“I felt exhausted and unappreciated.”
What work were you doing previously?
I was working in the recruitment industry both as a recruiter and later as an Operations Manager.
What are you doing now?
I'm now a full-time freelance copywriter for conscious brands in the sustainability and spiritual arenas.
How did you feel in your work before you decided to make the change?
In my 9-5, I was unrecognisable compared to the person I am today. I felt exhausted and extremely unappreciated.
Due to the stress of my job, I was losing sleep, waking up with anxiety, and skipping lunch most days. It was a very unhealthy environment for me. Anxiety wasn't something I'd ever encountered before!
Apart from that, I had a strong yearning to be able to work from WiFi and have a better work-life balance.
I debated leaving my job for over a year before I actually did it! I was fearful that I wouldn't find anything better and that I was walking away from a job most people would love to have.
Why did you change?
Ultimately, the stress of my job got on top of me to the point where it was having a negative impact on my health and wellbeing.
When was the moment you decided to make the change?
I'd been debating it back and forth for a long time, but there was one evening that my stress and anxiety levels reached tipping point.
I'd spent that week crying and barely sleeping, and that evening I decided that enough was enough. I handed in my notice the next day.
A couple of weeks later, the COVID-19 lockdown was announced!
How did you choose your new career?
I knew I wanted my next move to be geared around working from WiFi.
I'd heard about Virtual Assistants through my sister who, at the time, was completing a course to become a VA.
After doing some research into the VA life, I discovered you could specialise in copywriting. Not only was this a remote job, but I also loved to write. It seemed like a perfect fit for me!
Are you happy with the change?
I'm so pleased I decided to go for it. I was very fearful of handing my notice in without a real plan, but it's been the best move.
The best part so far was being able to go to Bulgaria for a month to work whilst also travelling around. I also landed three new clients whilst abroad!
What do you miss and what don't you miss?
Sometimes I miss the 'office banter' and having a team around me. That was my inspiration for founding Writing Girls Club – to create a bit of a community for freelancers.
I definitely don't miss having a boss put pressure on me. And I don't miss having to work to a set schedule.
I feel so grateful to be managing my own time and for having zero stress in my life!
How did you go about making the shift?
A few months before I handed my notice in, I discovered freelance copywriting.
I spent time during the evenings researching the industry, learning the skills and building my website.
But actually handing in my notice wasn't planned. In an ideal world, you'll already have some clients before quitting your job. I didn't.
I left right when the UK went into lockdown and I was petrified that I'd made the wrong decision.
Thankfully. I landed my first client within six weeks and still retain them to this day.
What didn't go well? What wrong turns did you take?
I definitely underpriced myself in the beginning.
I didn't work out my costs properly and didn't have enough faith that I would find clients who would pay me the going rate.
So, I ended up working for little in return.
Over time, I learned the value of what I can do and have more than doubled my fees.
How did you handle your finances to make your shift possible?
I wouldn't have quit my job so spontaneously if I didn't have some savings to cushion me.
Again, I would advise others to plan their exit a little better than I did, especially if you don't have savings to cushion you.
What was the most difficult thing about changing?
As an introvert, it's been difficult learning how to get comfortable with bringing on new clients and consulting with them.
I'm not naturally a people-person. So dealing with Directors and Heads of Marketing for large companies can be a little intimidating.
But, it's definitely gotten easier with practice. You just have to push through the discomfort until it becomes normal.
What help did you get?
Aside from just throwing myself in at the deep end, I've leaned on podcasts and personal development books.
I also recently hired a Copywriting Coach. I think it's really important to keep evolving and to keep learning from those who are at the level you want to reach.
What resources would you recommend to others?
Book: 'The Art of The Click' – Glenn Fisher
Facebook Group: Female Freelance Copywriters
And I established Writing Girls Club to help new copywriters overcome the obstacles that I faced. You'll find both free and affordable resources on my site!
What have you learnt in the process?
As you can imagine, I've learned heaps about SEO, copywriting, marketing, and networking.
I've also learned to say 'yes' to opportunities even if I don't know the ins and outs. Everything is figure-outable. Don't wait for perfection.
What would you advise others to do in the same situation?
I would advise others to not compromise their happiness in exchange for a salary. There are so many opportunities out there waiting for you!
Start planning your exit (check your finances, learn new skills, build your website, feed your brain with knowledge). But make sure it's something worthwhile.
Also, don't wait to be perfect. You'll never know it all. The best way to learn is by simply saying 'yes' and getting stuck in.
To find out more about Vanessa's services, visit www.vr-copy.com
What lessons could you take from Vanessa's story to use in your own career change? Let us know in the comments below.