A Life Without Chains

After working as an environmental scientist for more than 10 years, I decided to take a “Soul Mission” course to uncover my ‘real calling’ in life.

I completed exercise after exercise to come up with a list of jobs that I was best suited for.

I was shocked, quite frankly, to find “writer” near the top of my career list. I couldn’t recall ever wanting to be a writer or even thinking I had any special talent for it.

But, there it was, number three on the list. And, I had to admit, there was something awfully appealing about the idea of living the writer’s life.

The problem was, I didn’t think I could make it as a writer, so I dismissed the fantasy

until the opportunity to become a copywriter came along from AWAI a few years later.

Let Freedom Ring

Two things initially drew me to copywriting: the income potential and the freedom it promised.

I wanted to be free of many things …

I was tired of doing monotonous, non-challenging work day in and day out. I didn’t want to have to report to an office when I could have easily done the work from home. I no longer wanted to have to adhere to an inflexible corporate code. And I certainly didn’t want to have to wear panty hose and heels four days a week.

But … in the early years of my new career as a writer, I quickly discovered that freedom has many faces, shades, and shapes.

Despite getting to choose when I rose each day, what I wore to the “office,” and even when and where I worked, I found that to meet all of my deadlines I had to put in a lot more hours than I did when I held a corporate job.

But, even though I was working harder than before, I still felt so much freer than I did when I worked for a boss.

Why?

Because if I wanted to stop working early so I could catch a 2:00 matinee, I had the freedom to do that. Or, if I wanted to sleep a little late and still head to the gym before sitting down at my desk, I could do that, too.

Quitting “early” or starting “late” usually meant putting in some time on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon. But that was perfectly fine with me because it was my call to do so, not someone else’s.

In the end, it was worth all the time and effort I put in because over time the face of freedom began to take on the tone and shape I had originally expected. The writing became easier; I completed projects faster; and I learned to say “No” to unreasonable requests or projects I had no interest in. All of that meant I was able to achieve the life/work balance that I have always wanted.

Coming to Grips with Fees …

Adjusting to living a life that was driven by deadlines was tough, but the thing I struggled with the most was knowing how much to charge my clients.

And even harder than knowing what fees to charge was learning when to raise my fees once they were established. That’s a lesson I wish I had learned earlier in my career because I know I left tens of thousands of dollars on the table over the years.

Two things helped me overcome my fear of asking for more money. First, I learned to value my time, energy, and experience. I realized that I was providing a valuable service for my clients, and if I expected them to value me, I had to value myself.

And second, I started using the resources that are now available to help writer’s determine what to charge for various projects. Knowing the ranges that other copywriters charge for similar projects helped me feel more confident about the fees I requested.

Moving from My Head to My Heart

To sum up, in the early months and years of my writing career, the best things about living the writer’s life were all the things most people would assume …

 … not having a boss to answer to.

 … creating my own schedule.

 … being able to work in pjs, shorts, sweats, and jeans.

 … making good money.

 … being able to choose the niche that I worked in.

But, some of the things that I like most about living the writer’s life have changed over the years.

For instance, now I love being able to give a “voice” to those who can’t or don’t want to write for themselves.

I also love creating my career as I go along. As my passions and interests evolve, so does my work.

What I know now that I didn’t define when I first got started as a copywriter is that there are many types of freedom. There’s time freedom, location freedom, creative freedom, personal freedom, and the opportunity to earn your worth.

I enjoyed personal freedom in the early years of my copywriting career. But now that has expanded to include every type of freedom that I dreamed of.

So for me, living the writer’s life is always a work in progress. And I wouldn’t change that for the world.

The Professional Writers’ Alliance

The Professional Writers’ Alliance

At last, a professional organization that caters to the needs of direct-response industry writers. Find out how membership can change the course of your career. Learn More »


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Published: July 27, 2010

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