On paper I have now been a freelance writer for a year!

However, it has been only the last 3 months that I have really stepped up the anti to become a full-time freelance writer. As I have spoken about previously, I am a nurse who works on rotating shifts and a first time mum. I have always had a passion for writing, and when I had my son I wanted to find a way to stay at home with him and still earn money.

Enter the business of freelance writing!

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Over the course of the year I have learnt many things, not least of all the fact that there is never enough hours in the day.

Being away from my son for work has been tough. That is why the last 3 months I have been working hard to build a client base and income from freelance writing that means I can drop some of my nursing shifts and be home with him more.

I thought I would share some of the most important lessons I have learnt so far. Take away from them what you will. I hope that they help other new freelance writers out there, as well as work-at-home-mums become successful at that they do.

 1. Value yourself and the service you provide.

When I first started out I joined an online freelancer jobsite as a way of finding jobs and earning money. It took me a few months to work out that most jobs advertised on there significantly underpay.

I realised that if I wanted to build a reputation as a high quality and hard working freelancer, and earn what I was worth, that I would have to find clients myself. So I now cold pitch potential clients, guest post and am concentrating on building a social media presence.

I don't wish to be a nameless freelance writer among the thousand on content mills.Click To Tweet

I have researched the subject of how much a freelancer should earn until my eyes are falling out of my head. There is no set rate, salary or wage that freelancers charge or earn.

How much freelancers charge for their services depends on them, their level of experience and what they provide.

My head was spinning with all the different advice and tips for what to charge, until I came across a piece of advice from Valerie Khoo (National Director of the Australian Writers’ Centre). She said that you should charge an amount for your services that you believe you are worth and you will not resent.

She stated you have to be happy with the amount you invoice otherwise it will be reflected in the quality of work that you produce.

This tip helped me to develop a price list that I am happy with. I feel it reflects the services and high quality work I produce.

 2. Prioritise!

It is obviously important to prioritise your writing tasks and projects in order of importance and deadlines.

However I discovered just as essential is prioritising other areas of my life; such as exercise, self-care, family and friends.

My routine is to sit down on a Sunday evening and organize the next week of my life. I write everything into my diary, including appointments, meal plans, and to-do lists.

Then I make sure to schedule in when I am going to exercise, get my hair done, or catch up with friends and family. I highlight the most important item on my daily to do list to ensure it doesn’t get missed or I do not forget about it.

To ensure I stay on top of my freelancer and writing work I use an excel spreadsheet that has deadlines and I set reminders on my phones calendar so they pop up through out the day or week.

Most importantly, not forgetting to schedule in and prioritise “playtime” for you!

3. Time is at a premium.

Every Sunday when I sit down to fill in my diary for the next week, I curse the fact that I need sleep and that there are not more hours in the day.

On top of freelancing work, there’s all the housework, shopping, cooking, gardening and looking after my 15-month-old son to do. I am not ashamed to say, most of the time the house is a mess and there is 2 baskets of clean washing to fold.

The brief time my son is napping I am usually writing, so the housework and chores go undone! It took a while, but I have finally learnt that it doesn’t matter if the house is a bit messy. 

4. Don’t let fear hold you back.

Generally speaking most people have fragile egos’.

This means we can hold back from putting ourselves out there for fear of failure, criticism or rejection.

This is one of the biggest lesson’s I learnt over the course of this year, especially the last few months.

Do not let your fears hold you back.

You chose to start your freelancing career for a reason, hold onto that and push through your own barriers.

I wanted to have an interview on my website with a successful freelancer. More accurately with a stay at home parent who is a successful freelancer. Due to fear of rejection and failure I procrastinated over approaching anybody for quite some time. Finally I gave myself a stern talking to and sent out some emails to different freelancers.

I don’t mind admitting that when I was near my computer I compulsively checked and rechecked my emails whilst waiting for a response, and finally I heard back from the delightful Elna Cain, who is a stay at home mum (with twins no less!) who has several blogs, is a freelance writer and who also provides coaching services to new freelancers. She not only kindly agreed to an interview but also asked me to guest post on FreelancerFAQs.

It goes to show that when you put aside your fear you can form great connections and achieve many things.

 5. The value of guest posting.

This brings me to the next important lesson I learnt; the value of guest posting!

It may sound counter-intuitive to guest post without earning money, however it all goes to building a solid reputation and getting your name out there. You can provide a brief bio at the bottom of your guest post with links to your own blog, website and other social media profiles.

It also helps build strong connections with bloggers, and who knows it may even lead to a paid job!

Following blogger websites that appeal to you is another way to build these connections. By commenting regularly and linking back to your own website and blog you are marketing yourself. Not to mention if you find a good quality website the content will help you on your own blogging and freelance writing journey.

Here’s a few websites to get you started:

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 6. It is ok to say no.

When I first started out I was saying yes to any work that came my way, no matter how little it was paying.

It hit me one day when I was working on a relatively big project that what I was being paid was not worth it. There were hours and hours of research and writing that the money I was receiving didn’t adequately reflect. It was also taking me away from other projects that I enjoyed writing and that I felt paid me what I was worth.

This ties in to the lesson around valuing myself and the work I produce. I ended up resenting the project and my client and found I had to work even harder to ensure I didn’t produce sloppy work.

This is why it is ok to say no!

You can say no if you are not confident on the topic, if you don’t need the work at this point in time, or if you don’t like the client. You provide a service, and must be happy and confident with the project in order to produce your best work.

So there are 6 lessons I have learnt so far, I am sure there will be many more! What lessons have you learnt along the way?

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9 thoughts on “6 lessons I learnt in my first year as a freelance writer.”

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  2. These are all great takeaways! One I am always telling people is to treat your brand as a business and don’t ever think your numbers are too low for opportunities! I started working with brands when I was getting like 500 pageviews on a good month. But I’ve always seen the value in my work and now I’m able to work with brands that were on my bucket list! As long as the quality is there, most smart brands will see that and want to work with you!

    1. Hi Ginger Marie!
      Fantastic you are working with brands on your bucket list!
      And yes, I think it is always important to treat your brand as a business. Essentially that is what you are trying to create, and you need to hold yourself to it. Thank you.

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  4. Excellent tips and lessons learned. Especially the one about saying “no” and not let fear hold you back. Fear can be a crippling factor preventing us from moving forward, and often time the thing(s) we fear most never happen…and even if/when it does, its not the end of the world. We can cope with it, overcome it and move forward with even MORE confidence and clarity!

    1. Thank you Darlene.
      I have found that fear is the hardest to overcome, but I guess that is the same with most people.
      And agree that once we overcome it we move forward stronger and better then before.

    1. Such a good point Gigi, thank you!
      Thats why I also think it is important to always have goals in mind, like rates for services, that you are happy with. When screening clients you can ask yourself, do they align with my goals? You absolutely do not want to be taken advantage of, because you will resent your client and the work you do for them which can impact your quality of writing.

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