Entries Tagged 'freelance copywriting' ↓

Time Management When You’re Your Own Boss

Working for yourself is the ultimate for many people.time management for copywriters

No moaning boss, no more clock-watching and all the profits are yours. But before you can achieve this utopia there are a few things you have to get to grips with, not least time management.

Back in May we published a post called Time Management for Copywriters, feel free to take a look at the whole post, but just to recap, the main elements you have to master are:

1. Remove distractions

If you work from a home office, it’s very easy to get distracted. Whether it’s by visitors, home phones ringing,  that book you’re desperate to finish  or the temptation to pop out of the office to take care of a household chore or two, they must be ignored.

Having a dedicated office, is a must. You can organise it in a way to suit you without having to clear your things away every evening.

If you work from the kitchen table, just think how much time you waste every week setting your bits and bobs up to start work and then clearing them away again so you can use the table to eat with the family.

2. No Facebook or YouTube

Even though you’re sat in front of a computer most of the day, it doesn’t mean you can idly search the web for your entertainment.

And just in case you were thinking that if no one sees you it doesn’t matter – it does.

Make a rule for yourself that you only ‘play’ online once your working day is over. That way, you can remain focused on the projects you’re working on during the day.

3. Learn to say ‘no’

Unless you want to be working silly hours to try and get your work done and deadlines met, you’ve got to learn to say ‘no’ to those clients who just want one more thing (and usually don’t want to pay for it), to colleagues who just call for a chat, to family who make demands on your time (especially during school holidays) and to projects you know you really can’t squeeze in.

That might sound harsh, but when working from a home office it has to be done now and then.

Make sure your family understand that, even though you work from home, you are still working and they have to respect your work time. And, if you’ve decided you only want to work a certain number of hours a week, stick to it and don’t take on that extra project that’s going to eat into your weekend.

It’s all too easy to end up taking on so much work you’re at your desk 24/7. So be sensible, decide on the number of hours you’re going to work and stick to it.

4. Calendar

Keeping a calendar is a simple but effective way of making sure you hit all your deadlines.

When you’re working on several projects simultaneously, it’s all too easy to lose sight of when each section of work has to be completed.

It will also give you an overview of your capacity for future projects to help prevent you from over committing yourself.

5. Daily to-do list

Don’t laugh, it really does help.

At the beginning of each week I make a plan of what I need to do and when. That way, I make sure my blogging fits in with my client work and meetings. And of course, it also helps to make sure nothing slips through the next.

Yes, it does have to be flexible because you never know what might come in, but at least it’s a way to plan your week effectively.

6. Email watching

OK, hands up if you have that little annoying pop up thingy that appears on your screen every time an email comes in.

It’s so distracting I want you to turn it off immediately.

Limit yourself to checking your emails once, twice or even three times a day. That way, you can get on with the task in hand without being distracted by an intriguing subject line.

7. Timed work slots

This is a great way to make sure you don’t run out of steam during the day.

From your to-do list, you’ll know what you need to do each day. So, allocate a time slot for each task. Once that time is up, have a break – leave the office, make a coffee, wander round the garden or even take the dogs for a walk.

Then, you will return to your desk refreshed and ready to tackle the next task.


But if all else fails you can always resort to drastic measures.

On Mashable there is a fantastic post that tells the story of Maneesh the blogger from San Francisco who realised he was wasting time on sites such as Facebook, YouTube and Reddit when he should have been working. To address this he took the unusual step of advertising on Craigs List and offered to pay someone $8 an hour to slap him when he appeared to be wasting time on a social network.

Did it work?

Well, during the ‘slapping period’ his average productivity level shot through the roof from 38%, on average, to 98%.

Not bad – although a little extreme.

Over to you

What do you do to make sure you stay productive whilst working for yourself?

Who can beat Maneesh for originality?

Go on, leave a comment below.

Starting Your Own Business: a few words of experience

The following guest post was written by Vicky Fraser. The author’s views are entirely her 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.


