2021: HOW WAS IT FOR ME?
Updated: Mar 8
2021 was my first full year working as a copywriter since returning to work from maternity leave in Spring 2020. And what a year it was! I built up my copywriting knowledge, experience and client base, and I continued with editing, proofreading and writing support projects. I worked with some wonderful clients, undertook some professional and personal development, networked and made friends with a bunch of awesome female entrepreneurs, and learned plenty of useful lessons that I can take forward with me in my business (which might also help yours out too!).
Here’s the lowdown…
FINDING MY NICHE
There’s a lot of talk in copywriting circles about finding your niche. Narrowing your focus means you become an expert in your field and can target your ideal client way more easily. Well, guess what? I still haven’t nailed my niche.
It’s probably to do with my background in magazines, where I worked across several different titles encompassing loads of subject areas, but I’ve always been a generalist. A generalist with a twist though – once I get into a topic, I research the heck out of it and make myself an expert in it. You’ll know this quote: “A jack of all trades is a master of none”… But do you know the rest of it?
“A jack of all trades is a master of none, but oftentimes better than a master of one.”
I’ll take that as a compliment – I love being into everything, keeping myself busy and mastering new subjects and techniques. All the same, I seem to be drawn to (and clients seem to come to me from) the same areas, so I guess I’ve niched in that way. Although these weren’t all copywriting projects, these areas include:
Sustainability/environmental issues (for instance, I’ve worked with Presca, Gartur Stitch Farm, Number 29, and Food Matters Live)
Creative businesses (working with clients like Nicky Nacky Noo, Felt Creative and Little Foxglove Designs)
Mental health (I work closely with educational psychologists on proofreading their reports, have ghostwritten a book on preventing suicide, and have supported an author to enter a writing competition with her children’s book on mental wellbeing)
Family/parenting (I worked with Haven Holidays and Reach PLC to write up travel reviews, and have taken on a new client into 2022 who focuses on decluttering family spaces).
So that’s quite a mix, but these are the kinds of subjects which light my creative fire and which I’m really passionate about – meaning I can deliver the best results to my clients.
The lesson here: whatever your business, you don’t have to stick to just one thing, you don’t have to niche down. If you’re good at what you do and you love it, clients will pick up on that, whatever their needs or background.
No, I haven’t got into Bitcoin or NFTs… I’m talking about investing in myself. This year I’ve made the effort to invest time and money in myself and my career so I can deliver the best results possible for my clients.
First up was joining Lauren Malone’s coaching space The Bubble. Lauren kept popping up in FB groups we were in together (especially Doing It For the Kids – if you don’t know it but are a business-owning parent, you should join it!). She came across as friendly, professional and helpful. I felt in tune with her so joined her free Facebook group before taking the plunge and signing up to her monthly membership, The Bubble. Working with Lauren has helped me on issues like imposter syndrome, goal-setting and money mindset, as well as giving me some super-helpful tools and gorgeous new business buddies. I now class Lauren as a friend… Plus we’re bump buddies, both being due our babies at similar times.
Second up was working with Belinda Weaver, by joining her Confident Copywriting mentoring scheme for aspiring and working copywriters who are looking to advance their copywriting skills and grow their business. I also took part in her brilliant Copywriting Master Class course (both of these are affiliate links – I'll get a wee bonus if you click through and sign up for yourself, just to be clear!). Confession time: I haven’t yet completed the course (because I got way too busy with clients!) but what I have covered has really helped in what I do, and the resources Belinda provides in the group alone have made a huge difference to my business in terms of client management, marketing knowledge, and confidence. It’s also directly led to several new clients. If you’re a copywriter, I really recommend following Belinda’s socials, joining her free Facebook group, or signing up to one of her membership or course options. There’s pure gold in them there webpages!
2021 also saw some lessons learned – I worked with two clients where we had to wave goodbye to the working relationship because we just weren’t a good fit for one another. No hard feelings, of course, but all part of the process when you run your own business.
One was an incredibly talented artist who needed web copy. Things started off well, but working together was as much a learning experience for them (getting quite personal on areas like brand vision and the inspiration behind their work) as it was for me. We parted amicably and I can’t wait to see what wonderful creative things they come up with next.
The other was some product listings for a creative business, which ended up being far more admin and data than my brain could handle. I had to walk away from the task. Part of the problem with self-employment is the feast or famine mentality, which often means you take on way more than you can manage because ‘the work might run out’. In this case I took on admin work which wasn’t my bag at all. Combine that with a press trip away with the family (with little to no 3G!) and trying to complete these product listings on deadline became a nightmare. An email was sent, an understanding was reached, and we went our separate ways. A reminder to me that I’m a writer, not a Virtual Assistant, and I should never try to spread myself too thin.
I was also approached by an agency to do a massive corporate job. Christ, was my anxiety triggered, or was my anxiety triggered? The money was good, the commitment was pretty intense, the work security was alluring. I spent a good four or five hours prepping for the interview and being interviewed then… Nothing. Zip. Nada. A definite reminder to me that I hate folk with no manners (not even a thank you from the agency?) and that I should trust my gut. The thought of working in that kind of corporate role again had my nerves a-tremblin’. I thank my lucky stars I wasn’t the right fit for them (most likely because I couldn’t commit a full 36 hours a week. Yup, that’s why I’m self-employed, duh!).
Crikey, 2021 saw some personal stuff going on. Started the year on anti-depressants, finished the year on anti-depressants (I honestly think that’s me for life now, and I couldn’t care less what people think about that).
Imposter syndrome has spent the best part of 12 months leaning over my shoulder telling me to stay in my lane, while my new business support network has been propping me up, showering me with love and inspiring me to feel deep gratitude.
I found out I was pregnant early in the year – surprise! Had a miscarriage at 12 weeks. Oh. Struggled with homeschool and toddlerhood and parenthood and just the sheer exhaustion that’s come with Covid crap, not being able to do normal things, doom scrolling the news and social media, wondering when it’ll ever end… Until I discovered swimming in the sea on the West Coast of Scotland, which was a game changer. I found out I was pregnant again in summer – surprise! Holy crap, WTAF, how will we manage, etc, etc. But love finds a way. I’ll make it work!
And I ended the year self isolating because my family had Covid. But there was also new Queer Eye. So, you know…
AND THE YEAR AHEAD..?
I have plans for the year ahead. The main one is having a baby, while the second main one is continuing to build up my business and offer new services for my lovely clients who are so thoroughly awesome. Maternity leave will bring some changes (reduced hours, reduced brain power, naff-all sleep…) and having kiddo number three will also mean I’ll probably focus more on non-client-facing work in 2022. More book/magazine editing and ghostwriting, less web copywriting/anything which involves a Zoom call (unless you don’t mind a newborn in shot!). It promises to be an exciting year!
Thanks so much for all your support throughout 2021. Be awesome to each other.