“I’m working my butt off and writing all the time, but I’m barely scraping by. What’s wrong with me?”
You know the difference between a successful copywriter with disposable income and one that’s just getting by?
The first copywriter isn’t just a good writer. She’s a smart businesswoman, too.
Every year, I hear about new copywriters entering the space – and that’s a wonderful thing. But there’s a scary side to this too. Although these folks may be whip-smart copywriters, they may not know a darn thing about running a business.
And that will, eventually, bite them in the butt.
Here’s a reality check: if you don’t have the business side of your business tight and wired, you will fail.
You won’t make the money you can make.
You’ll burn yourself out.
You may find yourself “stuck” paying a tax liability that you weren’t expecting to pay.
You may need to refund money to a client due to a bad contract.
In short, you’ll feel like you’re on a hamster wheel of a lot of work for little pay.
And that’s not why you’re in business for yourself.
Want to avoid this trap? Get business-savvy. Now.
Whether you’ve been in business 10 minutes or 10 years, here are some things to think about:
- Are you writing what you love to write? Or are you gritting your teeth before every gig? If you’re not enjoying what you do, you’re not going to do a good job. What other writing tasks will make your fingers fly, your heart soar and your pocketbook fill with cash?
- Does it feel like every client you have pays late (if at all,) is a pain in the ass to deal with and doesn’t appreciate your work? You’re attracting the wrong type of client. It’s time to let some clients go and track down a new target audience.
- What is your contract like? I’ve seen a bad writing contract almost bankrupt a writer. Don’t let this happen to you – even if you feel like you can “trust” your client. Find an attorney who can help – it’s not going to cost as much as you think.
- How many prospects are in your sales pipeline? How do you find prospects? Do you wait for them to contact you (bad idea.) Or are you proactively tracking them down?
- What happens if you get sick or tragedy strikes? Do you have a colleague who can fill in and handle the work (because flaking out on your client is never, ever an option.)
- Are you working with a tax professional? There is nothing worse than discovering that you have a huge tax liability that you could have avoided with a little planning. A savvy accountant will make sure that you’re in the best financial position.
- Are you spending hours creating proposals and then not getting the gig? How is that working out for you? Have you considered that there may be another way of packaging your services?
- How much money do you have in your business savings account? If you need something – like a new computer – how do you plan to pay for it? And no, saying “my credit card” is not a smart option. :)
- What’s your unique sales proposition (your U.S.P.) How do you communicate your U.S.P. to prospects? If you can’t communicate what makes you unique, you won’t land the gigs you want.
Your business is like your baby – and you need to do everything you can to protect it and help it grow. That may mean spending money on contracts and consultants. Or incorporating your business. Or even firing some clients and retooling your sales and client acquisition strategy. Any time or cash that you spend improving your company will always pay off – and you’ll enjoy the freedom (and fun) of a well-managed, profitable copywriting business.
Photo credit: KatJaTo