“So what, exactly, do you do?” An interview with a freelance writer

It’s already been a month since I relaunched my freelance writing business, and as part of my set up I was asked if I could be interviewed about what I do. I thought this would be a great way of giving some advice to others looking to break away from the safety net of employment to go it alone. Here’s how it went:

What, exactly, do you do?

I’m a freelance writer. But every freelancer could give you a different answer to this. For me, it’s more than just content. I’m PR trained, so I’m finding that a lot of what my clients want is advice. For this, I do consultancy work as part of my freelancing. It means rather than writing a press release for a client, I might start off by talking to them about their current position when it comes to promoting themselves, give them some ideas of where to go next, and then execute those ideas for them.

I sum up my services by saying I offer copywriting, social media expertise, PR and events work, but the type of work I do stretches far beyond that. I have a full list of services on my website.

What made you choose to become a freelance writer?

I’ve never really known what I wanted to be. I wasn’t one of those people who woke up one day when they were eight, decided they were going to be a nurse, and stuck with the idea right through to graduating. I’ve tried different areas of work, and writing is the one I always found myself coming back to. I didn’t necessarily choose to become a freelance writer, I tried to sum up my skills and preferred way of working into a job, and this is what I came up with!

What’s your area of expertise?

Social media. I was fortunate to be just the right age when platforms like Facebook and Twitter began. I was at the stage of being young enough to want to use them for fun, but old enough to try and see the business workings behind them too. I’m aware of how they come across as simple tools for business, but that a lot of people are still a bit daunted by them, or don’t know the right ways to make them work for them, so I do a lot of advising and account managing for others to get the most out of them.

Do you believe in USPs?

Definitely. But they can be hard to find. I spoke to a client recently who was convinced their unique selling point was their level of experience in their field, and had to explain to them that while that was a good thing, it certainly wasn’t unique. So a USP can be hard to pin down. Mine is the hours I work. I’ve yet to meet anyone else who offers late night social media monitoring.

Why is that important?

If you look at when users of social media are most active, it’s early evening. Especially because more people are choosing to communicate with businesses via social media, rather than a customer service helpline, because they are no opening hours online to cut them off. A lot of businesses are missing out on important conversations with customers because they work office hours too. When a customer asks you a question at 7pm, they shouldn’t have to wait until 9am for an answer. I monitor social media accounts up until 10pm to make sure this doesn’t happen, and that my clients don’t miss out on new business.

What’s your biggest tip to someone else starting out?

Don’t say yes to everything. You’ll quickly end up wasting your time in meetings that have no relevance to you, or carrying out work that isn’t in your field. It’s hard to imagine saying no before you see a steady stream of income, but hold out and become known for what you aimed to do in the first place.

What do you charge?

£25 per hour for everything except social media account managing. For that I have separate packages to suit different clients’ needs.

What does a typical day involve?

I’ll get up around 7.30 – a bit earlier than I imagined I would before I started! – and spend the first hour or two checking my accounts, emails, the news for anything relevant to my business and marketing myself, and then do something creative for a couple of hours. I do a lot of creative writing, which is another side of my business, and I’ll concentrate on that until lunch and then carry out my work for clients throughout the afternoon. I’ll try and break it up with a walk, bike ride or half an hour in the garden if I can. It’s easy to lose track of the last time you left the house sometimes!

What type of business is a typical client?

I don’t have one. I’ve worked in educational PR a lot, but I’m expanding now to take on clients across all sectors. I’ve carried out work for really small businesses, right up to working on a PR campaign for the NHS, and I love the variety. It forces you to have fresh ideas and think of each client entirely differently, which is good for both the client and my professional practice.

What’s your preferred way for a new client to get in touch with you?

They can email me at hello@laurasmithwriter.com or call me for a casual chat about what they’re looking for. I love to hear from people on Twitter too. I much prefer informal conversation generally.

Would you like to be featured in an interview? Leave a comment below or get in touch via the contact page.

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2 thoughts on ““So what, exactly, do you do?” An interview with a freelance writer

  1. Thanks for sharing this. I’m thinking of becoming a freelance writer myself and your post has given me inspiration.

  2. Hi, thanks for commenting, and I’m really glad you feel inspired! I’ve just read your blog and love what you’re doing. We share similar ideas about personal freedom and employment from what I can gather, and I’d be happy to support you further along your journey. Let me know if you’d like to get in touch regularly and keep me updated with how you’re doing. And good luck with the painting!

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