Other freelance writers always fascinate and inspire me – I don’t think one can get enough advice about their chosen profession, and so, I turned to Chichi at Chichi Writes. I’ve followed Chichi for a little while now and thought that her transition from 9-5 worker bee to freelance writer was really successful and empowering.
This Stuff Is Golden began as a blog that hoped to help others, whether that was by writing about mental health struggles or inspirational people and ideas – so without further ado, here’s another inspiring person to add to my interview collection. I hope you find it as interesting as I did!
When did you begin your freelance career?
I had my first taste of freelancing years ago when I was a gap year before attending university. I worked as a freelance B2B writer for a student website company, and that’s when I thought “I could do this for a living!” I really enjoyed that role, it taught me a lot and I worked in that role for over a year and a half. Then while I was at university, I tried (and failed) to get back into freelancing, but the desire to freelance and be my own boss didn’t ever go away. Then I graduated from university in July 2016, and I worked in different job roles, before deciding to take the plunge and go freelance on a ‘full-time’ basis in February 2017.
What is the toughest part about being a freelance writer?
There will be moments when there are ‘quiet periods’ so you may not be as busy as you would like or you may not have as much work coming in, so the lack of stability can be quite challenging at times. I’d always recommend putting money aside for the quiet months and cutting costs if you can. Most people save up a load of money before they start freelancing but I wasn’t in a position to do that so I had to make sacrifices, such as cancelling gym membership and giving up my house-share (which I didn’t enjoy living in anyway).
Luckily, I’ve not had a month where I’ve not earned money from freelancing since I went freelance, and there are times where I’ll have to wait for my paycheck, which is typical when you work in a full-time job anyway. Also, when you become your own boss, everything is one you. I’m a ‘solopreneur’ – I work for myself by myself – so the onus is on me to deal with the additional ‘stuff’ that comes with running a business, such as admin work, filing invoices and filing self-assessment tax returns and sending those off to HMRC.
What does your normal day look like?
My days and weeks vary from time to time – one minute, things can be quiet and I’m busy working on my blog and emailing potential clients, PRs, marketing agents and business owners; the next minute I could be rushed off my feet, completing copywriting work, writing sponsored posts and attending networking events. But I don’t mind any of that. Freelancing keeps me on my toes and I love the variety, flexibility and control over my own work schedule.
My ‘typical’ day goes like this: I normally wake up in the morning, get ready, do chores and run errands, eat breakfast then get to work. I wake up between 8am and 8:30am and I always aim to start work by 10’ o’clock. Depending on how much work I’ve got to do and how much admin stuff I’ve got to do, I’ll work from 10am until the evenings, around 6pm or 7pm, but I always have regular breaks in between and I always make time for lunch and dinner. Sometimes I have to work the evenings (until 8pm or 9pm) and from time to time I work the weekends, but that just comes with being an entrepreneur because I’m not working a typical 9-5 job, so I have to work more hours. I work in digital industry, which is a full-on and thriving industry, and I have clients abroad at different time zones so I have to take those factors into account when I’m working.
I work from home and I have my own desk space so I don’t spend any time (or money) on commuting costs, but from time to time I will work from a coffee shop or the local library if I fancy a change of scenery.
What was the turning point of your career (so far)?
This is a hard one! I still feel as though I’m ‘new’ to the freelancing world so I don’t know if I have any substantial achievements yet. I’m very ambitious and I still have a lot of goals that I’d like to achieve in my career over the next several years. I must say, gaining clients despite not having much experience or an established network of contacts has been great. Also, gaining a lot of sponsored post opportunities for my blog despite not being a ‘top’ or ‘big’ blogger has been absolutely amazing!
Have you ever felt like giving up? If so, how did you overcome that?
