It’s been just over a month since I took a leap of faith into my copywriting business—and honestly, I think it may have been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.
My journey to freelance writing
For the past five years, I’ve been working as a freelance writer, journalist and copywriter for a number of news outlets, organisations, and businesses large and small. But it’s always been a side gig—something to supplement my income, and give me a little bit of variety with my work.
I never imagined I could run it as a business—let alone a successful one.
That was, until I discovered the Clever Copywriting Community.
Almost two years ago, I stumbled across Kate Toon and her much-praised Recipe for SEO Success course. I’d already been doing SEO and knew a little (thanks to my time uploading countless articles to WordPress with Mamamia, my time as the online editor of the Tertangala and some small-scale blogging I’d been doing for a dog-minding service). But I wanted to learn more.
As a very successful copywriter, Kate inspired me. It blew my mind that someone could work for themselves and not only survive, but thrive. I was working four days a week in forensic mental health communications at the time, and while I loved it, I was curious. Could I too run a successful copywriting business?
So, I joined Kate’s Clever Copywriting Community. And I am so very glad I did.
The Clever Copywriting Community taught me so much about running a copywriting business.
In the first 24 hours, I’d already earned back my membership fee with work from another copywriter.
I learned about processes, procedures, marketing, admin, motivation, how to find and work with clients and how to build my copywriting business. But most of all, I learned to believe in myself.
I began small, working on my business one day a week. I built my website. I built my portfolio and list of testimonials. I changed my social media pages from Zoe Simmons Journalism to Zoe Simmons—Journalist, editor, copywriter and author, and started to get serious.
And much to my surprise, my copywriting business actually started going well!
I was subcontracting for other copywriters I admired greatly. I was attracting my own. I was getting pitches accepted for numerous news outlets—and pretty soon, I had too much work.
I was exhausted, and knew something needed to change. But I was afraid. So very afraid. You see, I loved my job. I loved working in mental health and supporting vulnerable people, and working with an organisation that makes a genuine difference in the world. And the fear of trying something new became oh so very loud in my mind.
What if I can’t make it as a copywriter?
What if I ruin my career at 25? These are supposed to be the “hustle” years, where I work hard and cement myself into my industry. Is this the right choice?
What if I fail and wish I’d just stayed where I was comfortable and safe?
What if I regret taking the leap?
But of course, a tiny voice inside me whispered: oh, but what if you succeed?
I saw so many other copywriters doing exactly what I wanted to do—and I figured, if they can do it, why can’t I?
I wrestled with my decision for quite some time. But last month, on 15 February 2021, I made a big change. I dropped down to one day a week in my beloved communications role, to see if I could really do this copywriting thing.
A little over one month in, and I’m happy to report that yes, I can. I’ve been able to work with some amazing business owners. I wrote a blog for a vet on cat dental care. I wrote a landing page and press release for a new housing development. I wrote articles on endometriosis, disability, mental health, veganism, chronic pain and more. I edited and proofread work for other writers. I’ve written bios, brand overviews, award applications and more. I’ve even been able to write another 5,000 words on my book about my town’s survival in the Black Summer Bushfires.
So far, things are looking and feeling good, and I’m pretty darn proud of myself.
I am a big believer in following your dreams—even when it’s scary.
There are so many reasons not to try. Job security. A stable income. Fear of regret—and fear of success. There’s comfort in the known. But in the unknown, there’s magic. And I do truly believe that when you work hard, and when you make space for it, the universe provides.
If you’re a writer reading this and are thinking about taking the leap, I say give it a go.
I am not special. I’m just a nerd with a love of words and a bucketload of passion and determination. I have fallen and failed more times than I can count. I have battled imposter syndrome (I still do), self-doubt and my own mind. It’s been “no” far many more times than it’s been “yes”—but the key is to always keep moving forward.
Do not give up in your dreams. Do not give up on yourself. Plan, work hard and work smart. Promote yourself, even though it feels ick. And give it a go!
You’ll never know until you try. And to quote a Hilary Duff movie: “Don’t let the fear of striking out stop you from playing the game.”
As for me, I’m going to keep working my bum off.
I’m going to keep working with clients and brands I love. I’m going to keep trying—and failing. And that’s okay. That’s life. And right now, life feels pretty damn beautiful.
I feel very grateful. Thank you to all the beautiful humans who have supported me on my writing journey thus far. I couldn’t have done it without you. You’re awesome.
Want to learn more about me or check out the copywriting business services I provide? Check out my About and Services pages for more details.
Thank you for taking the time to read this—you rock!