Entries Tagged 'freelance copywriting' ↓
August 26th, 2015 — Freelance advice, freelance copywriter, freelance copywriting
Running a freelance business is great…most of the time.
The pluses include:
- No more 9 to 5
- No boss breathing down your neck
- You get to choose your working hours
- You can run your business in a way that suits you
Of course, any freelancer also knows that what that really means is:
- You can end up working a lot more than just 9 to 5
- You have no boss so the buck stops with you
- You have to work the hours your workload dictates
- You’re the only one in your business so you have to be Jack of all trades
From an employees perspective freelancers have an easy life, but we know that’s not always true – especially in the early days.
One of the toughest bits of freelancing is finding a constant stream of clients.
The freelancer’s workload is notorious: one minute you’re up to your eye balls the next tumble weed is rolling through your office because work as dried up.
What can be done?
Can anything be done, or is that just part of being a freelancer?
Client churn is a natural part business. When you’re busy everything’s rosy, but you tend to be so busy you let your marketing slide. As a consequence, once your project is complete there’s nothing to follow it up with.
Where do clients come from?
Everyone has a favourite way of attracting clients:
- Website traffic
- Through blogging and article marketing
- Social media
A lot of freelancers tend to put all their eggs in one basket, either relying on Google, or relying on local networking events.
The problem is when Google changes its algorithms your rankings are likely to take a hit, causing a reduction in traffic and therefore enquiries. With local networking, you’re limiting your audience and may find it tough to find a fresh pool of clients.
What’s the most effective way to find clients?
Using a mixture of methods.
Ahem – existing clients?
True – your existing and past clients are also a rich source of work. Plus, because they’ve already worked with you, they’re warm leads.
Staying in touch with your past clients is a great way to generate new work. You never know when they’re going to need you again, so drop them a line every month and keep them in the loop about new projects you’re involved with or new services you’re offering.
Notice I said stay in touch? That doesn’t mean emailing them every month asking for work. Send them useful information and tips to keep your relationship with them alive – don’t beg.
Maintaining a constant workflow in the world of the freelancer is essential, but difficult to achieve. Even with the best systems in place you’re likely to see peaks and troughs, but by getting organised and maintaining contact with past clients you’ll have the best possible chance of a constant income.
Author – Sally Ormond, Briar Copywriting Ltd
June 17th, 2015 — Copywriting careers, Freelance advice, freelance copywriter, freelance copywriting
Oh, for the life of a freelancer.
No more 9 to 5, no demanding boss, no more commuting, no more pointless meetings…
But hang on, freelancing means no more regular pay cheques, no paid holiday or sick leave… what about my pension? Where’s my security gone?
On the face of it being a freelancer appears to be the first step to the utopian lifestyle you’ve always dreamt of. But once the rose tint has worn off your glasses, you’ll begin to see that it’s not as cushy as you first thought.
That’s not to say you shouldn’t dive in and give it a go (it’s worked very well for me for the past 7 years), but if you do, make sure you have realistic expectations.
The life of a freelancer
Starting out on your own can be a scary business. There are lots of things to consider and if I covered them all this would turn into a novel rather than a blog post. So for now I’m just going to look at two aspects – finding clients and growing a thick skin.
Hello? Clients? Where Are You?
To be a freelancer you need clients, so where are you going to look for them?
In your previous life it was never an issue. The marketing department took care of the ‘finding customers’ malarkey leaving you to get on with your work. But now the responsibility is all yours – you lucky thing.
A website, Facebook page, Twitter account and blog are not going to bring the constant stream of clients you need, at least not without your input. Marketing yourself online is only one piece of the puzzle; the other is getting out there and meeting people.
If that fills you with dread, don’t worry you’re not alone. Networking isn’t for everyone, I should know. It has to be one of the worst aspects of the job for me. Walking into a room full of strangers makes my blood run cold. But it is a necessary evil if you are to get your name known.
Another way of finding new clients is to actively build relationships with local design agencies – web designers are always on the look out for good copywriters to work with.
To widen your net further and target your dream clients, why not try a mail shot?
Create a list of companies you would like to work with. Then find the name of the person you need to contact (usually the Marketing Manager/Director depending on the size of the company) and create the best sales letter you’ve ever written. Send them a little freebie to make your letter stand out and follow up with a phone call – you never know what doors that might open.
Once you have your clients and work starts to trickle in, another challenge arises.
On the whole there are 3 types of client:
- Those who hire you because they need your expertise and trust your judgement
- Those who hire you, tell you what they want and then change their minds after you’ve written it
- Those who brief you and then re-write everything because they believe they are far superior writers
The first type is a gift and usually a joy to work with.
The second can be annoying, but a well-written proposal stipulating exactly what your fee covers and the hourly rate that will be charged for any extra work not originally briefed, usually solves any issues.
