Freelancing Non-Fiction By Kayla Matthews Every day as a busy freelance writer is different. Some days I’m swamped with projects while others I’m busy tracking down editors or networking with potential clients. This break from the structured nine-to-five office routine is what attracts others to the freelance life. If you’re interested in learning more about a career as a freelance writer, here is what my typical day might look like. Network On- and Offline Networking offers the opportunity to meet people, build connections and potentially land new jobs. As many people will tell you, it’s often about who you know rather than what you know. As a freelancer, I rely on networking to meet potential clients and even land new gigs. I already have a website set up with my portfolio, something anyone can access. I also have profiles on sites like LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter, where I’m part of industry groups and interact with others. Local networking is alive as well. There are a couple of local writer groups in my area that I like to attend. Now that I’m a regular member, they’re familiar with my work and what I can offer. Negotiate Contracts When I was new to freelancing, I was so excited to be offered a contract that I often wouldn’t get into the nitty-gritty of what was being said. Now that I have more experience, I’m here to warn you — don’t undersell yourself! Your time is a valuable resource. Don’t waste it on gigs that won’t get you anywhere. It can be hard to tell whether a job is good or bad, especially when you lack experience. When offered a new contract, I always ask myself the following questions: Is the client someone I want to work with?How many hours will the project entail?Is there a set rate and agreement?Is the client willing to sign a contract? In some cases, I’ve had to provide my own contract. There are plenty of resources on how to write a freelance contract online. Prioritize Time Being an established freelancer, it’s not uncommon to receive pitches directly from an editor. In fact, my inbox is unusually packed with emails, something that can seem overwhelming at times. Unfortunately, if I read every email and accepted every pitch, I would never get anything done. To make sure I’m able to finish my work and hit my deadlines, it’s important I prioritize my time. Usually, this means keeping a to-list of all I need to do for the day or week, then focusing on the items that need to be completed the soonest. Write, Write, Write This is what being a freelance writer is all about — writing. Much of my time each day is dedicating to sitting down and actually writing a project. Everyone’s writing process is different. I know many writers who like to create detailed outlines before touching the keyboard. Personally, I like to start with research, which gives me inspiration. It doesn’t matter what the process is as long as the work is finished on deadline. Email Editors I often email back and forth with editors every single day. Sometimes I may have as many as 50 lines of communication going at once. Clear and consistent communication with your editor or client is essential for ensuring they’re satisfied with the work you complete. In some cases, editors might send your work back and ask for revisions. This is something that happens to me and every other freelance writer. It doesn’t necessarily mean your work was bad. In most cases, the editor simply has a different vision for what they want. Track My Pay Everybody loves payday — I know I do. It’s tangible evidence of all the hours and effort you put into your work. But getting paid as a freelance writer is a little different than working for an employer. I have to rely on each blog post for my monthly income, so maintaining a regular posting schedule is important. To collect my payments, I send out monthly invoices and keep track of all my payments in a spreadsheet. I’m also responsible for paying my own taxes, something I have to do quarterly. There’s also the chance I won’t get paid. While it doesn’t happen often, there are bad clients out there. If this should ever happen to you, the best course of action is to consult with a local attorney. Gather Testimonials Testimonials are a great way to show potential editors and clients that you’re experienced and reliable. Each time I complete a gig and the client is satisfied, I ask them for a testimonial. This is just a quick written review of their experience. Since I like to publish testimonials on my website and portfolio, I also make sure to ask permission to use their name, business affiliation and — ideally — a photo. Push for Success Part of being a good freelance writer means continually trying to better yourself. My biggest recommendation is to keep writing. The more you practice, whether it be product descriptions, funny emails or short stories, the more you’ll improve. Some freelancers recommend taking online courses since they can be done from the comfort of your own home. Is Freelance Writing for You? I can never be sure what tomorrow will bring as a Freelance writer. But that uncertainty and excitement is all part of why I love my job. If you want to break away from the rigid routine of working in an office, consider if a career in freelance writing is for you.