Andrew Knowles

4 March 2013

Freelance copywriting as a second career

If you love writing but think it’s too late to earn a living from your talent, let my story offer you a little hope. I spent 20 years working in finance and IT before moving into copywriting. Now, after four years as a freelance copywriter, I’m confident that my career change won’t be reversed.

In addition to being a full-time copywriter, I am a qualified accountant, but I’ve always preferred words to numbers. At school, I invested hours in creative writing and failed my maths O-level. Even at university I nurtured ambitions of writing for a living, but in those pre-internet days, I was unable to identify a path into the profession.

Within weeks of graduating, I found myself running the finance department of a small London retailer, despite holding a degree in archaeology and history. I needed a job; they needed a body. They also needed someone willing to learn their new computerised finance system and it was this that captured my imagination.

First stop: accountancy

With my career settling into finance, studying for an accounting qualification was a dull yet appropriate choice. My failure to grasp the more advanced mathematical elements or to comprehend advanced tax planning didn’t stop me securing a place in a profession where creativity is most highly prized by those with something to hide.

Accounting was my first career, but words were my first love

For two decades, my writing ambitions played a very quiet second fiddle to accounting and consulting positions in various organisations. There was no frustration, as my writing and communication skills were employed in explaining how complex finance systems operated.

A little over four years ago, as recession bit, I realised the small company I was then working for could no longer afford to employ me. Unable to summon much enthusiasm for a similar role elsewhere, I decided to take a chance on generating an income through my writing skills.

Social media opens the way

With a little time on my hands, I also began taking an interest in social media, and in particular, Twitter. It occurred to me that the network might be a source of work, and within minutes of performing a search, I secured writing work from a small US law firm.

That gave me confidence that someone would pay for my writing. I registered with some freelancing sites and other opportunities began to arrive. I discovered the world of small business networking, hitherto unknown to me. And I extended my use of social media.

The confirmation of my career change to freelance copywriter came late last year. I was hired to write for a global accounting and consulting firm. It’s one of the organisations almost every accountant aspires to have on their CV. That they employ me as a writer is, as far as I am concerned, hugely significant.

My hope is that this story is an encouragement to those of you contemplating a move from your current career into copywriting, or indeed into any other activity for which you harbour a passion. It can be done.

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Andrew Kelly

March 26, 2013 at 6:12pm

Yes Andrew your story is definitely an inspiration. Having to work in a field that you are not enthusiastic about is more like a punishment; I have been there. If you love your work, then it does not seem like work, it seems fun.

Phil Williams

April 17, 2013 at 10:24am

Agreed, inspirational story. Most striking here is that you secured work through Twitter so quickly, I’d imagine a post just detailing that encounter would be of interest to a lot of people.

Jamie Thomson

March 9, 2014 at 4:13pm

Thanks for sharing your story Andrew. As a part-time freelancer on the cusp of going full-time, your post has given me reassurance that it can be done 🙂