Taking the plunge as a freelancer requires the same amount of discipline as a 9 to 5 job. When I first started as a freelancer, I would pitch to weeklies and magazines, and apply to gigs. Most of these emails received no response. I also had a few clients here and there but didn’t know how to assert myself as a professional yet.
At that time, I wasn’t sure about my writing skills, or ability to attract clients. Thankfully, I was surrounded by a supportive community, and was told I’d have to change my mindset before continuing my career. The first thing I did was delete my UpWork account. To their credit, many freelance writers began on UpWork and others thrive with it, but it just wasn’t right for me.
When talking to other writers who were making a living doing what they love, I saw they all had something in common: They never waited for inspiration. Instead, they took control of their writing by setting up a schedule, reading books, magazines, and anything they could get their hands on.
Once you realize discipline and hard work are more important than innate talent, you become a better writer. You can’t control talent, just what you do with what you know. I set up a morning routine, and refused to work in my pajamas. These small changes prevented me from getting sleepy or lazy during work. Consistent reading helped me improve my writing, and reminded me of why I do what I do. After implementing a schedule, I decided to apply for two jobs per day as long as I felt they offered what I wanted: steady work at a decent rate.
After a series of rejections, I got a ghostwriting job for a product review company. It wasn’t my dream job but I was earning $17.50 per hour per review and I’d be working on 15-20 reviews per week. I still had other clients and was able to work as a writer full-time after a few months.
I’ve been doing this full-time since December 2015, after four years of only writing part-time. The company I worked with still sends me a few gigs now and then. Plus, the editor was very kind and, as my first steady client, taught me the value of communication, adhering to deadlines, and improving my craft. I now write about pop culture, film, and health and wellness, and have completed two screenplays.
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Ingrid Cruz is a full-time freelance writer. She enjoys traveling, reading, and a good cup of coffee. Her website is www.ingridiswriting.com.