But the third will make your life hell.
Despite the fact your client has actively sought your professional writing services, they will believe they know better than you.
So what do you do when your first draft comes back with a scathing email?
- Take a deep breath
- Go outside and scream at a tree
- Return to your desk and think about your response rationally
Sitting down with them is the best way to sort this out. You can then calmly discuss the original brief and show how you fulfilled it and ask them what it is they don’t like and work with them to resolve it.
This ‘working together’ approach is usually best as it makes them feel more involved in the process and makes them feel valued.
Should you give it a go?
What have you got to lose?
Despite the ups and downs (let’s face it, every type of work as plenty of those), freelancing is a rewarding and enjoyable way to earn a living.
The freedom and potential financial rewards it offers far outweigh any of the downsides. If you’re prepared to work at it and never give up you will succeed.
What are you waiting for?
Sally Ormond is copywriter and MD at Briar Copywriting Ltd. Quite possibly the country’s only cycling copywriter, she’s currently training for an epic bike ride from Newcastle to London – that’s 300 miles in 24 hours! – raising funds for the Make A Wish Foundation.
November 6th, 2013 — Building a business, Freelance advice, freelance copywriter, freelance copywriting
Isn’t it everyone’s dream?
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?
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
March 15th, 2013 — copywriting tips, Freelance advice, freelance copywriter, freelance copywriting, Interview techniques
As a freelance copywriter you will, at some point in your career, have to interview a client.
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.
March 8th, 2013 — Freelance advice, freelance copywriter, freelance copywriting
This post was prompted by an interview on BBC Breakfast this morning. The discussion centred around whether workers should be allowed to work remotely and why some companies insist on their staff being in the office.
Of course, technology today means that working remotely is easy with very few barriers to overcome, but is it really the most efficient and effective way of working?
Before I began my copywriting agency I used to work in a traditional office environment, actually is was a bank. Needless to say due to the nature of the work I did, remote working wasn’t a consideration. Being in amongst my colleagues meant that there were always people to ask for advice, always someone to bounce ideas off and a real camaraderie. Granted, at times it could be a noisy and distracting place to work, but on the whole it seemed beneficial.
Then I went out into the big bad world of business alone. Suddenly, rather than being surrounded by friendly faces I was on my own. Overnight I had become the boss, financial controller, marketing director, sales executive and customer service officer – quite a leap. But more than that, I’d gone from an office of 20 -30 people to an office of 1.
Now my colleagues were virtual and could only be contacted by Skype, email or phone. None of these are exactly difficult to use, but it wasn’t quite the same as being able to turn around and speak to someone on the desk next to me.
To my surprise it didn’t take me too long to get used to this new working environment. As I became a competent tweeter my network widened even further to include other professionals with expertise in areas that I knew nothing about.
Although the buzz of a hectic office was gone, I found the silence comforting and beneficial. So much so that now, should I have a second person in my office, it is very annoying and makes it very difficult for me to concentrate on what I’m doing.
Home or away?
Whether you should or should not allow your workers to do their jobs remotely comes down to the business you’re in.
If you’re working with confidential information then it’s a no brainer, unless you want sensitive data left in the back of cabs or on trains. But if your workers are doing a job that doesn’t demand high levels of security, that doesn’t require them to work constantly within a team environment, then why not let them work from home?
Some companies argue that it is beneficial for their staff to work within their team, so they have people to refer to because it enhances their knowledge and will help them to become better employees. OK, for some that might be true, but for many people the option to work from home at least once or twice a week would benefit them greatly. And it they’re happy and it makes their lives easier, surely that will bring benefits to the company too?
After a quick glance at the i newspaper at lunchtime, a story about Yahoo! caught my eye. Apparently they have banned their staff from working from home. A memo was sent by the company’s head of resources told Yahoo! staff that they had until the summer to migrate back to the company HQ in Sunnyvale, California or forfeit their job amid mounting concern that workers were “hiding” from bosses who had lost track of who was supposed to be where and doing what.
The memo went on to say “to become the absolute best place to work, communication and collaboration will be important, so we need to be working side by side. That is why it is critical that we are all present in our offices. Some of the best decisions and insights come from hallway and cafeteria discussions, meeting new people and impromptu team meetings.”
The article then goes on to say that in response, Richard Branson commented that “If you provide the right technology to keep in touch, maintain regular communication and get the right balance between remote an doffice working, people will be motivated to work responsibly, quickly and with high quality.”
Over to you
Whether you’re an employer or an employee we’d love to hear your thoughts on this issue.
Do you wish your company would let you work from home? Perhaps you’d prefer to remain in the office?
Whatever your thoughts, air them in the comments section below – I’d love to see what you have to say on this issue.
Sally Ormond, Copywriter and MD at Briar Copywriting Ltd