11 stupid things that also belong to the profession of a freelance copywriter
On my copy blog, I regularly write about what it is like to be a freelancer — and specifically a freelance copywriter. I have noticed that many people find it fun or interesting to read about it.
In the past, for example, I wrote a blog with a wink about ‘the life of the freelance copywriter’.
It’s true, there are many benefits to being a freelance copywriter. But of course, there are also disadvantages. And even downright stupid things. That is why in this blog article I will give you 11 stupid things that also belong to the profession of a freelance copywriter. From my own experience.
1. You’re never on vacation
This year I had a short break in the May holiday. The laptop went with me. I worked through the summer. Because: busy. I’m on vacation, but I don’t see that happening for a while. Well, maybe even some books. If you don’t, the work will continue anyway. A tip if you really want to rest during your holiday: book a house without WiFi. As long as you’re connected to the internet, you’ll stay connected to your work. And as nice as that is, sometimes you just really need that rest.
2. The money won’t come by itself
No salary on a fixed day of the month. In fact, you may not be earning anything this entire month. Can you handle that? In addition, you have to go after your money yourself. Calling, emailing, demanding that customers also pay you for your work (which had to be completed quickly and which also succeeded within that tight deadline). And keep in mind that it can happen that you don’t get paid at all for your hard work. That’s stupid, yes. You can say that. And you’d better create a buffer. Because, on the other hand, the tax authorities are not waiting.
3. It always has to be fast
There was plenty of time to think and plan the assignment, but the project has been sitting on the client’s desk for a few weeks, so it now has to be ‘taken up quickly’. And that’s your problem now, as a freelance copywriter. You would do well to arm yourself against this as soon as possible.
4. Vague briefings
Not only does it have to be ready yesterday, but the client also hasn’t even done his homework yet. You will be sent an email exchange from which you have to get the information. An attachment with twelve Word documents of more than forty pages each. Or a few links to competitor websites. ‘Something like that.’ And then such a client expects the end result to border on perfection. You would do well to make it clear to your clients from the outset that this must be a collaboration that requires an investment from both sides.
5. Haggling about rates
Every day I receive a few requests via email. Sometimes these are serious requests for a concrete job, often also messages of one or two lines in which a price is immediately asked for, for example, fifty SEO articles. These ‘customers’ are then just fishing for a rate. The chances are very small that they will also award you the assignment. At least if you put quality before quantity. See here again the classic good-quick-cheap triangle.
6. Red tape
You can of course outsource work if you really don’t like it. In any case, it is a good idea to choose an accounting package that makes it all a bit easier for you. And yes, it all starts with keeping all invoices and receipts up to date. Yet you cannot avoid a few hours of administrative work per week. Do you think that’s stupid? Well, it fits.
7. Stupid Customers
I’ve said it before: customers are just people too. Let me first say: it is pleasant to work with most of them. Sometimes there are weird guys among them. Fortunately, you can already ‘tackle’ a few of them when requesting a quote. Just last week, when I responded to an email from a ‘customer’ via my website, asking if he could describe the job more precisely for me, so that I could prepare a quote.
I received an email back: ‘I can’t taste much enthusiasm here. Was it a lot of effort to find out for yourself?’ Well, if that is the basis for cooperation, then I don’t feel like it at all anymore. Some customers will want to take advantage of you and some customers are downright annoying. With the freelance experience you gain, you will be increasingly able to spot these types of clients at an early stage.
8. Estimating too low
If you charge too much for your copywriting services, you will price yourself out of the market. If you ask too little, you will cut yourself. Particularly at the beginning of your copywriting career, it may happen that on closer inspection you have offered (far) too little. That is a risk that you run if you provide a total price for the project in advance (which many customers prefer than billing based on hours afterward).
The more experience you get, the better at this. But even then, it’s good to always leave some margin for any corrections (which will come). So that you don’t get the feeling that you are working for nothing. Of the stupid things you’ll do, that’s the stupidest thing ever.
Determining the right rate is essential at every stage of your career as a freelance copywriter. Don’t go too high in the beginning, because then you won’t build a wide customer base. But certainly not too low, because then you can not easily go up. And especially not too few questions you have been busy for a while.
Always keep in mind that you will have to earn about twice as much compared to your salaried job! Because of the extra costs you have (insurance, taxes, own equipment, workspace) and the employee benefits that you no longer have as a freelancer (health insurance, pension, taxes, paid days off, travel allowance).
Now that I think about it: I think I should raise my rates for next year 😉
9. Continuous Applications
Working as a freelance copywriter (perhaps for any freelance profession) means applying on an ongoing basis. Even if you still have such beautiful references to your name and an impressive portfolio on your website, customers continue to ask difficult application questions. They also keep asking for proofs and proofs. Apparently, there is a lot of fear of choosing ‘the wrong’ copywriter.
Well, after a few years of working as a freelance copywriter, you will have a quick answer to most questions. And fortunately, if you have enough work, you can also become more critical the other way around. So that, for example, you only do the jobs that you enjoy. Also, keep in mind that you need to be able to promote and sell yourself as a freelance copywriter. For example, I have invested a lot of time and effort in getting a high position in Google for the keyword (freelance) copywriter, of which I am now reaping the benefits!
Every copywriter has to deal with it. Checking your favorite blogs, a round of social media, answering emails, getting a cappuccino, doing a round of news sites… And then half the day is already over and you haven’t even started that job with that fast-approaching deadline.
There is also no one to tell you to hurry up, so the chances of you saying ‘oh well, that will come tonight/tomorrow/weekend’ is considerable. How well can you handle the all-too-human tendency to procrastinate? On the one hand, it’s nice that you have that freedom. On the other hand, it is your own time that you are wasting. And that’s pretty stupid again.
11. A solitary lifestyle
Sure, you meet a lot of different people. Interesting people, whom you can interview about their dreams. People you can ask about their vision of their company. Nice, sociable, funny business associates. But. That is indeed exactly what they are. Business relations. No colleagues, no friends.
And yes, you can tell yourself that you have a social life by going to the local coffee shop with your MacBook under your arm and doing your work there. But most of your life as a freelance copywriter will revolve around you, your phone, and your laptop.
Don’t forget to make occasional appointments with your real friends or fellow freelancers to compensate for the lack of direct colleagues (with whom you can also talk a bit stupidly).
Not a stupid profession
But no matter how many stupid things sometimes come with the profession of freelance copywriter, it remains a great profession. If you don’t like it, keep thinking about all those hours you wasted in traffic on your way to that stupid salaried job.
Or how you hated getting up early every day to invest your time and effort in someone else’s business. Or just think of the possibilities that the freelancer profession offers you to organize your hours. No boss looking over your shoulder. To do something different when you have a little less work. Or when after a long, dark winter the sun is pleasant for the first time…
It is not stupid to be completely responsible for the work you do for your customers. And to build your happiness on your own successes!
Are you a freelancer? What do you think are the stupidest stupid things about your job?