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3 Things I’ve Learned as a Freelance Writer

Have you been trying to figure out how to be a freelance writer?

It was only a few years ago that I left the full-time grind. Now when people ask me “What’s the bravest thing you’ve ever done,” I don’t need to search for an answer.

THIS.

So, while I feel brave and I love my life, the first six months were pretty rough. Here are three things that might help you in deciding if you should become a freelance writer.

1. You need a workspace.

No joke, it took me seven and a half months to finally take the advice that literally every successful blogger has shouted from their rooftop. For the first seven months, I woke up every morning, planted myself on my comfy couch, and got to work.

Except it was more like 73 seconds of work and then two episodes of MasterChef. Rinse, repeat, day after day.

That doesn’t necessarily mean I wasn’t getting anything done. I always finished my paycheck work, even though I would last-minute scramble at the end of every week. I tried making time to send proposals or get my guest posts sent to prospective bloggers, but I inevitably felt like I had no time.

But People.

Peeeeople.

I sat on my couch all day, in my pajamas, eating and watching TV and sometimes throwing in a little work. I had nothing but time.

I wasn’t being honest with myself because I preferred comfort to honesty. I wasn’t getting anywhere with my career. I was not willing to exchange my career for 68 Jenna Marbles YouTube clips.

At first, I tried making myself a little Excel spreadsheet schedule. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to advance my career, it was just that I didn’t know I had to get off my couch to do it.

I spent a lot of time reading successful bloggers posts with lists of do’s and don’ts. One “do” that was ever present on everyone’s list was to use a dedicated workspace. I didn’t think it mattered that much.

I was SO wrong.

Over this past summer, I rebuilt my home office from floor to ceiling.

And I have to tell you something. I have not been this productive in my career of freelancing. Let me tell you what I’ve been able to get done since then, just by moving my ass and my laptop to a dedicated workspace.

  • I’ve picked up more clients than I can handle and even became a mentor and coach to other freelance writers.
  • I’ve reignited my passion for creative writing and have been submitting short stories to journals.
  • I send proposals five days a week to potential clients.
  • I take classes to up my game in branding and blogging.
  • I upped my social media game.
  • And more stuff that is less interesting.

 

I wish I had known the impact of a dedicated space eight months ago. But I know now, and every evening I make sure to get all of my work done, I close my laptop, and then retire to the couch with my husband, ready and able to fully focus on disconnected family time. (BONUS!)

 

 

2. You have to be social as fuuuuuck.

 

I used to scoff at the job listings for “Social Media Coordinator” because I thought to myself how hard is it to keep up a Twitter account?

I was so wrong, and I am eating my words, and I apologize to all social media superstars out there! I am so sorry. I had no idea how time-consuming social media is when you are building a business or brand.

Did you know you have to actually BE social, and not just promote yourself? I didn’t. Not at first. But now I am working on truly connecting with other writers and cool people.

I can tell you with confidence that if you are creating a freelance schedule for yourself, you need to block off one entire day to devote solely to social media.

 

3. You do not need to keep spending money to make money.

I wasted a lot of money on things I most definitely did not need in the first six months of freelancing. I spent money to join certain groups that I hoped would lend me credibility, like the Editorial Freelancers Group. It’s nothing against any of the groups themselves.

I am a leaper. I never look. Most times it works out for me, so I keep doing it.

Leaping into financial stress was not a good idea. I paid for so many subscriptions that I  didn’t need because I thought that was the only way I could find decent work. It’s not! There are so many ways to find jobs without paying a dime. 

You don’t need to start buying fancy software, or fancy graphics. The only money I needed to spend was to launch my website. I think website hosting costs something like three dollars a month.

It’s like taking your SATs after you’ve gone and bought a fancy laptop to study, and pricey fountain pen to circle your answers. Those things are nice on their own if you can afford them but they are not necessary to ace the SATs.

Okay, recap!

Treat yo’self! To a private work area.

Start connecting with other people in your niche and remember, GIVE TO GET. You give first, you get second.

Keep those dolla dolla bills, ya’ll.

I’m thankful it ONLY took me seven or eight months to learn these things (and I consider myself a fast learner!) Get excited about social media and reading other cool blogs and sitting at a badass boss desk and saving your money!

These are three basic steps to being successful in your freelance journey, and I hope you consider it the bravest thing you’ve ever done.

3 Comments

  1. Yeah, number 2, man. I see that the most in my bikekitz.com business. The social media piece takes up a huuuuge amount of time. And I have a partner, so we split the job. I haven’t even begun trying to promote myself independently from that gig.

    Reply
  2. Yeah, number 2, man. I see that in my bikekitz.com business. The social media piece takes up a huuuge amount of time. And I have a partner, so we split the job. I haven’t even begun trying to promote myself separately from that gig.

    Great tips, Chandi!

    Reply
    1. Chandi Gilbert Author

      Thanks, Jen! I still struggle with social media. Even when I use a program like Buffer to, ya know, give myself a buffer. It’s so time-consuming and I totally understand why people hire social media managers.

      Reply

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