Carrie Schmeck writes for QSR Magazine, Enjoy, Clubhouse and NextStepU when she isn’t building Bizziwriter Copywriting, her northern California freelance copywriting business. Follow her on Twitter at CSchmeckWriter.
As freelancers, we never stop learning. As I finish up my first year as a freelance marketing copywriter, I’ve had ample opportunity to flounder and learn. What a waste if I didn’t share my life lessons with others.
Here are five key things about running a freelancing business I picked up this year:
1. Just because you can doesn’t mean you should. Define what you do and know where your edges are. For one client, I crossed over from helping define a marketing strategy to implementing that strategy, and now I’m trying to make a graceful retreat. Though I have a marketing background, I’ve discovered I am more interested in working with businesses that have defined marketing strategies in place and just need help honing and communicating their message.
2. Don’t let projects creep up on you. One client sends me friendly emails, like: “Hey Carrie, wondering if you’d like to look over this email and make some suggestions?” It makes me wonder: Is that an offer to pay me, or do they hope I’ll be nice and do it for free as a favor? It’s scary to reply with, “Sure, my rate is $X for that. Shall I proceed?” But if I’m brave and send such a reply, I quickly discover their intentions.
3. Let clients drive their own business. When one assignment turned into a long, drawn out and unpaid project, I started feeling used. The client told me, “I need YOU to be my squeaky wheel so I’ll get back to you.” Um, no. I sent an invoice for work in progress and let them know I’d be happy to help when they want to move forward. I don’t have time to make clients accountable for their own vision.
4. Know how to communicate what you offer. A networking group colleague asked me, “What should I be listening for to know when to recommend you?” I struggled to come up with anything beyond if they talk about wanting to revamp their website copy. I know I offer much more than that, but realized I need to do a better job communicating the heart and benefit of what I do because many businesses don’t understand how writing a few words can help them.
5. Home in on your target audience. I’ve done enough networking with local small businesses and corporate franchises to learn who my lucrative tribes are NOT. Small businesses barely have budgets to operate, and corporate franchises can get marketing support from their home office. It’s better for me to target mid-sized businesses with home offices in my area as well as powerful referral partners such as web designers.
I’m certain that by next year I’ll be able to add at least another five lessons.
What freelancing lessons have you learned so far this year?