What you REALLY need to be a freelance writer

I am a lucky man.

I hear that all the time from family and friends when they talk about my freelance writing career. And you know what, they’re right! I make a decent living (in an expensive city) doing what I love, I set my own schedule, I’ve got no boss breathing down my neck, I take naps daily and I haven’t had to go to an office in about 18 years.

Pretty lucky.

However, it’s also very tricky. There are many traps, both circumstantial and self-induced, that can trip you up and throw you off your path. There are things that you don’t really think about when you first jump into this business. Sure, you cover your bases with the more obvious needs––securing contacts, opening up to potential work, researching the industry, getting the tools, discovering where to find opportunities and balancing the budget until you can get steady work. But what are the other necessities that a career in freelance writing requires? The more encompassing things you need when approaching this new and exciting career?

Here are a few of the vitals!

Space – Yes, it is wonderful to work from home, but it is also incredibly distracting. Not only do you have family, roommates, pets, etc. there to distract you (and trust me, they will!), you also have all your little life luxuries. You’ve got your TV, Xbox, books, you name it. Plus, home is home and just has a different feel. If you can, get a workspace, a place you can shut off from the world and just focus on the work. If you can get an office, awesome. Otherwise, find a workspace in your house and make sure it’s solely used for that function.

Time management – I know, this sounds obvious, but I can’t stress it enough. You’re not putting in structured hours anymore. It’s up to you to set your schedule and make sure you’re allotting yourself enough time to get the job done. Overestimate how long projects are going to take you (by a lot) and plan appropriately.

Compartmentalization – Chances are, no matter what your focus is in this industry, you’re going to be juggling multiple projects, especially at first as you take gigs just to pay the bills. You need to be organized and designate times to work on each thing. Don’t let them bleed into each other or you’ll get buried. Trust me, I’ve seen it…ahem, done it. Figure out the system that works for you and stick to it.

Focus and dedication – This career is not going to be easy. Sorry, it’s just not. There are many freelancers out there and not nearly as much work as there once was. You need to keep looking always. Remember that’s half the job and it never stops. Keep submitting, keep pushing, keep working. Be patient but proficient. It’s all on you now so take it and do the most with it!

Enjoy it – Okay, last one and perhaps the most important. Check in with yourself and make sure you’re enjoying what you’re doing. If not, get another job. The truth is that when you work for yourself in any industry, you never step away from it. Even when you’re “off the clock” or on vacation, you’ll still have a part of your brain in the work, because it’s all yours. You do start to get defined by this career, so you have to like it. Also, when you allow yourself to like it, it makes the whole thing a lot more fun!

There are some other things that are crucial to kicking off this career. You want to learn more, give me a call or shoot me a note and let’s set up a consultation. I would love to help you get started!

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