This week’s interview is with Nottingham based freelance copywriter Claire Baldwin.
Who are you, what do you do and how long have you been freelancing?
My name is Claire Baldwin and I run my freelance copywriting business Elytra Copywriting. I mostly write digital copy, such as website content and blog articles, but I’ve also written print copy for posters, leaflets, letters and more, as well as various proofreading and editing work. I started freelancing in October last year.
What led you to start freelancing?
I love writing and it’s always been my dream to write for a living. I finished university right in the middle of the recession and it was hard enough to get any job, let alone my dream job! After a few years of awful jobs, great-but-temporary jobs, and mediocre jobs that weren’t quite what I wanted, I finally decided to set up my own business so I could be as sure as possible that I’m doing what I actually want to do.
What three things do you wish you’d known before starting out?
- That it would actually be fun, interesting and enjoyable. I’d considered freelancing for years but was put off by the fact that it would be hard. Sure, it can be hard sometimes, but it’s also incredibly rewarding.
- Not to be too trusting or too eager to please. There’s nothing wrong with charging a deposit up front, or saying “Actually, no. I can’t do that.” It’s my nature to be nice to everyone and to do whatever I can to please them, which are good qualities, but I’ve had to settle into the business headspace a little more.
- This will sound terribly naive, but I hadn’t realised that you still had to pay tax even if you’re not VAT registered. It’s not an issue, it’s just something that I’d never had to know before. I don’t know why they don’t teach these things in school!
What issues have you had since starting up?
One of my very first clients still hasn’t paid me for the work that I did, and I’m currently in the process of court proceedings. It was quite a disheartening situation for a while, but I’ve learned a lot and grown from the experience. We’d all like to think that other people have the same moral code as us but unfortunately that’s not always true. No matter what business you’re in, at some point you’ll come across someone who doesn’t want to pay.
What’s the best thing about freelancing?
The obvious answers are the freedom and flexibility, but I also really enjoy meeting new people. Going to networking events terrified me at first but I really look forward to them now. There are so many fascinating and creative people in our community, and speaking to other people who are in the same boat makes you feel less alone.
How would you like to develop your freelance career in the future?
As long as I’m enjoying myself, doing work that I love, and meeting interesting people from time to time, I’ll be happy. I currently have a part-time job three days a week, which is great in terms of stability, but I’ll probably want to work for myself full-time eventually. I’m still only a freelancing caterpillar at the moment but I’m hoping to become a freelancing butterfly one day.
Anything else you’d like to tell anyone thinking of or currently freelancing?
Freelancing is harder than you think but it’s also better than you think. It’s scary and you’ll always feel like you don’t know what you’re doing but every day you get a little better and a little more confident. Then all of a sudden it actually feels like it’s your job and not just something you’re playing at. And the sense of pride that you get from doing it by yourself is just amazing.