Honey Copy


Riffs on marketing, writing, creativity and life ––

Don't quit your day job (unless you want to make an assload of money).

It’s usually a snide remark uttered by your fat pretentious cousin.

You’re singing your favorite song. You think you sound like John Legend. The rest of the world is hearing something that sounds like a pissed-off llama screaming into a loud-speaker.

Your cousin is the only person blunt enough to tell you you sound like shit. He looks at you, smirks snidely with his fat face, “Don’t quit your day job”.

A shiver runs the length of your spine… a cold pit forms in your stomach… a hotness wafts over your skin as embarrassment sinks its nasty claws into your soul.

You never sing again…

Your cousin was onto something, kind of.

That story has absolutely nothing to do with today’s riffing. I really just told it to get you to read this far. That’s what I do for a living, after all… get people to read things.

As a freelance copywriter, I get asked often by aspiring freelancers how one goes about getting into freelancing.

To the outside world, it’s a career choice that seems a bit ambiguous and risky.

Both this ambiguity and risk stems from the vast contrasts you see in the world of freelancing.

Some freelancers make millions of dollars a year breathing life into graphic design masterpieces for companies like Apple and Nike.

Other freelancers make barely enough money to wash the Subway chipotle mayo stains out of their sweatpants as they fake luxurious existences on Instagram, whilst living in their mother’s basement.

While all doctors seem to be devilishly rich, freelancer’s pocketbooks seem to fluctuate wildly depending on the lancer, his or her skill level, notoriety and industry.

In addition to the ambiguity, this fluctuation is where the risk (or the perception of risk) stems from, too.

Freelancing appears to be quite risky because, while some are getting rich, others can’t seem to land a client to save their lives.

So, when an aspiring freelancer comes to me looking for ways they can get their start as a hired gun, I tell them the same thing cousin Vinny said in the story I just shared …

Don’t quit your day job.

But, I add a little somethin’ somethin’ extra to this… a little bit of oomph, if you will… a little bit of Dijion fucking mustard.

I tell them…

Don’t quit your day job (unless you want to make an assload of money).

I know, that’s a bold borderline sales-y statement. But, if you keep reading, I’ll explain my reasoning.

(side note: I am creating a course of sorts that will help folks like you build a profitable freelance business, if you’re interested, drop your email here).

There is a good chance you can make double doing what you’re getting paid to do now.

Holy hell that was a long subtitle.

Anyway, a good while back I wrote a great big article about how I got my start slinging ink for a living. If you have some time, you can read it here.

In that piece, I share how I was making $11 an hour right out of college working for an advertising agency in my hometown.

Not only did I hate my job, but I often found myself scratching my head thinking… aren’t I supposed to make a bit more with an expensive piece of paper to my name?

One day, my boss told me that she billed clients $125 an hour. I did the math and realized something that changed my life…

For every 10 hours of work I was doing, I was making $110, while my boss was making $1,250 (well $1,140 when you remove the $110 she was paying me).

You should have seen my face when I stumbled upon this epiphany.

The next day… I quit.

I immediately took a job at a construction company making around the same wage as I was at the agency. And, at night, I began emailing hundreds of companies asking them to pay me $50/hour to write for them.

Here’s what was interesting…

At the time, I was saving brands $50-$75 an hour working with me directly rather than an agency and I was making 5x hourly what I had made at my previous job.

By cutting out the middleman that was my employer, I was able to 5x my income.

Stop. Pay extra close attention to this next bit because it’s sort of the whole reason I wrote this damn thing.

Cutting out the middleman to make some cheddar.

Every reasonably bright brand has something called PPE (or Profit Per Employee). This is the amount of profit a brand is making per employee that works for them.

Facebook’s PPE is $599,000.

Apple’s PPE is $393,000.

Goldman Sachs PPE is $215,000.

Many times, employees forget that they are being hired on to make the brands they are working for money. And, while the graphic designer isn’t making Nike money directly, Nike has a pretty good idea of the monetary impact its graphic designer(s) have on it’s business.

Most of the time, brands are looking to 2x their investment on an employee.

I’ve never hired another writer at Honey Copy.

I write everything myself.

But, if I were to hire a writer, I would want to make 2x or even 3x what I am paying them.

The reason being is because it wouldn’t be worth my time nor energy to manage them if they were losing me money or breaking even.

When you begin to understand this, you realize that businesses are “marking-up” their employee’s skills.

Like my boss at my small advertising agency, she was marking up my services to her clients so she could make money.

There’s nothing wrong with this. It’s smart business.

But, what employees need to remember is that this gives them power if they are capable of selling their skills.

In many ways, the employer is the salesmen between client and employee.

The reason brands can get away with paying a talented graphic designer $40,000/ year is because they are bringing business to the graphic designer.

A “don’t bite the hand that feeds you” phenomenon begins to take hold.

Since the hand keeps bringing the graphic designer work and a paycheck, the graphic designer forgets she is capable of… making more money working for other brands as a freelancer.

But, again, the individual must know how to sell whatever service it is they’re offering.

So, while I don’t think everyone should quit their day jobs… I do think everyone should be working as a freelancer outside of their day jobs (and consider quitting once they start making some serious moolah).

What’s fascinating about freelancing is that anyone who has a skill can freelance.

This guy, for example, makes $110,000 a year as a freelance dog walker. Whether you’re a dog walker, a graphic designer, a sale development representative, an accountant or (fill in the blank) you can make, at the very least, 2x what you’re making now by simply going rogue.

But I digress.

By Cole Schafer.

You gotta check this out –– Sticky Notes is my email list reserved strictly for entrepreneurs and creatives looking to sell like a Florida Snow Cone Vendor on the hottest day of the year.

Cole Schafer