Deciding to go freelance isn’t an easy decision. Personally, I had it thrust upon me due to redundancy and a massive job coming in which meant I couldn’t look for full-time work.
And I was lucky. That large job landed me a retainer and although it isn’t lots, it covers the important stuff like my side of the:
- Bills, and
Having that security is why I’m still freelance six months down the line. So, following on from my post in September, My First Three Months As A Freelancer, I’m going to talk about everything that’s happened since, including the highs, the lows and the surprises.
Deciding To Go Freelance, My First Six Months
Looking back, my first three months were a struggle. Other than the large job at the start, I only wrote for a couple of other businesses on small pieces. Then my wedding completely buggered up much hope of making money in August.
To put it bluntly, I was paddling up Shit Creek with the possibility of plunging down Diarrhoea Falls.
In September, I seriously considered taking a job working with a former colleague in Payroll two days per week. It was a pretty low period. I was doing everything I could to find work and, as many freelancers can relate, not a lot was paying off.
But the thing that consoled me was this:
I was getting my name out there.
It may not have brought work in straight away, but I knew putting in the hard work when I was quiet meant I was securing the future of Indelible Think.
What I did during the quiet times.
So, what did I do to keep my name in front of people?
- Attended 2-3 networking meetings per week locally
- Posted at least 3 times per week on LinkedIn
- Networked online with other writers
- Blogged a lot and shared them everywhere
- Created infographics of my blog posts and posted them on Instagram and Pinterest
- Cold-emailed people I’d love to work with, and
- Made it known I wasn’t busy on social media
All of the above were vital, but which do you think were the ones that turned the latter half of my first six months around?
The turning point.
I’m not going to brag, but the past three months have been unreal. And it’s all down to doing the hard work when it was quiet.
While all of the things I did are important, I’ve singled out the three that I believe have been the most crucial to me finding work consistently.
And they are:
1. Posting at least 3 times per week on LinkedIn
People worry LinkedIn is still a stuffy, business orientated platform and, to some extent, it still is at times. However, what I did was post not only about my business but about myself too.
I started to veer away from stuffy ‘business’ posts. I threw in humour. I threw in bad language (but not too much) and posted about myself and my business in a very relaxed way. It humanised me and my laid-back style started to pay off.
Messages flooded in from people looking for a writer – all saying they loved my style and they either wanted to work with somebody like me or wanted me to write in my style for them.
2. Networked online with other writers
I don’t know about other industries, but if you’re a copywriter and you’re viewing other writers as your competition then, well, you’re missing out.
You’re missing out on speaking to people just like you and you’re missing out on work.
Want to know the biggest source of work for me in months four, five and six?
They’ve handed me work when they’ve been too busy, or it’s not their niche and recently I’ve been able to return the favour. It’s a community I’ve utilised to the full and it’s reaped huge rewards and helped me to some of my best months since going freelance.
3. Made it known I wasn’t busy on social media
Yep. I could have sat worrying what people would think of me. I could have but, well, the only opinion of me that matters is my wife’s. So I felt no shame in posting I was free to help out writers as well as work for businesses that needed a writer.
People may say it looks desperate. I can understand that, but you tell my bank balance is looking healthier than it would have which means I haven’t had to take a Christmas job.
Where I go from here.
I really was considering a Christmas job, and there would have been nothing wrong with that. In fact, I even say so in my ‘Three Month‘ post:
I’m happy to take a short-term job.
Two days in an office, or stacking shelves, I don’t mind. If it means paying the bills when it’s quiet, I’ll take a small job, but I’ll also make sure my networking doesn’t fall away.
One afternoon in November I decided that after lunch I was going to start searching. However, as luck would have it, a writer saw I had availability from a LinkedIn post.
They messaged me and offered me half of a huge project they were working on. That alone was enough to see me through until the end of the year.
So, right now I’m busy with little time to promote myself, which might work against me later, but that’s freelancing. I’m enjoying the crest of this wave of work, but I know the tide will change and my oars will be smacking against a dry riverbed once more.
My first six months has had highs, lows and surprises, but it really changed when I changed tack. When I decided to network in a relaxed manner and when I made writers aware I had time to help them. Now I have writers approaching me thinking I’m a success.
I’m not a success, yet. I have terrible dry spells where I sit for weeks on end with little to do, it’s just the hard work I put in has exploded all at once.
See you in six months
My next progress update will be in six months, the big first year.
There’s going to be lots of work ahead and lots of days where I’m watching Homes Under The Hammer at ten in the morning.
If you’re a freelancer, feel free to get in touch and I’ll see if I can help with more advice, or if you’re a business looking for a copywriter – Contact Me – and I’ll get right back to you to see how we can work together.