It’s almost February, the beginning of a new decade (January doesn’t count in my book) and time to think about the year ahead. I’m pretty excited about this year. This time last February, I was 6 months pregnant with my third child. I was busy with lots of freelance copywriter projects but I was focusing on getting through the next few months. I was winding down for maternity leave and wasn’t in the mind space to think very far ahead.

Now I’m in a different place. The baby is finally sleeping better, the kids are back at school and day-care, and it’s time to claw back some time for myself. However, when I reflect over where I was before having the baby, I realise my mindset is different. Although I thought I was winding down, I’ve learnt a lot over the last year about my business. I’ve realised pregnancy and maternity leave have made me a better freelance copywriter. Here’s why.

I’ve learnt my best times to work

Prior to getting pregnant, I’d try to work whenever I could. I’d try to work late at night or if the kids were occupied on a Sunday morning, I’d switch on my computer. But you know what? I always resented it. I’m damn exhausted at night so if I try to work, I inevitably end up on Facebook. And I’ve realised that I really need Sunday mornings to be about rest. I need time on the couch to drink tea, read books to the kids or *gasp* read something on my own.

Being pregnant forced me to work out when I was most productive and do my work then. I love the stillness of the early morning, so I would get up before the rest of the house and smash out an article or two. I’m not efficient in the afternoons so I’d either do something less creative (like accounts or social media) or give up and go for a walk. I’ve also learnt not to work if I’m just not feeling it, and not to feel guilty about that. I can always catch up tomorrow at 5 am!

I’ve had time to learn more about copywriting

I have spent a lot of time pounding the streets in the past few months, trying to get my baby to sleep. There are a few upsides to this–I got to do lots of exercise and I listened to heaps of podcasts (I will write a separate blog about my faves).

The other thing I did was join a new digital copywriting group called the Clever Copywriting School. This has become my favourite place on the internet and opened my eyes to how to become a better copywriter. I’m really excited about what I will learn this year and how that will improve my journalism and copywriting business.

I can be very productive in a short period of time

Some people enjoy using the Pomodoro method of working, which is 25 minutes of intense work then a 5-minute break. Working when you’ve got young children around is like living the Pomodoro method. In the early days, my baby only slept for one sleep cycle, so I only had a very short window to get things done.

As soon as those eyes drifted off, and I crept out of the room, I was like a speed demon around the house. It’s amazing how much you can cram in when you focus, ignore WhatsApp and that incessant ping of your email. Now that the baby is sleeping better and feeding less, I can get away and focus for hours at a time with the same efficiency.

I’ve learnt to prioritise myself more

When you’re a parent of young children, you often think about everyone’s needs before you own. But that analogy about putting your own mask on before anyone else’s rings true. If your ship is sinking, you’re no use to anyone. When I was pregnant, I made sure I made time to rest, exercise and eat well every day. I had an amazing pregnancy with great energy all the way through.

I’ve tried to carry this on, although it’s been tough. In the lead up to Christmas, things got the better of me and I stopped taking care of myself. The baby was going through a horrendous period; I stopped exercising and ate most of my kids’ Christmas chocolate. Oops. I ended up getting a few bouts of tonsillitis and it was the WORST. No more–I’m back on the multivitamins, am exercising, eating better and trying to get as much shut-eye as I can. The healthier I am, the happier everyone is, the more work I can do. It’s a win all around.

I’ve streamlined my freelance copywriter services

Having some time to think on maternity leave made me realise that I want to offer a more focused copywriting service. One of the first things new clients ask for is what my rates are. Usually, I quote on a project by project basis, however, often new websites have similar requirements to begin with. To make things easier for my clients, I will introduce website writing packages. I’m still designing the final pages, but offering these basic packages will mean you’ll get a snapshot of what my prices are before you get in touch.

I’m enjoying my work more

Many years ago after the birth of my first daughter, I wrote about how my A-Type personality had gone AWOL. I wrote about how I’d enjoyed maternity leave and motherhood so much that I wanted to have a break from the rat race. I ended up leaving my fast-paced newsroom job and worked part-time in a smaller company.

However, since working as a freelance copywriter, my passion for work is back with a vengeance. I love the excitement of working with a new client and helping them achieve their goals through my words. I love building new relationships and I love learning about new industries.

Having my third child has only intensified these feelings. Maybe the novelty of playgroups and baby-led classes have worn off… or maybe I’ve found my calling. Working as a freelance copywriter has made me more fulfilled than I ever was in the media world, and I can’t wait to see where 2020 takes me.

 

What about you? If you’ve had time off (whether for kids or otherwise), do you think it’s made you better at what you do?
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