Freelancer interview: Claire Baldwin, copywriter

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?

    1. 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.
    1. 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.
  1. 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.

Freelancer Interview: Matthew King

Our second freelancer interview is Derby based designer Matt King. Read on to hear about Matt’s experience of working in his freelance design business.

Who are you and what do you do?

My name is Matthew King and I run my own freelance graphic design business called Matthew King Creative. I offer services in branding, print & digital design and work with businesses ranging from startups and local business to fully fledged brands such as Bundesliga, Go Outdoors and Erewash Borough Council.

What led you to start freelancing?

I started working freelance part time on the side as a way to enhance my skills and eventually the business started growing and gaining attention. When I was approached by the Bundesliga to work for them as freelance digital designer I couldn’t refuse and made the jump!

What three things do you wish you’d known before starting out?

  1. That it isn’t as daunting as what it seems and is in fact extremely fulfilling.
  2. Understanding the value of my work and pricing it more confidently.
  3. To have known more about the great tools there are out there to help you manage your work and time.

What issues have you had since starting up?

Pricing my work correctly so it matches the value of the services I offer and being confident in quoting prospects.

What’s the best thing about freelancing?

I love the ability to be able to manage my own time and work with numerous agencies, clients and business. In contrast to the old agency life where I’d work 35-40 hours a week 48 weeks per year, freelance has enabled me to work from home 1-2 days a week, work in house with 1-2 different agencies for the rest of the week so its varied. You become exposed to working & communicating with so many more people.

How would you like to develop your freelance career in the future?

I’d like to grow my network, meeting new people and businesses while developing the working relationships I have with my existing clients. I’m a big sports fan and would like to score more great projects like that I did with the Bundesliga.

Anything else you’d like to tell anyone thinking of or currently freelancing?

That it can grow much quicker than you would realise and have the confidence in your abilities to be able to freelance. Just start out on the side of your full-time job if it’s easier and see where that takes you. On the other hand I do know some individuals who have been so bold as to make the jump without the work in place and they have still flourished!

Freelancer interview: Victoria McDonagh

Victoria macdonagh freelance marketing consultant

Here’s the first of our interviews with freelancers – read on and find out what Victoria has learned since starting out as a freelance marketing consultant.

Who are you and what do you do?

My name is Victoria and I run my marketing consultancy, Victoria M Consultancy. I help small businesses outsource their marketing strategy and marketing activities so they can focus on the important elements of their business, making more sales and doing what they’re good at.

What led you to start freelancing?

I started freelancing in my early 20’s as means to get some work experience that would fit around my part time jobs and commitments. This worked and allowed me to get into marketing positions in a variety of jobs. In 2016 I needed to leave a toxic work situation and decided to go freelance full time. I used websites like People Per Hour to get started, and then moved onto networking in my local area.

What three things do you wish you’d known before starting out?

  1. How to price myself and understand my value.
  2. That managing your time is very difficult and requires a particular focus and mindset
  3. To be more bold and go more for what I wanted to do, rather than settle for what would easily make me money

What issues have you had since starting up?

Getting enough new business and balancing current client workloads. When you’re your own marketing, HR, sales, and admin etc, you have to be good at managing your time. It’s easy to book yourself out for loads of networking events, then struggle to make deadlines. It’s so important to keep in communication with your clients, and ensure you’re delivering what they want and expect.

What’s the best thing about freelancing?

The freedom! The flexibility! You get to make your own day and decide who you work with and when. You can focus on what you’re good at and outsource to other talented freelancers. I love the variety of people I’ve met and some of them are my closest friends to date.

How would you like to develop your freelance career in the future?

I would like to scale up my activities and knowledge and niche into inbound marketing. I’d love to be hosting networking events and start getting known for marketing in my local area.

Anything else you’d like to tell anyone thinking of or currently freelancing?

I’d say plan it, try it and have at least a few months of savings set aside. Try and get your expenses down to what is essential, but still allow for some luxuries in your early days. Get regular clients who pay on time and don’t stress you out.