Very rarely. Once in awhile I might have a moment where I feel a bit frustrated (usually during a quiet period) and I think “Maybe I should get a typical 9-5 job” but I know that in my heart and in my head that’s not what I want. However, I always tell myself that success is a journey and achieving my goals will take time. I didn’t go into freelancing thinking that I would get rich quick and that I’d be an overnight success – life doesn’t work like that. I always knew that this path was never going to be a simple walk in the park and it would take time to get to where I want to be. Many famous business owners and freelancers have had to start somewhere and that’s usually at the bottom rung, so to speak, and I’m not the exception to that rule.
What hurdle(s) have you ever had to overcome in regards to your writing? (Style, spelling, grammar, etc.?)
I’m an excellent writer anyway and I’ve always had a natural flair for it. But as a copywriter working in digital media and marketing and as a blogger, I’ve had to get my head around the concept of SEO. It took me a long time to understand it, but now I understand it. Also, it took me a long time to ‘fall in love’ with marketing because I didn’t feel like a marketer, but now I get it.
What are you most proud of (professionally)?
If I’m totally honest, I’m so glad I took the plunge and decided to become a freelance copywriter. I’ve had a lot of jobs in the past – some good and some bad – but I’m so happy that I have chosen this career path for myself and I am so determined to succeed.
What do you think makes a great blogger/writer?
Being a good blogger/writer is not just about knowing how to write well and understand the importance of spelling, punctuation and grammar. Being a good blogger/writer is also about how you use your write and how creative you are. Even though I’m a copywriter – writing to sell/market/advertise/promote – I like to make sure that I’m writing creative content for the target audience because they are more likely to engage with that. When I’m blogging, I always like to add a personal edge to my posts in order to ensure that what I’m writing is relatable to the reader and is in-depth.
Have you ever had to self-teach yourself anything that has helped you with your career today?
I’ve had no choice but to get my head around SEO! I’m a copywriter so I’ve had to get used to writing SEO-optimised posts.
What is your favourite thing to write? (Copy, blog posts, fiction, etc.?)
As a copywriter I have to turn my hand to writing different types of copy and content, but love to write blog posts and articles. Also, even though I can write about a variety of topics, I love to write fashion, beauty and lifestyle posts. Recently, I decided to niche down and specialise, so I decided to focus a lot more on beauty writing because that’s my favourite thing to write about, and it’s going well so far – I’ve already gained a couple of clients – and I have been writing loads of beauty posts on my blog. The next step is for me to set up a business website advertising my beauty writing services and to establish myself as top beauty copywriter and content creator. Watch this space!
Do you have a book that changed your life/favourite book you’d recommend to everyone and anyone?
I’m currently reading Little Black Book: A Toolkit For Working Women by Otegha Uwagba and I would 100% recommend it to all women of working age. You can find loads of great tips on building yourself up to succeed in your career.
What is your favourite genre to read and why?
I’m a bit of a bookworm so I’ll turn my attention to anything, but I love chick-lits, classics and self-help books.
Any favourite bloggers?
It’s so hard to pick – there are so many amazing bloggers out there! I usually read beauty, fashion, lifestyle and travel blogs. At moment, these are the blogs I’m enjoying right now:
Do you have any other creative outlets/hobbies?
I like to read and listen to music. Blogging has always been my creative outlet too.
What helps you get through a stressful day?
Listening to music, going for walks in the park, seeing my friends, reading blogs and watching YouTube videos.
What advice would you give yourself 5 years ago?
Keep working hard, stay determined, stay focused, don’t let anything hold you back and don’t listen to the naysers.
What are some of your goals for the future?
I’m determined to keep on growing my business and I hope to become an established and top freelance beauty writer in my field. I’m determined to get there.
Any favourite quotes that particularly motivate/inspire you?
I think this quote resonates with me:
Why fit in when you were born to stand out?
I have a lot of quotes that motivate me and provide inspiration but I think this one is my favourite because I’ve never the type of person to fit in the crowd and follow other people’s standards. I like to dance to the beat of my own drum and I’d rather live my life that way.