What Freelance Writing Has Taught Me

When I first started writing it was a hobby that I absolutely loved. It sounds a cliche, but I didn’t think for a second that it would become my career. It was just something I did because I enjoyed doing it.

I didn’t write for other people to read my work. I wrote for myself and myself only. That’s the mentality you have to carry with you into the world of freelance writing because trust me, it’s not easy.

Taking that leap from writing part-time to writing full-time is a big risk. I didn’t have a clue what I was doing but I was sure that I wanted to write for a living, so I convinced myself that that was enough. There’s a misconception that being a writer is quite simple: You write. How easy is that? I’ll be the first to admit that’s exactly what I assumed. I envied successful bloggers because I thought it must be one of the easiest careers in the world, but now I’m eating my words. It’s so much more than writing. It’s sending emails, it’s replying to emails, it’s skipping lunch because you really need to finish that article you’ve spent far too long editing (guilty), it’s promoting yourself on social media, it’s looking on writing job boards almost every day to make extra income that month. And breathe.

Before I became a full-time freelance writer I knew nothing about formatting, WordPress, or promoting myself. That’s something that I had to learn through experience. In fact, there’s still so much I don’t understand and perhaps it will take me a long time to grasp everything, but I’m still learning. The main thing I stick by is consistency. As long as I’m regularly producing content, researching, and learning new skills then I know that I’ll be able to improve as a freelance writer and hopefully increase my income.

Despite all of that, the most important thing is to write things that I enjoy writing. I’ll admit that there have been times when I’ve written a post about something I had no interest in just because the pay was great. And sure, sometimes that’s what you have to do. It’s a job. But I don’t feel myself when I write about topics that I have no experience in. The words feel forced. I read it back and the tone doesn’t seem right and I wonder if any of the readers can pick up on my false enthusiasm. I never want to lose sight of the reason why I started writing in the first place.

Honestly, I’ve never once said that I hated my job. There are some days when the words aren’t flowing or the ideas aren’t forming and I convince myself that maybe, just maybe, writing isn’t for me. But then I’ll have an amazing day or week or month when I feel like this is what I want to do for the rest of my life. It’s something that I’ve just had to accept. The highs are high and the lows are low.

Of course, I’m going to complain sometimes. That’s what happens when you make the transition of writing as a hobby to writing for a living. It’s a business, which means that I’m responsible for how much I get paid each month. That can be scary. I’ve discovered that it’s trial and error with this type of work. I prefer working 9 – 5 because it’s the only way for me to stay focused. I prefer writing in silence because music is the worst kind of distraction. I prefer a few consistent writing jobs rather than a long stream of one-off writing gigs because it’s easier for me to keep on top of it.

To put it simply, no two freelance writers are the same. That’s what I’ve discovered so far.


How to fight your way through Writer’s Block

If you’re a writer, then you would have experienced something called “Writer’s block,” and you will know that it’s an absolute nightmare. You sit down at your desk, pen and notebook by your side, waiting for the words to form in your head – but there’s nothing. Instead, you stare at a blank word document questioning why you became a writer in the first place and doubting every good piece you have ever written.

The harsh truth is not everything you write will be a masterpiece. Not everything you write will receive thousands of views. Not everything you write will gain likes and comments. That’s just the way it is. However, you shouldn’t let that stop you from posting something that you’ve poured your heart and soul into. So what if nobody reads it? The moment you start writing solely for other people is the moment you forget the true purpose of what it means to be a writer. Sure, you should write to inspire others, but you should mostly be writing for yourself. You are your biggest critic. That means you shouldn’t post something unless you are truly happy with it. And trust me, your readers can tell if a topic means something to you, or whether you have written something just for the purpose of writing it.

The thing about Writer’s Block is it makes you feel like a failure. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve thrown my hands up in the air and told myself that I’ll never be a successful writer. Just because I’m not earning as much as another writer, it doesn’t mean that I’m failing at what I do. If anything it should encourage me to keep writing and keep improving until I reach a point where I’m very happy with my earnings.

But still, it’s in my nature to compare.

I look at a piece I’ve written and immediately I want to tweak it. I deleted, rewrite, then delete. Sometimes I’m happy with the end result, other times I feel frustrated. That’s part of being a writer, I suppose. There are days when your fingertips won’t be able to keep up with your thoughts and you will write as if the words are literally spilling out of your head. There are days when no words come at all. On days like these, you should feel even more encouraged to write. It doesn’t matter if all you can manage is a few sentences or a rough draft – it counts for something.

Even though it feels like your brain is made up of clouds and rain, there’s still a light trying to break through. How do you overcome Writer’s Block? You write. You write anything that comes to your mind, even if it’s jumbled up. You write because you have a purpose. You write because it makes you feel complete. You write because despite feeling like you are failing, you are making a huge difference with your words.

