Live Q & A chat
Mar 2011 23

The first live Q & A chat of Fuji Tamale is in the books. I answered some questions live on the internet about freelancing and copywriting just to see what would happen. A bit different. Thanks to everyone who participated. Here’s the transcript:

Hey everyone! Thanks for stopping by This should be fun. Sorry I’m a couple minutes late but let’s talk advertising!
by Andrew, Toronto at 1:02 PM 3/21/2011

Hey Andrew. Cool idea. Do you like being a ‘freelance’ copywriter?
by JT, Vancouver at 1:03 PM 3/21/2011

Hey JT. Thanks for the question.
by Andrew, Toronto at 1:03 PM 3/21/2011

by Anonymous, Edmonton at 1:03 PM 3/21/2011

And yes, I do like it a lot. I get to work on all kinds of interesting projects and with different people. It’s more fun and challenging than being on staff somewhere, which I did for 15 years.
by Andrew at 1:04 PM 3/21/2011

by JT, Vancouver at 1:04 PM 3/21/2011

Hey everyone, please try to keep your comments clean. Thanks.
by Andrew, Toronto at 1:05 PM 3/21/2011

Hi Andrew, what were some of your favourite accounts to work on in your career?
by SC, Miami at 1:07 PM 3/21/2011

Hey SC. Every client can be fun if the problem to solve is interesting.
Most recently, I really enjoyed working on Volkswagen.
by Andrew, Toronto at 1:09 PM 3/21/2011

So you wrote ‘Das Auto’?
by SC, Miami at 1:10 PM 3/21/2011

Wow. LOL!  I wish but that was written by another agency many years ago, now used around the world. So great. Sorry to disappoint!
by Andrew, Toronto at 1:11 PM 3/21/2011

by Anonymous, Edmonton at 1:11 PM 3/21/2011

Oh. What about that spot where the kid is Darth Vader and he’s trying to use the force on the Passat. Did you write that one?
by BB, Chicago at 1:12 PM 3/21/2011

No. Again, wish I had. Anyone wanna talk about the work I have posted or anything?
by Andrew, Toronto at 1:13 PM 3/21/2011

How about ‘got milk’. Did you write that? My cat loved those spots.
by GB, Milwaukee at 1:14 PM 3/21/2011

Afraid not. Your cat?
by Andrew, Toronto at 1:15 PM 3/21/2011

Thanks for the answer to my first question.Just so you know, my cousin is a copywriter and he says that all ‘freelancers’ are just hacks who got fired and can’t get another full time job so they call themselves ‘freelancers’ instead of just ‘unemployed’. Who’s right?
by JT, Vancouver at 1:18 PM 3/21/2011

I have an unemployed uncle. It’s rough, man.
By PG, Calgary at 1:18 PM 3/21/2011

Well JT, yes, it’s true there are some freelancers – not sure why you keep putting it in quotes by the way – that are ultimately looking for a full-time job. Freelancing is a great way to test out many places and find the right fit. I’m not looking for a full time job though. I’m pretty happy. Sorry about your uncle PG.
by Andrew, Toronto at 1:20 PM 3/21/2011

Sure you’re ‘happy’.
by JT, Vancouver at 1:21 PM 3/21/2011

Tits tits tits tits.
Anonymous, Edmonton at 1:21 PM 3/21/2011

Anonymous has been banned from the chat

Hey everyone, keep your posts clean please.
by Andrew, Toronto at 1:22 PM 3/21/2011

Andrew, my uncle the unemployed one, is doing bad. Do you need any help at Fuji Tamale?
By PG, Calgary at 1:23 PM 3/21/2011

No. Sorry PG. Does he have any ad experience? Maybe I could ask anyone I know in Calgary if they need help.
by Andrew, Toronto at 1:25 PM 3/21/2011

Like you even know anyone in Toronto.
by JT, Vancouver at 1:26 PM 3/21/2011

No ad experience but he watches Mad Men though. Awesome.Thanks for helping him!
By PG, Calgary at 1:26 PM 3/21/2011

pussy pussy pussy pussy
I M BACK, Edmonton at 1:27 PM 3/21/2011

Hang on PG. I’d love to help but if he doesn’t have ad experience, I can’t really. Maybe you could send me his resume and I’ll see if I have any ideas.
by Andrew, Toronto at 1:28 PM 3/21/2011

I M BACK has been banned from the chat

Bummer. He was excited.
By PG, Calgary at 1:29 PM 3/21/2011

by Andrew, Toronto at 1:29 PM 3/21/2011

Does anyone have any ADVERTISING questions or anything about freelancing?
by Andrew, Toronto at 1:31 PM 3/21/2011

My cat doesn’t know your adveritsments.
by GB, Milwaukee at 1:32 PM 3/21/2011

Cause he’s a ‘freelancer’. you suck balls
by JT, Vancouver at 1:33 PM 3/21/2011

Okay, let’s wrap it up. Thanks for coming everyone. It was a first time and wanted to try it out. Maybe next time we’ll try a different format to have more of a discussion, but thanks. Let me know via email if I can make it more interesting or what you might want to talk about. Have a great afternoon.
by Andrew, Toronto at 1:35 PM 3/21/2011

The Breasts & Thighs Channel
Feb 2011 23

Sometimes an idea comes along that reminds me why I love advertising and doing what I do. Usually, it’s never an idea I had that I’m referring to of course.

