Author: Amber James

5 Co-Working Spaces in Portland

(Update!  Please also check out this updated blog post for a more complete list of co-working spaces in Portland.)

Working from home saves you money, but for the sake of creativity, productivity, and sanity, many freelancers choose to rent office space, or at least a desk. By renting a desk in an office or co-working space, you can reap all the benefits of having an office without paying a ransom in rent.

The average cost to rent a desk in Portland is about $300 per month. Costs for a permanent, private desk are higher, and costs for an actual office with a door are higher still. If you’ve thought about renting a desk or office in a co-working space, visit each one and see how they feel. Many of them have various amenities and perks for their members.

Here are 5 co-working spaces in Portland to consider:

  1. Collective Agency and Collective Agency Division
  2. The Hive
  3. NedSpace
  4. TENpod
  5. Forge Portland

Renting a desk/office is definitely not a requirement for success as a freelancer. I know quite a few freelancers who are perfectly happy with their home office setups, or nomadic working conditions. So, if you’re happy working at the kitchen table, couch, or coffee shops, keep doin’ what you’re doin’.

Are there other co-working spaces in Portland that I’ve missed? Share them in the comments.

11 TED Talks to Help You Live, Work, and Think Better

I’m a huge fan of TED Talks. Seriously, who isn’t?

I stumbled across this inspirational series about how to organize your life, work, and way of thinking to make all those things better. The series has great talks like “The power of time off”, “How to make work-life balance work”, and my very favorite, “How great leaders inspire action” by Simon Sinek.

The whole series totals 2 hours and 38 minutes. Can you spare that amount of time (not necessarily all at once) to improve the way you live, work, and think? Your answer should be, “Yes”.

TED Talks Work Smarter Series

6 Tips to Start Your Freelance Copywriting Business

So you want to be a freelance copywriter. Of course you do. Who wouldn’t? You get to do something you’re good at, be your own boss, work from home, and (fill in other benefits of being self-employed).

But how do you do it? How do you start that process and become a freelance copywriter? Here are the first six things I did when I got started (after I bought and read The Well-Fed Writer, that is).

1) Decide you’re going into business for yourself

Maybe you got laid off from your staff position and want a change, maybe you need more flexibility in your work life, or maybe you just plain want to be a writer. Whatever your reasons are for seeking this career path, put your stake in the ground and claim it.

Repeat after me: “I am a freelance copywriter.” Say this twice daily for a week. Say it to yourself and to others.

2) Decide what kind of writing you’re going to do

Business writing, ghostwriting (books, blogs, and social media posts, for example), advertisements, environmental writing, marketing, email autoresponders, white papers, food articles, stories for magazines, essays for journals, narratives, etc. There are so many different kinds of writing you can do! Knowing what kind of writing you want to do is important because it will determine the kinds of clients you pursue.

To figure this out, you could ask yourself this question: “What do I enjoy writing?” Go with that. I would recommend writing out as long a list as possible of the kinds of writing you want to do. This list will prove helpful when it’s time to identify your ideal clients (which we’ll discuss in a later post).

Also, you can write multiple kinds of copy if you like, and I would recommend this for those of you just starting out. There are arguments to be made for having diverse writing expertise (general marketing copy, for example), and then there are those that encourage niché specialization (only writing white papers). Over time, you’ll learn which way is best for you and your business goals.

3) Get your portfolio together

Résumé and samples, electronic and hard copy. I strongly recommend getting a hard cover binder together with samples of your work to show to prospective clients. Keep it current at all times. If this seems too archaic to you, by all means create an online portfolio that you can show off on your laptop or iPad while in meetings.

Only very occasionally do I use the hard copy portfolio, but it’s best to be prepared. Prospective clients mostly request this information via email, and I send it as a PDF and/or refer them to the portfolio page on my website. Having an online portfolio is only a good idea. This way, prospects will be able to see your work at their leisure and you’ll have a very strong piece of your marketing to point to when you meet them. If you don’t have a portfolio page attached to your website, you can create one through websites like Carbonmade.com or Cargocollective.com.

What should be included in your portfolio? Anything you’ve written that you would be interested in writing again and that showcases your abilities. If your portfolio is small, you might want to fill it out by doing some pro bono or speculative work. When I was getting started, I had very little to show for myself. I posted an ad on Craigslist offering to write content for free on the condition that I got to use the work in my portfolio. It worked. My first two clients came from Craigslist (and one of them even offered to pay me right away!).

4) Pick a good name for your business

Your business name doesn’t necessarily have to be relevant to writing, but that would help. At least make it relevant to your personality. Here are some examples: Pivotal Writing; Knock Out Words; Enlighten Writing; and Gunderson Writing.

Many writers just use their names like: Sheilaashdown.com, Lisanatalieanjozian.com, and Rachelhisakowright.com. Decide what feels good to you and stick with it. If you know anyone with relevant marketing skills, ask for their input.

5) Get a website

You can get a free blog/website from sites like WordPress.com, Blogger, or MyBlogSite. My website is through WordPress.org and I love it. (More on WordPress.com versus .org later.) Setting-up a basic website is pretty simple these days. If you want something a little fancier, a little higher end, consider hiring a web designer to do this for you.

When it comes to your website, there’s no right or wrong way to do it. But there are plenty of strategies, tricks, and considerations. Look over the websites listed above and get an idea for the range of things you could do with yours.

Don’t worry about a logo right away unless you already have something in mind. Also, consider getting your website hosted. It’s not required to have a website, but if you host it, then you own all the content. If you don’t, you don’t. (More on this later.)

6) Get a business card

No, they’re not outdated. And yes, they are still very much a part of business. All the cool kids have them. I’d recommend printing on both sides. Because why not? Otherwise the back is just wasted advertising space.

Stay tuned for more freelance copywriter start-up tips in future posts.

4 Resources Every Portland Freelance Copywriter Should Know About

I meet with a lot of existing and aspiring freelance copywriters in Portland. Sometimes they’re referred to me by members of the Conclave, sometimes I meet them at events, and other times we’re introduced by my creative staffing agency friends.

However we find each other in this town, I end up giving them all similar information as far as where they can go to find good resources for networking and industry exploration. A few of my recommendations work for creative freelancers of all kinds, but I’m speaking specifically to freelance copywriters with this list.

Here are four resources I’ve recommended to every Portland freelance copywriter I’ve met:

  1. PDXnex: A networking nexus for Portland creative professionals. (I would add 24Seven and Vitamin T to the “Local Staffing Agencies for Creatives” section.)
  2. Freelancers Union: Promotes the interests of independent workers through advocacy, education, and services. (Now with a Portland presence!)
  3. Copywriter Conclave of Portland (CC: PDX): A freelance copywriter support group that provides referrals and professional development for Portland Metro members.
  4. The Well-Fed Writer by Peter Bowerman: An award-winning book about how to become a successful freelance copywriter by a successful freelance copywriter. He also has coaching options, a blog, and a monthly e-newsletter that I highly recommend you sign-up for.


  5. I’m also interested to know about other great resources I might be missing out on. What resources have you found to be useful in your development as a freelance copywriter? Books, events, websites? Do share!