Is it possible to make a living as a freelance writer?
In case you do not know, I am a freelance writer. Mainly I write in my native language, but I want to be able to do more work in English, so this blog is also, one of many attempts to improve my English.
I often, very often, get asked: If it is possible to make a living as a freelance writer? So, today I want to share some parts of my journey. If you dream of becoming a freelance writer, maybe you can get a few tips on how to get there.
First of all, I have been writing since I was very young. I think I was about 7-8 years old when I started writing on my father’s type machine. And also since that age, I was reading a lot of books. So the first step is practice, practice, and practice. Not just writing, but also reading is important. I’m still practicing because I do not think anyone ever comes to that point, where they are not able to improve. And even if that point exists, I am very far from it.
Pay your dues – it will be worth it!
Then there is what I call “paying your dues”. This is the phase where you work for free or close to for free, just to get experience, and to network with all the right people. Even if you have to just be that person, who gets coffee, do it. It will be worth it if you do it right. I did this for some years. I worked a lot for almost no money (feels a bit like I am still doing that, major spoiler, sorry), I even had a full-time job besides my writing job. But it pays off. It does. Because when I started as a freelance writer, there was already a demand for my work. I just made one update on LinkedIn, and I already got customers, just from that.
Do not give up, even when you want to!
If I ever thought “I made it” when I started working full time as a freelance writer, I could not be more wrong. Because this is the point where the real struggle begins. I tell you, it is not easy. Not at all. When I first started out, I was flooded with work. Which was very positive, but I also lost my overview, and I started to hate everything I wrote. It got to the point where I stopped writing, and just wanted to give up and find another job (or just hide out of shame?). But then I took some time, to search my soul, and I realized this is what I want to do. I am a writer. I will make mistakes, but when I do, I will learn from them. It is okay not to be perfect, you can not expect to start something new, and then be perfect from the beginning. Remember this.
So now, I started a new journey to get back on track and to really find myself as a writer. One important step I took, was to really identify myself as a writer, cause this is what I am. This also meant I started looking for like minded people, I used Facebook and found some interesting groups and even started one myself. This has been great. I talk to writers from all over the world and have discovered that my struggles are not unique, I am not alone. Actually, I think what I am going through is quite “normal” for writers. I learned that even the greatest best selling writers, they have these struggles. This has helped me a lot, and I started to enjoy working again. I learned a lot from this first year as a freelance writer, and am currently changing my business strategy, which is also fun to work on. I have learned to take my time to do a job and to trust myself. But I am still developing as a writer and as a person. This means my insecurities come back to haunt me all the time, but no matter what, I am learning from this, I am using them as a powerful tool, to become a better writer. I am making my weaknesses become my strenghts.
And then, how do you pay your bills?
Well, I think if you want to start out as a freelance writer, let go of all of your materialistic desires. This has helped me a lot in terms of saving money. Also I moved to a cheaper, very small and cozy apartment, and I love it. I think this has made me a better person. I mean, I am not depending my happiness on shopping or having nice things rather than on more valuable ‘things’ in life. Of course this is a starting point, I think in time, when you build your career, hopefully this will change. But I do not think, you should start out thinking you will earn a ton of money in the first few years. For me I write because it is my passion, and I want to make my passion my work. So the money part is secondary. I love my freedom. But do not think freedom means, you do not have to work a lot. But I love, that I can work in the night if I want to do that, or in the morning or whenever. I love that I depend on myself – this is the freedom I am talking about.
Feel free to comment or ask questions. But remember, I am just some person trying to make it in life. I am not an expert, but I am a true believer in following your dreams. Even if they do not make sense to others, even if other people think you are crazy or they do not believe in you, just believe in yourself, and you are half way there!
I want to talk so much more on this topic – so I will do more posts about this, with more tips and ideas!