Break out the bunting and pop the champagne corks - I have survived 12 months as a full-time freelance writer!
There have been more ups than downs and a lot of candles have been burnt at both ends, but here are five lessons from the last year:
1. Branding matters
When I started work as a freelance writer, I set up a very generic website with bland branding and no clear direction. The result was a heap of purposeless low-paid work.
Once I branded myself as "the freelance writer who gets tech" the work, and the really interesting work, began rolling in. I had found my niche and a core audience that wanted to tap into my skills as a former research scientist and software developer turned writer.
Identify your skill set, find your niche and target your work to that audience.
2. Work it
One thing I've learnt from the wider freelance community: if you want to succeed, you have to work hard.
I don't mean the standard 9-5, some days were 5-9 to make deadlines, pitch for work and make ends meet. You may have to work during vacations, cancel plans and put your work first, second and third.
If you're not prepared to put in the hours, the harsh reality is that you won't succeed.
But if you do succeed, it's the best job in the world.
3. Mistakes will happen
I've made a lot of mistakes over the last year. Working solo means you will not have a boss to check your thinking or protect you from flying faeces should the proverbial hit the fan.
Most of my mistakes happened due to exhaustion and trying to juggle too much work to impossible deadlines. It's so important that you take a break.
Learn from those mistakes, make sure they don't happen again and don't beat yourself up over them. Move on.
4. Prioritise, prioritise and prioritise
Task prioritisation takes on a whole new level as a freelance writer. You need to prioritise those clients that pay well. Toggl is a great piece of time tracking software to make sure you spend an appropriate amount of time on specific projects.
Also, prioritise your work over the administrative tasks that fill up your time. If you can afford to, outsource your accounting and other such tasks to a third party professional, for example.
5. Don't panic
The freelance writer existence is one of famine or feast. When I hit quiet periods, I used to panic but now I embrace them.
This is one of the most wonderful elements of working as a freelance writer, I can catch up on the DIY, gardening or my favourite TV box set if I have a spare hour or two. While it's important to work hard and pitch relentlessly, remember to treat yourself occasionally.
6. Always over-deliver
See what I did there?
But it's an important point. Don't treat your deadlines as targets - try to submit earlier to impress the client. Go the extra mile to get unique quotes and insight from your sources. Contact clients with ideas and pitches. Thank them for the work and send through published articles to anyone who helped you along the way.
So here's to many more years as "the freelance writer who gets tech". If you can think of any advice you would share with the fellow freelance writer community, please share in the comments below.
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I'm the freelance writer who gets tech. So, I blog on three core topics:
Science and Technology