Entries Tagged 'Freelance advice' ↓

How to Survive a Work Drought

Work drought

Working for yourself is something many people aspire to, but being self-employed or running your own business is not without its challenges. Unlike a regular job where your salary pops into your bank account every month, being self-employed means your income may sometimes be variable. It’s great when you have more work than you can physically do, but when work dries up for whatever reason, it doesn’t take long for the cash flow to dry up, too. But although this scenario can easily snowball into a nightmare of Stephen King proportions, with a bit of careful planning and some damage limitation strategies in place, you can survive the drought.

Where Has All the Work Gone?

When work dries up, it is a good idea to assess the situation fast. Ask around to see if everyone else in your niche is in the same boat. If they are, you can take a bit of comfort from that. It isn’t ideal, but at least you know others are sharing your pain. If you are the only one struggling, however, think about why that might be the case. Did you put all your eggs in one basket and when a major client bailed you lost a significant portion of your income? If so, learn from this mistake and next time make sure you think about taking on lots of smaller clients instead of one large client, thus spreading the risk.

Saving for a Rainy Day

One lesson I have learned the hard way during my years as a freelancer is that saving for a rainy day is essential—unless you enjoy eating baked beans for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Since it is inevitable that work availability is sometimes affected by wider economy, the best way to ride out the lean times is to have some savings put away.

When the money is rolling in and you have potential clients beating a path to your door, it is undeniably tempting to think the good times are going to keep on rolling. But as a small business owner, sole trader or freelancer you can’t afford to take such a short-term view. Always, always have savings in reserve to help tide you over when work dries up. This rainy day fund may just keep your business ticking over when everyone around you is going to the wall.

Become a Marketing Whiz

If business has been good for a long time, you have probably gotten out of the habit of marketing your services. After all, why would you need to go looking for work when clients have been calling you? But if work has dried up, it is time to brush up on your marketing skills. Make a point of setting aside a specific amount of time per day to spend on marketing your products or services. Make a list of different methods to try and explore every possible avenue in your efforts to find work.

Tighten Your Belt

Unless you fancy going out with a bang, cutting back on your expenditure is sensible when work is thin on the ground. Look at where you can cut costs. Even finding a cheaper electricity supplier could make a difference—every little helps!

Diversification Rocks

As I have already mentioned, placing all your eggs in one basket is a risky proposition. Should that client refuse to pay or simply disappear one day, it could leave you massively in the lurch. Diversifying your income stream is a sensible plan for lean times. Get creative and consider branching out into different areas or offering new services. Look at your competitors and see how they are coping—and if they are doing something different, give it a go.


No man or woman is an island, and irrespective of what business niche you are in, networking is never a waste of time. Keeping in touch with your peers and potential clients, both in the real world and online, is a useful way of keeping up to speed with what is happening in your niche. At best it could land you a new client, but even if it doesn’t, at least you will benefit from the support of people in the same predicament as you.

Have a Back-Up Plan

Have a backup plan for when times are tough. Hopefully it’s only a temporary situation, but in case the work drought lasts for a while make sure you have a Plan B before you end up in a dire financial predicament. This could involve taking a part-time job to help pay the bills, or even putting your business on hold for a few weeks or months until things pick up again. But either way, do not be tempted to stick your head in the sand in the hope that your problems will go away. They won’t!

As long as you have savings in place and a few creative marketing strategies in mind, there is no reason why you can’t survive the lean times. However, do make sure you learn from your experiences so you can use them to your advantage the next time it all goes pear-shaped.


This post was written by Laura Ginn, owner of Ink Elves, a freelance writing company based in the UK.

How to Cope With Business Relationships That Breakdown

It’s a side of business no one wants to talk about.

But the truth is, at some point during your business career you will experience a relationship breakdown with a client.

It is probably one of the hardest things to deal with whether you’re a freelancer or a small business owner. Apart from the fact it means you’re not going to be paid (at least in full), it also hurts because you always want to do your best for your customers and it can come as a slap in the face when, even though you have, they (or you) decide to walk away.

Why things go wrong

Before I go on, this is written from a freelancer’s point of view (because that’s what I am). Although most of the scenarios are written from a copywriter’s perspective (again, because that’s what I am), they can relate to any service provider (they are also fiction, but good illustrations of why things can go pear shaped).

1. Bad brief

In an ideal world, you would go out and meet every new client. During this meeting you will be able to suss them out and come away with a detailed brief.

Of course, it’s not an ideal world and that can’t always happen.

Getting as much detail as possible from a client is essential, but also not always that easy. Some clients believe that as you are a copywriter they can just say ‘I want 3 web pages written’ and it will magically appear.

Don’t be afraid to ask loads of questions, you have to if you are to get a full and clear picture of what they and their customers are looking for.

A bad brief is a disaster waiting to happen. At best it will lead to umpteen rounds of revisions, at worst it will lead to a breakdown in your relationship with your client, or rather soon to be ex-client.

2. Indecisiveness

This usually relates to the client not really knowing what they want.

Someone has probably told them they need a copywriter, but they’re not sure why.

They won’t really know what style they want, what sort of layout, or what the main benefits of their product/service are.

This can only spell disaster. The only solution is to speak with them at length, ask a lot of questions and then make suggestions. It is also a good idea to ask for examples of any particular styles of writing they like. After all, it’s much easier to emulate a style if you can actually see it.

3. Too many cooks

One of the first questions I always ask is what is the review process?

If only one person is to sign it off, who just happens to be the person giving the brief, you can breathe a sigh of relief. But if it is someone else, or worse, a whole gaggle of managers, you could be in trouble.

It’s very unlikely they will all have the same view on content and style, so be prepared for multiple revisions.

Getting a meeting with all the decision makers at the outset is probably a pipe dream, but if you can make it happen, do – getting some ground rules on style from the start will pay dividends later. It’s also your opportunity to let them know how you work and what you expect of them, especially when there are deadlines to hit.

4. Fixed ideas

Now and then you’ll come across someone who knows exactly what they want.

Fantastic! I hear you cry.

You would have thought so, but this can also be bad news.

What happens when their fixed ideas won’t work? They’ve called you in because you are the expert in copy, but when you tell them how their content should be written (i.e. benefits led, second person, informal, engaging etc.) they shout you down and tell you “that won’t work, I want it like this…”

The problem is, what they want won’t work in a month of Sunday’s.

The choice here is to persevere, do what they want and risk ruining your reputation, or walking away due to irreconcilable differences.

The main tip I can give you when taking on new clients is to trust your instincts. Take it from someone who knows. Thankfully, since starting out as a freelance copywriter about 6 years ago, I’ve only had to walk away twice. But if I’d listened to the little voice in my head, I would never have taken on either client in the first place.

I probably agreed because I didn’t have a lot on at the time and had the capacity, but something told me it was a bad idea, and stupidly, I ignored the voice because I knew best.

Well these days that little voice gets the final say.

Your instincts will tell you if the job is right for you or not. It will probably take a little while to distinguish between the good and the not so good, but when you can it will save you a lot of hassle.

Author: Sally Ormond




Successful Home Working – How to Adapt from Office Life

Isn’t it everyone’s dream? home working

Working from home, no long morning commute, peace and quite and being on time for dinner every night.

It sounds idyllic, but for many it’s a culture shock too far.

So how do you successfully adapt from an office life to one working from home?

The office

Life in the office can be frustrating, political, competitive and noisy.

But having said that it’s a dynamic environment full of like minded people who you can bounce ideas off, have a laugh with and confide in.

Of course, the downside is that you have to be at your desk at a certain time and, at times, can feel pressured to be the last one to leave to show your dedication.

That’s why so many people want to work from home, but is it really so idyllic?

Working from home

I’ve been working from my home office for about 10 years now (in various roles, presently as a copywriter) and have learnt how to cope with the different pressures and difficulties home working throws at me.

1. Designated workspace

The most important aspect of successfully working from home is having your own dedicated workspace.

Using a room that has a double purpose (i.e. your office that’s also your kitchen/dining room/living room/spare room) is doomed to failure from the beginning.

