How did I end up as Freelance Copywriter and Content Strategist?

Freelance Copywriter and Content Strategist

Chris Lawrence is a Freelance Copywriter and Content Strategist in Montreal, Canada that works with companies worldwide to write content that answers the questions that their audience is asking and creates strategies that help content reach the right people. Chris also has a strong interest in Public Relations and is currently completing a Certificate in Advanced Marketing at The University of Toronto’s School of Continuing Education. As a writer, Chris has been published in TheHuffPost, Entrepreneurs Handbook, and hopes to soon have work for Forbes.

How was your University time?

University was an interesting time, and I can truly say that it didn’t come easily. Like any student, I spent a lot of time having fun, but I also was pretty serious about it. I went to Brock University for English Language and Literature, as I intended to go to Law School, but as I got closer to when my peers were up late cramming to take the LSATs – I never ended up taking it. I didn’t end up going to Law School cause I could tell that I was getting burnt out from Post-Secondary along with life. University was the time where I learned about myself the most because I allowed myself to try new things, from working my first adult office job with the Office of the Registrar to working for the Student Union nearly all 4 years of my undergrad. All in all, University was definitely the greatest preparation for being a Copywriter/Content Strategist. Going to school, I learned how to read various types of writing with clarity and analyze enormous amounts of information at once — after all, I was reading about 22 books per semester. I learned how to really communicate with writing and how to help companies do the same. I also had the opportunity to meet fantastic instructors that I still keep in touch with to this day. 

Why did you choose Freelance Copywriter and Content Strategist as a career in this field?

There’s absolutely no one way to describe why I chose to work as a Freelance Copywriter because there are several factors that I had to think about:- I really started thinking about my relationship with traditional work and where I believed I would be the best fit, what was possible, and the constant desire to want to work for myself.- The COVID-19 Pandemic made me start thinking about stability and how companies started switching to remote-friendly work environments for staff.- I had a Bachelors Degree that I was paying for but wasn’t using at all. – I’d tried freelancing in Marketing, Branding, Scriptwriting for YouTube channels, and I needed to find a way to monetize my skills further. While I was doing many of these jobs, I made terrible money, and I had to find ways to diversify and charge what I’m worth. As I continue working in this field, I love the challenge and how different each week can be. One week, I could be writing copy for a website, and another week, I’m helping write someone’s LinkedIn Biography. It really keeps me on my toes and uses all my skills.

What was your first job or nuggets from jobs you had that helped you to get to where you are today?

My first job was in retail at Tommy Hilfiger, and I definitely took away many lessons and practices that I use in my personal workflows. The most obvious being customer service. As a Freelancer, I’m obsessed with customer experience; I recognize that I’m providing each brand/person that I’m working with a product and an experience – and I want to make sure that everything is as seamless as possible (which also makes my job a lot easier as well). An example that makes a huge difference is using scheduling automation tools to set up meetings for my calendar. One of the biggest wastes of time, in my opinion, is that going back and forth trying to find a meeting time that works for everyone. 

Person A: Does 3 PM work for you?

Person B: No, I’m meeting with someone else at that time. How about 2 PM?

Person A: Unfortunately, I’m not available. See how that becomes a longer process than it needs to be?

Using Calendly reimagined that process for me because clients know exactly when I’m available for a discovery call. We both know our schedules, and as simple as it seems – just thinking about the customer experience a little further results in securing more clients at the end of the day. This job also taught me how to think quickly on my feet and create solutions; sometimes, you have to get innovative in retail environments to make customers happy. Another job that I had was working at Beechwood Doughnuts because I truly believe that working in the Front of the House with such fantastic people taught me that work can be fun and how the products you add to the world can brighten up someone else’s day.

The best part of working as a Freelancer really is “the boss” of your own little company; I get to decide what my workflows look like and how I can tweak aspects to make them fun. I actually do when I have stressful weeks or days with multiple meetings with clients, leaving time to have a dance break – letting the sillies out to remember that it’s okay to have fun. There’s a time for me to be serious when working with others, but there’s also room for having some fun with my day. On the other side, I’ve also worked in some companies that showed me that they didn’t care much about creating experiences or had awful business practices. While I’m not going to spill the beans on these companies, I can honestly say that being in those types of roles allowed me to what dysfunction and chaos look like in a workspace and how anxious it makes everyone who gets close to it. As a result, I always make sure that my ducks are in order – I embrace simplicity, and I have learned where I thrive and where I don’t. Regardless of how great or terrible a previous job was, I always had something to take away that made me a better copywriter and content strategist today.

How did you prepare for an interview?

I’m huge on research; I’m pretty analytical, and I love being prepared before logging into Zoom. My first preparation tip is that I give myself enough time always to get some research in – it’s infrequent that I’ll ever take a same-day meeting with a potential client, and to date, I’ve probably done it one time. My process was no different when I was looking for a 9-5 job either. I do my research from top to bottom. I’ll search for what people are saying about a company on the internet on various social platforms. I look at the most recent Google Searches, I’ll search for common pain points that are brought up frequently, and I prepare questions. 9/10 times, I’ve surprised people with the level of research that I do before onboarding a client or when I’d be applying for a job. I also spend about an hour “getting in my zone” however I need to that day. When it comes to working with clients, I would be lying if I said that I was always in the mood for a conference call cause I’m not. Sometimes, I have to listen to some energetic music or say a Mantra a few times and push through it.

