This week’s interview is with freelance copywriter, marketing strategist and author Kerry Needs. Kerry has worked remotely as a freelancer and wrote the book ‘Freedom Seekers’ to help others follow her path.
I’m Kerry, a freelance copywriter and marketing strategist. I’m originally from Nottingham and am based here, but I work 100% remotely so I like to travel a lot and work on the move! I’m also a writer and have published a book on remote work and lifestyle design, Freedom Seekers, as well as writing poetry and articles on Medium.
I was never a fan of the office; staring at the same four walls has never inspired me as a creative person. I love to be in control of when and how I work, so I made the decision that I wanted to work for myself, remotely. I started in 2015 by testing out Elance (now Upwork). I set up a profile and did a few jobs – I found it pretty easy to make my first $1k, and so after that it made me realise that the ‘digital nomad’ dream I’d always had was achievable.
By coincidence, a friend of mine asked if anyone would like a remote job. I jumped at the chance, and worked for a design agency as a remote based project manager for around 9 months until I went freelance, working with online job sites and getting leads through Linkedin and word of mouth.
– It’s a financial rollercoaster – be prepared! I wasn’t, and I think I took the hard route by not having enough saved up. I wanted it so badly that I sometimes worked all hours, applying to ten jobs a day, because the work had dried up. The work comes in cycles – sometimes lots, sometimes hardly anything, and you have to be prepared for that by having a big enough financial cushion. Especially when companies think they can take six weeks to pay you! Thankfully that doesn’t happen often.
– There is a season for everything – ‘Make hay whilst the sun shines’ is really true as a freelancer. You have to make the most of the situation you’re in. It naturally waxes and wanes, as does your energy. For example, on days where I feel really energised I don’t mind working hard or doing a longer day, as there will be a time when I have a lot of appointments or feel rubbish and I naturally won’t do as much.
– It’s all a balance – I’m still learning just how much I should be working as a freelancer. Because my main goal as a remote worker was to have time for creative pursuits and travel, if I’m working a 40 hour week I don’t really feel like spending more time in front of the computer. I’ve met people who, when working abroad, spend most of their time in the office. I have really learned a lot about myself as a freelancer – that I like to work in 2-3 hour blocks, that I need time to write or produce something creative, and that I also need time for learning, planning, and growing the business in the context of how I’m designing my life. I’m always asking myself ‘What’s important to me – am I spending my time wisely?’
– Being paid on time – This is a disappointing one, because even if you have a contract in place the client can be naughty and delay paying you. It really doesn’t feel good having to chase payments yourself. That’s why I like working on the freelancing platforms; I can see exactly how much I’ve earned that week and I know I’ll be paid within 10 days of completing the work.
– Overcommitting – This is a personal thing I am working out. When I was in Gran Canaria, I would get up early, work, go to the beach, work again, go for dinner, and then come back and work again before bed. It made for incredibly long days as I had a client in Australia at the time. It wasn’t that stressful though, as I was taking breaks and socialising inbetween.
– Loneliness – I am a big advocate of remote work and freelancing, but I do get lonely. My environment really shapes how productive I am. If I’ve been ill and am working from home, I find it hard to switch off. I am really energised when I go to coworking spots, Restation in Gran Canaria was inspiring. It’s about being around people that inspire you, and push you to be better I guess. I do miss that in Nottingham as there isn’t many people of a similar mindset. I set up a Digital Nomads group when I first went remote, it was great and I met a couple of really good people but there wasn’t enough people that were focused on the lifestyle design aspect at the time.
Freedom! I arrange my schedule. I choose the hours I want to work, and I plan it in my calendar. I love copywriting because you can do it any time of the day or night really.
For example, this week my sister had a baby girl, and we didn’t know when we could visit her in the hospital. I could easily arrange my diary so I could nip to the hospital and meet my niece with my sister and my nephews, which was a really special moment. I’d have missed that if I was in a regular 9-5 as it was at the drop of a hat.
I’d like to focus more on workshops, and helping more people design their lives. I’m really passionate about helping people become self sufficient in every way – so to be in control of their work life, the food they eat, their health, their time – everything! It’s so freeing and will really change things if more people are empowered in this way.
It’s not easy – but where there is a will, there is a way. The internet has everything you need to know. Do your research, test it out, and work as hard as you can!