I think of my freelancing career in two phases. The first phase was where I came in all guns blazing; with six months’ worth of savings that I thought would last until I became a roaring success. The second phase known as the “second coming” is where I get serious about the job and knuckle down.
Freelancing is not easy as it seems.
It’s not like I didn’t work hard during the first phase, it’s just that I was only working as hard as someone who’d been doing it for a lot longer than I had.
Phase 1: Dream on
I came in with what I thought was the right attitude; I was confident, I had enough money behind me (or so I thought) and it wouldn’t be too long before I was raking it in and I could live the dream. Work part time for full time money. The reality was a real ball breaker and it’s nearly broken me in two. Problem was I came out too confident thinking that with all the experience my working life had given me plus my education behind me would be enough to jet propel me into the big league. It didn’t. Because, as I soon realised, you can’t live the life of a successful copywriter until you’ve worked for it, until you’ve done the hard graft, worked your way up the ladder. The equivalent of the office junior making cups of tea and standing next to the photocopier, you can’t run before you can walk.
By the summer I was all ready to give up; I was all washed up and finished, with nowhere to go. My savings were gone and I might as well kiss goodbye to thinking about making it as a freelancer. I’ve had to really think hard about how I intend to progress, what my strategy is going to be. Where do I go from here?
Phase 2: Down to work
So phase 2 isn’t about me looking for a miracle, it’s about me working towards a resurrection. I’ve never really been away, but I’ve not had the financial success I thought was just around the corner. If I’ve learnt anything it’s not to get too confident. It’s humbled me. Yes, you need a certain degree of confidence in this job, just to get out of bed and sell yourself to potential clients. To write and be seen and make clients believe you’re the one they should choose. To make people believe that you’re capable of delivering each and every time perfect error free work that they’ll be willing to pay for. And I’ve also learnt that you can’t rest on your laurels. You can’t think that if you’ve had a couple of successes you can just ride easy for the next few days and it’ll all come good. It won’t. You’ve got keep your eye on the ball and your hands on the keyboard.
Never stop learning
I’ve also learnt that this is something I want to do for the rest of my life and with hard work and practice I know I can be successful. I’m really good at this. I know that it’s not just about being a good writer and that it’s about an awful lot more than that.
At the end of December it’ll be a year since I started on this journey and I may be bloodied and bowed, but I’m not giving up just yet. I’m still in the running and I intend to go all the way. Except this time I won’t be taking my eye off the ball.
Gillian Jones: freelance copywriter
Gillian is freelancing in North Wales and has very broad experience writing for a range of media from blogs and articles to newsletters, flyers and SEO. Able to write about virtually any topic she has a background in management and special interests in antiques, ethical/vintage fashion and interior design. She also speaks & writes fluent Welsh.