Farewell to the Freshman Freelancer

As of 2018, I have finished my freshman year of freelancing. I have officially been working as a freelance writer for over a year!

It doesn’t feel like it’s been a year. A whole year (actually 14 months) since I’ve worked at an office job with regular hours. A whole year of doing everything on my laptop. A whole year of very rarely putting on a real bra (work from home perk!).

The freelance life is pretty different than what I thought it would be. And actually, I don’t know if “freelance writer” is the right title for me. A lof of the work I do is just remote or contract. I have work that I complete for clients on a per project basis (e.g. two articles per week) or a set number of hours per week. But I’m not pitching magazines or online publications to write one time only pieces. Though that is something I’d like to add whenever I can find the time.

I actually prefer the more regular work I’m doing than super traditional freelance work where you just do a one-off project and then move on. It’s nice to know that I have something reliable to work on every week (well, as reliable as contract work can be). It allows me to build relationships with my clients, take on new projects with them and advance my skills. And it means that I don’t have to spend time trying to find new clients all the time.

Another reason why the title “freelance writer” doesn’t really fit is because I’m actually doing a lot more than just writing. I’m doing a lot of social media work, which has been a new found love for me. I’m doing editing, content management, emails and different types of writing like copy writing, that I haven’t done before. And I’m actually really happy that it worked out that way. One of my fears of freelance writing was that I would get burnt out and tired of writing. So I love that I can mix it up and work on my non-writing projects when I’m not feeling too inspired to put pen to paper.

It’s also allowed me to find new areas, like social media, that I’m really interested in. A year ago, I had zero experience in social media beyond my own personal accounts. Now running social media channels, scheduling posts and engaging with audiences is a part of my daily routine.

Speaking of daily routine, that has got to be my favourite part of freelancing full time. I love that I can start whenever I want. I’m not on a set schedule. So when Colin worked his 5:00am shifts, I could mimic his schedule (well, a modified version where I’d start working around 7:00am). And when Colin worked his night shift starting at 4:00pm, I could mimic that too. I’m flexible if we need to take Ellie to the vet, visit Grandma or run errands. I love having that flexibility!

I also love that every day is different. Right now, I have about seven clients on the go. So every day is a different combination of tasks to do for those clients. Of course, some of the clients have similar work that needs to be done each week, but it’s never exactly the same. And there are always brand new things popping up – like this week where I got to work on a free elopement contest.

Of course, there are things that I don’t love. I don’t love that I don’t get vacation days, sick days or benefits. The pay is variable to a degree, which can be tough at times. Some clients have run out of funding and had to eliminate my position and sometimes I’ve had to part with clients when the project or pay wasn’t working out. I dislike that there is always work to do – which makes it hard to stop working and have real time off (especially when I can do a lot of work from anywhere on my phone). Sometimes it gets lonely when I spend all day in my office with only Ellie to talk to. I hate the competitve feel with fellow freelancers when fighting for jobs and comparing rates. I’m nervous about filing taxes for the first time as a freelancer. I miss having co-workers (well, only certain co-workers). I don’t have a set trajectory for the future or really any job security.

But overall, I am so happy with my decision to go for it and try on freelancing. It’s not roses and sunshine every day but there are many rosy and shiny moments. It has allowed me to live my life the way I want to live it – if I was still working at UBC there is no way we would have adopted a dog or bought a home in Surrey. And I probably wouldn’t be able to say yes to so many awesome vacation plans. Plus, you can’t beat my commute 😉

But the best part about freelancing has to be the fact that I actually enjoy my job. I don’t wake up dreading going to work, like I did at my UBC job. I don’t daydream about quitting. I don’t stare at a screen mindlessly and waste time on Facebook all day (okay, I still do this on occasion). I’m excited about the work that I’m doing. I’m challenged by it. I’m good at it. I’m learning from it. And, most importantly, I’m really passionate about it. Again, it’s not perfect, but it is pretty great. I don’t think I’ve ever said this about a job before but a year in and I’m happy to say: I love my job!

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