Will, Conversion Copywriter
Hi, I’m Will and I’m from the UK
I’m from Brighton (currently living there too), and I’m a freelance copywriter.
What do you do?
Freelance conversion copywriting. I write website copy, landing pages and email marketing campaigns for SaaS companies, SMEs and startups.
How did you become a freelancer?
I was working as a web developer at an agency in London and I never really found my feet there. I’d known for months that I was in the wrong job – I just didn’t know what I wanted to do next.
I ended up chatting with one of the copywriters at the agency and realised copywriting was the ideal job for me. I’ve always loved writing – I just never knew how to turn it into a career.
I quit my job, ordered some marketing and copywriting books, starting writing every day, and launched my website to start looking for clients.
It was my plan to get an in-house copywriting gig back home in Brighton, to get some experience first, but I couldn’t find anything. I had already taken on a few projects while I was looking for work, which went really well, so it made sense to just go for it.
Why did you become a freelancer?
The idea of being your own boss has always appealed to me. I would always light up with envy whenever I saw someone working in a cafe from a laptop.
One week at work during my web development days, I was given a really tedious job to do. My boss let me work remotely to do it as the job was so lame he felt bad about giving it to me!
I worked in a cafe and breezed through the work in just a few hours. It was so easy to focus and I just felt so calm for once – not feeling rushed and stressed out, racing against the clock. Since that day, I knew it was just a matter of time before I became a freelancer; it felt right.
Where did you find your first paid freelancing job?
I applied for a digital marketing job as I planned to make freelance copywriting my “side hustle” until I had enough clients to go full-time freelance. However, the company replied telling me that the vacancy had been filled, but they liked my copywriting website (that was listed on my CV) and asked if I could write their website copy for them.
What expectations did you have going into this kind of job? And how has it been the same or different from what you expected?
I read a tonne of blogs and watched YouTube videos on freelance copywriting before I made the jump, so there haven’t really been any surprises. It’s exactly what I thought it would be, which is good!
What’s your favorite thing about freelancing/working from home?
Getting to structure your day to do your best work. Being glued to a chair from 9 to 5 never brings out my best. Some days I’ll barely move all day and write a tonne, and other days I’ll work in 25-minute bursts all day. I need to feel calm to write well.
What's your LEAST favorite thing about freelancing/working from home?
It can be hard to switch off at times when work’s done for the day. It’s something you get better at with time.
How long did it take for you to feel like a "successful" freelancer? Until you were able to pay your bills regularly without worrying?
About 3 months. I was really stressed all the time until I landed a 20-hour-a-week retainer with a marketing agency, and that’s when things really started to pick up for me.
How did you price your services when you were just starting out?
I started with a daily rate but now I go by fixed price unless an agency wants to hire me in-house for the day.
What was your biggest struggle when you were just starting out?
Securing work. I didn’t know which niche area to focus on, so I found it hard trying to pitch myself to companies as I felt like a jack of all trades. Ever since I narrowed my focus on conversion copywriting, better jobs have come in.
What do you know now, that you wish you knew back then?
Always be closing! It’s an overused cliche but it’s SO true. Always be closing. Always be lining up the next job, always be marketing yourself, always be making decisions, and always be getting better.
What's your favorite way to find new clients and job opportunities? What worked best for you?
I love it when I secure work through my website as there are thousands of copywriters out there. It’s great to know that my website connected with someone enough for them to reach out.
As for what’s worked best, probably just emailing companies that I like the look of.
What are your favorite tools for work? Any apps or programs you love?
The Hemingway App, pretty boring but it's helpful.
What's one BIG lesson you learned the hard way on your freelancer journey?
Until a client signs a contract and the project’s started – don’t bank on anything. There are lots of time-wasters out there. It’s easy to think “wow, I’m fully booked next month and it’s going to be my most profitable month yet!” and then… the client disappears and returns 3 months later. It happens.
How do you stay motivated when work is tough or there aren’t enough jobs coming in?
I look to see what needs improving: my website, my processes etc. and if I don’t feel like doing any of those I’ll write a blog.
If you met a new freelancer who wanted to get into your line of work, what advice would you give them?
Own it and enjoy every side of it. There’s so much more to freelancing than just doing the work; you need to wear lots of different hats. You have total control over your career now and that’s the most exciting part.
Any tips or tricks for working with difficult clients?
Always stay composed and don’t let it get to you. You can turn bad situations around fast when you stay professional and communicate well to iron out any problems. Always remember that the people you are working with (CEOs, marketing managers etc.) are likely to have loads on their plate at any time.
If it keeps on happening, work on your on-boarding process and you should get a good read on whether a client is a good fit or not before you’ve decided to work together. Most clients are awesome and they usually become friends along the way.
Now that you've experienced all the ups and downs of being a freelancer, would you go back to a regular 9-5 job?
I really can’t see it happening but never say never. It would need to be something pretty special.
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