Well, folks, your humble MediaJobsDaily editor has a bit of news.
See, I’ve been going around calling myself a freelance writer/freelance editor/freelance blogger (take your pick) for more than two years. But have I really been freelance that whole time?
For the past two years, I’ve also spent between 10 and 15 hours per week at a part-time job at a great location. So I’d introduce myself as an “almost-full-time freelancer.”
Finally, I realized, “Why don’t I just not have that job anymore? Go freelance for real?” I figure it will free up all that time to write, plus the commute that I’m not making anymore. (Hurrah!) So, as of today, your MediaJobsDaily editor is Officially A Real Freelancer For Realz. This won’t affect the blog, of course, since my relationship with Mediabistro.com is already on a freelance basis. If anything, I’ll have more time to dedicate to answering y’all’s questions.
Figured I’d use this tenuous news hook as an excuse to share the freelance tips I’ve picked up over the past two years, as well as ask for some more, because I can always use ’em.
Without further ado:
- Despite the photo, the pajamas thing is a myth.So many people, when they heard I was going to freelance full-time, replied, “You’ll have plenty of time in your pajamas.” Let me suggest to any potential freelancers that this is a terrible idea. You really do feel more productive in real clothes. I swear, you’ve probably heard this a thousand times and ignored it a thousand times, just like I did when starting out, but now I swear by real clothes. Pajamas aren’t liberating; they’re stinky. (I will admit to wearing slippers every now and then, but only when it’s really cold.)
- Keep accurate records.I tried tons of different systems, but the only one that has finally worked for me is a massive Excel spreadsheet that tracks absolutely everything. Expenses, assignment due dates, invoices, and everything. One category of records I didn’t realize needed to be kept, especially if you don’t have a separate business checking account, is inflow. Every check that goes into your bank account should be photocopied or noted somehow what it was. This, I’ve learned, will come in handy if (God forbid) you are ever audited.
- Say ‘yes’ to everything unless you have a very good reason. Assignment pays slave wages? Good reason. Assignment “sounds boring”? Not a good reason. Too busy? Not a good reason. I say this not because you have to be desperate to be a freelancer but because you never know where something will lead, and I can’t count the number of great assignments I’ve gotten just from having a reputation as the go-to girl. Another way of phrasing this would be be open-minded.
What tips would you add to this list? I will be stealing them, of course, but don’t let that stop you.