Congratulations, you’ve decided to become a freelance copywriter.
You’ll have a list of things to cover off before you officially hang out your shingle that says:
“Hello, I’m here and ready to do your copywriting work”.
From setting up your social media accounts, to getting your website up and running and organising your work space.
Before you throw yourself into a frenzy of pitching for copywriting work and getting your fingers typing on new projects, take some time to consider what you’ll do when a wave of creative burnout hits.
In a rainbow, unicorns and all things smelling like roses world, creative burnout wouldn’t exist.
We’d all be feeling energised creatively every single day. No matter what life threw in our way.
It’s true that freelance copywriting offers a lot of positives. From the variety of work, learning about different industries and being able to get your clients’ ideas out of their head and onto the screen.
But there’ll also be a day when you’ve got a copywriting brief on your screen and a looming completion date.
After 45 minutes of staring at the screen, you’ll flick over to the next project. You may be more creative with this one.
Another 30 minutes pass and nothing.
And in between fighting your waves of nausea and the inner doubts that you’ll never write anything good ever again, the real panic sets ins.
You’ve got creative burnout.
The creative burnout warning signs
Creative burnout can manifest in different ways for different people:
- Feeling physically ill when thinking about your work,
- Having no ideas when you need to write, or
- Starting to look at job vacancies outside of the copywriting industry.
The important thing to remember about creative burnout is that you’re not alone. And the simple act of reaching out to a friend, colleague, and medical health professional or networking group is a surefire way to conquer burnout. You might like to check out inclusive and supportive online community here at the Clever Copywriting School.
It you take some time to understand what your creative burnout triggers are, you’ll be able to shorten the amount of time you feel burned out.
Creative burnout checklist
This checklist will help you work out what decisions you need to make to improve your health.
- Has your weight increased over the past year or so? Would a change of diet help?
- Have you noticed that you’re drinking more alcohol than usual? Would less alcohol consumption help you feel more energized and less sluggish in the morning?
- When was last time you had a full physical health check at your GP?
- Do you exercise regularly? Would an increase in activity improve the way you feel?
- Are you crying for no particular reason? Would a visit to your GP or mental health professional to talk over what’s going on in your mind help?
- Are you sleeping patterns helping or hindering your creative energy?
- Do you find it hard to get to sleep at night because you’re worried about your work?
Using creative burnout as a business kick-starter
When creative burnout slips into your life, it’s tempting to keep pushing, working and striving hard. Before you accept any new work, pitch for that huge project or buy more books on copywriting, take a deep breath.
Here’s a checklist of things to consider:
Who do you love copywriting for?
Starting out you’ll put your hand up for most jobs. Some projects will be a joy to work on, others will be draining and feel like they’re never going to end. At the end of every project, review how it went.
Go deeper than the income you’ve received. Some projects will pay well but if the amount of the creative energy you invest leaves you exhausted for a month, it may not be a great fit for your copywriting. Love writing website content? Pitch for this. F
ind it a breeze to create resumes and LinkedIn profiles, go for it! Get specific about the type of copywriting work you love, and then hone in on your ideal clients. Not sure where to start?
A coaching call with an experienced copywriter like Kate Toon may help.
Know your best times to work for each of your tasks.
Being specific with is important. What time of the day do you like to research, find images, write, edit and publish? All these tasks take different amounts of energy so track how you’re feeling when you do each work out what’s best.
Invest more time into your physical fitness and mental health.
Set achievable daily goals that you’ll enjoy. There’s no point trying to workout at 6am every morning if you’re a night owl.
Notice how you’re feeling when you’re using your social media accounts.
Feeling good, confident and happy? Stay online.
Getting a sinking and empty feeling combined with a ‘fear of missing out’ vibe? Get offline and take a walk.
Research online and face-to-face networking groups.
Attend a meeting or two to figure out if they’re a good fit, and then join at least one. Here’s a few to consider:
Create support systems
During your career as a freelance copywriter, creative burnout will come and go. Having support systems in place will help you navigate your way out of the burnout faster.
Here are some things to consider:
- Cash flow: Running your own business means that your income every week won’t be certain. Figuring out how much you must earn every year to service your financial commitments, pay yourself a salary and save for your future is really important. Remember to factor in times of year when work won’t be coming in. Got children at school? Will you work through the holidays or take a week off? Lastly, what type of financial buffer do you need to feel financially secure in both your business and personal accounts?
- Use templates: templates can make your copywriting business smoother and easier to run.
- Schedule space into every day away from your screen: Reading a novel, enjoying a cup of coffee without checking your social media accounts, hanging out with friends on the weekend and walking the dog. All these activities will give your mind the space it needs to rejuvenate and stay receptive to new ideas.
- Look around: When you’re away from your desk, make a practice of noticing great and not so great copywriting. What made you smile when you read the billboard on the freeway? Why did the description on the craft beer label grab your attention? Why does the script for the latest health insurance ad make you cringe?
The truth is when creative copywriter burnout happens to you, it’s time to stop.
Pushing on and ignoring the way you’re feeling won’t solve how it.
Remember you’re not alone, there’s always another copywriter, friend, family member or health professional to speak to.
Your creative energy is the reason you’ll win work, acquire retainer clients and create a steady cash flow. Make sure you look after it
Who is Kylie Saunder?
Kylie Saunder is a Melbourne based freelance copywriter. When she’s not copywriting she can found at the beach, walking her dog, watching TV comedies and hanging out at cafes.
Over to you
Have you ever suffered from creative burnout? How did you get over it? Let us know if the comments below.