You must have your own space that you can set up as a permanent office that feels separate to the rest of the house.

My office is downstairs. Its sole purpose is as an office so all my computers, papers and files are set up as I want them without having to clear everything away at the end of the day.

2. Schedule

Just because you work from home doesn’t mean you don’t have to keep a regular work schedule.

OK, there’s no boss breathing down your neck if you’re not at your desk by 9am, but that doesn’t mean you can just drift in and out whenever you feel like it.

It’s important to structure your day as if you were at the office. Make sure you’re at your desk at the same time each day and finish on time. When working from home it’s very easy to be sucked into the ‘just 5 more minutes’ mentality that inevitably sees you still at your desk at 10 o’clock at night.

Have a set start and finish time. Although be prepared to be flexible, especially if you also have a family to think about.

3. Breaks

Without the chatter of colleagues and the lure of the staff room, it’s easy to sit at your desk in the morning and not move until you run out of steam in the afternoon.

Regular breaks are essential to keep your motivation and energy levels up. Get out for some fresh air, have a coffee with friends and make sure you take a lunch break. That way you’ll break up your day (just as you would in the office), you’ll get some fresh air and that much needed human contact.

4. Dress

No one can see you. There’s no boss to have a go at you. However, that doesn’t mean you should sit at your desk in your PJs.

I wouldn’t go so far as to suggest that you don a suit when working from home (unless you really want to), but dress smartly to reinforce the fact that you’re at work.

5. I’m working!

Another thing to consider, especially if you live with someone else and/or have a family, is to get other members of the household to appreciate the fact that, although you’re at home, you’re working.

It’s very easy for people to think that because you’re at home you can also get the housework, washing and all manner of other household chores done because simply because you’re there.

It’s up to you to make sure they understand that you are working.

If you want to work from home can be isolating so it’s important that you chat with colleagues just as you would in the office, but on top of that, you must also be:

  • Disciplined
  • Motivated
  • Organised

Pretty much the same qualities you need in an office environment too, you just won’t have the boss breathing down your neck all the time.


Image courtesy of iconmac/FreeDigitalPhotos

Freelance Copywriting Help – There’s no ‘I’ in Interview

As a freelance copywriter you will, at some point in your career, have to interview a client. Interviewing copywriting clients

Ideally, you’ll be doing it a lot, as it is by far the best way to get the information you need to create winning copy.

So, what do I mean by there being no ‘I’ in interview?

Well, you’re conducting the interview to gather information; you need to come away knowing:

  • Who your client is and what they do
  • Why they do it?
  • Who they do it for?
  • How they help their clients
  • How they want to come across in their marketplace
  • What their brand image is
  • How they want to sound

And that’s just for starters.

But have you noticed something about that list?

It’s all about them – your client. There is nothing in that list about you and that’s just how it should be.

Being your client

There are people out there who see copywriting as simply writing about a company and its products or services.


For starters is should be about your client’s customers and the benefits they receive as a result of dealing with your client.

But it’s also more than that; when writing for your client you have to forget about how you would phrase things or the vocabulary you would use and instead write as though you were your customer.

Obviously, you would use the techniques within your writing that you know work, because you’re a copywriter and your business is writing great copy. But every piece of work you do should be different, because every client you work with is different.

Taking on someone else’s persona is not an easy task, but if you want your copy to appear genuine, it’s what you have to do.

So don’t go into a client interview with preconceived ideas of how you’re going to write for them. Just because they’re an IT company and the last job you did was for another IT company, doesn’t mean you can get away with writing in exactly the same style because they’re different companies.

Forcing a client into a preconceived idea or template is asking for trouble. As a writer you have to be able to mould your writing style to the personality of your client and, if necessary, blend perfectly with the existing voice used on their other marketing materials.

There’s no room for egos in copywriting. It’s your job to meld perfectly with the company’s personality and brand image.

4 Tips For Creatively Marketing Yourself

The following guest post was written by Luke Clum. The author’s views are entirely his own and may not reflect the views of FreelanceCopywritersBlog.com. If you are interested in producing a Guest Post for this blog, please get in touch with your ideas.


