October Review - A Bumper Month
I’m psyched to be running a profitable business these days, after so many years sort of treading water (babies, small kids, overseas adventures, etc). I’m also stoked to extend my networks and connect with so many other copywriters in Australia.
And that networking is the key to creating a sustainable business, of any kind.
Adopting a profitable business mindset and networking is how I turned October into a bumper month.
After hitting the ground running in September, I geared up for a big October. Starting by doubling my monthly target to $4,000.
I want to say here that monetary targets are relative. As a freelance writer, I've never made more than 20k a year. So, I’m thrilled to exceed my monthly targets. I know other freelance writers who make double this. Good for them. I try not to compare myself to other people as we all have different journeys.
So, 3 main things contributed to my bumper October:
Joining Kate Toon’s paid copywriting group
Pitching like a crazy person
Following up on all my networks, new and old
Let’s get stuck into the details.
What worked well in October
I joined the Clever Copywriting Community paid group
This is something that’s been on my radar for a while but I wanted to wait until I was back in Australia. The Clever Copywriting School (TCCS) is the brainchild of SEO copywriter, Kate Toon.
I’ve known Kate for about a year since I did her Recipe for SEO Success which is the bees’ knees of SEO courses and I’ve recommended it to you in the past.
To be honest, I hesitated over paying for membership, for about 5 minutes anyway. And then I decided that if I was going to pay for something, I was going to get my money’s worth, damn it. And (spoiler alert), it's a pretty good investment.
I pitched like a crazy person
Inside the TCCS private Facebook community are a troop of lovely copywriters. There’s also a regular stream of project work which you can bid for by posting a short ‘why you should hire me’ spiel.
I went to town with that. Even though it was school holidays and I was on a family road trip, I checked the group for jobs every child-free chance I got. [I try hard not to be on my phone when the kids are around. But sometimes “Mummy has to work”].
My mad pitching strategy meant that in my first 2 weeks, I sent out no less than 12 pitches. See below for how that worked out.
I had a coffee meeting with the head of a Canberra creative agency
Last month, I LinkedIn stalked a few Canberra connections. This was the one who invited me to coffee. It was great meet this lady and to remember that behind impressive job titles is usually a nice, normal person.
Later that day, her team asked me to pitch for a small content job. And just like that…
I asked a friend for help getting into the non-profit sector
I’ve been wanting to get a foot in the development community door for ages, since I was in Laos. It’s an area I know a fair bit about and find very interesting. On a sudden impulse, I messaged a good friend and asked if she had any contacts. She immediately put me in touch with a friend of hers in a big non-profit organisation here in Canberra.
It just so happened that the organisation was starting to think they needed help with copywriting. Fortuitous timing! I met with them at the end of October and now we’re looking at working together on a report in December.
I told my (1) business retainer client to load me up with work
Immediately after I did that, 2 other jobs came into my inbox. Literally that day.
I had a crazy week pumping out articles, case studies and LinkedIn profiles for him, while juggling briefs for the two newbies. But I was also happy to show this client that I’m committed to his business. And this extra work really pushed my monthly income over my target goal
I continued to fine tune my systems to keep my workflow running smoothly
You know I love a good system and I’m slowly perfecting mine and seeing results. Here’s what I fine tuned in October:
My proposal template so I can shoot out a quick 1 page quote for a client
My ‘Next Steps’ document that I send new clients, this time for a combined content and website package
More canned emails to cover every stage of my content and design process; they seriously save so much time
Clearer timelines for clients to keep things on track, including a new 3-part invoice schedule, making payments much easier for the client and me
What didn’t work so well in October
October was a big learning curve as I started to work with a wider mix of business, government and agency clients. It was also a real juggling act with school holidays in the mix.
One of my big faux pas was realising (too late) to mention a deposit OR contract in my client proposal. I’m currently (and a bit nervously) part way through 2 projects with no contract. I’m sure it will be fine so I’m pretty conscious of that stuff up.
This month was also my first foray into working with smaller agencies. I discovered that they often don’t have a brief, contract, or a timeline other than ‘as soon as possible’. I’ve realised that I need to manage that process more than I’d initially expected.
Pitching for new work is a great opportunity and definitely worth joining a paid group for. But it also has downsides - uncertainty, anxiety, silence, and sometimes, disappointment. I was feeling all those things during my pitching effort. Then a friend said to me “You don’t have the job until the deposit’s in your account." Which is a very good point. The proposal is only the first step, there’s no point feeling attached to the job and worrying about it.
One such disappointment and source of anxious stress was my pitch for a government agency that I’ve long been interested in working with. It was all going well, then I missed out at the final stage because I hadn’t an example of that particular type of job. Boo :( But I’m determined to get that experience elsewhere.
Finally, another hard lesson learned was that I underquoted for a couple of big jobs. I underestimated the amount of time it would take me to do the job, and I’m still feeling my way with my rates too. I have a sneaking suspicion that many copywriters of my experience charge more I do. It’s a tricky one.
The October facts:
Pitched (on TCCS) to 8 business owners and 4 government agencies
Pitched to 1 agency
Pitched to 1 non-profit organisation
I didn’t quote for any new websites as I already had 3 lined up for November.
Landed 3 new business copywriting clients, 1 government client, 1 agency and 1 potential job (still in discussions) with a non-profit org.
Delivered 19 business copy jobs (including articles, blog posts, case studies, brochures, etc).
Made my TCCS annual subscription back many times over within a 2 week period.
Income report for October 2018
My income target was $4,000 and I invoiced for and earned $5,456.
Looking ahead, I currently have over $4,000 of commissions for November, which is awesome! So, I’ve upped November’s target to an ambitious $6,000. Because you’ve got to have a goal, right?
I already have 3 websites and several copywriting jobs on the go that will finish up in November. It will be interesting to see how the workflow pans out towards Christmas and then into January. I’m planning to work through the school holidays, except for one week over Christmas.
Now, I’d love to hear how your month is going. Are you happy with the amount of work coming in? And do you find that things quieten down over Christmas and new year?
About the author: Lilani Goonesena is a freelance communications specialist for small businesses and organisations, based in Canberra. She works on Squarespace web design, SEO content and digital marketing strategy. And she writes an awesome Tuesday newsletter on digital marketing, social media, blogging, web design and "all that online stuff".