We all had that moment, right? We saw the Roner coming and we knew it was gonna hit. And then it did. And it hit me RIGHT where it hurt. In my ego.
I had moved to London to start working as a professional in the theatre industry. And I’d booked my first job. A week later, lockdown. Fun times.
I’d always written copy. And I’d always wanted to start my own copywriting business. But, you know…life. So, now, I had to *actually* get my shit together and do it. It’s amazing how a pandemic can get your ass into gear.
My whole thing was, where do I start? How do I even begin to get this right? So, here are seven things I did back in March 2020. And now I have a small company, servicing seven regular clients based in India, South Africa, America, the UK, and New Zealand. And a few one-offs on the side. And that’s in just over a year, with virtually no marketing.
WTF, is what I say.
#1. Have another source of income
When Covid smashed us in the face, I was working for a mystery shopping company in London. I had to pay the bills, on South African rands, so I needed a job and I needed it fast. I was also temping in some pretty snooty finance and accounting firms. I single-handedly got Madonna’s car out of a garage so it fetch her from the airport. I am not. Even. Joking. WTF x 10000.
I was like…
But I lost ALL of that income on 16 March. I was terrified. I had some savings (see point #2), but that money is for when I’m old and decrepit and dribbling into my incontinence pants.
So, I got a job packing groceries into Amazon bags for people who weren’t leaving the house. I went into Morrison’s every day for about two weeks and packed Amazon bags for eight hours a day.
At the same time I applied for a job as a care worker. I got that job and then spent nine months looking after the elderly in their homes. I bathed people, changed their nappies, fed them, cooked for them and cleaned their houses. I looked after people who couldn’t walk. I looked after people with various forms of dementia. I was also screamed at, yelled at, had glass thrown at me, kicked, spat at and sworn at.
While it was tough and exhausting and sad at times, it was also hugely rewarding and beautiful and I developed relationships with people that I never imagined possible. I also learned how strong I am. Physically and emotionally. And I will be forever grateful for that.
So, don’t be proud. Get out there. Do work that’s hard. It’ll make starting your business feel like a breeze.
Save, save, save. Save 10% of everything you earn. Start now. Don’t delay.
Saving empowers you. It makes you feel safe. It adds up slowly, but remember that compound interest is REAL and soon you’ll be having money parties, where you’re naked, running around in money, throwing money everywhere, sleeping in money, blowing your nose with money. I really love money. Please reserve judgment.
#3. Buy a course
Yes, it’ll cost you money. But I wasn’t even a quarter of the way through mine and I’d already made the money back with new clients.
The course won’t only teach you about your skill or industry. You’ll be able to join private Facebook groups, where you’ll learn how to set your rates, how to find more clients, or how to create spec work if you don’t have a lot of stuff to show off right now. You also become part of a community, which is wonderful.
I have bought several more since last year and I haven’t regretted one of them.
#4. Create a website
This is going to be your most time-consuming exercise, but it’s SOOOOOO worth it. There are so many platforms out there that you can use yourself – wix, weebly, wordpress. So building the site doesn’t have to be an expensive exercise. Show off your skill. Show people what you can do. It will get you work.
Find a designer friend who is in the same position as you (starting their business) and ask them to create your branding for free. Then give them your services in return, for free. Ask a copywriter to write your website, in exchange for your skill. Hello, trade exchange!
A website is your voice. It’s your office. Don’t skip it.
#5. Have work you can show off
This is where your website comes in handy again.
Client: ‘Do you have any work you can show me?’ You: ‘Oh, funny you should ask. As it just so happens, yes I do! Here is my website!’ See how handy that is?
But also, create a portfolio online if you can. And if you’re super-new you can create work on spec so you have something to send people. This is where your paid-for course works for you.
#6. Set up an international bank account
Urgh, I know. The boring stuff. But you’re going to work with people from all over the world (YUP. You are), and you want a place where you can receive that dosh without a worry. I use Wise, but there are others.
Make sure to check the fees because some are more expensive than others.
And start getting used to quoting and invoicing your clients in USD. It’s the international currency, everyone understands it. It just makes sense.
Now, here’s the thing. There is this AMAZING community around the world. They’re all online. They’re all working from their laptops in coffee shops in Barcelona, and on beaches in Cape Town. They’re exploring Guatemala and South Korea and the deep waters of The Ganges, and they’re looking for other people doing the same thing!
They want to work with YOU. Facebook is full of Digital Nomad groups and groups for Online Entrepreneurs. No more office. No more 9-5. You are your own boss. So make that Book of the Face your friend. And then sell yo’ damn self!
Starting my business has been one of the most exciting, thrilling, and challenging times of my life. I am loving every second of it. You will too.
If Covid taught us anything, it’s that we’re stronger and more resilient than we know. You are a force of nature. You just got through a pandemic!
One more thing. JUST DO IT. Stop thinking. Just do it. Small steps every day. It is totally achievable. Get out of your head and get into your new website. Or buy the course. Or join a few Facebook groups and start networking. Do one small thing. Then another. And another. Because? You are the bomb dot com.
Ashleigh Rennie empowers female entrepreneurs to embrace their authentic voice and weave it into their business, creating consistent branding and copy. For badass entrepreneur, brand voice, and copy tips, check out her weekly blog.