As someone who loves writing and hates leaving the house before 1pm, a writing career has always appealed to me. I worked for a few months once I finished college, saved up enough money to keep myself going for three months, and dove head-first into the world of freelance writing.
Okay, I took a week or two to sleep in and relax first. Everyone deserves a holiday, right?
The first thing I learned about freelance writing was something I already knew about the world of work: no-one will hire you without extensive experience, but you can’t have extensive experience unless someone hires you. You’d think more employers would see this flaw and move on to some kind of ability test when hiring.
It took a lot of applications before someone gave me a chance and gave me my first job. Even then, I was paid barely anything for 12,000 words. The fact that doing things like this is necessary to “get your foot in the door” is frustrating and disheartening, but that can wait for another post. Slowly, I am building up a portfolio and client history, but many job specs want a minimum of two or three years’ experience, so at the moment I’m doing what I can.
Freelancing isn’t for everyone
If you don’t like job interviews, then freelancing probably isn’t for you. I haven’t had many interviews in the traditional sense, but I spend at least a fifth of my time writing self-promoting pitches to prospective employers (and no, you can’t copy and paste them). Every client is looking for specific skills, and these pitches are important not only to show that you have these skills, but also because the pitch is the first example of your writing the client will see.
Why it’s worth doing
One of the things that drew me to freelancing was control over my own schedule. This allows me to work around other projects I’m involved with, because my timetable is not the same every week.
For example, I’ve been working on a theatre production that, over the last two weeks, took up a lot of my time. With a nine-to-five job, I simply wouldn’t have been able to be a part of the production, but freelancing allowed me to do that. Now I’m back to freelancing full-time, and am taking this opportunity to build up some writing experience (and funds) before another project comes up.
I found that when I had a “normal” job, ninety percent of my time and energy went into it and my personal project got pushed to the side. With freelancing I can have a better balance between what I need to do and what I like to do.
Just the beginning
I’m still in the early days of my freelance career. I’m not making enough to support myself and I’m on a steep learning curve, but this is an incredibly satisfying place for me right now and I’m glad that I took the plunge. I have a few more months to make this work and if it doesn’t, I’ll be back to a job where I leave the house at the same time every morning. I decided to try this out directly after college because right now, I don’t have many obligations that tie me down and put pressure on me. Perhaps this will work, perhaps it won’t- but sitting here, typing this, I’m glad that I’m trying.