15 minutes with Flying Solo’s Nick Brighton
Three years ago Flying Solo member Nick Brighton left the UK for Australia with just a suitcase and his mobile, chasing freedom. Now a proud dad, running a copywriting business, he’s delighted with the way life turned out.
Describe your “aha” moment. When did your business idea first come to you?
I wish it was a romantic story but I stumbled into freelance copywriting. I was your classic college dropout, bouncing from job to job, working in offices where I had nothing to do, and plenty of time to browse the web.
By 2007 I discovered you could make money online. I built a couple of websites and made a bit of money. But my real passion came when I found myself buying a marketing program from a website. That was it, I was hooked. I wanted to do THAT. I became fascinated with sales psychology and copywriting. Instead of just buying stuff, I was studying how it was being sold – like a kid who looks in the magician’s left hand when everybody else is staring at the right. I worked day and night learning how to write sales copy. It took months before I had the courage to sell my services. However, I took the plunge – and began sending cold emails to potential clients. Within a week, I landed my first gig. And within six weeks, I had clients coming to me through word of mouth. Amazing. That’s when I knew it was time to quit my day job. That was 2008. Today, I write content and sales copy specifically for startups and SMEs.
Describe the “why” of your business in three sentences
If you want more ROI from your ads, from your PR, from your social media campaigns… if you want to stand out from the most fierce competition and even raise your prices… if you want to turn skeptical visitors into devout customers and brand advocates… then you’ll struggle to find a better investment than professional sales copy and content for your website.
Describe your customer/client. Why do you want to help them?
My clients are startups and SMEs. I love working with small businesses because they are often people just like me. People trying to support their families and enrich their lives, without a boss breathing down their neck. I also enjoy working with startups because they have a raw energy that gets me fired up too. I work best with companies and business owners I personally like; whether they share my values, or sell something I truly believe in.
"I’m very selective about who I take on as clients, and ultra-protective of my time. No Skype chats about a potential “idea” some guy wants to “bounce around” with me... "
List your three biggest business goals? Which of them scare you the most?
- Increase my client base. Although I’ve been coasting along nicely with my current clients and referrals, I’d love to expand out with new clients, for variety.
- Grow my team. With expansion comes hiring. I’d like to hire more people to help my clients in areas I’m less familiar with, such as PPC campaign set-up, coding, etc. Hiring others scares me a little, because I’m so used to operating as a one-man band.
- Create a training program. I know many people would love to write effective sales copy and content, but don’t know where to start. Some are potential clients, others are freelancers just getting skin in the game. I know that if I created a training program, it would be the best damn training out there. But with that comes a huge time investment, and with a one-year old daughter, I might have to keep this on the backburner for a while!
What’s your biggest challenge right now?
Managing my time. With a one-year old daughter, my time is scarcer than ever. I’m very selective about who I take on as clients, and ultra-protective of my time. No Skype chats about a potential “idea” some guy wants to “bounce around” with me, in the hopes of winning his business.
Has anything surprised you about working for yourself?
How little I miss the office politics and daily two hour commutes in the cold, rainy, dead of winter.
Once you became a soloist, what about your life changed almost immediately? And what changes have been slower to come?
The sheer excitement of waking up without an alarm clock, or having to put on a tie and schlep myself across town to a job I hated. It was heaven. Still is. It took a while to find a steady income, hone my skills, and build up a referral network. But if you love what you do then you just don’t stop and with that comes inevitable success.
What’s the best part of the life you’re living now you’re a soloist?
In January 2014, I booked a flight to Australia. It was a dream come true. A chance to escape the freezing cold air and oppressive grey skies of the UK. I packed a small suitcase, a laptop and a mobile phone and I was on my way. It was the trip of a lifetime. I was living the dream; laptop by the pool, cold beer, meeting people and taking in a whole new culture, while travelling around this beautiful country. Four months later I met my partner. Two years later and we had a beautiful baby girl. Before her first birthday, I saw her take her first steps. I heard her say her first words. I get to kiss her head the moment she bumps it, or tickle her tummy if she’s missing daddy. Being able to work from anywhere in the world with an internet connection is as close to freedom as I could ever imagine. Sure beats the “safety” of an office job.
Got a hot tip for simplifying the soloist life?
Burnout is real. Avoid it at all costs. Even if you’re loving what you do, keep a balance. Take a break. Don’t work later than you would in your old day job. Don’t jump on Skype with everyone who “wants advice.” Don’t take on more clients than your business can handle, just to pay the bills. Because sooner or later, you’ll burnout — and it could take months or even years to get that “fire in your belly” feeling back. Be ruthless with your time and your energy. Ration it like shotgun shells in a zombie apocalypse.
Nick’s Flying Solo profile.