My top 5 professional skills for my 2021 toolkit

Freelance copywriters are not just creative professionals, they are also business owners. Managing the two requires a careful balance of a variety of skills. I am going to share with you my top 5 professional skills for my 2021 toolkit and beyond – and not all of them are due to the commercial effects of the pandemic – so please, read on!

Confidence – once you have established yourself in the marketplace, this skill is definitely the first one I would nurture. Businesses are always going to need to advertise and their potential customers are generally looking to make meaningful connections to their chosen brands which can only develop through good storytelling – which is where a freelance copywriter comes in. Know your professional strengths and consider applying them to the copy-form, copy-type and market sector(s) which you feel most confident in writing for. Your confidence will naturally imbue you with passion and enthusiasm which will help you sell your work and so your added value to your prospective clients when making your pitch.

Resilience – marking your mark in the freelance world is tough and competition has always been high within the popular field of freelance copywriting. Know that you may not win every pitch so be positive about the experience you have gained when a prospecting opportunity has not resulted in success on this occasion. Ask the prospective client very politely and diplomatically for their feedback which will help you be more accurate in terms of quality and/or pricing, next time.  And there will surely be a next time – for which you will be ready and so on point! 😊

Diplomacy – I have outlined my take on clear and transparent pricing principles before, as I realise that billing clients can also be a challenge; especially during the pandemic when all sorts of commercial pressures have arisen on businesses, seemingly from all angles of the marketplace. Consider diplomacy as a positive approach to adopt when asking for payment and be sure to always thank your client for their business, on each and every occasion. Never take an invoice for granted and always take the time to discreetly check that yes, you have been paid!

Grit – many freelancers talk about the flexibility and freedom to work for yourself but there is less talk about the fact that this can be a very lonely way to work. Discover your inner ‘grit’ which is my expression for the ability to crack on every morning with your work and lifestyle schedule when sometimes you only have your laptop and your kettle to talk to. (Okay, it’s not quite that bad for me – but you get my point!) Grit to me is the outward expression of your personal commitment to your vision of what it is to freelance and to make it work, sustainably. 

NB: Please note that grit is not the same as putting a brave face on genuine discontent as a freelancer – if you feel this way, there are professional organisations to reach out to as well as family, friends and peers. (Take care of yourselves – what we try to do takes a lot of professional and personal courage).

Proactivity – for me, this is about keeping in touch with the freelance copywriting marketplace and being aware and informed of all new developments. You could join a professional organisation related to advertising/marketing/copywriting, you could set up a local networking group either face to face or online, you could read professional journals, visit your local library or chamber of commerce – ideas are endless – but the point is to get out there so you become part of our freelance copywriting community. I think competition is healthy. There are lots of ways to approach an assignment and the more best practice ideas we can share, the more proficient as a profession we will all become – which is a good thing for us, for our clients and for all the end customers out there reading the written messages we so passionately craft!

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