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Follow My Dream to Be a Copywriter or Follow the Money?

Aspiring Writer Tries to Determine Best Plan for Happiness and Success


freelance copywriter

Finding the right path to realize your dream of becoming a full-time copywriter can be challenging.

Hi Susan,

I’m looking for some advice on which path to take in my career. For the past 10 years, I’ve worked in a dozen different jobs. They paid the bills but I didn’t enjoy them. I certainly didn’t feel any passion for them or sense of personal satisfaction.

I’ve always enjoyed writing. My dream career would be to become a copywriter like you. I feel confident that using my writing skills would make me happy. I would be personally fulfilled in a way that my current job doesn’t measure up. 

I know I have a lot to learn, so it would probably be a while before I was able to earn enough money to subsist. All that time, while I’m acquiring clients and becoming established as a copywriter, I could have been working in a job that paid a decent wage. I’d be unhappy but getting ahead financially versus falling behind.

What would you recommend? Do I follow my dream to become a copywriter or do I follow the money and accept that my work is never going to be my life’s passion?

Maurice

Hi Maurice,

It almost feels like you’re asking me for permission to quit your job. I can’t decide that for you.

I understand that a job taken just for money won’t be fulfilling. However, when it comes to following your dreams, you don’t have to choose all or nothing.

The reality is you need money to live. So work in an unsatisfying job but find ways to make it more satisfying.

At one point in my career, I had moved to a new city and was having trouble finding a new job and also any freelance work. So I signed up with a company that does temporary employment placement.

I did temporary work as a secretary. It was demeaning and humbling for someone with my credentials, but I managed to upgrade the position to include writing (i.e. letters and reports) instead of only typing and filing.

Keep in mind, you don’t have to be a full-time copywriter in order to write. You can write in your spare time. Start acquiring experience and building up your writing samples for a portfolio.

I started freelancing while working in an entry-level ad agency job. I was an account coordinator and many of my daily tasks were somewhat clerical and certainly not what I aspired to do long-term. Outside of work, however, I was able to operate as a freelance copywriter.

I connected with a business magazine published in my area and was able to get gigs writing the occasional feature article. I also began contacting startup companies in my area and obtaining work from them writing brochures and sales letters. When my day job didn’t provide fulfilling work, I went out and sought freelance copywriting work on my own that was fulfilling.

After about one year, I had enough clients and confidence to quit the ad agency and freelance full time. And, as it turned out, while at the ad agency, even though I was doing menial tasks, I was surrounded by people who were doing high-end work for clients. I learned a lot about marketing and copywriting from observing them, and that knowledge has come in handy over the years. So overall, it wasn’t wasted time even though I felt under-employed in my position.

One of my colleagues worked at her day job doing sales for a roofing company. She knew that wasn’t her destiny. But it paid the bills.

So on the side she began freelance writing first for blogs and then for me and my clients, taking on my overflow when I had more work than I could handle.

Eventually, through hard work and persistence, she landed more clients and was able to make copywriting her full time career. All her coworkers and friends thought she was crazy when she quit her well-paid roofing job to become self-employed, but she’s never looked back.

It’s worth mentioning too that in addition to lining up clients before leaving, she had been meticulous in saving money from her roofing job so that when she did finally quit, she had a safety net of several month’s pay in case she couldn’t get her freelance writing business up to speed right away.

Bottom line, if you really want to write, you will find ways to do it whether at your day job or after hours on your own. Many top authors have written entire books while employed in an unrelated full-time job. Check yourself to be sure you’re not using your day job as an excuse for not writing and working toward your dream.

You can do both. Many people have started businesses in their spare time and gone on to become wildly successful. You will find fulfillment in knowing that you’re working toward your goal of one day soon becoming a full-time copywriter.

Everyone must create their own path to success. I’m sure you will find yours.

Susan Greene

Freelance Copywriter

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