Me? I’m a freelance writer! Aaahhh, it’s the life! Sounds great, right? Want to make it happen? As a long-term writer-on-assignment (me!) here are some tips to make it happen. When you announce to friends and family and new acquaintances that you are a freelance writer, their eyes gloss over with envy. They imagine your days are filled with sitting in coffee shops sipping lattes, lingering lovingly over each word you type. You’re toiling away on your brand new computer either at said coffee shop or lounging around your house in your pajamas sipping tea and popping bonbons. If only that were true.
When it comes to being a freelance writer, the job can be a very fine line between finishing articles on time, finding enough assignments to keep the electricity on and the lattes flowing.
Here are tips for making the most of your freelance life and for finding ways to earn enough money to afford to keep yourself in coffee and bonbons:
1. Get up and get dressed: This is crucial. Getting up and showering, brushing your teeth and putting on clothes not only makes you more attractive to the family and pets, but makes you feel more productive. It’s mind over matter – you feel professional therefore you are professional! It doesn’t matter if your office is the edge of the bed or the kitchen table once the breakfast clutter has been cleared away, if you’re a freelance writer pursuing a professional career you need to think of yourself as a professional writer and act (and dress) accordingly.
2. Pretend you’re on a time clock: As a writer, you will have the luxury of setting your own hours. If you write best in the middle of the night or in the middle of the afternoon, that’s fine as long as you meet your deadlines. Make sure you create a division between home and work. You don’t want to work 24/7 – that’s not good for your mental or physical health. Also, once you know your best writing time, make sure you’re ready to work; turn off email, sign out of Facebook and log out of the video games. You need to devote time to your writing without distractions.
3. Go out into the world: Remember you need to get out into the world. Many writers are solitary individuals by nature and that is why the freelance life suits them but it’s easy to isolate yourself and as the days go by it’s easier to not leave the house than it is to leave it. Don’t let yourself get in the habit of cancelling lunch or dinner dates, make certain you attend networking or writers’ groups. How can you effectively write about the world outside your door if you never make it outside the door?
If this is the year that you’re going to make your freelance dreams come true, you have to take time to implement some of the steps above. Once you’ve made the decision, take time to think of the tips above and look at where you can set up your home office, what times you will be writing and what you will do to still maintain a social life. The first step though, toward a freelance career is researching the market. We’ll talk about that in a future installment.