Tag Archives: Copywriting

Maintaining a good work/life balance

As a Mum and a Freelancer (in that order) I often struggle to balance the two competing worlds. Like most Freelancers I find that in terms of work it’s either feast or famine, and as a Mum the responsibilities are constant, as is the guilt, but that goes with the territory, whatever I did I’d feel bad, it’s a no win situation.

As a Freelancer I work from home, which means that technically I’m around whenever my family need me. I can do the school run, I can be there when my son is poorly to care for him, I can take time out during the school holidays to spend time with him. I do all of that and more, but it does mean that I also have to put in long hours in the evenings, early in the mornings, or my weekends are spent slaving over a hot laptop while my 9 – 5 husband spends time with our son.

Whilst I can see the benefits of working *for* someone else, for me the benefits of being a Freelancer far outweigh that. Although the work and the hours I put in are never constant, I am able to be more flexible with my time. This means I can create and maintain a good work/life balance, or at least strive to.

My tips for creating and maintaining a good work/life balance are…

  • Protect some time for family, for me 5 – 7pm are family time, where we eat together, talk about our days, have bath-time, read stories and snuggle.
  • Go for a walk. Being stuck at my desk all day is miserable and not why I became a freelancer. Go for a walk round the park, get some fresh air and exercise and take a brain-break. You’ll be more productive after.
  • Accept help – enlist family and friends who don’t mind entertaining your child for a few hours occasionally. My son loves his Grandad and spending time with him is a special thing for them both.
  • Don’t try and multi-task. If you’ve got a few hours of family time, focus on the family.
  • Work smarter, not harder. If you’ve magically got a spare hour to spend working, you can accomplish a lot in that hour, set time limits for tasks and see what you can achieve.
  • Be organised, even if that’s not in your nature. To do lists, a filing system, record keeping however simple will save you time. Having my own workspace has really helped with this.
  • Go to work – some people get dressed for work, or have a pre-work morning routine. I get myself a drink and plonk myself at my desk and get cracking.
  • Family comes first – for me at least. If I need to stay up and work until 3am to catch up then so be it. My son is only young for a finite amount of time and he comes first. Always.
  • Make friends. Freelancing can be a lonely life. Find and nurture a group of like minded fellow freelancers around you, they will save your sanity and sometimes your bacon!

I have found that by having a small circle of freelancing friends they can offer me advice, practical support, contacts and the feeling of having colleagues; we even go on “work nights out”, which is nice. 

I’ve recently discovered Hiive. Hiive is a creative network that offers users a portfolio platform, job opportunities and access to careers resources. Hiive is designed to encourage discussion and collaboration within the creative industries and is an incredibly useful network for freelancers. I have joined and think it’s well worth a look and can help you to balance your work and home life.

I love freelancing, it’s changed my life and my family life for the better. It’s not easy, in fact it’s bloody hard work. Finding the right work life balance is a constantly shifting task. Having an understanding husband is half the battle, but the rewards in terms of quality family time are worth the late nights and early mornings. 

What are your tips for creating a good work-life balance?

work life balance

In association with Hiive.

Freelancers – value yourselves

Hello, my name is Jane and I’m a Freelance Copywriter (amongst other things); I write and people pay me. I use that money to go to shops and buy things like food and clothes, and sometimes bottles of gin. I also lavish my meagre funds on heating, electricity, water and the endless things school asks me for. I work hard each and every day to put food on the table. I pay my taxes (hello Starbucks, are you listening?) and my National Insurance and because I work for myself and don’t have access to a stationery cupboard, I have to buy my own paper-clips too. In short, my life isn’t given to me for free, nor will Mr Supermarket do me a deal for cash.

In my line of work I frequently get offered “amazing” opportunities to work for free or for buttons (quite literally) to apparently “help raise my profile”. It’s exciting to be asked to write for a magazine and to see your name in print, it’s a great feeling, but do you know what’s a better feeling? Being PAID to write and then seeing your name in print. I understand there is a whole chicken/egg scenario here, but I’ve never written for a publication for free in my life and I often see my name in print. If you don’t value your work, the words you sweat over, the research you have done, then no one else will.

