Josh Schachnow Copy Writer
After a short stint as a lawyer, Josh gave up the traditional path and instead started a marketing and copy writing agency.
What's your background and what type of services do you offer to clients?
My background is in business and law. I did my undergraduate degree in business, then went to law school. I worked as an articling student (in Canada, you have to article for 10 months before becoming a lawyer), and halfway through, realized that the profession wasn’t really what I was looking for. So I spent my spare time looking into what other options were out there - more specifically, types of work I could do as a freelancer because I liked the idea of being my own boss but didn’t have a business idea for a product.
After considering the different freelance gigs, I kept hearing about copywriting and figured I had a lot of transferrable skills - I learned to write in law school and knew my way around business from my first degree, so why not mix the two? A close friend happened to be back in town for the summer and after discussing my idea with him, we decided to open up shop together and here we are!
What was the final straw that made you take the leap from law to freelance copywriting?
My contract with the law firm was only for the required ten months, so I decided that once it ended, I would give freelancing a try. My initial plan was to take a few weeks off before jumping in, but my friend said that he’d been off from school for too long and wanted to get to work right away - so we did!
What's been most surprising to you about starting your business so far?
It's not my first involvement in running a small business, but it's my first time starting one from scratch. What's most surprising is that while you have awesome friends and family who want to help, your future paying customers are not just waiting there to give you money (no matter how great your product/service may be). You have to hustle to find, attract and sell them, because when it comes to making dollars, nothing comes easy (at least at the beginning).
Do you have any regrets about striking out on your own and leaving a well paying, more traditional career path?
At this point? Heck no. I've enjoyed every second of this new experience much more, and don't miss a day of my old gig. That's not to say it isn't right for some people, but the money isn't worth it to me... although it helps not having kids or a mortgage, etc.
How do you find and attract clients?
We’ve gotten all of our clients through our own network so far, mainly friends of friends. Some family connections as well, but we’ve both just been telling anyone we can, in a friendly way, about what we’re doing, and they pass our names along. Also, reaching out to businesses that you are already familiar with and showing them where you can add value.
How do you bill clients?
We bill per project. I spent 10 months billing hourly as a lawyer in training, and didn’t enjoy a minute of it. I'd rather spend extra time on a project and do a better job than be tracking minutes.
How do you measure success? What metrics do you use to determine whether or not you've been successful (revenue, free time, ability to travel, etc.)?
It’s a balance of revenue and flexible lifestyle for me. Money for obvious reasons, because you need to pay your bills. But I wanted to enjoy my summer and do some work on my own terms, so being able to work when and where I want is important.
What was the biggest challenge you've faced while growing your business? What have you tried to do to overcome these challenges?
Biggest challenge has been finding paying clients. We’ve done some free work to build our portfolio and convince clients to start paying us for future work, but trying to convince companies you are worth their money when they aren’t so familiar with copy can be difficult. We try to educate them about our services and the benefits we can provide as much as possible, including a well-written and professional portfolio.
What advice would you offer other freelancers that are just starting out? Any online resources/services/apps/tools, books, or courses you would recommend?
If you don’t enjoy what you’re doing, start looking into opportunities that excite you. Doesn’t have to be hours upon hours, but start following new people, reading articles, listening to new ideas and talking to cool people. You never know what opportunities could come up!
In terms of resources, it really depends on what kind of freelancing you’re looking to do, but what I would recommend is start following the top blogs and podcasts of the most successful people in your field. I was reading blogs all the time - Neville from Kopywriting Kourse, Enchanting Marketing, Roy Furr, etc. etc. I also listened to business/copywriting podcasts and bought a few books on the subject. Take in as much as you can, but once you’ve learned enough to do that particular thing decently well, start doing work too! It’s not just about what you learn, you need to practice applying it as well.
Where can we go to find out more about your business?
www.mirkwoodmarketing.ca! Just don’t forget the .ca haha!