Write Brained: To Freelance or Not To Freelance?

Posted by on Sep 14, 2012 in Blog, Copywriting, Write Brained | 0 comments

Write Brained: To Freelance or Not To Freelance?

Copywriters have a lot of career options, despite what it may seem like. The two obvious choices are freelancing and not freelancing. Most copywriters are skilled enough to do either, but there are certain questions that come into play when deciding which path you’ll take. After all, as with all other life choices (except for whether or not to take that awesome Europe vacation), there is no right or wrong answer. It’s more a question of preference and priority. So, here are a few things to consider when deciding between freelancing or being company-tied.

Freelancing Advantage: Work on your time, at your pace.
One of the greatest things about freelancing is being your own boss. You work when you want to, how you want to, where you want to. Do you want to pump out your copy at midnight naked at home with a cup of hot cocoa and peppermint schnapps? Have at it! No one is there to stop you, and as long as you perform your client doesn’t really care (and, hell, they don’t need to know!). You also get to make your own deadlines. Give the client your personal expectations on when the project will be complete (and you better damn well have it done on time).
The Problem: Not having a solid work schedule can actually decrease productivity for some people. You also run the risk of overloading yourself with work you cannot complete in the time slot you’ve set up, so be careful.

Company Advantage: Stable, unchanging schedule.
If you’re comfortable working a nine to five job and you value your weekends and evenings, working with a company may benefit you. Since you will most likely do all your work on company time, you tend to have a bit more reliable spare time. Instead of getting a couple of months off after working nonstop for seven, you can plan vacations and events without worrying about your work schedule changing last minute.
The Problem: Of course, nothing is set and stone, and as a salaried copywriter you may find yourself working long hours for big projects. Also, with only two weeks of vacation every year, you’re limited on just how much you can do or how long you can be gone.

Freelancing Advantage: Varied experience.
Freelancers have the opportunity to work with hundreds of companies, writing copy for all kinds of products and services, organizations or single clients. They get to experience a wide range of different kinds of copy and audiences, which can greatly enhance their copywriting skills. It also makes their work exciting–something new is always on the horizon. They are less likely to get totally bored with their work because work is always changing!
The Problem: Of course, the quick changeover from job to job can limit how well you’re able to test your copy. Though this isn’t necessarily true and depends heavily on the nature of the client and contract, sometimes all you get is the writing experience and not the fine-tuning.

Company Advantage: Specialization.
If you’re tied to a company, you specialize in copywriting to a specific audience for a specific audience. And you will get very, very good at it. When all you do all day is figure out how to talk to one group of people, you start to understand things other people simply can’t. Other copywriters will struggle filling your spot without months of research to learn what you know. You also get the experience of testing your copy over and over and over again to make sure you yield the absolute best results from your writing.
The Problem: Unfortunately, specializing can (though won’t necessarily) make it more difficult for you to adapt your voice to address a different audience. This could make it more difficult for you to get other jobs if you can’t demonstrate other experience.

Freelancing Advantage: The potential to make millions.
Probably one of the biggest pulls to freelancing is the potential money you could be making. Seriously, it’s huge. Gary Halbert, one of the best copywriters in history, could pull in over a million dollars in income from one contract. Let’s say he had four of those a year? Do the math. Extremely good copywriters can build up huge reputations that make their work worth obscene amounts of money.
The Problem: Most of these hugely successful copywriters are ridiculously talented, and they are not the norm. The other path? Freelancers who make enough to get by but can’t be sure they’ll get the contracts they need.

Company Advantage: That dependable paycheck.
Contrary to freelancing, if you are tied to a company you have a dependable paycheck for a certain amount every single month no matter what. Did you have a slow quarter? No problem. You made the same about of money you did when you were busy as hell the quarter before that. For people who need to know they have money coming in, having that paycheck can make the difference between freelancing and company copywriting.
The Problem: You will never pull in the kind of money exceptional freelancers can. Period.

So, which kind of copywriter are you? Freelancer? Company-tied? Do you have any advice for other copywriters out there, just starting out? Let us know!

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