Ever wanted a job where you could spend all day, every day, writing clever and inspiring prose? Yes? Well donít become a freelance copywriter!
Donít get me wrong, itís a great job, and for some of us itís a calling that wonít be denied. And you definitely do get to write clever and inspiring prose. Itís just that you donít do it all day, every day. In fact, when you sit down at end of day and think about what youíve done, percentage of time spent writing is surprisingly low.
So what does a freelance copywriter do other than write copy? Well, basically, they run a business. This article discusses 11 daily rituals involved with running a freelance website copywriting or advertising copywriting business (other than writing). It also provides some tips for performing them successfully.
Freelance copywriters serve many masters. They generally have quite a few clients, and spend quite a bit of time quoting on new jobs. When you quote, youíre calculating how much to charge for job. For a freelance copywriter, there are a number of important factors influencing quoting. You need to have some way to accurately estimate time. Generally best way to achieve this is to be diligent in your tracking. If you know how long past jobs have taken you, youíll be much more confident and accurate in your estimates. You need to know how much time you spend not writing (as you should try to cover as much of this as possible). You need to have a feel for what client is prepared to pay (are they a big or small company, how highly do they seem to value copy, etc.). You need to know how much your competitors are charging for same thing. You need to understand what differentiates you from your competitors. You need to think about how badly you want or need work. And, of course, you need to estimate how time-consuming client will be.
2) Submitting Proposals
A quote is not same as a proposal. A quote is generally contained within a proposal, but itís not same thing. When you submit a copywriting proposal, youíre marketing your skills, your solution, your work ethic, your customer service, your commitment, and your experience. Basically, youíre justifying your price, and differentiating yourself from your competition. And itís not just about WHAT you say. Itís also HOW you say it and how you PRESENT it. Everything about your proposal plays a part in clientís decision! If possible, include additional helpful information. Use a title page, a table of contents, headers, and footers. Introduce at beginning and summarise at end. Include your price, but call it an ďinvestmentĒ, not a ďcostĒ. Show client youíve thought their job through by summarising their requirements. Outline your proposed solution. And most importantly, give client a clear call to action (ďWhere to from here?Ē).
3) Chasing reviews
The freelance copywriter is almost never bottleneck in a copywriting job. In 99.99% of copywriting jobs, bottleneck is review process. Most clients take a long time to review. In fact, about a third of clients need to be prompted at least once before theyíll get back to you with their changes. Itís not uncommon for a one-day writing job to take a full month to reach sign-off Ė or longer. Some clients will put copy review on backburner for months (just another reason to request a deposit before commencement of work)! As a result, freelance advertising copywriters and website copywriters spend a lot of time chasing reviews. Make sure you factor delay and chasing time into your quotes as best you can. And always record which clients take a long time, so you can be prepared when discussing deadlines on next job.
4) Project scheduling & tracking
No matter whether you work on big projects or small, project scheduling and tracking are vital. You need to know exact status of all work in progress (tracking), and you also need to be very aware of whatís coming up and how youíll manage it (planning). If youíre doing it right, you should be using your tracking and planning tools several times a day. In fact, they should be hub of your business. TIP: A good way to track copywriting projects is to use a job (and contact) tracking database. I created my own database using Microsoft Access. Click to download a 208KB working copy for FREE. Youíll need Microsoft Access 2000 to run it. Iím no database expert, so itís not a work of art. Itíll certainly get you started though. (TIP: When using database, press Ctrl + ; to enter todayís date.)
Issuing invoices, processing payments (and part payments), chasing outstanding invoices, recording expenses, managing bank accounts, putting tax asideÖ It all takes a lot of time. Donít be fooled into thinking you can handle your accounts manually (or with Microsoft Excel). Even if you only have a few clients, you NEED a proper accounts package like MYOB or Quicken (they both offer small business versions). Youíll understand why first time you do your GST reports or annual taxes. In fact, youíll understand why whenever you need to chase down outstanding invoices