Jennifer Pavlick had a lot of professional experience writing — she wrote for her student newspaper, and later handled digital strategy and copywriting projects in the corporate world. But when Covid hit, she wanted to make more money, and decided to use her writing skills as a freelancer on the side of her full-time job.
A year later, she quit her job because she had enough freelance work to go full-time freelance. Now Jennifer’s sharing her top five things to know before becoming a freelance copywriter.
1. Keep learning as much as you can ✍️
Jennifer recommends learning as much as you can, especially when you’re first starting out. Obviously, as a professional freelance copywriter, you’ll need to have writing skills and will want to continuously improve your writing and editing skills.
Jennifer also recommends working on other skills your clients will care about, like your communication and business skills, and learning as much as you can about industries you’re interested in working in.
“People should go in with an open mind to learning as much as possible,” says Jennifer. “I think the writing winds up being only a fraction of what the responsibilities are.”
2. Create your own path 🏡
“There isn't a predetermined right way to do this,” says Jennifer. “In the beginning, I kept seeing things that made me feel like I had to follow certain rules.”
Some freelancers are adamant about picking a niche. Others recommend not investing all their time on platforms. There’s so much advice about how to freelance out there, and new freelancers can get lost in the noise.
“Obviously, people have succeeded on any of these paths, which is why they're advocating for that path,” Jennifer says. But just because something worked for one person doesn’t mean it’ll work for you. “There’s no set path.”
Freelancers need to be willing to learn from each experience. Figuring out what you want your freelance business to look like takes experimentation and reflection. Did that work well for me? or I really didn’t enjoy that. If you didn’t enjoy something, pivot and try something different.
“You just have to keep trying and see what works best for you. It'll become apparent if you keep troubleshooting and putting yourself out there.”
3. Know that trial and error are part of the process ⏰
Especially when you’re starting out as a freelance copywriter, you’re faced with all kinds of decisions. Am I setting the right price? Is this the exact thing I should be offering?
New freelance copywriters may be nervous about making the right choices. Instead, Jennifer recommends remembering that it’s all about trying new things and seeing what works for you.
“You are the one in charge of making the choices,” says Jennifer. “But just remember that it's trial and error. Each stage doesn't have to be that precious.”
Try to not put too much pressure on yourself. Try “reflecting as you go and not putting too much pressure on the initial decision you make, because you can keep modifying them,” she says.
4. Recognize your value 🔊
Understanding the value of your skills, your work, and the service you provide clients is another important thing Jennifer says freelancers need to think about. Recognize when you’ve gained skills or improved yourself.
“Be humble when you when you begin and be willing to take on projects that would be a good opportunity,” she says. That experience will pay off as you can add it to your portfolio.
Of course, she adds that you never have to take on low-paying projects if you don’t want to. The price you charge is ultimately up to you. As you work on projects, you’ll better understand how to charge clients and how to raise the value of what you offer.
“Really keep understanding what you can add into value to what you offer, but also be willing to learn and improve if that's the stage you're at,” says Jennifer.
5. Hold on to your purpose 💌
One of the most important things freelancers can do is to remember why they chose to work for themselves and their overall purpose.
“In the beginning, it was my priority to make some extra money. So I was willing to take on projects that I wasn't necessarily super interested in. But I was like: All that matters is that I'm building a customer base, getting going, and proving myself that I can make this happen.”
As you gain experience and prove your capacity for greatness to yourself, you’ll want to reassess the type of work you take on. You may want to start focusing on projects you are interested in or work that pays more.
Regardless, your values will determine what you do next. Do you want more free time? Do you want extra money? Answering these kinds of questions internally will clarify your thinking. Your purpose will probably evolve with time. Give yourself time to reflect on your experiences, and think about what you want your future to look like.
“Hold on to your purpose and realize why you're doing this. It'll help you keep control over your own life and your own direction, which is kind of the point of working for yourself,” Jennifer says.
Launch your freelance career with Contra 🚀
Jennifer uses Contra to manage projects with a few existing customers. She invoices her Clients through Contra and gets paid quickly and securely.
“I love that it auto-generates a contract. It's stopped me from having to chase down any invoices or payments,” she says. Like Jennifer, you too can bring existing clients to Contra!
Jennifer Pavlick on Contra