Interview with freelance copywriter Camilla Peffer
She's quick-witted, experienced and has plenty of words of wisdom to share with other freelancers. Find out why freelance copywriter Camilla Peffer says great marketing skills are the most important skill you need as a freelancer in our latest "fearless freelancer" interview.
TELL US HOW YOU ENDED UP HERE AS A FREELANCER? WHERE DID IT ALL BEGIN?
Long before I launched my SEO and content studio Styled & Scripted, I cut my teeth as a part-time journalist, combining my love of fashion, pop culture and music for titles such as Everguide, Yen Magazine, Pages Digital, Studio Magazines The Vine and Portable Studios. It was there that I got to interview a diverse variety of talent, including Fat Boy Slim, Purity Ring, Shawn Stussy and Emma Mulholland.
After completing a Bachelor of Communications (and moving interstate - twice!) I then went on to work as a marketing administrator for nation-wide coffee franchise Aroma Cafe. It was there that I learned how to create a community using social media, and work with multiple stakeholders across the country.
After leaving coffee and campus behind, I had a brief stint at an IT company as their marketing do-it-all, and then went to Pedestrian.tv. This was an absolute DREAM JOB for me, as I got to work with Sportsgirl as their account manager, growing their social media channels and creating sharp copy for a market of fashion-frenzied young women.
As fun as that job was, I always knew the 9-5 world wasn't for me. It took me a few times to quit (I kept getting asked to stay!), but I finally did it. And had one month of work lined up on my last day! It was such an exciting time for me.
WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO START FREELANCING?
I've always marched to beat of my own Samba, but it was actually my life coach Erin Kyna that encouraged me to take the leap. I'd hired her to help me build up my confidence in competitive agency land, and she could see the high-pressure lifestyle didn't suit me AT ALL. I craved flexibility, independence, more income and the ability to travel when I wanted. She really helped me believe that I could create a business and lifestyle that I loved, and I'm so glad I trusted her guidance.
WHAT WAS YOUR LAST 'REAL JOB' AND HOW DID YOU MOVE AWAY FROM THIS AND START WORKING FOR YOURSELF?
My last full-time role was as the account manager for Sportsgirl at media company Pedestrian.tv. It took me a few attempts to quit, but when I finally did, I gave 6 weeks notice. This gave my employers enough time to find the right person to fill my role, enough time for me to wrap up my projects, and a bit of extra time to generate some leads for my copywriting career.
It's important to build up your brand before you quit, rather than stepping into the great unknown without a foundation. Because I was already freelancing on the side for a select number of clients each month, and had my own website, I found that transition a lot easier. I was also a member of a few Facebook Groups for female entrepreneurs, who were in the same boat as me. It was easy for me to put the word out that I was opening up my books for more work, as I had networks to tap into.
For anyone that's wanting to build a career as a full-time freelancer, I highly recommend building up your reputation first via social media and an email list.
IN THREE EMOJIS, DESCRIBE YOUR LIFE AS A FREELANCER...
👸🏼 ☕️ 💸
WHAT WAS YOUR BIGGEST FEAR BEFORE YOU STARTED FREELANCING? ANY TIPS ON OVERCOMING THIS FEAR?
Like many who rely on their own motivation and productivity to generate an income, I fear that I won't be able to find steady work.
And it's true that some months you'll be living a lavish life, sipping on cocktails and shopping online at the same time. Other months you might not have as much work, and you'll be cooking from home to save some cash.
I got over this fear of scarcity by accepting that I won't always make the same amount every month, but I've also developed some basic personal finance habits and planned for these lighter work-load months.
I'm also in the process of creating e-products that create recurring income for me, so I don't always have to trade my time for money.
WALK US THROUGH A TYPICAL DAY IN THE LIFE OF YOU?
I am not a morning person, so I really need to ease into the day. Because of this, I do whatever I need to so that I'm feeling 100% by the time I sit down at my desk. I generally wake up at 4am to a cat pawing at my face, upon which I will whisk my two furry ninjas outside for breakfast.
I then listen to them howl and attempt to break down the door to get back in, and eventually fall back asleep once they cease their efforts.
I wake up again at 7, drink a cup of coffee slowly and then meditate and journal for a bit.
I then let my cats back inside, who do not hate me, and hover around my legs like a bunch of Stockholm syndrome idiots.
By this time I need to torture myself into waking up, so I head to F45, which is a cheaper way of electrocuting yourself into a state of alertness, but is by no means less painful.
It's usually 10am by the time I sit down to work, which I either do from home at my dining table or at a co-working space. I tend to work right through lunch, unless I'm taking a mani-break, or a shopping break, or a nap-break.
Work is done and dusted by about 6pm, and then it's time to read or binge-watch the latest obsession du jour on Netflix. Alternatively, I'm a huge fan of exploring Melbourne's abundance of creative dining and drinking options. My favourites are Chin Chin, Fonda, Ezard, Long Grain and Lily Black's.
I retreat to my bed around 11pm, and do the whole thing over again the next day.
WHAT DO YOU LOVE MOST ABOUT FREELANCING?
I love that I've been able to create a lifestyle that I love, and that nourishes me and my specific needs. In order to feel truly happy and healthy, I require variety and autonomy. I was never able to receive these working full-time for someone else.
As my own boss, there's an amazing freedom in being able to choose your hours, your clients, and when you can get your hair done.
WHAT SUCKS THE MOST ABOUT FREELANCING?
I miss having someone take care of my superannuation for me. It's an amazing perk, but it doesn't outweigh the many perks of freelancing.
WHAT THREE QUALITIES TO YOU NEED TO SUCCEED AS A FREELANCER?
Motivation, concentration, and most important, great marketing skills.
I'm grateful that my brief time at my full-time jobs provided me with the ability to create social media strategies, content plans and email marketing campaigns, as they've benefited my ability to generate more leads. Without these, I feel I would have had a much slower and turbulent start to self-employment.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO SOMEONE JUST STARTING OUT?
In order to provide yourself with a cushy landing pad when you do begin freelancing full-time, I would plan your exit from the 9-5 about 6 months ahead. During this time, create an Instagram account to showcase your work and connect with others, and build a website that's optimised for Google love. That Google love will help get more eyeballs on your website when a potential client is searching for you.