Learn How Jon Evans Went From Bored Office Worker To Fulfilled Freelancer
After working for years as an office administrator, London-born Jon Evans decided it was time for a change. He combined his love for writing with his aptitude for sales and became a copywriter.
"My boring office job actually required me to do very little during the day," says Jon, "and my desk was in a dark corner where nobody could see me. That meant I could sneakily do my early copy projects during my work day."
Eventually, the contract for his office job expired. Unable to find other employment, he jumped into freelance writing full-time and hasn't look back. Today he lives in Barcelona and writes marketing and funnel copy under the business name Electric Copy for technology companies around the world.
"The first couple of years were very tough, and I barely survived the low points," he says, "but it was totally worth it." Here's his advice for new and seasoned solopreneurs.
giggs: What does a typical work day look like for you?
Jon: I usually wake up somewhere between 7 and 9. I like to start the day by doing something productive or healthy – usually exercise, journaling or reading self-improvement books. But I’m only human, so some days I roll out of bed at 11 and watch old clips of The Office for an hour instead of all that go-getter stuff.
I then walk to my co-working space, which here in Barcelona is only 10 minutes away. I start by doing admin, replying to emails, and spend around 1 hour doing promotional activities or training. I also write a to-do list for the day. I love a good list.
Then I just crack on with client work for the rest of the day. Generally I work 7-8 hours per day and I only stop for the occasional screen break or client call. I only take about 15 minutes for lunch, as I would rather just go home earlier.
giggs: Please share 5 tips for freelancers who are just starting out.
Jon: 1. Always get paid in advance, either 50% as a deposit or the whole payment. If a client isn’t wiling to agree to this, RUN. It’s a major red flag.
2. Try and avoid working on hourly rates. You will be tempted to do things more slowly, or be riddled with guilt when things take longer than they should. Stick with a project rate or day rate.
3. Other freelancers are your buddies. They can support you and help you grow in many ways, so get out there and grow your network.
4. Look at yourself as a business, not an employee. You’re responsible for everything from marketing to client work to accounting, so you need to make time for all of that and learn how to handle it like a badass.
5. Invest in yourself when you can afford to, and don’t be cheap about it. It’s worth dropping lots of money on training, equipment, a snazzy website, etc. Remember, you’re a business, and this is what successful businesses do.
giggs: What's the worst business advice someone has given you as a freelancer?
Jon: Early on I was taught "always do something extra for the client." This sounds great in theory. But in reality, clients don’t always appreciate it, and some take it as a sign that they can get more work out of you for nothing. I think freelancers need to be careful of who we go the extra mile for. Show good clients that you care, but value your own time, too.
giggs: How do you keep your business afloat?
Jon: I try to build a kickass reputation by doing good work and helping others. I also try to improve in some way every day, whether it’s learning something new, building a relationship, or just planning my yearly tweet (I suck at social media). I always work at least 7 hours every day, and if I finish my client work before that, I put the leftover time into working on the business.
giggs: How did you come up with your pricing structure?
Jon: Generally I charge a project rate. I started with rates that seemed reasonable based on what I know about average prices within the industry. Then I started raising them until they were too much for some people. My philosophy is that if nobody says you’re too expensive, you’re probably not charging enough. I’m still experimenting though; pricing is an ongoing process.
giggs: How do you market your services?
Jon: A little bit of cold outreach and networking, plus partnering with other providers that bring me into their projects. I team up with another company that pitches my services to all their clients, which is pretty damn helpful. I generally get quite a lot of work through referrals, too. This is an area I always want to improve in though, so I’m working on a content strategy now.
giggs: What are the keys to success when working remotely with clients?
Jon: Be a good communicator – that’s super important. Reply to emails quickly and answer all questions clearly. If something’s going wrong, email the client. If you’re waiting on something else you need, email the client. If everything’s going well, email the client. Be professional and let people know you’re making sh*t happen.
giggs: Anything you’d like to add?
Jon: I’m always up for talking to other copywriters and freelancers! Find me at @JonEcopywriter if you’re into that sort of thing.
You can also connect with Jon on LinkedIn. Thanks for your insights, Jon!