Everyone has to start somewhere you say. I agree. But if you write for free now, you can’t turn round in six months and say “now I’m a proper published writer you have to pay me now”, because they won’t. They’ll just move on and find someone else who will write for free, because we’ve all been new and we’ve all been tempted. Not only are you devaluing yourself and your product, you’re making it harder for other writers (including you) to make a living.

But what if they want to pay you? Fabulous news, but what do they want to pay you? What’s your rate? You have two options, a notional hourly rate (I reckon that’ll take me two hours so if I work for £10 and hour that’s £20*) or a pay-per-word arrangement (for example, 800 words for £15*). I hear of writers (usually ones dabbling on the side of a “proper” job) who agree to ridiculous things, like 2000 words for £15. I saw one today which was 750 words for £8. If you’re working and writing for that amount of money, you’re pretty much giving it away for free. Your hourly rate probably isn’t even half that of the minimum wage.

It’s hard to know what to charge when people ask you to write for them. I’m as guilty as the next person for undervaluing my work, but I will charge the going rate based on my notional hourly rate. The best advice I can give is make friends with other copywriters and bounce ideas off them. If you have a gang of copywriters (I’m going to call a group of copywriters a scribble, a scribble of copywriters) then you’ll soon find they pass work onto each other, have each others back, even blacklist really shoddy clients; but it’s good to have “colleagues” in the same boat as you.

If you’ve got what it takes, you can and will earn a good living from being a Freelance Copywriter, it can be a lot of hard work, but if you devalue yourself, give your hard work away for free, then why would people pay you well, let alone pay you at all? Know your own worth and respect yourself enough to be paid for what you do. That’s what any other profession and professional demands. Don’t devalue your worth.

*Not my rate, please contact me if you wish to hire me and we can discuss pounds, shillings and pence.

freelance

Word of the Week 28/3/14

My Word of the Week this week is “Possibilities”. I feel at last I’m on the cusp of something different and special in my life.

My personal life seems generally positive. One of my best and closest friends has moved away, this is a great sadness to me and probably always will be. But I am blessed with lots of remarkably fantastic friends who will always be there for me. Plus I’ve met some really lovely people lately who will help take my life in the direction it needs to go in.

Possibilities

 

 

 

 

 

Work-wise this has been an interesting week. Yes I could do with tonnes more work, but what I’m doing I love. With my Social Media hat on I love working with the businesses that I do, the people are unrelentingly fantastic, so much fun and make work not seem like work. I’ve had a few new copywriting opportunities lately too. I want more, I need more, but I’m content to let it grow naturally. I’m not the type to be banging on doors asking for work.

So, in summary. This week has been full of possibilities. Long may that continue!

Want to Write? Take my Advice

Since I was featured in the February edition of Writing Magazine, a few people have been in contact asking for my advice on how to get started. I’m no JK Rowling I admit, but I do write and I do get paid for it. So here are some of my thoughts and tips about starting and keeping on writing. And if all else fails, just follow what the wonderful Neil Gaiman has to say.

writing magazine feb 2014

Writing Magazine, February 2014

Write for yourself 
I just started blogging for myself, people liked my style and it just snowballed from there. When I started blogging I didn’t expect anyone to read what I wrote. I wrote it for myself, to get things off my chest or to pour my heart out somewhere. If you write because you love it then you’ll not go far wrong.

Blog for the love of it
The best thing I did was start my blog, it’s worth investing £50 or so in getting your own domain right from the start, but write for yourself at first, about your life, things you’ve done, places you’ve been. Make friends with local bloggers in your area and get on twitter and search out review opportunities and interesting things to do. Eventually once you’ve built on this PRs may approach you to write sponsored posts, you can earn some extra pennies that way. But find a balance, if your blog is entirely reviews for freebies you’ve got and sponsored posts then it won’t have a heart and people won’t embrace it.

Find a mentor
Find a mentor or an honest friend who will read what you write and tell you the truth. I’ve got a couple of mentors and friends who help me immeasurably both in my writing and generally in terms of my career. Writing is pretty solitary, or it can be and having trusted but honest people you can bounce off is incredibly useful. Writing is like a muscle, you’ve got to keep exercising it, so write, even if it’s just for you.

