Most copywriters work on a freelance basis. This is because being freelance has many positive benefits, such as deciding:
• who to work for
• when to work
• where to work
• how many hours to work each week
However, setting up as freelance copywriter is a serious business and failure to keep accurate records could lead to disaster!
Where to Start
Starting a freelance copywriting business is pretty simple. All that’s needed is a little organisation to ensure all the proper administrative procedures are in place. The first question that requires an answer is ‘what kind of business model is the most appropriate?’ The answer to this question is almost always sole trader, so this article will focus more on this type of business model. It is the most popular because:
• it’s a simple form of business
• it’s cheap to set up
• all the profits from the business are the owner’s
• all decisions are the owner’s to make
• no legal formalities are required to set it up
• it’s easy to change to a limited company or partnership if the need arises
The two other business models that may be appropriate are partnerships and limited companies.
What Every Freelancer Needs
There are some basics that every freelancer needs to make their business look professional:
• letter headed paper – this gives a professional image to the business as well as giving vital contact information.
• logo – along with the letterhead this helps present a professional image of the business.
• business cards – great for giving out at networking events to generate new clients, they don’t have to cost the earth and can even be obtained free.
• dedicated email address – when trying to appear professional it is best to have a serious e-mail address. The name of the company would be good, for example: supercopy @ writingservices.co.uk. This helps to inspire confidence in clients.
• website – these are a great way to advertise and show off previous work and any testimonials or positive feedback received.
• social media accounts – another great way to advertise current and complete projects and get your name known in copywriting circles/
• membership of professional societies – being a member of a professional association gives clients confidence. It shows that a certain standard of competence has been achieved.
Setting Up Your Records
Copywriters work to tight deadlines and those new to the business will need a way of making sure they have sent all the work that is due off to the right people at the right time. So, it is necessary to keep careful records of:
• what work has been sent to what client
• the date work was sent to the client
• if it has been received safely
• when to chase for a response so that the client can be billed
After completing work for clients, the next step is getting paid. Freelance copywriters are wholly responsible for:
• setting their own fees
• raising and sending out invoices
• recording payments received
• chasing late payments
Keeping Records for The Authorities
Another very important aspect of running a freelance copywriting business is keeping accurate records for the Inland Revenue and other relevant authorities. In the UK this means the owner will be responsible for calculating:
• tax contributions – many items can be claimed back from the Inland Revenue so carefully record all business-related purchases
• National Insurance contributions
• VAT – when turnover reaches the appropriate level