Every week I have a ritual whereby I sit in pyjamas, in my bed, with a cup of tea in one hand, my notebook in the other and my laptop in front of me, which, either has the entire Sons of Anarchy playlist on repeat, or is tuned in to classic David Attenborough nature show. This is how I would paint a picture of what a freelance writer looks like. Your own hours, your own terms and no one to tell you what to do and how to do it. It’s a scary world of dissolving hours, merging days and a desk-come-bed habitat, with your important deadline being the only scaffolding to your tower of work. Saying that, it has its huge benefits, and as a writer going freelance allows for an easier flow of creativity and avoids the forced pressure of staring at a blank page in a busy office and having to write witty words before someone says “times up!”.
In all honesty, I could ramble on for hours about being a freelance writer (although don’t doubt that post might one day happen), but that might be a bit heavy for a mid week read. Instead, I’m going to share some Do’s and Don’t for all the aspiring freelance writers and bloggers out there.
Wake up early and crack on – just because you’re freelance doesn’t mean you can sit around and watch Jeremy Kyle all morning. I would advise starting early and finishing early. This way you can build some structure for your day.
Cultivate multiple interests and build a collection of things to help inspire your words. Whether it be on pinterest, tumblr or an old fashioned shoebox. Keep a note of anything that raised your right eyebrow and got you thinking. Chances are, if it inspires or interests you, an amazing post will come of it.
Stay true to yourself. Writing freelance can often mean writing for numerous publications and/or blogs, which is probably one of the best things about the nature of the job. But make sure you stay true to your values. Nothing could be worse than writing two completely contradictory pieces for two different publications. Of course, you need to adhere to the tone and target the specific audience of that publication, but don’t get your wires twisted and discredit yourself because you’ve made two opposing points.
Welcome feedback. Other than your editor, you won’t get much feedback from readers unless you ask them and invite them to leave comments. Blogs and online magazines are great for this because they allow for readers to leave their thoughts beneath each post.
Respect your editor and work with them. And likewise, if you’re an editor respect your contributors. At the end of the day, your readers are your main concern. So work together to meet deadlines and think of exciting topics so that your platform is the go-to on the web.
Work with PR’s. You need a story and they want one published so ask around for new launches, events and news that is worth writing about.
Write for free forever. By all means build up a profile, learn your voice and gain confidence, but once you’ve got this don’t sell yourself short. Your words are just as valuable as any other profession in this day and age. I mean, you wouldn’t work as a lawyer for free, would you?
Forget that no words means no money. We all want that sunny, white sand holiday every year so don’t fool around too much. Work hard and play harder.
Seclude yourself and get lonely. Because of the nature of the job, you can easily get sucked into being home alone staring at the same four walls for weeks on end churning out articles and features. Make sure you give yourself time to breathe and make human contact.
By Marni Banks