Yes, yes – being a copywriter might look like a stellar job. We can get up when we want, we can eat when we want, hell – we can WORK when we want. Why? Because it’s all on us.
So before you go rushing off to tell your boss to shove it, remember that there ARE downsides to going freelance and I’m going to list quite a few of them here. Ears open.
#1: You want a salary? You’ve actually got to work for it now!
Gone are the days where you could while away hours at the desk in a huge company office, surfing the web and checking your Facebook account. When you go freelance, your earnings are all about your performance. If you don’t deliver the goods, you don’t make money. Harsh? Nope, that’s business.
#2 Even before that, you’ve got to FIND the copywriting work!
Yep, you heard me right. Work doesn’t just fall into your copywriter ‘In’ tray anymore. You’ve got to go out and look for it. And boy, can it be in a pain in the arse. There will always be people out there who are better than you. But mor importantly (and annoyingly) there will always be people who are cheaper than you. And believe me, they will steal a LOT of your potential clients. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing – after all, do you really want the tight-pursed clients who aren’t willing to pay for results? I thought not. Still, it’s painful to watch clients slip away. You’ll get used to it.
#3 Zero sick/holiday pay.
Ill? Don’t get paid. Dying? Don’t get paid. Going to Australia for a month with the family? Guess what? Still don’t get paid. If you’re not working, you’re not earning. There is no boss dishing out free money. It’s up to you to measure the worth of your time and ensuring you’re not left without any money next month. Being a copywriter (and indeed any other type of self-employed individual) means you’re in charge of your own finances.
#4 Unreliable/Unsteady Paychecks.
What a bummer. No predictable monthly earning. Meaning this month you could be swimming in work, raking it in. And next month, you could be sitting in the corner of your bedroom shivering in the dark (no money to pay your bills). It’s a cvopywriter’s roller-coaster. This is something you’ll have to take into account, along with seasonal work (many solo businesses won’t shell out for copywriting around Christmas/new year, due to money restraints and family gatherings/time restraints).
#5 It’s down to you to figure out your work hours.
Now this sounds like a DEFINITE advantage, but trust me when I say it’s hard to manage your time effectively as a copywriter. Why? Because if you’re not working 24 hours a day, you often feel like you’re not doing enough. On the flip side, you could fall into the deep dark pit of procrastination. If you’re not very good at managing your time or motivating yourself effectively, either investing time to build those skills or re-consider your freelancing dreams.
#6 No employee benefits
This might apply more to our American cousins, but yes – no employee benefits. Healthcare cover, pensions, etc. Now that you’re all fancy and freelancing, you’ve got to shell out for your own healthcare and pension. What a swine.
#7 There’s a chance you might not actually get paid!
Not everyone’s a kind hearted fellow like me and you. There ARE people out there who, given the chance, will attempt to screw you over (I’ve covered this more in THIS article: http://benpalmerwilson.com/always-get-paid/ )
At least with a regular job, you’re pretty much guaranteed a wage at the end of the month/week. With copywriting and freelancing, it varies. You’ll find loyal and trustworthy clients who pay on time and are happy to do so (provided you fulfil your end of the deal). On the flip side, you’ll be screwed over a few times – well, in my case A LOT more than a few. Meh, you live and learn.
Sounds like a lot of work, right? That’s because it is. There are many benefits to freelancing and being a copywriter (found here: http://benpalmerwilson.com/the-many-benefits-of-being-a-freelance-copywriter/), but they come at a cost. Sure, once you’ve got your business off the ground and have found well-paying loyal clients, a lot of the problems go out of the window. But it does take a few steps to get to that point. Make sure that this is what you want – it’s a rewarding lifestyle, but only if you’re willing to put the time and effort in.