5 lessons from a freelance copywriter

In March 2016 I decided to start a new career as a freelance copywriter. I kissed goodbye to my Amex card, free hoodies and USB sticks. In pursuit of something not yet tangible in terms of money nor paraphernalia.

I’d reached a point in my life when I wanted more than a predictable bonus at the end of every month. To quote the great Justin Bieber, I was seeking purpose.

I got straight to work and made jogging bottoms compulsory office attire. And also embraced the entrepreneurial mantra of “late nights, latte’s and laptops”. However, it wasn’t long before hoodie blogging started to feel like more of a novelty than an overall mission statement.

I realised that if I wanted gain fulfilment and not just “do” another job, I would need to get comfortable with the unpredictably that comes with taking a new direction in life.

So on that note, here are 5 of the lessons the digital universe has taught me in my first year as a freelance copywriter.

#1 Facebook can become “Face-stuck” if you let it

Like most small businesses I dived straight in and set-up a Facebook business page, started a whole new Twitter account and even updated my Linkedin profile to reflect the fact I was now a business OWNER.

ceo bitch business card

I was so excited about my leap of faith that I naively neglected the fact that nobody in these circles had ever heard of me. To them, I was just another blip on their timeline promoting themselves to anyone who expressed a vague interest in hiring a copywriter.

I realised early on that this wasn’t a great marketing strategy. In a matter of weeks I could feel myself becoming  Facestuck. Essentially trying to shout over the constant din of self-promoting small business owners in my field. Rather than working on how I can express my unique voice on social media.

So once my digital baby (my website) had been crawled, I took a step back from worrying about what everyone else was doing, and started focusing on me and my goals.

stand out from the crowd in business

Thankfully, I found much needed inspiration from one Melbourne copywriter named Sally Cameron. Her blog posts were a pleasure to read and through her actions alone she showed me that all I needed to do was be confident enough to be myself.

Slowly but surely I did away with  the fear of how my writing would be received, i.e. no likes, no shares and no comments. I began to blog with the right intentions which to me was to write about things that me and my tribe would be passionate about. Rather than doing it out of necessity. I was nervous at first as to how blog like this one of socially responsible marketing would be received. But it turns out it sparked people’s interest a lot more than any generic “how to write a headline” post ever could.

Simply stated, it can be daunting to break away from the norm but it’s the only way to develop you own brand of copywriting. And all it took was some trust in my own ability.

#2 To value friends over frenemies   


If there’s one thing I hate more than celery, it’s the term “frenemies”. It’s like fusing hell with heaven and describing it as an anecdote to peace. Apparently, we should embrace the competition. It’s all over Forbes.com. It’s seen as an astute way to fake it until you make it.

Unfortunately, it’s not a clever move for me due to the resting bitch face that adorns my head. My corporate laugh sounds like a failing washing machine. And the smiles I would paint on for the big boss mirrored those of a 2-year-old playing with mummy’s makeup.

Maybe I’m a bit retro, but I believe the synergy between two people should start with good intentions. Not selfish ones. Ultimately, I just can’t fake the friendship vibes. I didn’t want to carry on the agenda-driven practices rife in big business. And the resulting anxiety and paranoia that goes along with it.

All in all, I learnt that as an entrepreneur it’s great to have a support network I can rely on. And like with most great things in life, quality wins over quantity every time.  Solo business owners face the same obstacles with politics, only it takes place on social media not in the office. So focus on genuine friendships with people that have your back not the ones pretending to.

#3 That scarcity is a lie

scarcity is a lie

In my first few weeks as a freelance copywriter I was eager to snap up any copywriting “job” that came my way. But after a couple of mundane experiences I had to remind myself I didn’t make this big change in my life simply to complete ad hoc “tasks”. Nor did I wish to bottom feed off more established copywriters who gifted their excess work to newbies like me and those who simply couldn’t be arsed to go out there and create their own brand.

Not only did this knock my self-confidence but it also gave me the impression that the land of copywriting was overpopulated. When the truth is, scarcity is a myth. I was reminded of my old sales manager’s simple yet effective affirmation “people buy from people”. And that whilst competition is inevitable – it’s not as important as my potential clients and how I can help them grow.

By shifting my mindset away from this scarcity mentality, I started to attract the kinds of businesses that I’d been willing into existence since I started to blog. This process was a steep learning curve for me, as I had to shed the herd mentality and get comfortable with really flying solo. But I’m so glad I did because I now take pride in every project I create because I know it’s my hard work that made it happen. And my clients are pretty awesome too. It’s a humbling feeling and I’m forever grateful to have had this lesson so early on into my new business.

#4 Don’t feed the trolls

avoid online trolls when you're starting out as a freelance copywriter

“Good luck on page 3!”, “you’ll still need the help of an expert” and “you’re a joke”, are just some of the gorgeous responses I’ve had from the online trolling community. You know the ones who believe Google’s algorithm can be unravelled as easily as a ribbon from a child’s hair? Yet when you type them into Google’s search bar, are nowhere to be found? Yep, that lot.

