More and more of us are choosing the freelance life. Secure jobs-for-life aren’t that plentiful these days – plus, technological advances have made flexible and remote working possible in ways that were unimaginable a decade ago.
What’s my story?
I’m a freelance writer and blogger based near Cambridge. But usually, my freelance work encompasses much more than that. Some of my work happens here on this blog – in the form of occasional brand collaborations. Other bits of my work appear on other people’s websites – from blog posts to product descriptions. The rest is spread between photography, consulting, press work and marketing.
It all started with a blog
I didn’t realise it at the time, but it all began when I published my first blog post in 2014. I’d given up my job as bookseller when my first son was born in 2009 (followed by his brother in late 2010). Staying at home with them made sense to me and I cherished those early days. However, by 2014 my self-confidence was very low and I was craving something new. My boys had just started school and nursery – blogging came along at just the right time. It gave me a voice when I needed it most, and taught me that people wanted to listen.
When a hobby turns into your job
Blogging started as a hobby. It kept me happy during the short hours I had while my youngest was at nursery. I got crafty, learnt how to use a camera and started broadening my horizons beyond the local playgroup. After about a year of this, I was approached for my first collaboration with a brand. I think it was a duvet cover, or possibly a voucher. I didn’t get paid, but it felt terribly exciting. I didn’t suddenly think, wow I’m a professional blogger now… but it changed the way I thought about my favourite hobby.
The light bulb moment
It wasn’t until two years ago that I really found my direction as a freelancer. I’d been blogging for a while and I’d dabbled in my own online shop. The shop didn’t do as well as I’d hoped, and I decided to close it. I felt a bit directionless until I realised the answer was staring me in the face. Writing. My blog had taught me I was good at it, why not try and do it for a living? I decided to give it a year. If I couldn’t make a go of it then I’d find a part time job.
Reaching out to others
The first thing I did was get in touch with a local agency owner to ask her advice about freelance writing. She gave me the best advice possible: go out and meet local people and get yourself known as a writer. I took her advice and started attending local networking events. I found my first bit of proper work when I approached a local creative agency who needed writers in Cambridge. I offered to write them a piece for free, which then led to more work. I met my next client through a local blogging event. And so it went on. Networking was key – clients won’t find you, you have to find them.
The game changer
I think all freelancers experience that moment when things change – their work load goes up a notch and so does their confidence. For me this came about a year in to my freelancing career. I was getting bigger and better commissions, and I finally had the confidence to tell strangers than I’m a writer.
Being your own cheerleader
The hardest thing about freelance work is keeping yourself motivated – especially when work is thin on the ground, or you don’t get a big project you’ve pitched for. I usually allow myself a little bit of moping, before forcing myself to take a new positive step like meeting a new contact for coffee or sending off a pitch. You have to develop a thick skin very quickly.
Flexibility is the ultimate reward
Freelancing isn’t an easy gig. You never know how much you’ll earn each month, and when you lose a client it’s hard. I keep doing it because I don’t want to give up my flexibility. I can be there for the kids before and after school, and I get to be my own boss. I’ve been tempted by office jobs, and even been offered them, but I’ve never been willing to give up the freelance life. When it’s going well you feel like you’re on top of the world. That feeling is hard to beat!