Anyone who has started their own business knows that it’s terribly exciting – and also that it is, on occasion, terrifying and confusing. There is a wealth of advice and information out there on making the decision to go it alone, and how to go about starting your own business.

But what if, like me, your motivation is more immediate? You don’t so much plan to start your own business as windmill into it headlong with a massive dose of enthusiasm and very little business knowledge to go on.

My motivation was The Worst Job in the WorldTM. The choice was leave, or become (more) ill – genuinely. So I left the job.

Lean on others and use your contacts

I was exceedingly lucky: some old friends who run a creative agency that I’d worked with offered me some freelance work, and my new career snowballed from there! I had always wanted to run my own business, so off I went.

Now, about 50 per cent of my clients come through the agencies I work with. These are contacts that I knew from previous jobs, courses and friendships – and they’ve proved extremely valuable.

The old cliché is true: it’s not necessarily what you know; it’s who you know. Use your contacts and if they’re not appropriate, use their contacts! Don’t be afraid to ask friends and family, too: if you’re good, they’ll know it. People prefer to do business with those they know, like and trust so start with your nearest and dearest.

Business advice and finance

I had work coming in – but now what? Like many freelancers and small business owners, I knew what I was doing when it came to writing, PR and marketing; but when it comes to the ins and outs of running your own business, I was a complete novice.

It is very easy to waste an enormous amount of time and energy on the administrative side of starting your business. Being organised about your tasks and commitments (work, study, home and leisure) is absolutely essential. Being realistic about what you can and can’t do is also key.

Consider using an accountant, especially if you’ve set up a limited company. Doing it yourself may be a false economy – work out how much your hourly rate is, then estimate how long you’ll spend on your accounts. You may be surprised. There are a number of excellent resources online – I cannot recommend SJD Accountants enough for their free advice and information, including downloadable accounts spreadsheets and freelancers’ guides. Likewise, HMRC are a mine of useful information about corporation tax and VAT – not to mention personal accounting.


Never underestimate the value of a support network. There are many and varied business networking groups out there, and there will almost certainly be at least one in your area. I attended my first local networking event recently, and it was £15 well spent (tax deductible, of course!).

Not only did I meet several freelancers (copywriters, graphic designers, photographers and others) to add to my network of talent, I met a group of like-minded, creative, friendly people who all have similar goals. They were generous with their time and experience.

Networking will gain you new contacts and new business opportunities; but it will also give you a support group who are in the same boat, facing the same issues and challenges. That’s worth its weight in gold.

My local group is the Leamington Tweetup, which is a social media-based networking group. There are bound to be similar organisations around the UK (and the world) – but the Chamber of Commerce is probably a good place to start.

Good luck!

Starting your own business is hard work. Let’s make no bones about it: you will work harder than you ever have in your life.

However, it will be the most rewarding work you ever do! Everything you work for is for the benefit of you and your family, rather than for your employer. There’s nothing like working for yourself to get you motivated.

Be prepared to be short of free time, and probably cash, for a while. Work hard, keep your goals in mind, and have fun. There is help and support out there, so take my advice: grab all the help you can get, and enjoy your new life.

Good luck!

Vicky Fraser is a freelance copywriter and marketeer based in Warwickshire. Being a science nerd undertaking a physics degree, she specialises in simplifying and clarifying scientific and technical copy but writes about all manner of things for a wide variety of clients. She blogs about science, freelancing and writing – amongst other things.

Freelance Survival Tips

A lot of people dream of ditching their boss. Freelance survival guide

No more 9 to 5, no more tedious meetings, no more ‘wage slave’ status.

But is it really greener on the other side?

Going freelance definitely gives you an added dimension of freedom than being an employee, but it’s not all a bed of roses.

Firstly, you can kiss goodbye to a regular pay slip. The earning power of the freelancer can outstrip the regular employee, but it is also notoriously unpredictable.

