Because I am a full-time freelance writer, I work from home. Before the Coronavirus forced many workers out of their offices and into remote work setups, many people thought that when I said I worked from home what I really meant was I lounged on the sofa all day in my pajamas watching old episodes of Criminal Minds. And while I do hang out with my friends from the BAU during my lunch break, I think now most people know that working from home is still hard work!
Nonetheless, many people still don’t understand what it truly means to be a full-time freelance writer. Sure, there are glamorous parts. You get to interview amazing people. When the world isn’t in the middle of a pandemic, you get invited to events and you get to check out new venues, books, and experiences before anyone else does. Sometimes you get paid to travel. Building your brand as a writer also means having fun photoshoots and even being featured on websites and in ad campaigns.
But there’s a lot about this freelance life that’s not glamorous – at all. So, I’m here to give you the good, the bad, and the ugly.
Inspired by Mattie James’ blog post on Daily, Weekly, and Monthly Tasks for Influencers, I’m going to share what life as a full-time freelance writer is really like by covering what I do each day, each week, and each month.
What Freelance Writers Do Every Day
Work on Stories
As a full-time freelance writer, I am working on stories for media outlets every day (except my designated off days – which vary but are usually Friday and Saturday).
My process for working on a story is divided into the following steps:
First, I do the research necessary to ask informed questions during my interviews with my sources. Next, I conduct the necessary interviews. Then I transcribe those interviews. After that, I can outline my story (which I do with Post-It notes). Then I write my story. Next, I edit the story to catch errors and to cut out unnecessary words or passages. (Reading it out loud helps me catch typos and clumsy, clunky sentences.) And finally, I send the story to my editor.
Each day I’m going to be working on one or more of those steps for one or more stories.
Check and Respond to Email
We freelance writers are constantly checking email, eagerly anticipating hearing back from editors and sources, and we often need to respond to them immediately. All other messages I try to wait to address during a specific hour of my day reserved for email.
Build Your Brand
There was a time when to be successful all writers needed to do was write. Those days are long gone. These days personal brand building is essential for writers. I’ve made a name for myself through See Jane Write. So, I always spend part of my day serving the See Jane Write community and spending time posting and networking on social media – especially on Instagram and in the See Jane Write Network Facebook group.
Manage Other Revenue Streams
When it comes to freelance writing and finances, it tends to be feast or famine. I knew this long before going full-time freelance, so I made sure I had multiple sources of income in place before taking the leap.
In addition to the See Jane Write paid membership community, I also make money through selling courses, doing coaching, consulting and speaking engagements, and from blogging for businesses. Lately, I’ve also started doing brand collaborations as an influencer. So, each day I usually do something related to at least one of my other revenue streams.
I try to write down 10 ideas every day. Some of the ideas are for stories to pitch. Some are for blog posts to write. Others are for social media or for the business side of See Jane Write. Not all of these ideas are great. Many of them are trash. But among the garbage are always some gems.
Stephen King once said “If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.”
So, I make sure I read something (other than my own writing) every day. This may be a few pages of a book, articles in a magazine or from a website, or posts on a blog. If you ever find yourself struggling to come up with ideas, it’s probably because you’re not reading enough.
When you write for a living it can be difficult to make time to write for yourself. But if you’re going to maintain your love for the written word, writing for yourself, writing simply for the joy of writing, is a must. That’s why I try to journal every day, even if it’s just for five minutes.
Related Reading: This Journaling Practice Could Change Your Life
What Freelance Writers Should Do Each Week
Every Sunday evening I spend an entire hour planning out my week. I call these planning sessions The Sunday Slay because they help me slay my week. (I also go live in my Facebook group on Sunday evenings to give my community inspiration to help them slay their weeks, too.) First, I write out all I have to do and want to do in all areas life for the upcoming week. Next, I break out my Day Designer (affiliate link) and assign each task to a day of the week. Thirdly, I schedule when I will do each of Monday’s tasks using the daily planning pages of the Day Designer. Monday night I will schedule when I will do each of Tuesday’s tasks and so on.
Being this intentional about planning is the only way I can manage writing for so many different media outlets and working on other income streams, too.
On Sundays, I also plan my social media content for the week.
When I’m not blogging like crazy and posting new content to my blog every single day, I try to publish a new post at least once a week. Blogging not only helps you practice your writing skills but it also helps you build your brand and can catch the attention of editors. If you’re just starting out and you haven’t written for any media outlets yet, you can use your blog posts are writing samples when you pitch to editors.
And speaking of pitching, I try to send story ideas to the editors I work with regularly once a week.
And once a week – usually on Fridays – I send out invoices so I can get paid!
Related Reading: A Day in the Life of a Freelance Writer
What Freelance Writers Should Do Each Month
Anyone who knows me knows I’m a goal digger! So at the end of each month I set four goals for the upcoming month and develop a plan for accomplishing those goals. I brainstorm blog and social media content for the upcoming month, too.
On the first of every month I check and make note of the following stats in a Google sheet:
- Monthly pageviews, users, and sessions for my blog
- Number of email subscribers
- Number of followers on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter
- Number of members in the See Jane Write Network Facebook group
- Number of members in the See Jane Write Collective
I also keep track of how much money I’m earning each month and how much money I’m spending on my business.
I try to send pitches to editors I haven’t worked with before at least once a month as well.
And there you have it. That’s what it’s really like to be a full-time freelance writer.
As I said, it’s not all glitz and glamor. But I LOVE IT!
I love being a full-time freelance writer because I’m writing on my own terms. If an editor comes to me with a story that I don’t want to do, I don’t have to do it! Yes, I have to make sure I meet all of my deadlines, but if I want to take the day off in the middle of the week, I can.
Freelancing means freedom.
If you would like to learn more about the freelance writing life, don’t miss my upcoming webinar So You Think You Can Freelance, set for Sunday, November 15 at 6 p.m.