A single client

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Beth Townsend is a creative copywriter who has been freelancing forever (since 2011). She works with every kind of organisation, from your regular digital agencies and marketing companies to niche organisations covering everything from homemade dog biscuits to sex dungeons (yep…). Chances are you’ve seen something she’s written in that little box below a product you’re buying on Amazon or Tesco…she knows no one really reads it.

Biggest fuckup

Relying too much on a single client.

It’s a weird one, as it’s always great to have a steady supply of work when you’re freelance, especially if you’re new to it. If someone offers you 20-30 hours of steady work or more a week, you’re obviously going to take it.

I did this whilst also taking on other bits, small jobs here and there, and ended up relying on a single client for maybe 80% of my work. Definitely a huge fuck up because as they began needing less and less, I hadn’t been doing the necessary digging for new opportunities and looking for new clients, so left myself in a bit of a hole. I ended up losing out, and with freelancing, once they’re done with you, they’re done with you; there are no complaints to ACAS or HR. It felt like shit and took quite a while to find my way out of said hole, and now I ensure I always have a good spread of projects on the go at any one time. 

Rant

Getting paid. I do work; you pay me. It sounds quite simple, but anyone who has been freelancing for any amount of time will tell you the opposite is often the case. This is further compounded by the fact that my brain does not respond well to being paid in advance, and I struggle to have the same motivation to work on a project if I’ve had the fee upfront. It might be a personal quirk, but it’s completely demotivating.

I have had every excuse you can imagine for not getting paid and been copied into some e-mail exchanges I probably shouldn’t have. One that springs to mind is my contact emailing accounts saying simply, “Can you please pay her? The woman needs money for her family Christmas” – I enjoyed being THE WOMAN for a short amount of time. I have no idea if they did pay me in time for Christmas, though.

LinkedIn would have you believe freelancers are the champions of their own fate but more often than not you’re spending hours a week begging people to give you money for things they have not only accepted but already published somewhere, it sucks, and it hasn’t improved in over 11 years doing this.

Also – dogs as “team members” on About Us pages…nope. 

Useful Advice

Say no say no say no!

I am still really bad at saying no and I rarely heed this advice but as an experienced, mainly online, copywriter if someone comes at me wanting a 1000-word article for $10, I think even I am able to say no.

With loads of kids at home and working where I live, too, there are times when saying no is vital to maintaining some level of sanity. Saying no doesn’t always mean you’re losing out, which is what I used to think; it could be the best decision for you.

I still find saying no scary as it does feel a bit like I’m losing out, even on that $10, but it’s definitely something I’m trying to train myself to say more often.

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