10 Things I Learnt In My First Year As A Freelance Copywriter

Christmas is gone, New Year is here, and it’s time to celebrate! One year ago today, I was about to say goodbye to my former life as an employee to become a self-employed geek. Cheers!

What better way of kicking off this new year, than by taking stock of my first 365 (pandemic) days as a freelance copywriter?

Let’s dive into it!

1. You have to risk it to have the biscuit

This is the first non-negotiable truth: you must step up for what you want

Was I scared? To death. Did I have doubts? No wonder. And yet, I couldn’t help but think I wasn’t happy with my life at that time. I was like—why am I choosing that? 

So I went for what makes me happy. That was when my life changed drastically. 

Whether this will end up being the right choice for me or a story of excruciating failure, I am happy I have given it a try. 

In the end, we only regret the chances we didn’t take, the relationships we were afraid to have, and the decisions we waited too long to make.

Lewis Carroll

2. You question yourself, but never your choice

You drown in fear of failure and self-doubt. Comparison crushes your confidence and makes you wonder even more.

Am I capable of doing it?

Will I succeed?

What if it doesn’t work out?

But you never question why you turned your life around in the first place. That gives you the power and the resilience to move forward.

3. Who tells you it’s easy is a liar

Whenever I hear someone saying that taking up a new career or starting a new business is easier “if you really want it”, I feel like laughing my head off.

Things get even more hilarious when the words “digital” or “online” enter the conversation.

We all agree that opening a shop is far more expensive and demanding. But running an online business encompasses much more than just picking a domain name or creating an Instagram account. 

Building an online business takes dedication, efforts, consistency, and persistence as any other business. And you need to be good at it to make it successful—end of the sentence.

4. Fake it until you make it? Not really. 

You are talking business, not spare-time hobbies. That thing pays your bills and provides you with a living. So you need to figure out how to stay in business and make it sustainable in the long run.

  • Invest in yourself. You need to master your craft to be successful. So take any opportunity—ANY opportunity—to better yourself. Study, research, practice, and talk to people who know better than you. Step up your game.
  • Invest in your business. Find the tools that work for you and go get them. You don’t need the full kit on day 1, but make sure you have all the essential equipment to hit the ground running. Think about it as your starting costs. You will build your garage over time. 
  • Perfect your pitch. Customers don’t fall from the sky. You shall attract them and make them want to buy your products or services. Review your pitch regularly and tailor it to every new client you are reaching out to.
  • Don’t mess up with paperwork. Bureaucracy is no joke. Track your work. Keep your books in order. Pay your taxes. Hire or get advice from a professional accountant if needed. And remember: revenue does NOT equate profit.

5. Your mind is always there 

Whether you are a serial entrepreneur, a small business owner, or a self-employed freelancer, forget proper down days. 

You must be prompt with email responses and call back without delay if you ever miss a call. My family and friends send me an email whenever they need an urgent reply. They know I won’t miss it.

You must be available almost anytime. Your availability makes up for your reputation as much as the product or service you offer.

Taking a holiday is harder than it was when you were an employee. Gone are the days when you can fiddle about absent-minded all day long.

Taking it to the extreme, your business is like your baby: your mind is always there, and there is always something going on. The flip side of the coin is that it makes you extremely fulfilled and proud—like your baby.

6. Mistakes are inevitable

Sooner or later you do screw up. As far as I am concerned, sooner is better than later. Fail fast, fail cheap the saying goes. That’s because a minor mistake in the early stages of a business can become a huge and detrimental one later on.

  • Don’t be afraid of making mistakes. Consider them as part of your entrepreneurial journey. Make sure you learn from them and move on.
  • Don’t be too harsh on yourself. It doesn’t solve the problem and just makes you feel more frustrated.
  • Don’t overestimate the damage. Unless your mistake involves massive financial losses or permanent damage to your critical equipment, you are not going out of business just yet.

7. Considered “no” go a longer way than rushed “yes”

When you are starting out, you are tempted to become a “Yes Man.” Don’t. 

Select the opportunities you will devote your time and energy to carefully. Knowing when to say “no” is just as important as knowing when to say “yes.” 

Don’t be too picky, but don’t throw yourself into whatever project comes your way either. Learn to value quality over quantity. And never settle for less than what you believe your work is worth.

8. The hustle is real

Major factors such as a global pandemic(!), a sluggish economy, globalisation, or actually anything can prevent your business from taking off. 

Moreover, you can count on yourself and yourself only to keep the ball rolling. You are your own boss, partner, and colleague. Sometimes you are your most ruthless opponent too. 

You need to roll up your sleeves and work hard on your project – regardless of any other circumstance. That can prove daunting and lonely, but the reward is priceless.

9. Results don’t happen overnight

Someone said that business success is a marathon, not a sprint. I couldn’t agree more.

Most small businesses take at least 2-3 years to be profitable, and many more years to be successful. 

Bear this in mind on your entrepreneurial journey. Focus on small successes. They feel absolutely incredible and motivate you to push forward with your plan.

10. Work, sweet work

I love what I do because it lights up something in me that I don’t feel with anything else. 

In the last year, I worked longer hours at night, during the weekends, and even on New Year’s eve. But I never complained once. 

Don’t get me wrong: work is work. It will never spare you stress or daily annoyances. But you see it in an entirely different light when you are clear about your purpose and goals. 

I longed so much for a job that would make me feel fulfilled and happy. I am blessed I have finally found it.

Are you a small business owner, a blogger, or a freelancer of any kind? What are some big lessons you learnt in your first year? Share them in the comments down below!

Published by Nadia Musumeci

Copywriter. Millennial. Expat. And a lot of questions.

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