A Silicon Valley client I hadn’t heard from in almost a decade sent an email asking about my availability.
I’m still in new daddy mode and dodging work like Wall Street dodges responsibility, but instead of a simple referral to one of my Bay Area copywriting friends, I found myself writing:
“I’d refer you to another copywriter, but over the last couple years the small handful of Bay Area tech/response copywriters I can personally vouch for have all been snapped up for regular gigs or fallen into Marketing Director jobs.”
“Feeding the online monster has become a fulltime gig at most organizations, direct response experience is more valuable than people admit, and these days it’s hard to argue with benefits.“
That’s more explanation than my contact wanted (in the interest of not whining I omitted the second sentence), but it does shine a light on an interesting question.
Are you planning to freelance until you’re dead?
Lots of friends ended up in the construction business, and while pounding nails is OK at 30, it’s a tough way to make a living when you’re 55. Some of them recognized that earlier than others.
I’m not sure how copywriters fit into that picture.
I like what I do. And I was working under the assumption I’d write (at least a little) until I toppled forward onto the keyboard.
But the marketplace — with its emphasis on change and youth — may not make that possible. I’m 51, an age that some have suggested disqualifies me from “regular” employment at an ad agency, the idea being I’m too impossibly old to form a truly creative idea or speak to younger audiences.
I’m not looking for a job and I can’t say I’ve suffered even a moment’s age discrimination, but in a decade, will clients trust their shiny new social media campaign to a 61 year-old copywriter?
I honestly don’t know.
It is harder to write a hundred headlines today than it was two decades ago, but I’d like to think a lot of hard-won wisdom more than fills any creative gaps.
And while I don’t tumble for every new digital media channel like some of the younger marketers, I also know the value of more traditional channels that newer marketers seem bent on ignoring.
Which is precisely why so much of my revenue comes from consulting.
I suspect that’s normal for freelance copywriters.
Still, in most of my small business consulting, we talk a lot about exit strategies and adding value to the organization beyond the founder.
Thinking which also applies to freelance copywriters. Is it time to start thinking about alternate revenue streams, or selling more than simply your time?
I’m not going to pretend I’m one of the last copywriters who started their writing career on a typewriter, but I do know it’s getting to be something of a distinction.
What happens when you’re fingered as one of the geezers who used to receive their checks in paper form, or when computers sat in big boxes under the desk instead of in your pocket, or when people actually typed copy?
What’s your plan for that day?
Keep writing (until you’re dead), Tom Chandler