Just Keep Swimming: Surviving The First Year of Freelance Writing
Hello, fledgling writer: congratulations are in order! You’ve decided to become a freelance writer! You’re in for an exciting future of patiently explaining that no, copywriting doesn’t have anything to do with patent law.
There’s more to it than that, of course, but you’re going to want to get used to explaining that, because boy will it come up a lot at parties.
In reality, you’re in the unique, fun field of exchanging arrangements of words for cold, hard cash.
You can also earn a living anywhere your laptop can travel to, which means that you’re going to have a lot more freedom than previous desk jobs.
∫newbie freelancers do need to secure a few things to make it through that first year of trial-and-error. In some cases, you could be staring down learning curves so steep, you could launch skiers off of them.
Get Yourself a Community
For the sake of your sanity, your hygiene, and your happiness (did I mention your sanity) you’ll want to find a group of like-minded people to bounce ideas off of.
Or to seek out sympathy from when difficult clients pop up. Writers tend to be solitary by nature, so a group of freelancers may seem counter-intuitive at first, but a group setting helps to foster creativity and inclusion.
Message boards on your actual writing sites are a great place to start, but writing communities on Facebook, LinkedIn and even Reddit are a fine choice as well.
Staying in contact with peers will keep you up-to-date on clients seeking work, the business end of the sites you work for, productivity tips and so much more.
Don’t get lost in the shuffle: while individual voice is important, so is milling around with the herd on a regular basis.
Get Yourself a Work-Free Zone
In many cases, particularly when it comes to newer freelancer writers, the home and “the office” are the same space.
Using a spare room or corner to set up your virtual word shop is a smart idea for your budget, but it also blurs the lines between work hours and life hours.
You’ll need to keep your desk as a dedicated work space and do your best not to multi-task during work hours unless you’re really good at compartmentalization.
If you don’t, you run the risk of the workday never really being “over,” making it hard to relax, sleep, and recharge.
If you start meandering around the house with your laptop, every room will feel like a “work” room and you won’t have anywhere to retreat to when you need a mental break.
Get Yourself the Right Equipment
Hey, you there – balancing the laptop on a haphazard stack of pizza boxes while sitting on an overturned milk crate: I’m talking to you.
The posture in your aching back is awful, your wrists are speeding down the highway to carpal town city and your butt is probably completely asleep, right?
If you’re planning on putting in long hours as freelance writer, you’ll need to get the furniture and tech equipment to match your aspirations.
While you can make do with nearly any table as a makeshift desk, spring for a decent, supportive desk chair. It’s really hard to be witty and engaging and knowledgeable when it feels like you’re sitting on a pile of rocks.
If your budget is tight, don’t hesitate to browse secondhand markets like Goodwill, or local online classified ads like Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace for your new writing throne!
Writing as a freelancer requires a lot of ingenuity and imagination to keep clients satisfied and business growing steadily. But you’ll need to be comfortable and content to make it happen.
Don’t let the little stuff hold you back! Use these three rules to make your early freelance career a smooth and enjoyable experience, no matter where – or what – you end up writing in your first year.
Delany M is a talented freelancer at WriterAccess who has your back (as a writer), but also for those needing content. With her witty tone, and data based approach to content, see how she (and our platform) stack up against the content creation competition!