Freelance to Full-Time — There’s Many Roads to the Writer’s Life

By Les Worley | April 26, 2017

This entry is part 4 of 4 in the series Success Stories

Les Worley, Content Manager for Idea Grove

As a copywriter, freelancing or working full time are both viable options.

Admit it. Working as a freelancer can be a wild ride.

If you’re like me, you started by learning a new skill — in my case copywriting. You wrote some samples and published a website to show them off. You learned how to prospect for clients. At some point, you landed your first client and — hopefully — cashed your first check. And you stuck with it, always looking for new challenges, new projects, and new clients.

Sometimes you land them, sometimes you don’t.

It’s a lot of work, and a lot of ups and downs. But to me, the rewards make it all worthwhile. No more nine-to-five, no frantic commutes or unappreciative bosses. Instead, there’s freedom to work whenever and wherever you want. And, assuming you’re good at what you do, there’s tons of interesting work that pays well.

Why would you ever go back to the old grind?

In 2014, I made the decision to leave my IT job to become a freelance B2B copywriter. I got off to a slow start, but by the following year, I’d started landing clients. Small ones at first, of course, and not all of them paid so well. Even when the clients (and project fees) grew larger, I was always looking for more. The more clients, I thought, the healthier my bank account.

Two years later, the paychecks were coming in. Some clients I’d worked hard to impress had become regulars. I felt like I was living the writer’s life.

One of those clients was a marketing agency here in Dallas, where I live. Like me, their clients were all technology companies, specializing in IT and enterprise software. The agency needed a freelancer to help keep up with a wave of new clients. After they found me on LinkedIn, we met for lunch … and I took home a project assignment.

First I wrote a brochure. Then a weekly blog. Then an e-book, articles, case studies, whitepapers — you name it, I learned to write them. Pretty soon, I realized not only was I investing a lot of time and effort with this company, they were investing in me, too. And they wanted more.

By mid-2016, I’d become one of their go-to copywriters, and the firm signed me with a sizable monthly retainer. I knew accepting this would limit how many other clients I could handle.

I realized then that something had changed. I’d gone from lots of small, one-off clients to a handful of regular repeat ones. I was living — or starting to live — the freelancer’s dream. That’s why what I was about to do was so unexpected.

In January, my biggest client, Idea Grove — the one retaining me — gave me an award for my contributions to the agency’s success. It’s not something they normally give to freelancers. Two weeks later, they asked me to come on board full time as senior content manager.

I was shocked.

I had a big decision to make. I must say the offer was attractive, but I love being a freelance copywriter. In less than three years, I’d become quite comfortable with my newfound freedom, thank you very much.

In some sense, though, I’d already moved from the “wild world of freelance” to a steadier pace with a few focused contracts. But here was a lucrative, high-paying job offer, where someone wanted me just for doing what I love. The pay was more than I was making already. The benefits were great. And the people — well, I’d been working with them for the last two years, and they’d become almost like family.

Would I really give up the writer’s life I’d grown accustomed to?

I made a list of what I love about freelancing. Besides the income, there were other benefits that screamed from the page — things I couldn’t bear to lose. Working from home. A flexible schedule. Traveling whenever I want. Not to mention the ever-changing work that keeps things interesting.

I wasn’t willing to give up these freedoms so easily, and I told them so.

Their answer? “No problem. You’ve already shown us you can work from home and manage your own schedule. Why change that? And as for travel, you have a laptop, right?”

I accepted.

And, it turns out I didn’t have to give up being a freelancer, either. Nope. Just for me, they removed the standard employment clause that prohibits outside work. That means I can continue freelancing on the side. And I do!

In short, I don’t feel I’ve had to give up anything at all. It’s interesting work and steady income, plus the flexibilities of being a freelancer. And it all came about because I focused on a select few clients and kept them happy.

Just goes to show there’s no one set road to the writer’s life. I’m still a full-time copywriter, and I’m still loving it.

This article is part the series: Success Stories