- 7 Tough Lessons From My Rookie Year as a Freelance Copywriter
When I started writing for businesses, I sounded like some clueless guy who’d watched way too many Gary Vaynerchuk videos (because, well, I had). I didn’t know anything about selling. I didn’t even really know that much about writing. I knew nothing about business.
My only natural attribute when I started writing was a deep love of storytelling. I wanted to make all my clients into master storytellers.
However, with copywriting, there’s more to it than just storytelling.
In fact, in my experience, the root of good copywriting is not storytelling, but problem-solving. If you can solve a problem through your story, you have a much better shot of selling your product or service than by just telling a powerful story alone.
During the summer after my senior year of college, I did an internship writing content for a legal startup in San Francisco that made me realize just how little some of my college professors actually knew about writing for business.
After the internship was over, I started digging for resources on writing (for writers, by writer), and that’s how I ended up on Medium. Twitter was the next step.
I ended up following my favorite writers on Twitter, and that led me to the world of “copywriting Twitter”. Prolific writers like Nicolas Cole and Dickie Bush are just a couple of the writers who write about copywriting on Twitter in a way that’s been easier for me to understand and apply to my own work.
I think this is a good freelancing tip in general.
When I started writing, I thought that if I just pounded out my work and got it done quickly for my clients, I would impress them and in turn get more money. This is the attitude that I have developed after a lifetime of Jiu-Jitsu and wrestling.
This is also a crappy business model.
For me, writing copy faster did impress my clients, but it also burned me out and didn’t make me much extra money — if any at all.
There’s a reason fast food is cheap. Don’t make yourself and your writing into fast food.
When I realized that I wanted to do what I do, I had absolutely no idea where to start.
I applied for 3–5 jobs online per day, while training Jiu-Jitsu during the morning and working as a DoorDash delivery boy at night.
My first job was with a startup that couldn’t afford to pay me anything. It was a glorified internship.
However, I was able to create some content for them, and that allowed that gave me something to show future potential employers. This was the first stage in building my network. To make money as a copywriter, you have to work your way up.
That means the beginning is probably going to be a little bit tough.
Before posting content on social media, a blog, or a website, part of the process is always allowing the client to look over the work that I did and approve it.
One thing that always concerned me when I started writing was that my clients always liked my work.
It gave me the false impression that I was a “natural” at copywriting when in reality I had zero ideas of what I was doing. I worked with a handful of small marketing agencies and wrote content and copy for them, and most of the time, I was met with zero criticism.
Because of this, I didn’t improve.
Copywriting is just like anything. If you want to get better, seek failure. If you don’t know what you’re doing and people are telling you you’re great, find someone who can help you improve.
“Hey, Chris, can you get me _____ unreasonable amount of work by _____ unreasonably soon day?”
For all of 2021, I said “yes” to these requests because I was scared that more work would never come.
As an ambitious 24-year-old who’s always prided himself on his ability to grind and take on more and more challenges, saying “yes” slowly became my kryptonite last year.
I needed the cash, and my blogging career only made me about $7 for the first 3 months. So, I said “yes” to everything. I said it so much that I made myself ready to quit my job. I made myself resent my clients for things that I had chosen to do.
Just like anything you do in life, with freelancing, set boundaries.
The most important lesson that I learned from my freelance copywriting experiment was that I do not want to be a freelance copywriter for too much longer.
I don’t mind copywriting, but I’ve grown to detest freelancing.
Freelancing is a tough game to make it in. Freelancers aren’t real entrepreneurs, but we’re often expected to work like startup CEOs for much lower-hanging prizes.
This summer, I realized that while freelancing was a great job for me to get my feet wet in the writing world (not mention that it allowed me to keep doing Jiu-Jitsu twice a day, every day), freelancing is not how I want to live my entire adult life.
Freelancing taught me how to unleash my passion for entrepreneurship, and I’ve used this to springboard my entrepreneurial endeavors as an athlete and content creator.
Freelancing gave me the skills, but I want to be an entrepreneur.
- Date of publication:
- Fri, 01/14/2022 - 09:43
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