The latest idea that has restored my faith in this biz? BBDO Toronto’s idea for a 24 –hour rotisserie chicken channel sponsored by Swiss Chalet.

Going live on February 28th (channel 208!) and staying on for 90 days, Rogers digital subscribers will be treated to footage of 3 rows of Swiss Chalet rotisserie chicken, slowly turning and cooking to perfection.

It not only makes me want their chicken, but rumour has it that online coupon codes will be broadcast to help close the deal.

Great idea. And frankly on an account that people said good work couldn’t be done for.

With temperatures getting down to -35C in the winter, you’d think drinking tea would come more naturally to Canadians. However — shocker! — Starbucks seems to be known for coffee. So during a freelance stint at BBDO, we were asked to come up with an idea to feature their Tazo teas. It really is a great product and we wanted to push the silk sachet and natural, wholesome ingredients.
John Terry (yes, the Gold Lion winner for ‘Tropicana’, sheesh) and I cooked up this idea ‘Naturally Beautiful’ involving beautiful insects filling the sachets with natural ingredients. Chris Munnik took over the copywriting duties after the idea was approved by Seattle.
Still being rolled out as of January 2011.

GENESIS TEAM: Me, John Terry CW: Chris Munnik CD: Carlos Moreno AGENCY: BBDO

(click below to enlarge)

An article for Go! Team Freelance
Dec 2010 08
Rich Cooper, the freelancer behind Go! Team Freelance — an online resource connecting freelancers and agencies — asked me if I’d be interested in writing something about my experience going freelance. Here it is. I believe it exposes me as a complete wingnut. If you’re thinking of going freelance or just want to know how truly unstable I am, give it a gander.

Please secure all loose articles.

AKA Some thoughts on the delightful, queasy roller coaster feeling you can look forward to during your first months of freelancing.

Do you like that feeling of being on a roller coaster? Y’know, the uneasiness and anticipation as you creep over the first hill which is then transformed into freebased adrenaline as you’re suddenly being hurtled towards the ground at high speeds? And hey, is that your heart that’s suddenly decided to take refuge in your throat while it’s happening?

Well, then freelancing just might be for you.

Now, do you also like the idea that you have to ride this roller coaster with your eyes closed so you won’t know when the next hill, curve, valley, or corkscrew is coming your way? Oh and did we mention that you can never really get off this thing now that you’ve decided to quit your safe, cushy full-time job?

If you’re still with me, then freelancing might definitely be for you.
For those who aren’t, well, as one CD I had would shout in his British accent, “Everyone, go back to your cubicles!”

Hi. My name is Andrew Bradley and I’ve been a freelance copywriter since mid-2008 – it sounds like I’m getting up and admitting an addiction, doesn’t it? I thought I’d share some of the night sweats, I mean ‘feelings’, I had during my first year of going solo to help out any of you that might be weighing whether to get on this crazy ride with us. Or maybe you already have and are experiencing exactly what I speak of right now! Lucky you.

Now, your experience might turn out to be nothing like mine of course. We’re all built differently. Like my friend, the talented freelance art director Sam Sitt probably never felt any of this cause outside of Chuck Norris, he’s the calmest man in the Universe. But over and over, the question I get from people thinking about going freelance is something along the lines of…

“How do you get used to the uncertainty of not knowing when your next paycheque is coming?”

Incidentally, the second most-asked question I get as a freelancer is “Hmm, are you sure you’re on the guest list, sir?” but that’s another article about freelancing, entirely.

Well, the answer to the first question is it took me at least a year.

I didn’t know about the roller coaster when I quit my agency gig. I was cool as a cucumber at first. I wasn’t over-confident necessarily, but I had saved a bit of money and knew I could ride out a few months of not working if I had to. Not helping the matter was on my first day of being home, the front page of the national newspaper declared “North American Recession Coming”. Gulp. It was then I could feel a couple of adobe bricks trying to squeeze out.

Luckily, I found my first gig after a few weeks. Man, was that exciting. I felt like a legitimately self-sufficient, renegade, lone wolf, fish swimming against the stream and whatever other crappy metaphor we want to throw in here, freelancer. Freeeeedommmmm!!!!

By the way, depending on your age, that was either a Braveheart or Aretha Franklin reference.