Books that helped you.?

I feel like most people have read this book, but I Will Teach You to be Rich by Ramit Sethi. I openly talk about finances when required. Still, one of my best-performing articles on Medium in 2019 was about how I realized that I was just terrible with money and how I was learning to break bad spending habits to improve the overall quality of my life. Because money is such a taboo topic in the world, which it absolutely shouldn’t be, there was so much learning that I had to do. For example, I had two credit cards but had never even heard the words Credit Utilization in my life. This book definitely helped me put things into perspective when it came to finances, and as I continue working in writing and with other brands – I’m much more equipped to set my rates accordingly and factor in things like taxes, expenses, etc.

I’m also currently reading “You are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Yourself & Start Living an Awesome Life” by Jen Sincero. This book is a great confidence builder. This book was gifted to me, and the more that I read it – the more that I’ve noticed more about myself that I didn’t realize exist. I wouldn’t say that I was a huge self-doubter or that I didn’t believe in myself. However, this book has shown me so much about how we can let fear creep into our thoughts, and we self-sabotage ourselves out of great opportunities. We could all be a little more badass, whether you work with SVPs and CEOs or if you work with dogs all day. I would absolutely recommend these books not just to anyone who’s looking to become a writer but anyone who’s looking to improve their overall quality of life in many areas.*The links included above are affiliate links.

Things are changing very fast in the industry; how do you keep yourself updated. Please list techniques or newsletters, podcasts, events etc.

You are right. The industry moves very quickly, especially with most work being online and digital with the pandemic, which is most likely not going to change. The relationship we have with work will look very different at this time next year. I feel like I keep up to date the same as everyone. I use Twitter mostly to keep an ear on the streets. Twitter is a place where conversations can be had so quickly and in real-time. I also try to be very conscious of the articles I share/consume; I always ask questions and look for more information. One site that I frequently use to keep up with tech/digital media is Digiday. I also use Medium a lot to read stories from other writers. Medium is a great platform because it’s all about telling a good story, and someone isn’t trying to sell something – most times. I love how authentic the writing is, and we can truly learn from other people’s wins and losses.

What can you recommend on CV?

Tailor each CV for the job that you are applying for. I’ve been a supervisor, and I’ve received resumes that I know were handed out to a million different companies. It stands out, but for all the wrong reasons. Show that you know about the company and how your past experiences can help deliver results that will benefit the company.

Advice for someone looking for a job?

Do your homework – show that you’ve read the job posting multiple times. A Recruiter can tell someone who’s not really interested in a role and a candidate who’s looking to grow with a company through thick and thin. Also, ask important questions. In the last position that I accepted, I went as far as looking at their Glassdoor reviews from current and previous employees, and I asked how they went ahead to address several concerns. Always ask questions that show you’ve done your research.

Why do you think you were selected among other candidates?

When it comes to the clients that hire me, let’s say through Upwork, I believe that these clients hire me because I write every proposal and never use a copy and paste format. I do my research when possible, and I show that I’ve read the project description, show relevant examples, and open the door for communication with a potential client, offering to set up a phone call to discuss things further. Something as simple as starting a proposal with the client’s first name is enough to grab their attention among other candidates.

Lessons from jobs that you couldn’t get.

Sometimes it’s a blessing in disguise. Like many people worldwide during a pandemic, I went on several interviews. I found a position in my field at a great company; my requested salary didn’t present an issue. I had the degree they were looking for. I had all the experience that they wanted, and then some. I found the department manager via LinkedIn and ensured that the cover letter was addressed to them directly. I hit submit, and I noticed that the department manager looked at my LinkedIn Profile the same day. Later on, I got a phone interview scheduled with a recruiter at the company, and everything was finally moving in the right direction. The day before the interview, I got an email that my interview had to be canceled because the company had a meeting to reorganize some departments, including the Product department I had applied to. I was crushed, but I understood. About a week later, I saw the same position posted on LinkedIn, but now they wanted to outsource the role to someone in Europe. I couldn’t get that job, no matter how I tried – and this was one of the final pushes that made me start freelancing on the side again. I hated the back and forth that applicants get with companies at times, and I said that would be the last resume I submit to a company. Since then, I’ve worked with CEOs, SVPs, Directors, and companies worldwide on various writing projects, and I have no intention of slowing down any time soon. It was a blessing in disguise, and I’m thankful for it.

Tag a few friends/colleagues whose story you would like to see here:

I would love to see my Amanda Wan, Astawa Alam, and Zeinab Kahera on here as well!

Also read How I Became A Brand Strategist & Creative Entrepreneur

How did I end up as Freelance Copywriter and Content Strategist?

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