Don’t let this mental block stop you from creating your best work yet.


Things I Want To Achieve In 2017

I’m sure the majority of people will agree that 2016 was a pretty crap year. We had our highs and lows, but I feel that the bad far outweighed the good. From a personal point of view, it was ‘OK.’ I met new people (some I have already lost contact with), gained a best friend, obtained a job that I love and gained a small amount of confidence. It’s astonishing how much can be accomplished in one year and how much time many of us waste without even realising.

I want this year to be different. I want to discover new things. I want to jump out of my comfort zone and into the unknown, despite the fact it’s terrifying. But more than anything, I want to have as many laughs as possible.

I want 2017 to have more of this.

Travelling. I never used to get the urge to travel like other people did until sometime last year when I decided that travelling is the key to discovering new experiences. Lately, I’ve been reading various travel blogs, staring at stunning pictures of Rome, wishing that I was on the other side of the world. I want to try foods that I’ve only seen pictures of, I want to people watch, I want to learn about different cultures. It’s not that I want to ‘escape’, I want to live.

Blog regularly. To be honest, I have neglected my blog. I’ve been so focussed on freelance writing for other websites that I completely failed to update my own. Firstly, I need to work out a schedule for how many times a week I should post and try my best to stick to it this time. Even if I’m really busy with other things, I’m going to make sure I plan some posts in advance instead of posting whenever I feel like it. At the very least I’m aiming to post twice a week.

Meet new people. As soon as I left school it dawned on me just how difficult it is to make new friends. Nobody seems to talk about this. I’ve been shy since birth, so it’s not a surprise that I’ve always found it difficult talking to people. I half expected people to start a conversation with me first, which I now realise is a bad mentality to have. If I want to meet new people, I have to go out there and find them. So I’m setting myself a goal to start talking to more strangers. If I see someone with a book in their hand, I’ll try asking them about it. Who knows, it could be the start of a great friendship.

Get in shape. I’ve said this for the past five years but this year I’m more determined than ever. The only thing that’s changed is my mentality. Before I wanted to lose weight, but I couldn’t be bothered to put in the work to achieve that. Now I know that the only way I can get the body I want is to put in the time and effort. I’m going to start small. 30 minute walks / 5 minute workouts. Then gradually build it up. A healthy body equals a healthier mind.

Aim bigger. As much as I love freelance writing and blogging, there’s so much more I want to achieve. I have a few book ideas that I’ve been putting off for at least two years. The reason why is because I’m my own worst critic and find fault in every idea I ever have, but this is going to be the year that I ignore those doubts, start writing a book and hopefully get most of it finished by the end of 2017.

What do you have planned for 2017? Let’s hope it’s a good one!

Why I quit my job to become a freelance writer

That’s right – I quit my job without another one lined up. Stupid decision? Probably. But it worked out OK in the end.

Back in January I started working at a photo shop (I’m not giving away the actual name) as a Sales Assistant. I hadn’t had much previous experience and I felt incredibly shy and a little bit awkward. The manager was lovely, in fact that was the only reason I didn’t leave on the very first day. I kept being encouraged to stay, to see how things go, and needless to say I realised it just wasn’t working. I cringed every time someone walked into the shop, felt my heart hammering in my chest whenever I had to serve someone, not to mention the number of times I cried whenever I made a mistake. I wouldn’t say I couldn’t do it, but my heart wasn’t in it. Each day I dreaded going in – not the usual ‘oh, I don’t fancy going into work today’ dread – but more of ‘I feel like I’m suffocating and on the verge of a breakdown’ kind of dread.

I had a long chat with the manager, who as kind as she was, offered me tons of advice. She reminded me that I had to do whatever it took to make myself happy, and that if I wasn’t happy being there, I should go. And I did. I left that day feeling like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders, as if I could breathe again. But the next day I felt awful. I just kept thinking what have I done?  I’d quit before I had even given it a chance and already I regretted it. Although deep down I knew for the sake of my mental health I couldn’t have stayed another day. The decision might have been selfish but sometimes putting yourself first is the thing you need to do the most. So I spent the next few months looking for writing jobs. The truth is I love writing; it gave me a voice I didn’t even know I had. I thrived off every like, every comment, every share, and I knew that I had to keep going.

The life of a freelance writer is hard to say the least. Finding that first paid writing gig can take months, but it could be done, I knew that much. So I started writing for various websites for free, gaining exposure and experience along the way. I checked job sites and writing boards everyday. I sent out email after email, and despite most of them being ignored, a handful of them actually replied. Now I have several clients of whom I regularly communicate with. And although I’m not exactly where I want to be, and I know I do have a long way to go, I feel happier.

Here’s the secret: if you persist, you can get almost anything you want.