Diversifying as a copywriter
It's more than a year since I made the decision to go freelance and hand in my notice at my old job.
In that time, as you can imagine, I've done quite a bit. The first couple of months were, naturally, spent working out my notice, building up some potential clients and learning to do my own accounts. But then I was out in the wild, left to bring in work by myself with no promise of a pay packet at the end of the month.
Somewhat surprisingly, it all went pretty smoothly. I didn't starve, was able to pay my share of the bills and my husband has only had to help me plug the occasional gap while waiting for a client to pay. I've had steady (and lovely!) clients, a manageable influx of new work (although I could always have more!), plus the opportunity to be as flexible as I want to be.
The funny thing is, as I look back at the last year, I haven't just been doing copywriting. As well as the expected press releases, blogs and articles that I knew I'd be producing for people, I've done so much more as well.
I've collaborated a lot with wehearttech C.I.C.(where I'm also a director) over the last year, most recently on their Blogging 101workshop in Wigan where I worked with my friend and colleague Hayley to teach sole traders and SMEs about the basics of blogging for their business. This week I've also started teaching on the iWell project, working with vulnerable adults and adults with learning disabilities to teach them about safe use of social media and digital wellbeing.
The work with wehearttech is something I always planned to get more involved in once I went freelance, since I've been a director there since its conception in 2013 and I have a background in teaching in Higher Education, but it's something I've found particularly fulfilling.
I have no pretensions of being seen as a designer. I'm creative and I enjoy design, but I am categorically not a graphic designer. That said, I have taken on small pieces of basic design work, mostly commissioned through wehearttech that have dove-tailed neatly with my work as a copywriter. This has included producing an infographicto summarise the social enterprise's Tea & Tech project and designing and writing a leaflet to highlight Wigan S.T.E.A.M.'sCanal Fest, celebrating the anniversary of the Leeds-Liverpool Canal in Wigan.
While certainly not a main part of what I consider my job, I have to say that it's always fun to do something that breaks away from the norm and the results have been great.
Another client has had me managing their social media accounts for them, scheduling in content and keeping tabs on the different platforms - as well as suggesting ways to improve engagement. Again, this isn't something that I planned on being a big part of my day job, but it's fun work and helps me stay up to date on the tech aspects of my role, making it win-win.
While press releases are something copywriters are used to whipping up (not literally, they do take some work!), actual PR work is something else entirely. However, my background is in PR and one of my clients is a former employer so, when they needed someone to handle some basic PR work for them for a couple of months, they approached me.
While I'm not quite at the level of planning big events anymore, I can certainly do some of the more basic tasks (besides the obvious writing of press releases and articles to be placed) and this freed them up to handle bigger things. It was great fun for me too and reminded me of some skills I forgot I had.
So is diversifying a good thing?
I would say so - for me, at least. While I'll always be, first and foremost a Freelance Copywriter & Director at wehearttech C.I.C., I really like stepping up to the challenge of something a bit different. It breaks up any danger of monotony and it allows me to accept work that I might otherwise have had to pass on.
So, if you're a freelancer reading this, think about other skills that you have and how you can make them work for you. If you're a potential client, don't be shy to ask me about tasks other than copywriting. If it really isn't something I can do, I'll always be honest and say. But if it's something that's within my skillset and I know I can do a good job then, equally, I'll tell you so.