Welcome back to another edition of #FreelanceLife! I'm so excited to have recently joined the Pitch Freelance Team and be involved in this series where we get to talk to some amazing freelancers.
This week we spoke with Copywriter and Marketer Ellen. Experienced in writing all types of copy, Ellen specialises in taking technical content and making it accessible, engaging and informative for a nontechnical audience. Whether it's writing white papers, blogs or internal newsletters, creating copy that engages the audience is something she brings to each business she works with.
Over to you Ellen...
What is your favourite thing about being a Freelancer?
It’s a toss-up between the freedom it gives me and the constant ability to learn. They’re intertwined in many ways, having the freedom to take my own path is empowering and enables me to learn all the time on a huge variety of projects for differing businesses; whether it’s about a industry or new product or about running a business. It’s exciting to have so much opportunity to explore. The variety that comes with being free to take on new work and explore new things is extraordinary.
What is your least favourite thing about being a Freelancer?
The unpredictability of cash flow; I left a very stable and well-paying job because I felt trapped and stifled. I wanted to explore being more creative and challenged in new ways, in order to do this I felt freelancing was the best way. The flip-side of leaving stability though is…well instability. Not being able to accurately plan income is the hardest thing about my new career. The comfort I have is that all the research I’ve done about freelancing pegs this as the most common difficulty, so at least I know that I’m not alone and that as long as I’m resilient and I persevere it will get better as I get more established.
What skills are essential for a Freelancer?
Tenacity, creativity, adaptability and (in my case as a copywriter and marketer) the ability to write; it’s essential for me to adapt my styles, to suite my client’s voice as well as the type of copy required whether it’s a white paper or a short blog and everything in-between.
Although it’s not a skill necessarily I also think there’s an element of freelancers needing to be brave / fool-hardy (depending on your view). I mean this in the sense that as a freelancer you’re really out there on a limb, not only do you work alone quite often, each time you write etc. you’re staking a claim that you’re the best person for that job; brilliantly the vast majority of my clients have become regular contacts for work which is great as it’s lovely to build up a long standing working relationship with clients who value my work.
On average, what time do you start and finish work? How does your day map out?
I focus on key blocks of time where I’m going to be my most productive. So, whilst my core hours to answer emails etc. will be 9am – 5pm I do tend to mix it up with working weekends and evenings when I’m writing. My most creative time of day is in the evening so I quite often write and get ideas down on paper then, ready to work up the following morning. Having this flexibility means that although sometimes I work seven days a week my work / life balance is usually great because I can pop out for a coffee or enjoy a lunch with friends and family with no guilt and importantly still deliver great copy and creative ideas.
How often do you work remotely?
When I’m copywriting 95% of the time; I’m always keen to get to know the client, whether by a phone call or a coffee, particularly if there’s specific nuances about a piece or a company that would benefit the content. But most of the time when I’m creating the content I always prefer to get that done quietly in my home office.
What do you wish someone had told you when you were starting out?
Know your worth, and don’t be afraid to walk away. Sometimes people will try to undercharge you. This happened to me when I was just starting out and the difficulty is that because I was new I was nervous that I wouldn’t get another job, not sure of what my rates should be and intimidated to walk away from what seemed like my only option.
The thing is to remember; take your time in doing your research, look up blogs, look up websites and talk to as many people as you can and know your worth. There will be another job around the corner, you just have to trust your instinct and be confident in what you charge is fair. You can only do this if you know your worth within the market you’re working in. I made this a priority and whilst I fell into the trap once, it hasn’t happened again.
Would you ever consider going for a permanent position?
Whilst I never say never I think it’s really unlikely that there would be a permanent job opportunity that would enable me to build the flexible, balanced and varied lifestyle I have and want. The variety of freelancing is a never ending opportunity to learn and explore new ideas and I would be doubtful that a permanent position could offer those things. That said, I think I would consider a part-time position, in the future with the right business, as it may offer a level of stability that I may in time need, whilst still enabling me more freedom and opportunities; particularly as I build up my portfolio and broaden out my knowledge base. The excitement is not knowing what opportunity will come up next!
What is the most standout memory from your Freelance Career?
There have been some real highs and lows, there are difficult clients and jobs can be tricky and these experiences do stay with you and I’ve learnt from them which is great. However, the wonderful experiences are what make it all worthwhile. For me having my writing, my content be proven (through social media analytics and digital tracking) to be improving a client’s business, reaching new audiences on a time and time again basis is amazing. Words are powerful, my words are powerful and when they reach people and you can see the impact they’ve had on others – it is incredibly satisfying and really inspiring. The first time I got the data through and presented it to the client, their response, the look of happiness on their faces, that was the best memory to date.
And a silly one... because we had too!
What song best represents your Freelance state of mind? Metal, Hip Hop, Classical?
I would love to say something sophisticated and classical like Nimrod by Elgar however, in all honesty it’d have to be bright feel good, pop music. Gabriella Cilmi’s On a Mission springs to mind. For those days where you panic that things aren’t going to work out, this cheers me up and on those days where you’re flying high this gives me the extra kick to get to cloud nine!
Ton's of advice and amazing insight there, thanks again to Ellen! If you want to work with Ellen on your next project please get in touch with me.
You can catch up on all the other freelancers we have had share their tips and tricks here. If you are a freelancer looking to share your #FreelanceLife you can! Drop us a line and we will get back to you.
Keep your eyes peeled for the next #FreelanceLife, featuring Emmaline a digital specialist.
See you next time,
#FreelanceLife Team x