Secondly, although there are no constraints for 9 to 5 working, certainly in the early days you may find your working hours are longer as you try to get established. But the up side of that is that you’re doing it for yourself and not someone else, so you’re more likely to put up with it.

Thirdly, when working for someone else, there’s always another person near by to pass work onto, an IT department not far away when your computer goes wrong and various other experts waiting in the wings when you need them. None of that will be available to you when you go it alone.

But despite all of that, freelancing is a great way to work.

Coping on your own

There will be times when you find yourself under immense pressure.

You’ll be sat at your desk working to tight deadlines, the phone will keep ringing and your inbox will be filling faster than an Apple store at the launch of the latest iPhone. Gradually, you’ll feel the pressure bearing down on you. So how do you cope?

As soon as you feel the dark mist forming, step away from your desk and do something else. Take your dogs for a walk; if you don’t have any, take yourself for a walk. Just get out and switch off.

If you don’t, you’ll end up as the crazy person on the bus no one wants to talk to.

Twitter is also a great substitute for the ‘office’. It’s a great source for research, finding the suppliers you need to help you (especially with things like IT and debt chasing), a sounding board and general camaraderie.

Building a virtual team

Being a freelancer doesn’t mean you have to work completely on your own. Let’s face it, you can’t be an expert in everything, so you’re going to need to find people you can delegate to.

It’s a great idea to build a team around you of fellow professionals you can call on when you need them.

That could be a designer, programmer, writer, accountant, computer whizz, credit control specialist…the list is endless.

At least that way, when something goes wrong and you need a bit of expert help, you know you have someone to call on.

Surviving the day

One of the key skills a freelancer needs is organisation.

To be productive, it’s essential you plan your day. Assign certain blocks of time for each project you’re working on to make sure you don’t waste time. And that includes things like marketing, accounting and other paperwork.

It’s also important to take regular breaks to recharge your batteries. Plus, it will get you away from your computer screen.

If you want to be a successful freelancer remember,

  • Build a support network of experts around you
  • Pass on the jobs you’re not skilled at to those who are
  • Plan your day effectively

Sally Ormond started her own freelance copywriting business in 2007 and has worked with numerous high profile companies, helping them communicate effectively with their customers through the written word. 



A Freelancer’s Life – Who Are You?

For many, working for yourself is a dream come true:Freelancing dreams

  • No more annoying bosses calling the shots
  • You can work the hours that suit you
  • You only work for the people you want to work with

Within reason, you can do what you want, when you want.

Of course, there is always a flip side in that you also have to be Jack of all trades – Managing Director, Finance Director, Operations Director, Customer Service, Sales Director etc.

But all that aside, there is one very important thing you have to do when starting out as a freelancer, and that’s deciding who you are.

Finding your niche

When you start your business, it’s vital you understand what you are and what you offer.

It’s very tempting to say…

 “I am a copywriter. Design? Sure, I can put something together for you. Run your social media accounts? Sure, no problem”

…because you don’t want to appear inflexible, but that could be your downfall.

Defining yourself and what you offer will help you focus your marketing activities to make sure you get in front of the right clients.

 Think marketing

Even though you’d probably love to be able to say ‘yes, I can do that’ to any job that comes along, just think for a moment about how you would marketing yourself.

If your materials and website listed umpteen different skills you could be watering down the effectiveness of your sales campaigns.

When I started out in 2007, I decided I would market myself as a copywriter. To some, even that was too wide and I was advised to specialise in a particular industry.

But I knew that wasn’t for me.


Well, the main skills of a copywriter are to put yourself in the shoes of your client’s customers to discover what it is they need to know to make them buy. Then you have to learn enough about the business to be able to sell its products or services. And you have to adapt your writing style to fit in with their existing brand and tone of voice.

To me, they aren’t industry specific skills.

And it worked. I knew who I was, how I was going to position myself in the market, and, 5 years down the line, business is great.

