Should you dive or wade into a freelance copywriting business?

High Dive Video Post : 031113Greetings and welcome to the final installment of Heather’s “how to start an SEO copywriting business” video series!

Last week, Heather discussed some questions you need to ask yourself if you think that you want to launch a freelance copywriting business. Today, she addresses how to make the leap!

Typically, freelance copywriters start up their businesses in one of two ways – by just taking the plunge, or by slowing easing into their new enterprise.

Here, Heather addresses the pros and cons of each approach. Tune in to learn which way makes the most sense for you!

The first way: Take the plunge

The first way that people will approach starting up their business is to just take the plunge: they quit their job one day then start their freelance copywriting business the next.

This is the big fantasy about making your new freelance copywriting lifestyle happen. I did this with my business. I was working for a company and I quit with $100 in my pocket.

I started my freelance SEO copywriting business a couple weeks later. For me, taking the plunge was successful – but I was also younger, had fewer responsibilities, and there was a lot more going on at the time to where it stacked the odds in my favor.

For you, it may be a completely different scenario.

So first let’s consider the pros and cons of diving right in…


– You can focus 100% on building your business.

You don’t need to worry about having one foot in working at a “real job” and one foot in your business. You can focus.


(And these are pretty heavy duty cons…)

– You probably won’t have a stable income for awhile.

Although you will read ads that claim you’ll start making $20,000 in your first month, this is not a typical experience.

In a lot of cases, people are losing money for a few month before they make a profit, because on top of losing your steady paycheck…

– You will have expenses.

You may need to buy a new computer, you will need a website, you’ll need to contact an attorney, get business cards – all of those things that cost money that were covered in the last video.

– It will take time to build your brand (unless you are already established.)

Just because you’re new on the market doesn’t mean that everyone will be thinking “Oooo! I must work with him or her!” It takes some time…and…

This can be highly risky if you don’t have a financial safety net.

If you went through the questions to ask yourself last week (on planning for a successful launch), and thought “Okay, I’ve got money in the bank and I can ride on this for awhile”  – cool!

But if you’re already feeling pretty tight, taking the plunge may not be the best way to start off. Instead, you might want to…

The second way: Have a “real job” and freelance in your free time

As with diving right in, here are some pros and cons of wading into launching your business.


– You have a stable income while you build your business.

And that is wonderful! So even if your freelancing income goes up and down, you know that you’re getting a paycheck every couple of weeks.

– You can build your business gradually and with less stress.

One of the hardest ways to build your business is when you are scared to death that you’re going to be living under the bridge in a couple of months because you don’t have money to live.

So keeping your “real job” eliminates the stress of financial uncertainty and makes it easier for you because it is…

– Much less risky.

Now, a look at the cons…


– You will work long hours.

You’ll be working at your “real job” during the day, only to come home and handle client projects at night.

– It may be hard to communicate with clients.

There may be some clients that you won’t be able to work with because they’ll need to meet with you during your “real job” work hours.

And finally…

– Some employers will not let you freelance.

This is something you’ll definitely want to ascertain, especially if you’re already writing content for your employer.

Although it may be tempting to be sneaky and freelance on the side, figuring no one will find out, and it’s in violation of company policy…well, you could be fired and that’ not a scenario you want!

Ultimately, the option you choose is up to you.

You need to evaluate how much risk you can take, how much money you have in the bank, and how long it’s realistically going to take you to get up and running before you actually start generating the income you need.

Thanks for joining me! As always, if you have a question or comment about this video post – or if you just want to reach out and say hi – I’d love to hear from you! You can email me at, or find me on Twitter @heatherlloyd.

image thanks to cliff1066™ (Cliff)

Learn more about how to successfully launch your own freelance copywriting business from 12 of the world’s experts! The next Copywriting Business Boot Camp starts April 1st

4 replies
  1. Kathryn Messer
    Kathryn Messer says:

    I was one of those copywriters who made a gradual transition into copywriting. When all was said and done, it was the best way to go for me.

    The hardest part was working a 10-hour day job and then writing another 4-hours in the evening and all day both Saturday and Sunday. If you end up going this route, you truly have to have the support of your family.

    For example, my hubby took over some household chores for me in the morning so I could get in some writing from 5am to 7am before work. My daughter helped with dinner prep in the evenings and clean up afterwards so I could use the better part of the evening to write. My kitty (Felix) was and continues to be my support and still likes to think that by placing himself between me and my computer screen that he’s somehow helping the process!

    It’s not easy, but for me taking this route allowed me to put some money away, pay down some bills, spend as much money as needed for classes, certifications, website design, attend conferences, etc. before taking the plunge. The trick is determining when to pull the trigger, trusting yourself, and make a point of surrounding yourself with positive people!

    • Heather Lloyd-Martin
      Heather Lloyd-Martin says:

      @Kathryn, you make some very good points! Working full-time while building a business is hard work. It’s great that your family jumped in to help. I’m sure that time wasn’t easy – but having the support of your family must have made things a little bit easier…

      Isn’t it funny how kitties like to sabotage our writing flow? Mine likes to walk on the keyboard as I’m typing. I think it’s her way of saying that Mommy needs a break!:)

  2. Rick De Lima
    Rick De Lima says:

    Hi Heather. I know this sounds crazy but I agree with both of the start-up scenarios you discuss.

    Personally, I just dove in head first. In the beginning work started to trickle in. Most of it was ghostwriting work and sub contracting work.

    Then one day the flow started to dry up. Since I had not bothered to create a webswite or market myself to build a personal brand– eventually the money just stopped rolling in.

    I ended up having to look for work. This time around I started out right. I saved up my cash. I scouted good networking opportunities and approached clients directly when ever I could.

    With a new website and a couple of samples — I had signed non-disclosure agreements with my previous clients– I started to slowly re-build my business.

    Well, within a year I was chomping at the bit to get out on my own again. One morning I woke up and decided “today is the day”.

    I took the leap of faith and things worked out well for me. That was back in 2004.

    While I only work with a couple of long term contract clients (job security) I still like to get out to live events and network with potential clients and other copywriters.

    You are right on the money about leaving the bonds of your laptop to go out and explore the outside world.

    For any aspiring copywriters out there who are considering breaking out on your own I highly recommend studying the past few videos heather has been gracious enough to share.

    Have fun, don’t give up and keep on writing.

    • Heather Lloyd-Martin
      Heather Lloyd-Martin says:

      @Rick, I know a few copywriters who went back to a “real job.” Like you, they saw it as a short-term move – and they were very smart and strategic about the type of job they wanted and how they were going to rebuild their business.

      Your story is inspiring! Congratulations on creating such a successful business!


Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *