How to be a happy and successful freelancer

freelancecomic.jpgvia Jeff Couturier.

Today is nearly the end of a short week for many Brit workers, and it also marks my ‘freelance-aversary’ – a whole 12 months since I quit my job to pursue the life of a lone wolf writer. That time has gone so fast! And I’ve done so many exciting things, and learned a lot of tough lessons. I’m proud to say that I haven’t relied on anyone else to help me with the rent in that time, but I can also say with utter conviction that I couldn’t have done this without other people’s help or belief.

So to celebrate the occasion, I’ve gathered the very best tips from some of my fave freelancers. If you’re thinking of taking the plunge – whether as a full-time gig or a side hustle – I hope the insight below inspires you.

Discipline, discipline, discipline…
– Emma Murphy, Freelance Journalist

Section off your time to write and don’t let anyone disrupt it.

One of my biggest problems is that I have a short attention span and so I can be easily distracted by the people around me. The people around me seem to have trouble recognising that just because an editor isn’t sitting in our kitchen, doesn’t mean they’re not waiting for my piece. I have to be very strict and not allow myself to go out for a quick bite because that turns into my mum needing to go to B&Q.

I realise it seems harsh but think of it this way:

  • If you worked in an office, would your partner come in to tell you that the DVR didn’t record Supernatural?
  • If you worked in a shop, would your parents call during the afternoon rush to tell you how their lunch with *insert obscure relative here* went?

Pick up the dog and bone
– Tom Idle, founder of Narrative Matters

Always pick up the phone. As an editor for 15 years, I never had time to check all of my emails and so many messages slip through the net, especially if they’re from a new freelancer pitching me for the first time.

Yes, send an email with a short, snappy pitch. But always follow it up with a short call into the newsroom. Be brief, clear, and efficient. Spend time finding out the name of the right person you’re trying to reach.

Tea and notepads are a freelancer’s best friend
– Jemima Owen, Freelance Writer

A large cup of tea and a handy notebook and pen makes organising my freelance life a lot easier – keeping a note of all impending articles, invoice dates, and new ideas for future pieces. It especially helps when my boss rings up and starts discussing a new article idea with me, relaying how it should sound, what specific keywords to use, and what info to include – I race over and grab my notebook and scribble everything down while he’s still chatting away. And once we’ve hung up, then I have a cup of tea and try and make out my scribbles to get some kind of clarity. Without those notes, I’d hang up, and think ‘what did he just say?’.

Self-belief is your best currency
– Ieva Lakute, Freelance Writer

Just believe that you can do it because that is your best currency to trade with, and it’s priceless. If you know within you, intuitively, that you can do it, then go for it, despite what others tell you. You may notice that things begin to change when you take that step, so be ready to let go of beliefs and situations that don’t serve you any longer. Freelancing, I believe, isn’t just about working comfortably from home – it’s a lifestyle change, a change of beliefs and a new beginning. Good luck – you can do it!

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