You might've seen the articles posted on Twitter or LinkedIn over the last few months on how to make it as a freelance writer. Every single one of them is full of crap. You're not about to make £250 an hour straight off the bat. You won't have clients trying to beat down your door in your first week. If you think being a copywriter's going to make you set for life, I urge you to think again.
Here are the main reasons why you shouldn't become a freelance copywriter:
1. You don't really like writing.
There should be some kind of exam for this. Or it should at least be mandatory on CVs. You need to really enjoy writing to make this work. Writing is not just some cushy work-from-home job that'll pay the bills. It's a career. And many of us do write because we love doing it, sickening as that sounds.
2. You're not all that great - and you say it yourself.
One article writer said something along the lines of: 'I'm alright at it, but I'm no David Ogilvy'. That attitude makes my blood boil. If you're going to become a copywriter, do it because you're good at it. Then tell people how good you are. Yes, everyone can write. Not everyone can write well. And if you're happy to be that so-so writer who admits they're average at best, you're spitting in the face of the whole profession.
3. Your method of making more money is typing faster.
Clients love efficiency, true. They also love considered, tailored copy that wasn't dashed out to make a quick buck. When time has been spent on getting the words just right, you can always tell. It's also easy to spot when that's not the case.
4. You're happy to seek out work on Fiverr or People Per Hour.
STOP stop stop stop. Stop that. Now. Please. Any project that is paid by the word (or as poorly as £5 per project) is not worth doing if you're trying to be taken seriously. Any project that is paid by the letter - and I've seen a few - is absolutely not worth doing. Again, the types of people that do this are devaluing copywriting for the rest of us. Elance barely makes the cut on this one, because some of the project rates work out quite well. But the rest is more or less in the same boat.
5. You find no shame in encouraging other people to be/do/say all of the above.
"Yeah, become a freelance copywriter like me, it's easy and you'll make loads of money!"
There are few professions where a line like that works. Field marketing, maybe. Or banking.
Copywriting, on the other hand, can't exactly be described as the golden ticket. It's not that I wouldn't recommend copywriting as a career. You'll notice that none of the above reasons are 'because you'll be my competition'. But I can't tell you it's an easy choice. Anyone who does should be viewed with considerable suspicion.
If none of the above applies to you, then by all means join us. There's a huge community of UK copywriters waiting to say hi (and to point out your typos). Check the #copywritersunite hashtag on Twitter and find out what being a freelance copywriter is really like.