I got a very sweet message today from a freelancer. She’s not a copywriter, but she’s finishing up her degree in graphic design.
After I saw her on LinkedIn, I asked to connect. She wrote to me inquiring if I needed any work completed and/or had any advice to get her started. Here are a few things I’ve learned:
Get a Website (Keep Reading!)
Generally, there are two types of freelancers; those who go from contract to contract, and those who have a business servicing to private clients.
Decide what you mean when you say that you are a freelancer. In the former, a website or is just a place holder. In the latter, it is a business building tool to attract more clients.
I am a copywriter who has private clients. Therefore, my website is designed to:
- Act as a portfolio
- Bring in organic website traffic
- Showcase what I can do for clients
Only Work Cheap to Build Your Portfolio
I’m not going to blame globalization, but apparently you can pay folks a lot less in some foreign countries. We don’t live in one of those countries. And having bills means you need to have income to pay them, yes?
If you decide to accept low-paying projects, only do so if they serve you in some way. When I first got started, there were a few shameful ways this copywriter sold herself out:
- Content mills at, oh, $8 / article
- Page view paying jobs (you get paid if you get traffic)
- No traffic starter blogs
I wrote just to get the experience under my belt and to add the articles to my portfolio. If nothing else, I learned some interesting stuff, like about the organic rice farming in Vietnam.
Know Your Rates, Know Your Competitors’ Rates
The question is, why do some blogs cost more than others? I bill them by the amount of time it takes me to do the blog writing. So, if the average logo takes you two hours, just bill that much for it and be done.
Overtime, from reviewing multiple projects, I’ve observed what the market rate is for most of the work I do. When I finally found the sweet spot for my hourly rate, all of a sudden, I got hired a lot more.
Business Building 101
When you’re new in your field, showing off your skills can be a huge benefit. Make sure that you post everything you do everywhere you can.
As a copywriter, I do this. And you should;
- Set-up Social Media including Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. Post everything you can on these outlets.
- Decide if you want a niche and write good bios to accompany it: I write for coaches, vegan businesses and entrepreneurs – plus a stunning amount of financial services, but that’s a happy accident.
- Run a special to build your portfolio – and I mean a special Today only, $29.99 for a business card design. (Be strict: send me three designs you like and your logo.) Add these folks to an email list, add them on your social media, and ask them for testimonials.
- Ask for connections you want; Do you know where I can meet V.Ps of marketing who don’t have a copywriter on their team?
Finally, try to keep learning new things. You won’t know your true business niche for at least a few years. And you’ll have to accept whatever it is when you do.
For example, maybe your design style is just simple and blocky – perfect for preschools – but you don’t like kids. Who cares? It will pay the bills, which is the real, true objective of freelance work, right?