Reflections On My First Year of Freelancing

Well, I did it! I made it through a year of working as a freelancer. A year of working from home. A year of setting my own hours. And I am happy to report that I am still very happy with how it’s going. A lot of my day-to-day has changed since I first started doing this (and started this blog) a year ago, and while some of those changes have been overwhelming they have mostly been exciting.

The biggest difference has been in my workload. When I began freelancing, I was fortunate enough to be able to take some of the work with me that I was doing when I was a full-time editor and just continue doing it in a freelance capacity. Having this work that I was used to and comfortable with gave me the chance to establish a routine and get used to the idea of working from home and what that would entail. I quickly learned (and I’ve written about this on the blog before) that I am not someone who procrastinates and is distracted by working from home. Instead, I found myself working more efficiently than I did when I was in an office forced to sit in front of a computer all day. That gave me time to start this blog and explore my new city, but I also quickly realized that I could do more work, and do more work I have.

When most people think of freelance writers, or at least this is what I used to think of, they think of people who research and write complete stories and then pitch them to publications. To be honest, I never thought that this was a lifestyle I could adopt. One, because it scared me, and two, because I am incredibly conscious of how I spend my time, and the idea of spending all that time on work I wasn’t sure I would be paid for seemed unsustainable and also scary. However, I learned that if I had consistent stories I was writing, I had the freedom (when I had time) to pitch ideas for stories without knowing for sure that my ideas would be selected. But when they have been chosen, I’ve been able to write about new subjects in different formats and make some more money, which has been awesome all around. I’ve also been able to pursue some other types of work, and it has been really fun to flex some other mental muscles.

Obviously, what I was saying earlier about spending time on work I wasn’t sure I would be paid for does not apply to my novel, which I am roughly halfway through! I never would have had the time or energy to start writing a novel or stick with it while I was working full time in an office, but working from home has given me that opportunity. When I first started writing the book in August my goal was to finish it by early December, which would have meant writing at least 1,000 words every single day. Well, I discovered that although 1,000 words would only fill about 4 pages in a published book, it takes quite a while to write. So I ditched that goal, instead making it my goal to just write words every day. I usually fit in between 30 and 60 minutes or writing, usually between 8:00 and 9:00am, and that equates to between 300 and 800 words written. And that works! Making a little bit of progress every day and seeing my vision continue to come to life is enough to keep me motivated and excited about writing.

My excitement about the novel, unfortunately, has translated a bit to less time spent on the blog. A year ago I was writing two, sometimes three posts a week, and lately it has dropped down to one, if that. But again, that works! I’m trying to focus on the fact that I am still enjoying sharing my life on this blog and will continue to do so when and how I can.

Some other quick-hit thoughts and things I’ve learned:

My new favorite time to watch episodes of the shows that I keep up with is 7:30am, right after I wake up. It’s something I look forward to and gives me a chance to wake up my brain in an enjoyable way.

Ordering ahead with the Starbucks app is amazing. There is a Starbucks about a block from our building, and it is the perfect distance so that if I order a chai on the app, put my shoes on and go get it right away it is always ready when I get there.

I can definitely do a better job of keeping track of things that I can consider expenses and write off when I do my taxes as an independent contractor. I’m going to try to do that going forward.

Lately, as my workload has increased, I’ve found myself checking for work-related emails after dinner and first thing in the morning. It can be tough to only think about work during “work hours” when I don’t actually have defined work hours, but I know that it is best for me mentally and emotionally to try to do that.

All in all, I really love freelancing. It has given me the lifestyle I thought I wanted and that I have come to thrive in. Sure, I still have days where I come across a listing for a full-time job that sounds incredibly fun and interesting and I think about the things that might be easier if I went back to working a 9 to 5. But then I remember all the things I get to do now, and will get to do in the future, and the freedom it gives me and Jeff, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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