Posts tagged freelancing
How to build a freelance network (from the beach)
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Freelancers are a generous bunch. Always happy to share advice, offer support and provide light relief in the way of amusing in-joke memes.

I’ve joined a handful of freelance networks online and they’ve been really helpful to me re-entering the world of self employment. ‘Could such a thing work in real life?’ I wondered. Remember that? It’s what happens when you turn off your laptop. Apparently.

After searching around for local freelance groups and finding a big fat nothing, I thought I’d start one of my own. What was the worst that could happen? I’d end up sat alone in a pub every month nursing a pale ale and talking to myself. The usual, then.

I took the plunge and contacted a few people on LinkedIn. I waited… and waited… and waited. ‘Do people still check LinkedIn?’ I wondered. ‘Have they seen the message and blocked me, thinking I’m a nutter looking to create a cult from vulnerable sole traders?’

Then, a breakthrough. At a beach clean on a Sunday (yes, this is how I spend my Sundays now) I met C, who said she worked for herself helping graduates find work placements abroad. Obviously, I lept at this opportunity with, “BRILLIANTI’MSTARTINGALOCALFREELANCENETWORKANDLOOKINGFORPEOPLETOJOINWOULDYOULIKETOJOINPLEASESAYYES.” Amazingly, she was keen. I had my first recruit!

Just a few days later, J, a writer on all things food and the environment, responded to my LinkedIn message. Hooray! We met for a peppermint tea in a local cafe and made plans to put together a small but perfectly formed gang.

As soon as I got home, I created a Facebook group and made some flyers to put up on notice boards around the town (I love that Aberystwyth has community notice boards in every shop and cafe - even Starbucks has one). A few weeks later, we’re now eight members strong, including the people who run the local shared working space.

Our first meetup is in the diary for next week!

Watch out freelancers of Aberystwyth. Things are about to get social.

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Do you belong to a local professional network? Have you started a group of your own? I’d love to hear how you network with other freelancers in your area.  

Five easy ways to keep your clients happy
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I’m a freelance, sole trading, self-employed solopreneur. I work in my kitchen, live in my tracksuit bottoms, and shower at lunchtime. So it’s official.

But I have had ‘proper jobs’. Most recently, I was brand and editorial manager for a big charity, poised at the flipside of the freelancer/client ping pong table.

It taught me a lot about what to do (and what not to do) as a freelancer.

Here are my five insider tips to stay on the right side of your clients:

  • Say hello. Good suppliers are hard to find. An introductory email with a link to your website is welcomed. It may be filed in a folder called ‘People who bother me for work’, and you may not hear back for a while, but when they need extra support it’ll be the first place they look. Trust me.

  • Don’t be desperate. Having a supplier continually bother you for work is really annoying and will not have the desired effect. It also suggests you’re sat at home twiddling your thumbs which doesn’t shout ‘high quality, in-demand supplier’.

  • Be honest. If you don’t have capacity to take something on, say so. Don’t sign up to a deadline you know you can’t meet and leave the client hanging. It’s much better to say you don’t have time for the project (which has the added benefit of showing them you’re busy) and even more helpful to recommend another freelancer. The client and the referred freelancer will both think you’re extra nice and super helpful.

  • Don’t be greedy. Be confident in your abilities and quote fairly for the project.  Clients (the ones you want to work with anyway) will have budget to get the job done. But they’ll know if you’re taking advantage. If a project ends up taking less time than you initially quoted for, reduce your invoice appropriately. The client will appreciate it and be more likely to work with you again.

  • Invoice promptly and accurately. Make sure you include all the necessary information. There’s nothing more annoying than regularly having to chase  Finance for the status of a supplier’s unpaid invoice, and finding out they marked it FAO the wrong person, left off the budget code and didn’t include a description of the project. And waited until the last week of the financial year to submit it.

Bonus tip: Say thank you. And send chocolates at Christmas. Clients DO notice.

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Originally published by ProCopywriters.

ProCopywriters Member Spotlight
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Why did you choose a career in copywriting and how did you get into it?

I’ve always loved writing and editing. I used to edit my friends’ uni assignments for fun.

I got into copywriting through a series of fortunate events. I was working in an admin role after graduating and my manager saw my potential and created a marketing role for me (thanks Julie!). A few years later I moved out of London onto a narrowboat in the home counties and a local agency was looking for a copywriter. I applied and got the job. Since then I’ve worked agency-side, freelance, in-house, and back to freelance again.   

What work are you most proud of?

I wrote the script for a charity film to be shown on the big screens at Glastonbury. Seeing thousands of people reading my words on screen, and engaging with such a good cause, gave me a warm glow inside. Although it might have been the cider.

What piece of copy do you really wish you’d written?

I loved the MullenLowe We listen campaign for Samaritans. Quotes from people saying they were fine, with specific words in a different colour revealing their true thoughts. Such a simple concept and a lovely marriage of copy and design. It’s so pleasing when the two work together like that.

What do you do if you hit a bit of writer’s block?

I’ve just moved to the coast, so a walk along the seafront normally does the trick. If I’m in the city, I wander around a gallery or museum. Ideas have a funny way of popping into my head as soon as I stop looking for them.