Just go for it
I started writing for free to build up my published portfolio again after my extended break from writing, now I’m getting paid. Approach local magazines and see if they’ll commission a free article maybe. Once you’ve got a decent portfolio you can start scouting about for paid work.

I got “spotted” via my blog by an editor and now they send me to review plays and things, as well as writing general articles for them.

Sleep on it
Sometimes when I’m in the mood I can bang out some pretty decent stuff which I’m instantly happy with. Sometimes I might really struggle to find the right words. Whichever side of the bridge you find yourself, it’s always a good idea to give yourself and your writing a bit of breathing space before you click “publish”. So sleep on it, or leave it for an afternoon. Come back to it with fresh eyes and pat yourself on the back, or make the drastic revisions it needs to make it a piece you can be proud of. Don’t be afraid to scratch it and start again, if it needs it, it needs it. Oh, and write tight, don’t witter on, like I’m doing now…!

Always remember, if you write from the heart and honestly, then you can’t go far wrong.

Happy writing!

Working from Home – The Reality

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Hello, I’m Jane and I work from home.

Sometimes I sit in bed with a cup of coffee and work. Sometimes I wear pyjamas for the whole day and I work. Sometimes I sit in a comfy chair, wrapped in a blanket and work. Sometimes I go to a nice cafe, enjoy their free WiFi and work. Sometimes when the sun shines I sit in the garden and work. Quite a lot of the time you’ll find me at 3 or 4 in the morning still working.

I’ve left the rat race. The scramble to find somewhere to sit on public transport; the open plan offices from hell and the requirement to wear proper, clean clothes on a daily basis. Those days are thankfully behind me.

Working from home is brilliant, but it’s not the skive people seem to think it is. People think I spend the day lolling about watching daytime TV. Honestly it’s never on unless there is some seriously significant breaking news I need to be aware of. People think I do very little, but my to-do list is probably longer than most 9-5 peeps.

The trade-off for working in bed, or wearing pjs or drinking nice coffee in a nice cafe is that I have to work ruddy hard. I start work when the boys leave at around 8am and its fairly non-stop from there. The great thing is no two days are the same for me, there are different things to see and do on every day of the week. I meet some great people and sometimes I get to collaborate with them on exceptionally exciting things.

Most days I do have appointments, meetings and events to go to. But factoring in searching for work, researching jobs, doing work, invoicing for work, admin, attending meetings and events, my days can be horribly long. I get very little family time, I often work well into the early hours, as I type this I’m nearing my 20th consecutive hour of work, I hardly sleep, my mind is constantly on the job. Even when we’re enjoying full on family time I’m always thinking can I blog about this, should I blog about this?

I earn very little, a pittance really. Would I swap it for a stuffy suit, a grotty open plan office and a game of sardines on the bus? Not on your nelly! I love my new found self-employed status, despite the long hours I don’t regret it for a single second.

Giz a Job

copywritingThose of you who know me personally will know that this week I handed my notice in on my old job. I’d not enjoyed it for a long time, it was a huge source of anxiety for me and I’ve been off sick for nearly a year having operations and such like.

Being off for such along time forced me to re-evaluate my life. Some changes have been tough for me, some have been tough for my husband, but changes needed to be made, I just needed to grow a pair and get on with it. Hence the resignation.

What am I going to do? Well for a start I’m returning to my first love which is writing. I trained as a journalist 300 years ago, briefly worked as a journo, then taught creative writing for a long time. Lost my mojo and gave up on my dreams.

I’ve got my mojo back now, so I’m going to try and build up some work as a copywriter and blogger. I also run some social media accounts for local businesses and have done for a while now, so that too.

I have a very tiny amount of work at the moment because until my notice period is up (4th December) I can’t really chase work, but please think of me if you need a copywriter, someone to throw some words onto a page; manage a Twitter account; write and manage your email campaigns or just to blog about something fabulous. I’m your girl!

Please contact me for a chin wag about copywriting, go on you know you want to!