I walked out of my last “regular” ad agency copywriting job on a Tuesday evening, and with no work lined up for the rest of the week (or any of the weeks after that), I’d suggest I was taking more than a creative risk.

That was two decades ago and I haven’t forgotten the fear, but in uber-memoir writer Rebecca O’Connor’s recent post about abandoning a day job for a freelance gig, I was reminded just how precarious it seems at the time.

Rebecca O’Connor wrote the award-winning Lift memoir and 12 other books (a novel and several informational books), yet the marketing world is in upheaval and the economy is sputtering and backfiring, so it’s perhaps not the best time to strike out on your own.

Of course, that last was typed by someone who confessed to walking out of his day job without a paying gig, so the real point might be this: I get a lot of emails from prospective copywriters, many of whom can’t write a coherent email and are clearly doomed, but even the good writers want advice.

Or more likely, they want hope.

I could bullet point a survival list pretty quickly (keep your expenses at rock bottom, learn to recognize a lead when it bites you on the ass, chase the accounts that interest you most [you’ll work harder to get and keep them], learn to negotiate, recognize this is a business and not a calling, etc), but these two probably best sum it up:

  • Get ready before you quit (build your network, put the office together, find a niche, etc)

  • You’ll never really be ready

Keep writing, Tom Chandler.