What are your favourite and least favourite writing-related tasks?

I love working with short copy and trying to make a persuasive argument with just a few words. Editing’s great fun too - taking a hatchet to something raw and gradually working away at it until it shines.

I always dread editing or proofreading really long content but once I get stuck in and find my flow I end up enjoying it.

Any copywriting pet hates?

Anything confusing or trying to be too clever and making no sense to anybody. Making sense is a pretty good place to start, and if you can be convincing and even witty then that’s a bonus.

What’s the best piece of career advice you’ve been given?

I’m not sure I’ve ever been given any. I remember that Baz Luhrmann song from the 90s - Everybody’s free (to wear sunscreen). It was based on advice from a teacher to her pupils I think. She says, “Don't feel guilty if you don't know what you want to do with your life / The most interesting people I know didn't know at 22 what they wanted to do with their lives / Some of the most interesting 40 year olds I know still don't.” That had a pretty big impression on the 18-year-old me.

What advice would you give to people starting out on a copywriting career?

Remember it’s not about you. Write a blog if you want to express yourself. Copywriting is about communicating your client’s messaging in their audience’s language. You should be invisible.

And figure out your ethics. Who do you want to work with and who are you going to turn down? I’m much happier now I only work with charities and ethical businesses that reflect my own values.

What’s your favourite thing about being a copywriter?

Getting into someone else’s head. Learning who they are, what they value, and what makes them take action. It’s like acting without the stage fright.

And being able to work anywhere in the world (well, anywhere with WiFi) is a big plus.

What made you decide to become a member of ProCopywriters?

There are so many copywriters out there, potential clients need to know who they can trust. So joining a professional network is a good way to show you’re serious about what you do. And you get a nice badge for your website.

Where can people find out more about you?

My website is a good place to start. I’m on Twitter as @PenOfSteele. And LinkedIn. Or take the afternoon off, come to the seaside and say hi in person. The ice cream’s on me.

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Originally published by ProCopywriters.

The first rule of blogging
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Uh oh. One month in, and I’ve already broken the first rule of blogging - blog regularly. What can I say - it’s been a busy month.

We’re now all settled in our new home in Wales.

We arrived during the worst weather the area had experienced for 30 years according to one local. (Yes, people actually have time to stop and talk about the weather here - even when it's snowing horizontally.) The freezing wind was blowing in through the plug sockets no less. Cue a morning of the husband covering any crack or crevice in the walls and windows with masking tape.

Luckily, things have calmed down a bit and the temperature has even hit double digits - whoop!

We’re getting used to ‘working from kitchen’. No home-office politics yet. Although I have become more aware of my manic typing. I never knew I was such a keyboard abuser. Trying to address it for the sake of my marriage.

We’ve been getting out for a walk along the seafront every lunchtime. I’m sure the novelty will wear off at some point but I still can’t believe we live this close to the sea. It’s even more beautiful here than I remember. Probably because my 20-year-old student self was too drunk or preoccupied with whatever 20-year-olds are preoccupied with to notice.

I’m living a double life at the moment. Still working full time and trying to get the freelancing gig off the ground. It’s more stressful than I’d like. I’m looking forward to being able to focus 100% on the new chapter. Two weeks to go. I can do this.

I have managed to get myself a shiny new client though! I’ll be writing content for a website they’re launching. Starting from the beginning with user personas and journeys which is fun. I have a meeting in London with them this week. It’s going to be a shock being back in the city. If only for a day.

Apparently there’s more cold weather on the way. Masking tape at the ready.

The best/worst decision I will ever make [delete as appropriate]
Photo: Neil Jones

As I type, things are pretty good. I have a nice place in London, one of the most desirable cities in the world (OK, I’m still renting at the age of 38, but we’ll gloss over that). A good job for a well-respected charity. And a handful of friends - actual IRL friends.

Only a fool would give this up, right?

Which is exactly what I’m about to do.

At the end of the month, I’ll be venturing beyond zone 9 (yes Londoners, there is a zone 9) and moving to the Welsh Riviera (Aberystwyth to be precise - just about as far from London as you can get before you hit the sea) to wield my lance (well, pen) freely!

My train of thought currently looks like this:

  • This is the best decision I will ever make.
  • This is the worst decision I will ever make.  

[repeat ad infinitum]

But today at least, I’m feeling positive. I’ve made quite a few stupid decisions in my life (all beginning with the immortal phrase, “Fuck it…”) but I haven’t yet come to regret any of them. And I don’t intend to start now.

So goodbye short sharp breaths through the nose to avoid inhaling cancer-causing pollution - hello big fat lungfuls of fresh sea air!

Goodbye getting up in the dark to get a precious seat on the tube - hello brisk morning walks along the beach to set me up for the day (or, more likely, an extra hour under the duvet).

Goodbye spending money like a man with no arms (my mum’s phrase - and one I’ve never been able to figure out) - hello a life of frugal simplicity (more out of necessity than choice).

Only time will tell if wielding a lance freely in the land of dragons is a wise decision.

I’ll keep you posted.

Richard Steelefreelancing, life