When you’re looking to make that big leap from an employed person who likes to write to a certified self-employed freelance writer who from that moment forth will be 100% in charge of their own career and destiny, you are bound to feel a multitude of emotions ranging from utter fear to pure elation.
It’s an exciting time, and the decision is likely to be one of the biggest of your life – certainly of your working life.
I recently went self-employed, and for some reason I chose to do it with two weeks to go before I moved house. It was a challenging time, but I escaped with my sanity intact (just about). By the time I moved into the new house I had been without the internet at home for a total of 4 weeks, and it was a killer. It makes me ashamed to admit it, but living without the internet is damn hard. Making a living as a writer without the internet is almost impossible.
I spent a lot of time at the library (which was lovely because libraries in the UK are being closed all the time at present), in cafes and anywhere I could soak up Free Wi-Fi and get my caffeine fix at the same time. It was workable but what I really needed in order to gain any kind of momentum was to have a designated writing desk at home, with an internet connection that worked.
My First Weeks as a Freelancer
In the last few weeks as an employee, I started putting together a solid portfolio, saving a nice amount of money to keep myself ticking over and started putting together a list of contacts (I had already begun to make contacts with agencies and would-be clients in my last few weeks at my job) that I would be in touch with once I found myself waking up every morning on my own time.
Suffice to say, it was more than a little surreal when I woke up on the first day of being self-employed writer. I had always dreamed of being “a writer”, although my version of a writer was much more Hemingway like: Hunt a wild boar, drink three gins, have a fight with a bear and then write ten pages of a novel. Just kidding, I would never hunt a boar.
I woke up, looked at my contact list and started to send out emails. Then I started writing the stories I wanted to write and the guest posts that I thought would help improve my profile. I also signed up to numerous sites like My Blog Guest and People Per Hour (which have both been very useful and come highly recommended by me – if you use them in the right way!)
A self-employed, freelance writer lifestyle is strange, and one that the majority of people will never understand. I’m not even sure I understand it myself! I have days where my feet don’t touch the ground. I’m writing like a mad man and my clients keep me on my toes with a mixture of writing and editing. Other days I’m a dead man walking, shuffling around in my sweatpants and hoodie, drinking coffee and babbling to myself. A living, breathing writer cliché. But luckily, the days balance out. Explain this lifestyle to a nurse or a coal miner and they’d probably call me a bum. Maybe they’re right? Who knows?
My advice – if it’s worth a damn – is that the best way to get to grips with a freelance writing career is to keep busy at all times and to not beat yourself up when you hit the wall and procrastination calls. The 9-5 brigade all have lulls in activity, the difference is they are doing it with a guaranteed salary, and you’re doing it in your own time where time is money. Finding a balance between writing yourself into despair and having a life is as important as making a living. Remember that and you will be a lot more productive. It’s working for me and I hope it will for the rest of my working life.