Belinda Weaver is the co-host of The Hot Copy podcast. A show for copywriters about copywriting; thought the content of the show is applicable for anyone starting their own freelance or small business journey. Personally, I've found it an invaluable source of no nonsense advice and laughs.
Belinda is an accomplished copywriter in her own right. She runs Copywrite Matters and from her online hub, delivers a range of coaching and tuition services in the realms of SEO support and writing darn good copy.
I was lucky to catch Belinda before she welcomed her new little human into the world.
In this interview, Belinda talks about what to consider when starting out, the importance of not comparing yourself to others and her mildly unhealthy Dr Who obsession.
Belinda, you began your career in IT, moved into marketing and made several smart decisions before leaving your corporate position, including convincing your manager to hire you as a freelancer. I was very inspired listening and reading about your story!
What advice would you have for freelancers who have done the opposite. Who left their day job to purse their dreams without gradually letting little pieces of their former life go?
B: I think if you have taken the leap you should already know things like:
* how you will market your business and get new clients
* how much money you need to earn to cover your expenses
* how many hours you're prepared to work in order to earn that money
Without money coming in, your business won't last too long so they should be the top priorities but there is a lot of work that is needed to make that happen. In terms of getting new clients, I would focus my time on thinking about key messages (what I offer and how I'm unique) and then networking and building relationships as much as possible. You do need marketing collateral like websites and social media but relationships is where most of your work can come from.
Was writing always something you had; was it a tool you used for understanding your place in the world from a young age? Looking back, does it make sense that you ended up where you have?
B: Not at all. I'm actually surprised this is a field I ended up in! The benefit that brings is that I don't have any preconceptions about being a 'writer' and I don't feel torn between writing for business and writing creatively. I'm focused on copywriting and value the skills I've developed.
What have been some of the biggest challenges you have faced in marketing yourself and your brand? Did you ever experience major self doubt or question whether you really were good enough to pursue this thing that you loved? And if so, how did you overcome this?
B: Each phase of my business development has brought different challenges: getting started, maintaining the momentum and adapting my marketing as I have pivoted to offer new services.
The consistent challenge through those phases has been to maintain my focus on what I am doing, not what other copywriters and business owners are doing. It's extremely easy to compare our own 'just started' to someone else's 'finished product' and then run ourselves down over it. I always try and run my own race and if I feel like I need to up my game to up my success, then I concentrate on just being more awesome rather than trying to emulate what someone else is doing.
The Hot Copy podcast that you co-host with Kate Toon is excellent. It's certainly taught me so much about some of the tinier considerations I hadn't made when leaving my previous job to go out on my own. It made me think about the mentor/mentee relationship; those with knowledge and experience, freely sharing it with the younger generations. Do you consider yourself as a mentor for younger generations and those starting out, and why do you think these types of relationships matter?
B:I guess I do (and not just younger generations ;) but only because I know that Kate that I both freely share a lot of information about how we run our businesses and why we do things the way we do. If we didn't genuinely want to help other copywriters succeed, we wouldn't do that. I also get a lot of great feedback from copywriters who get value from our blogs, posts and now the podcast.
One of the things I love about the copywriters I know is that we're all happy to help each other. The traditionally competitive model of business is that we're all fighting for pieces of one pie and there isn't enough to go around. So we can't help anyone else succeed lest they take 'our pie.' Once I started connecting and befriending other copywriters I found that actually, there is more than enough work for good copywriters and those relationships helped me get more work feel less isolated. I also learned a lot from how other copywriters worked.
I love passing that good will on
How has financial autonomy and being your own boss changed your life?
B: Being my own boss is wonderful although since starting Copywrite Matters, I've worked harder than I've ever worked for anyone else! It's tough but the flexibility and sense of control is extremely rewarding. I don't have to justify how I spend my time to anyone but myself... but I'm a hard task master!
It's especially good now that I have a family with small children as I can work around them without sacrificing too much quality time. I can also decide how much I want to work.
All that said, I won't pretend I don't day dream about going to write in an office somewhere, working 9-5pm and getting a regular pay cheque!
Where are we likely to find you when you're not working on projects or co-hosting your podcast?
B:Being a mum sucks up most of any spare time I can dream of having but when I get time to myself I have a slightly unhealthy Doctor Who obsession (tv, books, colouring), I like to chill out listening to podcasts and to really get some alone time in, I meditate and practise yoga but I have to get pretty early in the morning to do that!