A few times this year I’ve made the mistake of trying to reason with the cyber goblins. Sadly, all that did is get them more upset. Now I rely the latest “Trolldar” technology aka my own intuition and bullshit detector, to filter their distraction techniques from my life. Because that’s all trolls are, distractions that took me away from my vision of success. At times they would get me down, but I didn’t stop believing in my ability to achieve my goal to be top ranked on Google.

Here’s 3 tell-tale passive aggressive signs I’ve discovered this year that can help you detect when a troll is in sight:

1.Three or more dots after a statement

This is the troll trying to coerce you into a keyboard duel. “Don’t fall for it.” I had to remind myself on many occasions in my first few months of business. Admittedly, this is easier said than done, but the internet never forgets so it’s sometimes better to say nothing at all.

jay z quote


Troll slaying tip: Either reaffirm your original point, or ignore them. Don’t let the e-goblin’s turn their bad day into your sleepless nights.

2. Backhanded compliments e.g. “Well done, I knew you’d get there in the end”

So in order to make trolls stop I’ve learnt I have to stop too. In the digital age of communication, a perfectly acceptable cure for timeline trolls is to starve them of attention. Because there’s nothing positive to be gained from interacting with people who want to distract you from your purpose.

3. Misappropriation of the “like” button 

Yes, I’ve fallen into the troll trap more than once this year. And if there’s one thing I’ve learnt about this experience it’s that you can’t rationalise with people seeking a dopamine fix.

[ctt template=”1″ link=”darR7″ via=”no” ]one thing I’ve learnt about this experience it’s that you can’t rationalise with people seeking a dopamine fix. #copywritingtips #kellymyers[/ctt]

Sadly, trolls “like” not because they agree with what you’re saying or think it’s a relevant point in the discussion. But to bait you. So whenever this happens and they get me mad, I’ve learnt to just take a deep breath, close my eyes and go and make a nice cup of tea. (Because tea fixes everything)

#5 That you have to be your own hero

be your own hero when you're a freelance copywriter

I think we all like an e-pat on the back from time to time. And there’s nothing wrong with seeking reinforcement for hard work. However, crowd-sourcing my self-esteem through frenemies or otherwise didn’t make me feel fulfilled as I “bumbled” by way to success, as Bernadette Schwerdt puts it. Especially not if I wasn’t willing to pat myself on the back from time to time too.

My final thought

As women, it seems we’re too quick to shrink our success in the fear that we will outshine or maybe even eclipse the achievements of our peers. And maybe that’s why we group together as a unit? Because it feels safer than acknowledging and embracing each of our individual gifts and talents. After all, it’s what we do to different that is going to make a difference in the lives of those we serve.

[ctt template=”1″ link=”L8An4″ via=”no” ]After all, it’s what we do different that is going to make a difference in the lives of those we serve. #copywritingtips #seo #vegan[/ctt]

So I decided to take my own advice and celebrate my digital baby’s first #1 keyword ranking on Google. It was a proud SEO mum moment for me. I had been working at this goal for 5 months, and it had finally paid off despite the aforementioned trolls and Facebook “likes”. Yes, they distracted me for a while but they didn’t deter me from achieving my goals. I believed that merited a literal pat on the back.

I was touched by the messages I received from women who felt inspired by my achievements. Then I was reminded that I’m inspired by so many women in business every day that I was simply claiming my place at the table.

Being your own hero isn’t about being arrogant, it’s about recognising your own achievements. It’s about embracing your purpose and not being deterred by the many distractions that exist in the digital universe.

No this isn’t a Segway into a pseudo-feminist tech themed handbook but in short, there’s enough glass ceilings out there without us creating any more for ourselves.

All in all, I’ve learnt that there’s no handbook for freelance copywriter success. Or in any other business for that matter. Progress is a process, and fear may be scary but not trying is the ultimate failure. And that when you work with good intentions and are open to turning mistakes into lessons, anything is possible.

[ctt template=”1″ link=”laCb4″ via=”no” ]All in all, I’ve learnt that there’s no handbook for freelance copywriter success. #copywritingtips #seo #freelancecopywriter[/ctt]

Now over to you, what lessons did you learn in your first year of business?

2017-10-23T08:41:31+00:00 January 2nd, 2017|3 Comments


  1. Ally January 11, 2017 at 12:05 pm


  2. Stephanie January 16, 2017 at 12:07 pm

    Excellent post Kelly!

    Valuing friends over frenemies is essential not just as an entrepreneur but also, in everyday life. It’d be more beneficial for all if a trend of raising everyone up rather than putting people down.

    I love how throughout the post you clearly demonstrated your WHY behind becoming a freelance copy writer. Wishing you all the very best in 2017!

    • Kelly Myers January 27, 2017 at 5:39 pm

      Thank you for your kind words, Stephanie :-). You’re right, it really is important to value your true friends over everyone else. Even if that means your circle is small.

      I’ll look forward to sharing more posts with you.

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