Mistakes I've Made With My Copywriting Business As A Beginner

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If I haven’t mentioned it enough on this blog already, I recently decided to take my freelance copywriting more seriously than I ever have before. I knew from the beginning that there was always a chance that things wouldn’t work out, but I’m here to report that things aren’t as complicated as I initially thought they’d be.

Once I got all the foundational aspect of running a freelance business down it was easier to focus on actually finding clients that aligned with my interests and skills.

However, this post isn’t meant for bragging or motivational sentiments for any other struggling writers out there. Today I wanted to talk about the things I screwed up as a beginner and what I would have done differently had I known then what I know now.

Failure or mistakes aren’t always something I find “professionals” discussing about their businesses, but I wish I’d read a post like this during my hours of research before I committed to the freelance lifestyle.

Not Developing A Contract Before Reaching Out To Clients

Realistically, you don’t need a contract, especially if you are working with larger companies. More often than not, they will have their own freelancer contract for your to sign. However, when working with smaller businesses it’s always a good idea to have a somewhat binding agreement ready for when they decide they want to work with you.

I didn’t consider this important when first looking for clients and it often left me nervous about whether or not the work I was creating would be paid for on time and still be considered mine when I wanted to use it in my portfolio.

Once I finally sat down for a few days and put a contract together that kept my clients and myself safe, I felt much more comfortable reaching out to businesses for work. It was a foundational step that made me feel confident in the overall process and allowed me to present myself as a professional when a client did agree to a partnership.

Thus far, I’ve never had to chase down payments (luckily) or go out of my way to make the process of working with a client easier, but it is common for many freelancers and should be considered before you take leap into running your own business.

Not Having A Strategy For Finding Clients And Expecting Them To Find Me

For the longest time (before I really did my research on what it means to run your own business and what goes into the process), I just assumed that clients would somehow find me when they needed a freelance writer. The idea of having to reach out to dozens of businesses regularly didn’t seem feasible and so I avoided it completely.

This is one of the biggest mistakes I regret because I now realize how many great opportunities I probably missed out on. Not to mention the fact that I wasn’t doing anything constructive to build my confidence and learn what it is that potential clients respond to.

After almost 5 straight months of finding clients I’m interested in working with and reaching out to them on a regular basis I’ve figured out what my ideal niche is and what clients within that niche want to read in a cold pitch email. When I didn’t have a structured approach to finding clients I was pretty much open to accepting any and all offers that came my way, not really considering if I would enjoy the industry and if it would turn into a long-term partnership.

Looking On Indeed For Freelance Work

This point ties into the one above in the sense that, as a freelancer, you will always need to be cold pitching clients in order to get work. There’s no way around it, until you’ve built up your reputation enough to get repeat clients.

I never really considered the idea that you could just email a company out of the blue and ask them if they needed freelance work. It felt almost intrusive to do so, but realistically, most businesses don’t know they need content writing until they are approached by someone who can offer it.

Early on, I made the mistake of thinking that I could find all the clients I needed to through listings on websites like Indeed. After all, these companies were asking for someone to join their team as a writer—I just had to apply.

There are so many reasons why that kind of thinking is “wrong”, but I’ll only list a few of them:

  • Businesses don’t always want to pay to post their job listings on sites like Indeed, unless it’s for high paying positions that can offer them a long-term return on their efforts. This is why you typically see postings for senior office positions (at least, I always did).

  • As mentioned above, most companies don’t know they need you until you show them that they do. So you won’t find listings specifically asking for what you offer.

  • These listings make it easy to forgo doing extensive research on a client before approaching them. Which means that you aren’t really forming a relationship and understanding their brand before you apply to work for whatever position they think they need filled.

With all that being said, I did find a company that needed freelance work done on a long-term basis and it helped tide me over until I figured out what I really wanted. The only issue was that this work wasn’t my ideal niche nor what I necessarily what I wanted to spend my days doing for the small amount of money they were offering.

At this point, I never look on websites like Indeed for freelance client work and have managed to book clients that align with my interests, simply by reaching out to them directly.

Not Approaching My Business With Confidence (And Just A Dash Of Arrogance)

As simplistic as this advice might seem, being confident in your work is a must as a freelancer. When I first started dabbling in the idea of freelance writing I hadn’t taken the time to establish myself as a specialist in any niche or industry. I was floating from one to another, never feeling truly confident in my abilities.

Once I began getting clients that I was genuinely interested in I recognized the value of what I had to offer. I also developed my skills in blog writing and social media copy so that when I approached new clients I didn’t feel overwhelmed and incapable of doing the work they needed.

Confidence is never more important than when you’re running your own business.

To go a bit further, I think that a small amount of arrogance is also necessary when working for yourself. I never thought that what I did was any more valuable than what someone else was doing, but realistically, it is completely unique to me. No one else can do what you do in the way you do it and you should take pride in that. Own it and show clients that you aren’t afraid to walk away from a ridiculously low offer because you know that your time is worth more.

It took me a very long time to realize this, but when I finally did, I started finding clients that were on the same page as me and valued what I had to offer.

Don’t make the same mistakes I did!