Many B2B copywriters don’t start out as copywriters… or even as writers.
Often, they either had full careers already and started copywriting in retirement… or they didn’t like their previous career… or maybe that previous career didn’t pay the bills… or they were looking for something they could do part-time to make some extra money… or… or… or.
The point is: there are no rules about how young or old you have to be.
There aren’t even any rules about what you did before finding copywriting or how much writing experience you’ve had.
But there are some rules you will have to abide by if you want to make it as a freelance B2B copywriter.
And those rules apply to everyone.
Rule 1: Get your head in the game
If you’ve been “working for the man” your whole career, going solo is a huge change… to your day-to-day routines, to the way you think about work, to where you get your motivations and direction.
When you work for a company, the company sets the business goals, and the management structure at the company works with the employees to carry out tasks to achieve those goals.
When you work for yourself, you are the company, the management, and the employee.
To succeed at freelancing, you need to think the right way about your approach to the business.
No one will tell you what to do and when to do it. No one will watch what hours you work. And no one will give you goals to hit.
That may all sound great to you, and it can be… as long as you get your head focused properly.
You need to spend time setting your business goals, taking the actions needed to complete projects and to market for new projects.
You can do it on your own schedule, but you need to have a schedule.
You can set the goals you want to set, but you need to set them.
You can take the actions you want to take, but you need to take them.
A previous boss might have defined this as being “self-motivated”… the point is, you need to get used to being your own boss and thinking like a boss.
Some things you can do to get and keep your head in the game:
- Adopt a regular meditation practice — meditation has been proven to increase focus and decrease stress.
- Keep a calendar or schedule, even if it’s only with yourself.
- e., Monday at 2 p.m., watch Module 1 of Secrets of High-Performance Business-to-Business Copy.
- Tuesday at 9 a.m., send prospecting emails to five potential clients.
- Physically get dressed as if you’re heading in to work, even if it’s only to walk 10 steps to your home office.
- Use a tomato timer (Pomodoro technique) and focus on one task at a time without distraction.
Rule 2: Make sure your game plan is up-to-date
When I started my copywriting journey, I’d actually just been laid off. I’d worked for one company from my college graduation until the day I lost my job 26 years later.
Serendipitously, I had purchased AWAI’s Accelerated Program for Six-Figure Copywriting two months prior to the layoff… I hadn’t worked much on it, but I had it.
My goal was to learn it slowly over time, eventually giving me an option to retire a little early and/or make money in retirement.
At first when I got laid off, I thought it was a sign… I could start my copywriting career earlier than planned. Control my own destiny instead of letting anyone ever lay me off again.
The problem was that even though my circumstances had changed (I needed to replace my six-figure salary almost right away), I didn’t really adjust my game plan.
I was still following the “plan” I’d had in my head for copywriting, which was very slowly and more “hobby-like,” with the result I ended up back at a 9-to-5 job a year later, nowhere near replacing my six-figure salary.
Some things you can do to ensure your plan matches your situation:
- Write down your goals and your timeline.
- Now list out the things you need to do to hit those goals, like learning skills, setting up a website, creating marketing materials, and reaching out to clients.
- Figure out how much time each day or week you have to devote to reaching your goals.
- Now, create a calendar, with your goals as your end date. Start filling in the activities you’ll need to perform to reach those goals by that time frame.
- That will give you weekly and monthly actions you’ll need to take, and you can break them down in to daily tasks at the beginning of each week.
Things are not likely to go exactly as planned… But as long as you have a plan, you can make adjustments and still continue heading toward your goals. Without a plan, you could end up… well… maybe back at another 9-to-5 job.
Rule 3: Play to your strengths
Most people have a pretty good understanding of their strengths and weaknesses.
But not everyone takes advantage of those strengths or puts guardrails in place to protect them from their weaknesses.
Since your freelance business is… just you… well, then the business is also going to flourish with, and suffer from, your strengths and weaknesses.
If you’re really good at making videos, use that. You can offer that as a service, but you can also use videos in your marketing of your own services.
On the other hand, if you have a bit of a procrastination problem or you can only function when you’re faced with an externally imposed deadline, you’re going to have a hard time taking the proactive steps necessary for your business and you’ll need to build in motivation and accountability.
You’ll need to protect yourself and your business from those kinds of weaknesses.
Some potential actions you could take to help you here include:
- Do a realistic self-assessment, noting your strengths and weaknesses.
- Leverage your strengths either in terms of the niche you choose, the services you provide, the way you setup your routines, or any other way you can make things as easy as possible on yourself.
- Protect yourself from your weaknesses: take classes to learn things you just don’t know, set up foolproof systems to keep you from procrastinating, join an accountability group, hire a bookkeeper if math is not your thing…
Rule 4: Be a closer
In baseball, the closer comes in either to keep the lead the starting pitcher built up or to rescue the game if the team is losing.
Either way, the outcome of the game rests on the shoulders of the closer.
And the outcome of your business rests with you.
Which is great… really.
If you’ve ever worked in an office environment, often you can’t get your job done until someone else has done their part first, which can cause frustration.
You don’t have to deal with that anymore.
But if you want your business to flourish, you’ll need to be your own extraordinary closer…
- Meet clients’ deadlines, with time to spare if you can.
- Follow up with past clients to keep in touch for future projects.
- Follow up with prospects you’re nurturing.
- Create proposals for prospects who’ve expressed interest.
- Market continuously, whether your calendar is full or not.
These are rules anyone can follow… and by doing so, you are all but ensuring your success and the success of your business.