In our latest Featured Freelancer segment, we sit down with copywriter Briony Samuel, who after 10 years of working in the business debuted this year as a fully-fledged freelancer.
Briony has been putting her stamp on the world of copywriting already, by thinking strategically about nurturing past work relationships, expanding circles through networking and making sure the ducks are in line months ahead.
What can Briony teach us about a successful first half-year in business?
Let’s find out.
What is your name and what do you do?
I’m Briony and I run a bespoke copywriting business called Unique Copy by Briony. My purpose is to provide business with personalised, human copy that gives their brand a unique voice and helps them to connect better with their customers.
How long have you been running your business/freelancing and why did you start?
I went freelance at the beginning of 2023. I’d wanted to go it alone as a copywriter for quite some time, and after 10 years of working in-house across a range of industries, I decided to take the leap. Let’s just say, I haven’t looked back since.
The main motivator behind my decision to go freelance was the freedom to work with a more diverse range of clients. I love getting to know the humans behind the brand, finding out what motivates them, what their purpose is, and how to convey their unique story through creative copywriting.
Finding clients is one of the biggest concerns for people starting out working for themselves. Where did you find your very first client or customer? Where do you mostly find them now?
My very first client was someone who I had worked with previously, who knew what I was capable of and put their trust in me to deliver, despite my lack of freelance experience. I’m super grateful that they gave me that opportunity, because it gave me a serious confidence boost and allowed me to prove to myself that I had the skills needed to be a successful self-employed writer.
Since then, a lot of my clients have been people I’ve worked with directly or indirectly in the past, although I’m starting to get more referrals and jobs through networking groups now, which is exciting!
What does a dream client look like to you and why?
A dream client for me is someone who is personable, open-minded and willing to let me run with the brief and think outside the box. I truly believe that it’s the people behind the business who make it what it is, and I love working with clients who can see the value in putting that unique human element into their marketing and branding.
What app or social media platform could you not run your business without, and why?
There are the obvious social media platforms like Instagram and LinkedIn, which are great for networking and chatting with prospective clients. In terms of behind the scenes, FreeAgent is a dream for invoicing and is a free service when you have a Mettle business bank account.
Is working for yourself what you expected? How do you manage a healthy work-life balance?
Yes and no. Being self-employed has given me freedom that I could only have dreamt of before. It’s forced me to be meticulously organised, plan strategically and think about the future more than I ever did in a salaried role. Planning for months down the line is a blessing and a curse – it’s great to feel in control of your own destiny, but sometimes the overthinking can be anxiety-inducing. At that point, I bring myself back to the present moment and remind myself of what is within my control right now. This usually helps me refocus my energy and remain productive!
What has been your favourite project to date?
I recently completed a website overhaul project for a brand whose copy was very basic and functional. I was able to breathe life into their brand, adding humour where relevant and give them a Tone of Voice that aligned perfectly with their target customer. Seeing the new website go live gave me such a buzz!
What is your biggest win of the last 12 months?
Honestly, getting myself up and running as a business! The year didn’t get off to the best start as I lost my job as part of redundancy cuts, and for the first month or two of 2023 I felt quite lost. Luckily I already had a holiday booked for February, and that allowed me to totally shift my mindset and come back feeling ready to do something different. Within a month I had built my website, worked on my branding, done all the boring-but-essential setup admin and landed my first gig. An optimistic outlook really can change everything.
What is it about running your business/being a freelancer that you most enjoy?
I most enjoy the freedom to choose the projects I work on. In the past, I sometimes felt that I was compromising on my own personal values in order to meet the requirements of the business. As a self-employed business owner, I work only with clients whose values and ways of operating align with my own, a synergy which makes for the best outcomes all round.
What do I least enjoy? I guess the uncertainty is always there, but then again I’m learning to be a little less scared of uncertainty – nothing is guaranteed after all, so I try to channel that energy into productivity and work even harder to line up projects that I can get excited about!
If you were given a free £1000 to spend on your business, what would you spend it on?
That’s a tough one! I’d probably divide it up, spending half on a professional networking membership and half on a course to build out my skillset further. Networking is a crucial part of self-employment and I know other freelancers who have attracted a huge amount of work by getting themselves out there. You can’t beat a 1-2-1 interaction for building trust.
What is your ONE top tip or piece of advice you would offer to other freelancers/small business owners?
Don’t try to run your freelance business like a 9-5! You left your full-time role for a reason, so try to craft your business around what works best for you. That could mean working really intensely for 3 days to nail a project, and then taking the next day off to reset whilst you’re waiting for client feedback. Personally, I like to start my day early as I’m at my most productive in the morning, but I’m trying to unlearn the guilt of taking a proper lunch break – I feel much more energised in the afternoon if I’ve been out for a decent walk.
And finally, is there anything you’d like to shout about right now?
I’m currently taking bookings for my Copy Done in One service. I designed this package specifically with small businesses in mind. As a solopreneur myself, I know how tight budgets can be, and that’s why I offer this bite-size service with a discounted rate for solo business owners.
With a Copy Done in One day, you’ll have my undivided attention for the whole day, as I review your existing copy (or maybe a blank page – no judgement here!) and wave my word-making wand to equip you with copy that earns its keep on your website. Rome wasn’t built in a day, but great copy can be. In the infamous words of Craig David, send me the brief on Tuesday, I’ll be making copy by Wednesday. Or something like that…
Visit our other Featured Freelancers here and, if you’re a UK freelancer and would like your profile in our freelancer directory, access to all our events and workshops each month, plus more, then sign up and test drive us for a week for free here.