7 Lessons From My First Six Months as a Freelance Writer

Published on 10/3/2023

I can’t believe it’s been six months since I left the only real job I’ve ever known and dived into freelancing with barely any safety net. I was so terrified when I did that, and I couldn’t stop asking anyone who would listen whether they thought I had made a terrible mistake.

It’s been six months, and I can safely say that I did not make a mistake. But I’ve definitely made a lot of smaller mistakes along the way, and I’m learning new things as I go.

I have grown so much as a writer over these six months and I’m excited to share my biggest lessons with you all.

1. I need to take more advantage of the freedom

I am my own boss. I have to remind myself of that sometimes.

I’m my own boss, I can work whatever hours I choose, and yet every day I get up and work from 9 to 5. Part of this is the benefits of a routine, especially as I’ve struggled a lot with my mental health lately. I also find myself to be more productive in the mornings. I’m a boring girlie at heart, who likes to get up, go for a walk, eat breakfast and then settle down behind her desk.

But the difference is now I don’t have to do this. I was in France a few weeks ago visiting one of my sisters, and I realised that I didn’t have to work that day. So I decided not to. September was turning out to be my best month yet, with an actual salary, and so I took the day to go for a hike and read at the beach. It was wonderful and I managed to push away any feelings of guilt.

I need to learn to embrace the freedom of freelancing more. I need to not see time spent doing other things as cheating. There are so many benefits to being a freelancer, and I need to start taking more advantage of them, and also finding what works best for me.

2. Building a relationship with editors

Initially, I assumed that I’d be writing primarily for clients, similar to what I did at my last job. Well, it turned out that getting new clients is pretty difficult. Companies big enough to afford you have someone in-house, and companies small enough not to have a dedicated person usually won’t pay a decent rate for it.

But then this extra time allowed me to pitch to more online publications, and it was really disheartening at first. I sent about thirty pitches before I ever landed an article. But I kept pitching to that editor, and we built up a working relationship where I’m now doing regular articles for them. We’ve built up a rapport and she even approaches me with articles she wants. I’m becoming a bit of a Swiftie expert and I don’t really mind it.

It’s so hard to get your foot in the door with these online publications, but once you do, it gets a lot easier. So keep pushing on. Now I’ve been published by Pop Sugar, Betches, Time Out, and Insider, with hopefully more to come!

3. Clients can also find you

I found one of my clients through cold emailing and another through a referral, and then from there it was getting quite difficult. I started getting a lot of work writing articles for online publications, and then out of nowhere, a client landed in my inbox. I’m still seeing if it’s going to work out for us, but it was a wonderful reminder that clients can find you as well. I made sure to ask them how they found me, and apparently, it was just through searching for native English-speaking copywriters!

So take the time to update your LinkedIn and get some references, it goes a long way! A big tip I also received is to make sure your LinkedIn represents you well. I don’t make mine unnecessarily formal and business-like as that’s simply not who I am. I’m skilled in creating a personal connection with readers, and I want my profile to reflect this.

4. Don’t budge too much on price

People always say it and yet we don’t listen! I was feeling quite desperate for work so I accepted tasks way below my asking price. It seemed better to have any work than no work, and sometimes it is. But especially for long-term projects, it is so frustrating to be fixed to this lower price. You’re putting in a lot of work and aiming for high-quality results, and yet knowing that all these hours aren’t adding up to much. I just want to be able to comfortably pay my bills, and when a full day’s work isn’t producing much profit, it’s hard to feel good about that.

So I now always aim slightly higher than I expect to get, so that the negotiations can have us fall at an amount that we’re both comfortable with. I’ve also accepted that if someone doesn’t want to pay my rate, then that’s okay, we’re both better off finding something more suitable. I know the worth of my work, and my long-term clients do as well, so I’m not going to mourn those lost opportunities. Getting a slightly higher rate means I can dedicate more time to that client and do the best job possible.

5. People don’t need to understand what I do

I’m really fortunate in the support I’ve received from my friends and family on my freelance journey. I expected some resistance or concern, but they all truly believed in me, and that means the world to me. They’ve cheered me on as I go and reassured my constant worries about money and what on earth I’m doing in life.

On the other hand, there are a lot of people who don’t get what I do. They think I’m just slacking off or that I overcharge for what I offer. It can be confusing to see a freelancer’s rate, as you don’t realise how much occurs outside of that paid hour, or how much goes to taxes.

I’ve come to accept that people don’t need to understand what I do. I don’t need their respect or approval. I always remind myself of this great quote I heard on my favourite podcast, “If you wouldn’t go to them for advice, why do you accept criticism from them?”

I’m learning to keep my head down and focus on the work I’ve got ahead of me.

6. I still need my little corner of the internet

I got a bit slack in posting here, as I suddenly had so many other things to write and the looming threat of not earning enough each month. But now I’m getting a better hang on things, and I realise how grateful I am to have this space. Now that so much of my writing is for clients or online publications, I need this space more than ever. I need the room to share my unfiltered self, not through the lens of an online publication or the voice of a client. I need a place to be unapologetically myself and not feel as much on display.

I am so grateful for my little corner of the internet and everyone who reads, claps or comments on my articles. I will not be leaving here anytime soon, and I hope to be better at uploading regular content!

7. Look after yourself better

It is too easy to go a full day without speaking to anyone or leaving my house. I am still adjusting to the lack of social time in freelancing, and I need to get better at planning things for myself. I need to schedule more things with friends, find more freelancer friends online, and push myself away from my comfy office chair.

I want to be more on top of things. I got overwhelmed with work in the last month and let everything just wash over me. I want to have an up-to-date calendar and reminders and organised spreadsheets. The latter might be out of reach for me, but I’ll try my best.

I also need to create better work-life boundaries. One of the publications I do the most for is located in the US, so I feel like I’m working on my timezone as well as theirs. I hate how often I check my emails in the evening, and I never feel like I’m switching off anymore.

I’m a little frazzled lately, so I need to stop laughing that off, and actually put guards in place to take care of myself.

My freelance journey has been about taking things one little step at a time. But I took a minute to look back at the last six months and see how all of those steps have added up to quite the journey. I feel proud of what I’ve accomplished and excited to see what’s next. I feel like I’m in the right place right now, and that’s such a satisfying feeling. I have a lot to learn, I have a lot of bills to still be able to pay, but I’m on my way.



Welcome to Symptoms of Living! A place where I like to relieve myself of the barrage of thoughts and ideas filling my mind. Here I'll take a look at various topics, from books to BPD, series to self-harm, there's nothing that we can't, and shouldn't, talk about.

Having struggled with mental illness since the age of 15, one of the hardest parts was how alone I felt in it. While mental illness is beginning to be discussed more openly, and featured in the media, I still think there is room for improvement. So whether it is mental illness or merely mental health, a bad day or a bad year, let's make this a place to approach it and strip it back. Everyone has their own symptoms of living, and you certainly won't be the only one with it.

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