Last week, the inconceivable happened to a copywriter colleague of mine when her husband suddenly and unexpectedly died. So instead of spending her week finalising client copy, chauffeuring her kids around town and writing her next YA novel, she was choosing caskets, planning a funeral and writing a eulogy.
For the most part, her clients were incredibly supportive and understanding. But there were still deadlines to be met.Read More
It’s been nearly five years since I quit the rat race to start freelance copywriting and, while I have no intention of going back to working for The Man, I gotta admit, the life of a freelancer can be lonely at times. Your clients are often interstate (or even overseas), your “team” of contractors is virtual, and sometimes you spend hours talking to no-one but the cats.Read More
In my last post, I went on a bit of a rant about red-flag copywriting clients and how to avoid them. So I thought it was only fair to give some props to the good – and great – clients out there.
Thankfully, these characters make up the bulk of the people I deal with on a daily basis. I have been quite busy with them of late (hence two months since you last heard from me!), and I thank each and everyone of them.Read More
There has been a bit of a blog hop going on among some freelance writing peeps recently. I was feeling a little left out, so I was thrilled when Brook McCarthy tagged me in her post about “Why I Write”. I guess the simple answer would be “because I am reasonably good at it and can earn a living doing something I enjoy”. But there is a lot more to it than that, and goes back many, many years. Long before I got sidetracked into the living nightmare that is “management”. So here goes with my response to the blog hop questions: What am I working on? As a writer-for-hire I often have several things on the go at once, and now is no exception. In a “perfect storm” situation, three ongoing clients all had their regular newsletters due at once (I am still working on the tail end of a couple of them), as well as annual reports plus piecemeal work such as marketing blurbs and press releases. I have also just finished a massive proofreading/formatting job – nearly 100,000 word in five days – for an academic research pilot program in the health sphere. Meanwhile, I am mid-way through writing an internal event-management guide for one of Australia’s largest Universities. I have put a hold on any new jobs until at least November and then, well who knows. How does my writing style differ from others in my genre Like most copywriters, my natural style is fairly chatty. I write like I talk. But when I am working for a client, my style changes to suit the project. And considering most of my major clients are in reasonably technical fields – downstream petroleum, mechanical contracting, construction industry procurement (sexy stuff, right) – it’s important that I maintain a professional tone while ensuring people can actually understand the tech-speak. But I love to break up all that heavy stuff with the odd small business brochure or website where I can let my creativity show. Why do I write? Because I can. Because I can’t think of anything else I would rather do – and still get paid for. Because I have always loved words, and how they can convey so much. Because I love how adding – or taking away – a single word can change the entire meaning of a paragraph. Because as I climbed the career ladder, and started managing writers rather than writing myself, it was like someone had stolen my soul, my reason for being. Because numbers make my eyes bleed while words make them sing. How does my writing process work? It’s not so much a process, but I find that once I have the first paragraph, the rest flow naturally. Mind you, that first paragraph can take hours and sometimes I need to walk away from the laptop and wait for it to appear. And I need to turn off distractions, like social media or the phone while I write, otherwise I will always...Read More
Like many freelancers, I often refer to my pre-freelancing life as when I had a J.O.B. But it’s all a smoke screen – after all freelancing is a J.O.B. just as if I was donning corporate clothes and heading into an office to work for someone else. Sure, I have some flexibility, but that usually means that while I can do the school run, and help out my elderly mum, it also means of want to earn a decent living, I need to spend many evening and weekends working to make up for lost time. I’m not complaining, far from it. I never intend to go back to working for someone else. But I do get a little frustrated at people who seem to think freelancing is some kind of a doddle. So to prove my point here are five reasons freelancing is just like a J.O.B. I pay taxes In fact, these days, I pay as much in taxes than I actually earned my first year as a freelancer. But I am not going to complain (I didn’t earn much that first year!) because it means I am actually paying my own way in the world. Sure, taxes are a bitch, but someone has to pay for health, education, roads, public transport and all the other things that we would be lost without. And I would rather be the one paying taxes, than the one relying on the largess of the government. I have a boss Actually, I have many. Not only am I my own boss; in a way, all my clients are also my bosses. They have certain expectations what I will produce before they pay me. And if you think managing the expectations of one boss is a juggle, try managing the expectations of half a dozen bosses who all think their project is your only priority. I have deadlines Like right now, I have three conflicting deadlines on three quarterly magazines; plus one annual report, a flyer and a website rewrite. You might ask why, then, am I writing a blog post? Well, because all are in limbo while I wait for people to return emails and phone calls. Sometimes it just happens like that – and writing a blog post to kill time is preferable to Candy Crush. I have co-workers: OK, you I might not share a cubicle, but when I work with a client’s marketing or general staff – or together with a designer – we bond over shared frustrations and achievements, although we may be in different states. And yes, just like real coworkers, some of them are so irritating you want to slap them upside the head. Thankfully, most don’t evoke such a reaction and I would actually love to meet some of them one day. I spend sunny days indoors Spring is in the air this week and yet, here I am at my desk, working. Yes, I occasionally hit the beach in the middle of the day, or go...Read More
One of the hardest things to do as a freelancer is to say “no”. There is a constant fear that if you say “no” or even “not yet”, the work will dry up and you will be back looking through the classified every Saturday for a job – any job. Over the next couple of months, I already have a number of largish jobs on my plate – articles for three quarterly newsletters, one annual report, content for two websites, one flyer, an event management guide for a major Australian University and a couple of big (like 25,000-words big) editing jobs – and yet I was still saying “yes” to more. Which is how I got myself completely swamped, leading to a massive feeling of overwhelm. I had so many balls in the air, that I was at a big risk of dropping them. (In fact, I already was dropping some – I forgot to throw my 5-year old’s school bag in the car for last Wednesday’s school run ) But on Friday, I woke up one morning and decided to say “no” – at least in the short term. No more new clients until November No more last minute projects from existing clients No more working nights and weekends to squeeze in those “it won’t take you long” jobs. I have even said as much on my contact page. And, you know what? I feel liberated! Just changing my mindset has relieved that intense feeling of overwhelm. Sure, I am still stressed over the things I do have to do, but knowing that I can not – and will not – take on anything else for 2.5 months means I can sit down, write a schedule and stick to it. I am still busy (this post has been sitting in “draft” for nearly a week now) but giving myself permission to say “no” has eased the pressure a bit. I heartily recommend it! Till next time, ...Read More