How to be successful at freelancing – our chat with Emma Whiley
Emma Whiley Freelance

Emma Whiley grew up in Zimbabwe and has now lived in London for nearly seven years. She worked for an agency for three years until she took the plunge to go freelance. She started as a designer, and her design lead suggested she try her hand at copy, and it was love at first ‘word’. She followed her dream of being a writer and is now a freelance copywriter and creative consultant. She has worked with several big brands such as Tesco, e.On, easyJet, Heathrow, Adidas, Dove, to name the least! She’s also an expert at helping SME’s and start-ups – Emma Whiley

The best advice she has ever got regarding freelancing is to be the nicest human there is!

Moxie & Mettle: Why did you want to become a freelancer?

Emma Whiley: I wanted to have a more flexible career so I could travel with my husband, who travels a lot for work, at short notice. But mainly, I wanted to be able to build a client roster that would allow me to work from home, and hopefully earn the same for fewer hours of work, once I had children. If I’m honest the higher salary was also attractive, but it takes a lot of hard work and sacrifice to make that worthwhile.

Moxie & Mettle: What do you need to get started as a freelancer?

Emma Whiley: Courage! A good portfolio, an accountant, discipline, a selection of cafes or hotel lobbies you can go and work from when your four walls get too much and friends or acquaintances that are doing it too. A good network of contacts is really helpful, but you can work on that.

Moxie & Mettle: How do you find freelance work?

Emma Whiley: A lot of it is word of mouth. I believe you are less likely to be remembered for your work than whether you were nice to work with. I always try and be SUPER nice when I’m with a client, deliver work quicker than expected and just always give 100% where possible. Then in four years time, you’ll get an art director at another agency go ‘huh, I worked with this really friendly copywriter once, let me give her a call for this project.’ Obviously, you have to be good at what you do too. But I’m not sure you’ll have much success as a freelancer if you’re not.

I also trawl LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook groups and YunoJuno.

Moxie & Mettle: What gave you the courage to quit your job and start freelancing?

Emma Whiley: To be honest I wouldn’t have done it if I didn’t know my husband’s salary could cover the bills if I didn’t get any work. His job gave me a lot of freedom to be able to go freelance and step away from the security that fulltime nine-five offers.

Moxie & Mettle: What are the benefits?

Emma Whiley: There are lots of benefits – higher pay, the ability to choose your projects and clients, choosing your work hours, meeting new people all the time, choosing which part of the project you work on (for example I’m not a fan of concepting, I’d much rather come in and execute the idea once it’s been dreamed up), more flexibility.

BUT all of those take A LOT OF WORK to get to.

Moxie & Mettle: Are there any downsides?

Emma Whiley: All of the above can be downsides too. We can ask for more pay because we don’t have benefits like holiday, sick and maternity pay. And in the end, it doesn’t always work out more if we go a couple of weeks without work. We don’t have the security of knowing that a pay cheque will land in the bank account on the 25th of the month. We don’t have the regular crew of colleagues to build friendships with – freelancing can be very lonely. And don’t even get me started on the chasing of late payments! You really have to stand up for yourself as a freelancer.

Moxie & Mettle: What advice would you give to other freelancers?

Emma Whiley: Do something that you enjoy even on your bad days. Find other freelance friends you can network with and just be a nice human! Always get the client to agree in writing what their payment terms are and try and propose yours first.

Emma Whiley

Emma Whiley

M: 07549834261


T: @Emma_Whiley

L: Emma Whiley


On a side note, if you are thinking about freelancing/are a freelancer we have a Facebook page dedicated to just that click here to join.

If any other freelancers are interested in featuring in ‘our chat with’ series of how to be successful at freelancing, please email:

Written by Isabelle Peters

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