I’ve been a self-employed copywriter for about 20 years now, more or less. I wouldn’t swap it for the world – and if you have some agency experience I bet if you made the plunge you would love it too. Here, in no particular order, are my top 10 reasons why:
1. It’s more secure. Yes, honestly. Once you’re established, then you find that the troughs are shallower and the peaks more frequent. It’s better than being made redundant, or sent out on your ear because your face doesn’t fit or you’re considered too old.
2. The pay. If you work hard at freelancing and make a go of it, it’s better. Plus you pay less tax.
3. No office politics. Some offices are worse than others, but all have it to an extent. And even if you’re temporarily working in an agency or other business, you’re essentially out of all that.
4. Writing across lots of different media. Websites, emails, social media, naming projects, press, posters, brochures, greeting cards, videos, blogs, press releases – do it for long enough and you’ll do just about everything.
5. Lots and lots of different clients. Mostly medium-sized or small businesses, plus quite a few individuals. Many just want one-off projects, but some you’ll end up working with for years, if you’re any good. If you freelance in-house you’ll also get to work with big brands too – and see how different agencies operate.
6. Working in all kinds of sectors for all kinds of businesses and professionals, not just the usual IT, Financial or FMCG clients. (In my case, people as diverse as flood restorers, artists, sex chat operators, decorators, printers, jewellers, osteopaths, estate agents, schools, games inventors, shoe designers, concierges and a TV chef, plus entrepreneurs of all shapes and sizes.)
7. Overseas projects. I’ve worked with clients from over 20 countries across all continents except Antarctica (I’m starting to think those penguins just don’t need writers). Technology these days makes it easy to write remotely wherever you are. But if you’re lucky, you’ll also get the occasional paid overseas trip. And even if you don’t, it’s nearly always a fun experience working with people from different cultures.
8. Working from home. You’ll save time, money and angst by not having to commute every day. And you can set out your whole office just how you want it and not be bothered by someone else’s background music or pointless meetings.
9. Your time is your own. You won’t mind having to work some evenings and weekends when the rewards are down to you. Conversely, you can knock off and watch a film, go fishing or shopping or whatever, whenever you want. (It’s also much easier for childcare.)
10. You’re your own boss. Your own creative director too. Any triumphs or disasters are down to you, not someone else. It’s brilliant.