Where to start

So, if you’re about to head out into the world of freelance, here are a few things to think about:

  • What are your main strengths?
  • Are your skills niche?
  • Who would be your ideal client?
  • What will be your primary service?

Did you notice I mentioned primary service there?

Once you’ve established yourself and have been in business a while, there’s nothing from stopping you realigning your skills to your market. Perhaps it will become apparent that your clients also need another skill you offer (perhaps PR)? In which case, there’s nothing stopping you from adding that to your services list and marketing it to your new and existing clients.

What it all boils down to is that you must work out what you are – once you know that, shout about it.

Over to you

If you’re already freelancing, what was your experience when starting out?

If you’re just thinking about it, what are your plans?

Content Marketing – How to Use Freelancers Effectively

Kevin Cain of OpenView Blog has kindly agreed to allow me to re-post his blog Deploying the Troops: 5 Tips for Using Freelancers Effectively in Content Marketing on Freelance Copywriter’s Blog.Kevin Cain

Kevin Cain oversees content strategy at OpenView Venture Partners, a Boston-based venture capital firm that invests in expansion-stage technology companies. With expertise in corporate communications and content marketing, Kevin has spent the past ten years working with large international financial services companies and consulting firms. Learn more by checking out his content marketing blog or following him on Twitter @kevinrcain.

In my last blog post, I described the important role that freelancers can play in executing a content marketing strategy and provided some tips for building a freelance team. Of course, assembling a team of great freelance talent is just the first step. You then need to figure out the best way to use that talent to get the results you need. While there’s no single right answer, following these rules of the road will help:

1) Put them to the test, onboard the best

Any time you’re working with new freelancers — no matter how impressive their credentials or how highly they’ve been recommended — always start off with a test assignment. The idea is to start them off with a small project that either isn’t a high priority or that you have the time to redo if necessary.

This approach may seem a little counter-intuitive at first — after all, if you’re paying for their time, you want to get something out of it. Even so, you’re much better off testing the waters, rather than finding out that the very important content you’ve entrusted a new freelancer to write needs to be completely redone at the last minute. Your strongest freelancers will quickly prove their worth, and from there it’s easy to start engaging them on meatier projects.

2) Go broad, then get organized

Always try to have a variety of freelancers in your network with different backgrounds, skills, and expertise. Doing so will make the team much more valuable and allow you to create a broader range of content.

Use a spreadsheet to help not only keep track of important logistical details, such as your freelancers’ rates and availability, but also to catalog the types of projects they are best used for and any specific strengths or weaknesses they may have. This is also the place to keep tabs on their performance. I assign a grade to every freelancer I work with, so I know who to send my most important projects to (the A-listers), who are best suited to handling the low-hanging fruit (the B-listers), and who I probably won’t use again (everyone else). Unlike in school, when it comes to creating great content, a C isn’t a passing grade.

3) Provide Structure and Guidance

Freelancers aren’t mind readers or magicians. If you want them to create good content, you have to position them to do so. Set clear expectations, ensure that they have access to the right tools and resources (such as your company’s editorial style guidelines), and make yourself available to talk through ideas and answer questions. While you don’t want to micro-manage, any time you engage a freelancer, be collaborative and invest the time necessary to ensure that you are both on the same page from the start.

4) Use Flat Fees if Possible

Negotiating flat fees for specific projects often makes the most sense. Doing so, rather than simply letting your freelancers bill you for however many hours they work, encourages them to manage their time more effectively and keeps everyone’s expectations in check. That said, there can always be unexpected hiccups that significantly increase the time it takes to complete a project, so offer to adjust fees accordingly. Trying to nickel and dime your freelancers, even when budgets are tight, is rarely a winning strategy.

5) You’re the Boss, Act Like It

It’s up to you to enforce deadlines and standards, provide honest and constructive feedback, and to take action when a freelancer isn’t performing. It’s important to build great relationships with your freelancers, and one of the best of ways to do so is by always providing leadership and direction.