Raise your hand if you’ve ever had the following daydream:
Rising from your cubicle/private office/warehouse desk, you casually saunter over to your boss’s office. “Hey Mr. Smith, I just wanted to tell you that today is my last day. Good luck to the next schmuck you get to take this job. I’m outta here!”
With that you grab your box of neatly organized personal effects, clear your locker or otherwise dis-engage yourself, permanently, from your place of employment.
The air smells differently when you head to the parking lot. The sun feels warmer, the birdsong sounds more beautiful. You feel alive. This if the first day of the rest of your life!
Reality Sets In
Unfortunately, launching a business, even a freelance endeavor which typically has a very low overhead, is rarely super successful right out of the gate. There are a lot of things to not only consider but also put in place.
Who your clients? How are you are going to replace those clients if they go away? What is your area of expertise? How can you promote yourself effectively without being annoying? How do you keep financial records for your business? And more …
When I launched my freelance career, I did so on a part-time basis while working full-time. Was that easy? Not really but a lot of people do it. Doing so is a great way to both test the waters of writing professionally and not putting a great amount of pressure—financial and otherwise—on yourself/your family.
Looking back, there are some things I would have done differently. I would have given myself a bigger financial cushion. I would have lined up more freelance writing gigs before leaving my cushy (and completely dull) day job.
And I probably would have had a better long-term plan in place for growing my business. Something more than, “make a good salary doing what I love.”
However, I wouldn’t trade these past few years as a freelance writer (and later author) for anything.
Here are 5 Ways Freelance Writing Rocks:
1. Interesting work. While you can’t always write exactly what you want as a freelance writer due to client demands, for the most part you’re in charge of your schedule. You can seek out publications in areas that you are experienced and have an interest in. No more being assigned dull, dry-as-toast projects by a boss who doesn’t feel like doing the work herself and sends it your way.
2. Freedom. As a freelance writer, you’re generally in charge of your day-to-day schedule. Don’t want to work Fridays in summer? Plow through all your assignments and marketing Monday through Thursday and take them off. Of course, you have to stick tightly to deadlines, but if you want to work harder one week to make time to volunteer or catch a matinee some afternoon, it’s possible.
3. Coolness factor. How many times have you met someone at a cocktail party or baby shower and, when she told you what she did for a living, you immediately wanted to learn everything there was to know about it? People who love their work are interesting, compelling and energizing. They come to life when talking about their life’s passion. And that is not only cool but also inspiring.
4. Work/life balance. This is a little harder to manage but if you can get the process down, it feels pretty amazing. Many time entrepreneurs (that includes freelancers) find that they actually work more hours (many, many more) than they did while working at a traditional job.
Because we are so passionate about our work, it is easy to get caught up in it … working far longer hours than we meant to. However, it is possible to put special measures in place to work more effectively within less hours and actually have better results. The resulting life/work balance is a beautiful thing.
5. Being in charge. You are your own boss. No one can “make you” do anything today that you don’t want to do. There may be consequences to this of course. “I didn’t feel like writing that article,” will not fly with any editor I’ve ever met.
At the end of the day though, your career is your playground. You get to decide where you want to focus your time/attention. It’s up to you to decide how big, or small, you want your business to be. You have the opportunity to build something that wasn’t there before, to serve people through work you feel called to do, and to do it in a way that is authentic to you as a person.
How to get started
Recently, I had the opportunity to take a course by Gina Horkey called, 30 Days or Less to Freelance Writing Success. The course is A-M-A-Z-I-N-G! Full of tips and ideas that took me months to learn when I started out. I wish that it had been available then.
Even after freelancing for the past eight years, I learned some new things that I’ve already implemented. Plus, Gina’s conversational, friendly tone made it feel like I had a real friend walking me through what can sometimes feel like a maze of information online.
The course is better than an e-book, in my opinion, because the information comes to you in small, easy-to-implement chunks (and you know how I like things broken down into easy-to-manage pieces, right?)
Ready to get started? Check out out the course and prepare to launch.
PS There are other, free ways to find freelance writing gigs online. I’ll cover those in a future post. But if you have questions that need answers—how do I get my first client without any writing credits? How do I track what I’m pitching? How do I organize assignments and payment?—then Gina's course has your answers.
Questions? Comments? Have you thought about freelancing? Or if you already are, what are some of the greatest challenges and benefits that you face?
*This post includes an affiliate link, which means that I may in some form financially benefit. I would never endorse a product that I didn’t feel strongly about myself and/or have positive outcomes with. Let this serve as my due diligence disclosure notice.
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