Content marketing is a fertile field for freelance writers these days; in fact, it’s one of the few areas in which opportunities for writers seem to be getting better, not exploding in a newspaper-fueled inferno. But good content writing jobs won’t fall in your lap just because you woke up one day and said, “I’ve got it! I’ll be a writer.” Getting these jobs requires building a portfolio, being highly adaptable, recognizing promising opportunities, and getting your work into the hands of the right people.
In many articles on the subject, you’ll often find the suggestion to join a content mill to build your portfolio, despite the pitiful rate of pay. This actually is a good first step if you’re really starting from scratch (you need to have something professional to show potential clients). But to really stand out from the masses of people calling themselves writers these days, you’ve got to consciously create content that really brands you as an industry and creative leader. Here are our top 4 tips for doing just that.

1. Become an Informational Resource

By now, you’ve probably been told a million times that you should start a blog to show prospective clients. Again, this is true, but keep in mind that since this is often a baseline (i.e. something that’s strange not to have but not particularly distinctive if you do) your blog or website has to stand out in some way. One of the best ways to do this is to pick a niche and brand yourself as an informational resource by producing a few great pieces of content.

As an example, take the cloud accounting service, Xero, which produced this cloud computing guide as a helpful resource for its current and potential customers. The guide not only addresses a very relevant and widespread question (“Just what is the cloud?”), but it also showcases the company as a fun, down to earth, and helpful brand. And, as an added benefit, stand-alone resources like this are far more likely to go viral than a single company website.
Much the same is the case for the insurance company Simply Business, which has branded itself as a business resource centre with things like this guide to social media success. While not all of the company’s potential customers will want to look through these resources, many will, meaning guides like these both widen the company’s audience and instantly establish their credibility.

While you won’t have the same resources as these companies, the point remains the same. Take the time to develop great informational content that can act as a standalone piece. If you have any interests or specialities as it is, create a resource that answers questions you know are common within that niche, or use the Google Keyword Tool to find what potential readers are searching for. With compelling, impressive resources like this, a potential client will learn a lot more about you than if you were to send them yet another top 10 list.

2. Volunteer…Strategically

Another way to find distinctive material for your content portfolio and to get your work out in front of movers and shakers is to volunteer at a place you really “get.” This could be at an organization that’s within the industry you’re looking to enter, or it could be a cause you’re really passionate about. Either way, sticking with your interests will put you in a position where you’ll be more likely to have those creative content ideas, and more convincing in you pitches to your volunteer clients. What’s more, if you’re writing for an organization’s website, you’ll likely gain a lot of exposure for your work while also adding to your portfolio. The better the job you do, the more likely the people you’re volunteering with will be to use you in their own businesses or refer you down the line.

3. Partner Up

Content writers don’t operate in a vacuum. Where once editors used to be a writer’s most crucial contact (and, don’t get me wrong, they’re still pretty high up there), now partnering with someone in a related industry, like graphic design or SEO, can be just as fruitful a venture. Having a freelance partner means doubling your networking ability. It can also make for a much more convincing sales pitch if you can bill yourselves as a one stop shop kind of place. What’s more, if you’re looking to create those specific resources previously mentioned but you don’t yet have a niche, partnering up can be just what you need, as you can then take your partner’s expertise and get it down in written form, establishing an expert’s reputation for you both.

4. Become a Microblogger on Social Media

Social media isn’t just about promoting your content (though that certainly is important). Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn are all potential sites for microblogging. Through tweets and status updates, you can post helpful tips in your distinctive and creative voice. On Facebook and LinkedIn, you can write blog posts and join industry groups with discussion boards. These are all forms of content creation, and the more regularly and uniquely you embrace them, the more you’ll stand out.


When you’re a freelance content writer, your content is your marketing. Showing clients what you can do with the resources you create and the impact you can make on social media is showing them just what you can do for them, should they take you on board. Make it helpful, full of expertise, fun and interesting to read, and your content writing career will take off in no time.


Author Bio

Luke Clum is a graphic designer and writer from Seattle. Follow him on Twitter @lukeclum