Five years ago, André Spiteri quit his job as a lawyer at an insurance company to pursue his dream career. Growing up in Malta, he always loved writing but never imagined he could make a career out of it unless he wrote a bestselling novel. But in today’s digital world things have changed. He now works as a copywriter, creating blog and website content for fintechs through his business, Maverick Words.
One way ticket
“There’s a terrible novel I wrote somewhere in my parents’ house on a floppy disc. I’d still like to write a novel someday, but I like writing for clients,” he says. “When I was 16, writing online content wasn’t a career option,” says André, 36. After studying law at the University of London and back in Malta, he started working for an insurance company and went on to head up its legal department. “It wasn’t a good fit and it didn’t make me happy,” he says. “I’m not a suit and tie person.”
He bought a flight from Malta to London. When he arrived he had no job, no network and no plan. While trawling through job boards looking for something to tide him over, he came across a vacancy for a blogger on a music website. He applied and got the job.
“Everything clicked - I finally had that aha moment that I could make a career out of this. I started emailing companies asking if they needed a copywriter and went from there. So many people are scared of that approach because of the rejection, but most people won’t say no, they just won’t reply. So it’s not that scary,” he says.
Finding the right mindset
His advice for anyone who wants to be self-employed or start a business is to go for it.
“A lot of people told me to wait or to keep my job. But at some point you have to take the leap. It’s never the right time - it’s about having the right mindset and going for it,” he says. “The difference between people who take a chance and do something and people who don’t is not that they’re less scared. It’s that they do it anyway.”
One of the challenges of being self-employed is having a distinction between work and home. “It’s not always easy knowing when to stop and when to say no. I’ve got 12 regular clients,” he says. His advice is to change up where you work and not to work from home all day, every day. Another tip is to connect with communities of writers. “I’ve made friends with other writers on Twitter - we encourage each other, refer business, and have the occasional whinge,” he says.