6 Things I’ve Learned in My First 6 Months as a Freelance Copywriter

Whenever you are asked if you can do a job, tell ’em, ‘Certainly I can!’
Then get busy and find out how to do it.
– Theodore Roosevelt

Six months ago, I went from life as a corporate copywriter to life as a freelance copywriter. And I’ve learned a few things. Some, I’m not going to share here (be careful walking downhill in downtown Seattle while wearing high heels). Others, however, are worth sharing.

You don’t have to know it all; you just have to know enough.
It’s easy to get stuck thinking that you need to learn more before you can seriously put yourself out there. But analysis paralysis keeps you trapped in the starting gate, where you can’t get anywhere.

Don’t ask “what do I need to know?” Ask “what do I need to know right now for the next step?”

Course correct as you go along, but get going.

Freelancing means a different presentation than job seeking.
For the first couple months, I acted like a job seeker, and it showed when I contacted prospects. So that’s how they treated me. But once I started presenting myself as a professional freelancer, they treated me like we were on more even footing. Like I have just as much say in the proceedings as they have.

How you present yourself is all they have to go on. Present yourself like a professional and you will be treated like one.

You will screw up.
I’ve made a lot of mistakes. I’ve talked myself out of a gig, lost contact with a valuable connection and plunged into a website platform that cost me several hundred more dollars than it turns out I can afford. But I’m still standing.

You will mess up. What’s done is done. Either learn not to do that again or learn to do it better.

Your network is bigger than you think.
Few of my friends and family are creative professionals. But they’ve still helped me brainstorm ideas and set up shop. One will even do my first year’s taxes for a basket of chocolate and French fries. Yet another set me up with a freelance editing gig.

You probably have more support and resources than you think. All you need to do is ask.

Set (and respect) your own boundaries.
If you haven’t already, you’ll eventually hear, “What do you mean you don’t work on Sundays?” Some clients think that because you’re ‘their’ freelancer, you’re at their beck and call 24/7. And, some of your favorite loved ones will think that because you’re your own boss, you can bend your schedule to fit their errands and get-togethers.

Set your boundaries or others will set them for you. And be judicious in your flexibility; otherwise, you render them pointless.

Your business is your first priority, not anyone else’s.
Many clients and contacts will respect your time, workload, budget and sanity. Others will have you bouncing in between the looney bin and debtor’s prison. Even for those who genuinely want to help, you’re still not their first priority.

You are responsible for your own business. Treat it like the priority it is.

How long have you been a freelance copywriter? What are some of the lessons you’ve learned?

2 thoughts on “6 Things I’ve Learned in My First 6 Months as a Freelance Copywriter”

  1. Good tips, Erica. My list of mistakes expands well beyond this little box :). I can really relate to your last point. I think that the word “freelancer” unfortunately bounds us to this perception of being available 24/7 to anyone and for anything. I find the word liberating, but prospects often think of your as theirs and theirs alone. But in the end, it’s your business and your livelihood that are at stake.
    I like your site, congrats on breaking free!

    1. Hi Sandra, very nice to meet you! Welcome to Rubber Ducky. I’m glad you like it. 🙂

      Yes, listing all of my mistakes would take up more room thany my blog allows. But, at least I get better each time I mess up.

      As for clients, it’s a tricky balance to strike, especially when you’re new at it. On one hand, you want to be available and responsive. But on the other, you are responsible for your own boundaries and your own business.

      Again, thanks for stopping by. You’re welcome any time. 😉

      Rubber Ducky

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