For the benefit of all you freelance copywriters out there Glenn Murray (of Divine Write Copywriting) has been kind enough to sit down and answer a few of my questions. There’s some great advice and insight within this post so make sure you check it out!
1. When did you decide to start your freelance copywriting business?
Before Divine Write, I was a technical writer in the software industry. I enjoyed that, but I’d always fantasised about setting up shop as a freelance copywriter. Just never had the balls! Then in 2002, after nine years as a techwriter, I was made redundant. Six weeks later, despite dozens of job applications, and about 100 letters and phone calls to prospective employers, I was still unemployed. And my redundancy payout was gone.
Clearly no-one wanted a techwriter, so I started thinking about what else I could do. I’d written a few brochures in my time (tends to happen when you’re the only arts graduate in a company full of engineers), so I decided to pitch myself as a copywriter. I’d had a bit of practice with telephone cold-calls, so I kept them going. Turns out copywriting was in more demand than techwriting. So that afternoon, I came up with the business name, registered the domains and registered the business.
2. How long did it take before you established yourself as a leading freelance copywriter?
About two years, I’d say. Of course, “leading” is all a matter of perspective. I still don’t have the profile (or income) of the big guns in America. But what I do have is a very good search engine presence, and a lot of recognisable clients offering nice testimonials. For clients, that equates to “leading”.
3. Are there any other copywriters you admire? If so, who and why?
4. What is the best way to get new clients?
I don’t know about the best way, full-stop. But I know the best way for me has been my website combined with professional client management. A well planned, designed, written and optimised site can send a lot of customers your way. Then you just need to say the right things and convey the right professionalism. This doesn’t just mean thinking of the right things to say each time. It means having systems in place that show the client you’re a serious contender. Like professional proposals.
5. If you could pick five traits or characteristics to create the perfect freelance copywriter, what would they be?
1) ‘The flow’ – You have to be able to write more better goodly, like.
2) Business acumen – You have to be strategic with your own business and you have to understand the client’s.
3) Adaptability – You have to wear a lot of hats (PC tech, social media guru, business development manager, etc.)
4) Persistence – It’s hard and it takes time.
5) Creative thinking – Not just in your writing, but also in your problem solving.
6. What’s your favourite power word (or word)?
I don’t really have one. Had to look up what it meant actually!
7. List five must-have items that you believe each freelance copywriter should have?
If a computer is a given, then I’d say:
2) SEO knowledge
3) Effective email & contact management
4) Effective file management
5) Accounts package
8. What are the annoying aspects of freelance copywriting?
Clients. They always want something! No, seriously, clients who question grammar and punctuation, or who demand a really formal style, can be very difficult to work with. And those who want to spend hours on the phone, or who take forever to get you information, then demand the copy the next day. Writing about the same sorts of products and services, day in and day out, can be a bit draining too.
9. What are the most enjoyable aspects of freelance copywriting?
Being exposed to different business ideas. You have a lot of clients who are startups, and you really get to see some interesting concepts. Over time, you start to develop a sense for what ideas have legs, and what ideas don’t (which in turn kinda leads you into entrepreneurialism yourself… Obviously it’s good to be able to write for a living too, but the novelty of that wears off pretty quickly.
10. Finally. What advice would you give to all the brand new freelance copywriters out there?
Know you can do it. Go with your gut and write what you feel you should. Use your head to plan and edit, but use your heart to write. Oh and watch My Top 10 Tips for Aspiring Freelance Copywriters video.
…Well that’s it! A big thank you to Glenn for doing this. Another interview with another top copywriter is coming up soon!