Wanna be a freelance copywriter? 4 questions to ask first…

Wanna be a freelance copywriter? 4 questions to ask first…

Did you know Glenn Murray is actually my biggest competitor when it comes to copywriter ranking on Google?
We regularly wrestle for the top spot like two eager otters.

So why would I let him guest post on my website and give him my lovely link juice?

Well because he writes a mean post, he shares his link juice freely and he’s a fellow coastie! So take it away Glenn, mi casa es su casa.

Freelance copywriting is tough. Not tough like being a construction worker or an athlete. Tough like being that kid from the Far Side who asks to be excused from class ‘coz his brain’s full.

That’s pretty much how I’ve felt every day for the past 11 years.

As a freelance copywriter, you’ll do long hours. You’ll worry all the time. You’ll feel like you’re never on top of things. You’ll forget what it was like to leave work at work. You’ll spend entire months completely broke, wondering if you’re fooling yourself. You’ll discover the full potential of the Internet to an entrepreneur, only to realise you have neither the time nor the funds to be one. You’ll become a different person.

So you have to ask yourself some tough questions before you jump in…

1) Can you take the financial hit?

You need to know exactly how much of a financial hit you can take. Because you will take a hit.

In my first 5 months as a freelance copywriter, my income dropped by nearly $4k per month. But I knew it was coming, and I knew I could handle it. In fact, I was expecting to take a far greater hit than I did.

You need to do some profit and loss projections, and some serious budgeting. Only then will you know whether you’ll be able to ride it out.

2) Can you work hard enough?

Working from home is bloody hard. You need to be prepared for a lot of extra hours in the office, including a whole heap of late nights, early mornings and weekends. You won’t get paid annual leave, sick days or public holidays. You’ll have to become an expert on a different product or service every day. You’ll have to manage difficult clients, quote on vague briefs, and chase outstanding invoices. You’ll go crazy from a lack of socialising and you’ll miss working as part of a team. You’ll have to fix your own computer problems, do your own bookkeeping and market yourself non-stop. And you’ll have to remain creative, the whole time.

Worst of all, you’ll no longer be able to leave work at work…

Can you handle it?

3) Can your relationship survive it?

Becoming a freelance copywriter is tough. No question. But it’ll be tougher on your partner…

  • They won’t truly understand the business – They won’t get involved in the inner workings of your learn-copywriting-coursescopywriting business, so they won’t really understand things. Like the financial ups and downs, the benefits of long term investments, why you simply can’t say no to some clients, and why some seemingly trivial events are exciting and others are devastating.
  • They’ll have to work harder – Even though you’ll be home all day, they’ll have to do more work around the house because you’ll always be working.
  • You’ll annoy the hell out of them – You’ll be in your partner’s face all day, so you’ll soon be the most annoying person in their world!
  • They’ll get less quality time with you – Even when you’re not technically working, you’ll still be thinking about it.

These issues can quickly lead your partner to resent your copywriting business. So they’ll need to ‘buy in’ as a committed business partner. They need to be ready for a long, hard slog.

And just as they’re being a genuine partner to you, you’ll need to be a genuine partner to them. They’ll be enabling you: All the work they’ll do around the house, is work you won’t have to do (you’re effectively outsourcing those tasks, so you can get on with your copywriting). Likewise, any money they earn is money you don’t have to earn. You’ll need to appreciate their role, and do all you can to ease their workload.

TIP: We follow a simple rule at home: ‘No-one works alone.’ I don’t sit down to relax until Sharon does.

4) Do you have young kids?

Unless you’re made redundant from your 9-to-5 (as I was) or some similar spanner is thrown in the works, avoid launching your copywriting business if you have young kids.

  • Kids are expensive! – When you first start your business, you probably won’t be earning very much. And kids’ expenses never stop.
  • Someone has to look after them – If you’re the primary caregiver, you won’t have much time for your copywriting business. If your partner looks after them, they won’t be able to support you (financially or emotionally). And if they’re in childcare, you’ll have to pay for it — and that’ll probably cost more than your fledgling copywriting business turns over.
  • They don’t leave you much mind-space – When you start your own copywriting business, you think about it all the time, both in and out of the office. Young kids don’t understand that. They demand your attention, and if you can’t let work go, everyone suffers.
  • They don’t like you to sleep – Copywriting requires creativity. And creativity generally requires sleep. Unfortunately, kids don’t like their parents to sleep, so even if you have the dollars to juggle a new business and a new family, don’t plan on being at your best as you do it.

Over to you

Got a question about becoming a freelance copywriter? Ask away! Or, if you’re already a freelance copywriter, do you have any tips you wish you’d known before you started out? Comment below…

Glenn MurrayGlenn’s a copywriter and information architect. He runs web copywriting and web design studio, Divine Write from his home on the NSW Central Coast.

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