A Day in the Life #GirlBoss
Welcome to our new series, '#GirlBoss A Day in the Life' where we peel back the surface and uncover the truth behind different careers by speaking to the women who do them! In the first installment, we're chatting to a freelance writer working from Belfast and discovering what day-to-day life looks like.
"As a freelancing writing newbie, I'm still getting my head around the whole industry and learning more and more every day. Each day can be completely different to the last or it could be exactly the same depending on what I'm working on or if I have a big project due. Moving from a full time, secure job and branching out into the world of freelance is an exciting but very scary move and financial worries are definitely the biggest deterrent to more people choosing this type of work."
Tell us what a standard week looks like for you.
"In general, a typical week for me revolves around completing projects for the clients that I have, sending out invoices and chasing up any that may not have been paid. That's part of the job I hate. I always feel guilty asking for money even though I have completed a job for a set fee!"
"I'm mostly writing for brands that sell high end fashion and luxury products at the moment. If I have one of these projects or a deadline looming, I'll usually chain myself to my laptop for a number of days until it's finished. Some days I work from coffee shops in town where I know there are bright, open spaces with light, activity and a plug near the table. Free wifi isn't a problem for me as I use my own when completing client work - for safety."
"I'll also try to get to different networking events in the city to meet new people and hopefully create useful contacts or share what I do with people in the industry. As a freelancer, you're constantly thinking about how you can get more paid work as there's no guarantee you'll have something to work on from week to week. I'm a terrible networker and feel anxious or self conscious trying to (unsuccessfully) 'work' the room at these events so I usually have to force myself to go. The thought of a missed opportunity is usually enough to scare me into going."
What are the things you wish you knew before going freelance?
"It can be quite lonely as I'm used to being up and about and having an office full of people to chat to or someone to ask for advice. While working freelance, I'm either sat in a coffee shop with my laptop for 6 hours or until I feel too guilty and have to leave or I'm working from my kitchen until 1am."
"I've never had a problem with self motivation or anything like that but once you're not held to being at work for a certain time, it can be difficult to force yourself out of bed in the morning! A lot of the time I'll find myself working from bed with a coffee and BBC news until about 11am. The upside is that I choose my working hours so on those days, I can just work later into the evening and it doesn't really matter. Although when I'm stuck to my laptop with bleary eyes, not able to watch Bake Off and knowing I'll be working past midnight I really start to regret it."
"I read an article before going freelance where the author said to set the basic minimum amount you can afford to live on and aim to hit it each month. Once you have, then you can stop working. This couldn't be further from the truth for me. I've found that I literally CAN'T say no to work or push a tight deadline as the work may not be there again. This means I'm often working to the max to meet a deadline or I take on work and then have to cancel weekend plans to meet the deadline."
What are the upsides to your job?
"Definitely the freedom that it offers. Yes I may spend (far too much) time worrying or chasing new jobs but it's great being able to work from anywhere with just a laptop and a phone. It means that I can take time off when I need to or go and meet a friend for coffee for an hour in the morning, something I could never do before. I get to set the rate I work for and I get to focus on the type of work that I want to do (mostly)."
"Although it's a scary area and from week to week I can feel quite insecure, I don't think I'd be able to go back to a traditional 9-5 with a set office space, set breaks and that formal structure. Before taking the plunge I had read so many articles on the new phenomenon of the digital nomad, young professionals who are continually making moves towards this way of working and rebelling against the corporate environment. It feels quite cool to think I'm part of that!"
What advice would you give to others considering the same career move?
"If freelance work is something you're considering then it's worthwhile sending out the feelers or trying to get some casual freelance work on the side of your full time role. Work on building contacts and connections in your industry and get out to events to meet people. Test the waters by inquiring where you think your services would be useful to see if there's a possibility of future work before making the jump."
"It's a good idea to save up a bit first so you're prepared to have a few months with inconsistent pay. It'll take the pressure knowing that you can pay your rent for 6 months should you not be able to match your pre-freelance income."
"Develop a thick skin. Be ready for lots of people and companies to say no. I've had countless rejections from magazine editors and brands that I've wanted to work with for a number of reasons. I'm currently in the middle of a pitch to an editor that may also get rejected, like the four or five others I've already sent (I'm not terrible, I swear!) but I will still keep going with my ideas until hopefully one gets picked up and commissioned."
If you'd like to feature your career in 'A Day in the Life' or there are careers you'd like to hear more about; make sure you get in contact at email@example.com to let us know.