‘fire’ a client because the relationship just isn’t working. You’ll need to be firm with clients who continually want to ‘push the boundaries’ or ‘work out of scope’. You may even need to chase unpaid accounts or go down the debt-collection path. None of these things are easy, but you need to be willing to do them.

The freelance copywriting life can be a hard slog at times. It can take a while to become established, and work may not always be plentiful. You’ll need to be patient and willing to work hard. But if you do, a rewarding copywriting career can be all yours.

Special note:

If you’re a newbie copywriter, or someone considering embarking on a freelance copywriting career, head on over to The Clever Copywriting School. There’s loads of information to help you, and a paid membership will be one of the best things you’ll ever invest in. Oh, and you’ll also get to hang out with other copywriters either on Facebook or at networking events. If you end up joining, look me up while you’re there!

Cheers
Nerissa

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