freelance writing tips

Freelance Writing Tips: The 20 Things I Wish I Had Known Before Taking The Plunge

Being a freelance writer is tough. There are only so many hours in the day and, once you’ve pissed a few of them up the wall, there’s virtually no time left.

Oh well, there’s always tomorrow.

Here are 20 things I’ve found since going it alone as a freelancer.

  1. Baths are warm, but sitting in the bath doesn’t pay the bills (unless you’re in the 1980s and employed to look sexy while eating a flake)
  2. There is absolutely no point saying to yourself ‘I’ll get up early and write for two hours before the school run’. It won’t happen.
  3. You suddenly get ideas at the wrong moment. Like you decide to write a post on the challenges of being a freelancer 15 minutes before you have to leave the house for a dental appointment.
  4. You notice how expensive everything is once you’re no longer a wage slave. Seeing the dentist for example.
  5. The new idea is always more exciting than the thing you’re currently working on.

    Freelance Writing Tips – Setting Realistic Goals

  6. Your assumption the house would be tidier once you started working from home is proven to be false.
  7. If you set yourself three things to do, you might only achieve two of them and feel like a failure. Better to aim low and set yourself one thing to do and surprise yourself on the rare occasions you get more done.
  8. Time does not move uniformly. Some parts of the day disappear in seconds, others drag on. A quick random browse of YouTube somehow takes 3 hours.
  9. In no way related to that, you half learn loads of useless things – how to do most of a Rubik’s cube, how to play Zombie by the Cranberries, though one chord change is a bit mangled, how to do the Cups routine from Pitch Perfect.
  10. Writing for small businesses makes you either desperate for their products or think you might need their services. I want a conservatory (as long as it has a lightweight, solid roof), a motorhome (four-berth, fully-integrated, please) and I also want to go to the Whitworth Gallery to see a sculpture made by water jet cutting and then check in with an orthodontist to see if I need braces. After that, I might see whether anyone wants to be buy the air rights above our bog-standard suburban semi.
  11. You have loads of good ideas for what to write right up until you sit down at your desk. Then you realise that actually they’re all a bit shit.
  12. Kittens are annoying if you’re around them all day.
  13. You have moments of panic. Shit, I had multiple WordPress tabs open, did I just upload my personal blog to that new client’s homepage?

    Freelance Tips – Late Night Blues

  14. You know that any work you produce after midnight will be garbage, nevertheless you repeatedly work beyond 2am, writing at a rate of seven very bad words per hour.
  15. Films on The Horror Channel post 2am are unlikely to have a coherent plot.
  16. If you get a new paying gig, you spend the money many times over. Get £50 for a blog – that’s a Christmas present, and a car service, and a takeaway and a new pair of running shoes and a session with the debt councillor. I’ve come to the conclusion that, as with Universal Credits, it’s better to earn less.
  17. Especially as you also count each bit of income multiple times. That piece today – that’s £80 in the bank. I’ll have a bath. Next day, I’ll just re-read that piece, that piece is paying £80. Nice, I’ll have a bath. Next day, I’ll upload it, wow, this piece is paying £80. Nice. I’ll have a bath. You double count your income and then spend it multiple times.
  18. Working from home full time when your wife also works from home leads to surprisingly few (read zero)
    romantic interludes. It does, though, halve the tea rounds.
  19. The Amazon, DHS, Whatever delivery drivers come to learn that you’re in during work hours and you become an unofficial collection point for the street.
  20. Did I mention how there’s no time? You do the school run, then you have to make a brew when you get in because it’s bloody freezing outside. Maybe you unload the dishwasher, load it and put a wash on. Suddenly it’s 10.30am. I’ll just watch YouTube until 11 and then get on with work. Whoops, its 11.22. That’s almost lunchtime. After lunch, the afternoon school run looms and there’s no way work’s getting done once the kids are back. The whole day’s gone and all I’ve got to show for it is a f–king listicle. I know, I’ll stay up late and do a bit then, I’m sure there’s a good film on The Horror Channel.


Like this post? That’s great, but I can’t take advantage of that yet as I don’t have a newsletter or anything like that. It’s on the to-do list. Maybe just read some other stuff for now.

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8 Responses

  1. Ah I miss that Barbuti sense of humour! I very much agree with your final point – and I am not even working!

  2. Thanks – I suspect my list will have grown by the time I’ve done this for 26 years!

    I’m saying nothing about the number of packages we seem to get from Debenhams…

  3. In my longest freelancing period (2013-2017) I was also very much “an unofficial collection point for the street”. In addition, I was stunned to discover just how much semi-pointless stuff my wife was ordering online (and which I definitely wasn’t earning enough to pay for).

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