Anyhoo, after a couple of long gigs back-to-back (that can happen by the way), I decided to take time off and not look for another contract for a bit. After all, one of the benefits of freelancing is doing just that. You know — kicking back, sleeping in, going to matinees and generally letting yourself go to the point that even you aren’t sexually attracted to yourself when you’re alone. But I digress…

Seriously though, my opinion is that if time away from advertising to work on other things (a pet project, education, travel) isn’t appealing to you, you might not want to go freelance – just stay on staff, you’ll be happier. And by the way, you may want to make sure you haven’t been declared legally dead and you missed it.

I was excited to have time off to do other stuff. And then a weird thing happened… instead of enjoying my planned, self-orchestrated time off, I found myself preoccupied with THE NEXT GIG. I was worried…

What if no one ever calls again?

What if I just took myself off the advertising map?

What if I’m away so long that I’m obsolete?

What if I don’t make another cent this year?

Does that mole look different all of a sudden?

I had to fight the urge to grab the phone and start making cold calls to Creative Directors. Man, I felt so panicked that I could barely concentrate on playing Wii, eating chips, or other planned activities for my sabbatical.

And this was after a COUPLE OF WEEKS.

Am I neurotic? Those of you who know me might say I am. But after 12 years of being on staff at various agencies, I had a punch-clock mentality.

Punch-clock mentality: Thinking to be in by 9:30 every day (wink). Work at least 5 days a week, usually 6. Take 2 weeks vacation at some point (not back to back!) each year, IF you don’t cancel your holiday at the last minute because it’s so busy. Take possible 3rd week vacation that you worked hard to negotiate for and kiss it goodbye, hoping they’ll let you roll it over to next year. Repeat.

Anyhow, after 12 years of that, I was trained like a race horse to always be in a state of readiness for the next project. Now that I had time off I didn’t know how to enjoy it. Vacations while on staff are different – you always have a partner holding down the fort or you know what your next project will be when you get back or maybe even email you have to check. There’s always something happening in subtext in the back of your mind while you’re sipping that Tequila Sunrise on the beach.

Not when you’re freelancing. Sip away in naïve bliss, my friend.

It’s both amazing and terrifying.

I was letting the latter get the better of me. Luckily, I had a trip booked already and got out of town before I did anything rash like take another 3 month contract.

And then something very cool happened and it changed everything. You’ll have this moment too. The next gig came without me having to look for it. I had a message waiting for me and it turned into a contract. I knew I wouldn’t have to eat my dog.

The next time I had time off I felt a bit less anxiety than the first time. And the next time even less. And less after that. If I can get used to it, anyone can.

So in closing, cause I’m rambling on here and this site probably only has so much bandwith:

1. Advertising won’t forget about you if you take a bit of time off. Unless you suck and you should milk that full-time gig as much as you can, you hack.

2. There will be times you aren’t working either by choice or because there’s no work. Luckily I think we’ve had a couple of solid years where extended periods of this was rare for freelancers.

3. It’s normal to feel a bit unsettled when you have time off for the first time. Use it wisely because the next thing you know, you’ll be back on a contract and stressing out like you never went freelance in the first place.

4. Charge the proper rates (There is an article about this somewhere on GTF). If you do, you should be fine financially even if you’re working only half the time you’re used to. Of course if you have two ex-wives to support, you’re effed.

5. The peaks and valleys never go away. You just don’t notice them as much as you gain freelance experience. You too can eventually be as cool as Sam Sitt between jobs.

As I write this in December of 2010, I’m nearing the end of the longest period I’ve ever taken off. Five months. I’m very, very lucky that once again it was by choice to work on some personal projects. That’s the # 1 perk of being freelance. I haven’t worried much that I won’t find another gig or I’m irrelevant after a bit of time off. It’s pointless. There’s lots of work out there and we’re all talented people. The work will find you. If I haven’t starved yet, you won’t either.

It’s a great ride. Just sit back, secure all loose articles, and keep your hands & feet in the car at all times. Hope you enjoy it as much as I am.

And please look forward to my next article in a few months entitled “What was I thinking? Spare change, sir?”

Maybe a bit of worrying is healthy and motivating of course.

Go! Team Freelance
Dec 2010 01

Fellow freelance copywriter, Rich Cooper, has launched a service called ‘Go! Team Freelance’.
At the official launch party last night at the honourable Pilot Tavern here in Toronto, Rich talked about the site and what it provides. His service is a database for freelance copywriters, art directors, designers and anyone really — for creative departments to use when they need help. In the coming months, Rich will post more content about being a freelancer and the type of mindset you should possess to take the leap — ie. how crazy are you?
Anyhow, it’s a great thing and I’m really happy for, and proud of Rich, to undertake it. Rich and I go back to 1995 when we both attended the same year of the Humber College Copywriting program. He was always a ‘bit out there’ and his attitude and own freelance career were an inspiration for me to take the plunge a few years ago.
Check out to sign-up.

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