A post meant for December 2020. Written and posted in May 2021
Fuck. I don’t know where to start with this post.
It’s actually my second attempt writing this. The first was in February 2021 and was meant to be my (slightly) overdue six-month check in.
Looking at the draft, it began like this:
Honestly, I’m surprised I’m getting round to writing and posting this as early as February. With the way work has been since, oh, I dunno? Last November maybe? It’s been mad hectic. A bit of a blur.
HA! ‘As early as February.’ I was optimistic.
Now five months into the year, I can safely say that the ‘bit of a blur’ has turned into an all-out chaotic fuzz of bat-shit craziness that makes a Boris Johnson government look fuckin’ organised.
But enough preamble that could derail this thing until June. I’ll hop to it. Starting with the most massiveist, craziest news I have.
MASSIVE, CRAZY NEWS
Lots I could say on this but I’m not sure you need to know much more.
Just that I am oop the duff.
And that the kid is due in August.
So far everything is going great and I’m feeling (mostly) well.
But some time off towards the end of the year is highly likely.
My maternity leave plans are a work in progress. (Well, I’ve never done this before.) But I hope to have some further news soon on how it’ll play out, how long I’ll be away from my desk and when you lovely lot can expect my return.
If you’re in a similar position, I recommend this episode of Doing It For The Kids. Frankie and Steve have some excellent advice for soon-to-be parents with a freelance business.
Some other pretty big personal news
The husband and I bought a house. I know! In this property market? We must be mad. But we did. And so far, so good. The house is great and I have my own office. Here it is at time of writing. Forgive the mess.
I’m most excited about putting up my bat decorations and having my own sorta goth cave. The eagle-eyed among you may have spotted the coffin-shaped thing on my desk. Yep, that’s a Living Dead Doll. Containing a Series 4 Sybil (for those of you interested in such things). She was the only one from my collection I held onto. The rest were sold when I emigrated to Australia.
So this news (the buying a house bit, not the Living Dead Doll bit), coupled with the first bombshell means you are 100% right in thinking that I’m attempting to do all my serious adulting in a very short space of time.
Happy with my decisions?
OK, that’s enough of the personal-life stuff. Now for the good shit. What’s been going on in my business: the work, the wins and the wanky bits.
All the leads that turn into all of the clients
If there’s one I know about freelancing it’s that the ‘work is like busses’ cliché is true. I’ve lost count how many times I’ve gone from fuck all client work lined up, to drowning in the stuff. It’s like the universe hears you. (Something Sarah Townsend and I chatted about last October.)
The start of 2021 was just like that for me.
Several leads came in at once. A sex ed site, a pub, couple of website overhauls for escorts, one or two about pages, and a long-form blog. All on top of my regular client work.
When this happens you expect one or two of the leads to convert. I’ve no idea what was in the water during the first two months of the year, but pretty much all of the work I agreed to quote on came good. Sadly, one of those leads turned into a dud-client (more on that later) but happily I had some really fun projects to kick off the year.
Identifying popular services
Part of the fun of having your own business is testing stuff out. This is going to show my geeky side, but thinking up ideas, making them happen and seeing if they fly or fail is interesting.
Over the last six or seven months I’ve been getting clear signals from clients as to what’s working and what ain’t.
Stuff that’s working: the Tasting Paddle (I love this little service and I get most enquiries about this), the Up & Running website service (seems especially popular with escorts) and the Half Dozen blogs. With the Half Dozen it’s usually my recurring clients who book this.
Stuff that’s not selling: any of my email packages. To be fair, I don’t promote these much. My Dozen blog package doesn’t get a lot of attention either. I’d hazard a guess that for my fellow freelancer and small business target audience, the thought of investing $7k in one hit is a bit much.
So what am I going to do with this information? Probably remove the services from my site that aren’t selling and finesse the ones that are.
One for the newbie copywriters
Speaking of popular stuff, one of my most read blogs is the one about my experience with copywriting courses. There’s rarely a week goes by when I don’t get an email from someone just starting out on their copywriting journey asking for more info about becoming a copywriter, or there’s a comment left on the blog.
When an admin from the Blackford Centre—the institution where I completed my copywriting diploma— left a comment, I was quick to see how I could make the most of the fact they’d found my blog. The logical thing was to ask if they fancied snipping a bit of money off the course price for new freelance copywriters. After a bit of back and forth, we were able to set up a discount code for anyone who wanted to sign up after reading my article. And yes, I get a small kickback too.
Hopefully it’s been helpful to people. Both the course and the extra bit of money off. I should find out next month if this is the case.
Free reviews for SWs going great
In my June 2020 half-year check in I mentioned the launch of two free copywriting services for sex workers. I got this going when the pandemic really set in, as a way to try and help those in an industry that was abruptly shut down. For many sex workers (SWs) around the world lockdowns are still stopping many in this industry from earning a living.
The original plan was to run it for six months. But as the pandemic and lockdowns dragged on, I kept the service running. To date, I’ve completed 21 free profile reviews and three profile proofreads. Many of those who have used the service have also been fantastically generous. They’ve taken the time to share it with peers, leave reviews on my Google My Business page and even insisted on tipping me for my time. This has kept me well-stocked with tea, coffee and cake.
See the offer, which is still running.
Owning my niche
One thing I’ve worked hard on in the last few months is properly embracing ‘the sex stuff’. I wrote a post about this on my Instagram a little while back.
The tl;dr is that sex and the adult industry have always played a part in my career. For one reason or another, though, I listened to the advice of others which told me that if I wanted to be a business success I need to keep the adult indie stuff quiet.
Naivety and a fear of failing meant I listened.
I’m sad that I did.
Using the free SW review service as the catalyst, I decided I wasn’t going to hide it any more. I dedicated part of my site to the fact I write for the adult industries, changed the wording on my homepage and stuck it in my main navigation.
I’m now ranking really well in search as an adult industry, sex worker friendly copywriter. And people in this industry aren’t just contacting me. When I’m booked up they’re willing to wait it out until I become available. That’s pretty huge. My regret is that I didn’t do this sooner.
Subcontracting other writers
I’ve done something I’ve never done before.
I’ve commissioned work out to other copywriters.
I know! It’s so businessy-grown up of me. And tough too, because I am a bit (teeny-tiny bit) of a control freak.
But when one of my longest serving clients commissioned The Dozen (first booking ever of this service) so they have enough blogs to get through my maternity leave, I knew I couldn’t handle it alone and keep on top of all the other work I had booked in.
Subcontracting the work out was the answer.
It felt really great putting together the briefs for the writers and handing off the work. I’m actually really excited to pay their invoices, too. Does that sound weird? I think it’s just a cool thing to be at a point in my business where I can afford to pay other folks to help me with stuff rather than having to handle absolutely everything myself.
A definite win and big step in terms of my own self-development and growth as I try to become less of a control freak.
Finishing Write 52
OK, this is the last win I wanna talk about. Write 52. The writing challenge invented by Ed Callow and designed to encourage folk to write and publish something, anything, for an entire year.
On 25 September, 2020 I completed the challenge.
After a year of writing articles for my business and clients, I decided this last one was going to be something purely for pleasure. So I wrote about the best cricketing adverts (IMHO). It was the end of the cricket season here in Australia and I’d spent an indulgent summer watching copious amounts of test cricket on the tele, so this subject seemed perfect.
A write up of how I kept on top of the Write 52 challenge, what it felt like and the benefits of blogging every week for a year is in the making, so watch this space. Until then, see what I had to say when Ed quizzed me on the experience for the Write 52 Hall of Fame.
The wanky bits (cos they happen, too)
Not writing enough for my blog
The plan after finishing an intense year of writing every week for my site was to take a few weeks off. Then get back to it. But with all of the work I had coming in, then big life news, the few weeks turned into months. And here we are in May.
It’s sad. I miss it. I miss the routine of doing 30-mins of writing my own stuff every day and having something publishable by Friday. And when I saw that Write 52 Season 2 was kicking off in February, I felt that loss even more.
While it’s great that I’m so busy the last thing I want to do at the end of a day of client work is write my own stuff, it’s also sad it’s being neglected. I’m hoping that this post right here is my turning point. And that for the rest of the year I’m able to do something, anything, for my own blog. Maybe not every week. But more often than once a quarter. Hold me to it.
Remember I mentioned I had a dud client? Well this is that story.
Over the years I’ve built up a list of red flags. Things that happen either as I’m onboarding a client or as the project gets going. They’re my warning signs to run for the hills. Some of the flags include:
- Unclear briefs
- Uncommunicative on emails or calls
- Come from an industry I’m unfamiliar with
- Always quibble about cost and payment.
Part of my screening process is a free 20-minute briefing call. Getting good copy is a collaboration. It’s important that client and writer work well together. A quick call helps us figure this out. So I did my usual intro call. There were one or two moments that left me feeling a bit unsure, but it didn’t feel like enough to not take the job.
I should have listened to those one or two moments. It turned into a mess.
Writing one blog took around 27 hours. First draft revisions from the client meant the entire brief changed. There were mixed messages coming from within the company versus what SEO needed and different again from PR and marketing.
I kept looking at everything I’d been given and what was going on, thinking I’d missed something in the brief and it was my stuff up. Finally, I snapped and spoke with another copywriter (the fantastic Claire, @copycontentw) for a sanity check. Being under NDA meant I could only speak in broad terms about what was happening, but she let me chew her ear off, which I was hugely grateful for.
Claire helped me see that the most professional course of action would be to do the revisions, explain it’s beyond the brief, but I wouldn’t charge this time. However, if the goal posts move again, we’d have to adjust the project fee.
I think I got one more email from them before they ghosted. My invoice emails certainly got ignored and I’m annoyed at myself, still, for not pushing harder on that. So I lost hundreds of dollars on that job, as well as time. Thankfully they paid a percent of the fee upfront, so I wasn’t completely out of pocket.
Goes to show that no matter how well you think you’ve got things sussed in your business, curveballs still come along to test us.
What’s on the horizon
Thankfully, this post won’t end on a downer. Looking forward, I’ve got some really fun things coming up for the rest of May, June and July.
Currently I’m working through the big dental blog project (with my team of fab fellow writers) and I’ve got a road trip up to Rockhampton to visit the client at the end of the month.
I’ve also got a quiz/email funnel to work on for my wedding client which will be something new for me. Writing up a lead gen quiz isn’t something I’ve done before so I’m excited to learn a new form of marketing writing.
I’m also at capacity when it comes to website projects, with two more SWs booked in for three-page site copy.
Somewhere, amongst all of this, I will find time to put that maternity leave plan together and have a baby!
Wish me luck.