Looking Forward: Life as a Freelance Writer

Over the course of my internship, I’ve had the opportunity to converse with many writers who’ve worked as freelancers. Below are some of the best tips they’ve given me.

1. Write whatever people will let you write.

One of our main editors used to write an enormous amount of copy for a fundamentalist Lutheran magazine. The lesson he’s passed down to me is: when you’re first starting out you don’t yet have the authority to turn down freelance jobs because they don’t interest you. Save the no’s for later, when your plate is already full and you can afford to pass up an opportunity.

2. Think of yourself like a small business.

If you haven’t started already, now is the time to learn how to read the legal jargon of a freelancing-ratecontract, how to negotiate payment terms, and how to write invoices that your clients will honor. It’s also the time to start learning the intricacies of tax law such as what you can write off as a business expense and how to budget accordingly so you don’t end up owning money when April rolls around again.

3. It’s hard, but fun, work!

The life of a freelancer may not always seem glamorous, but it allows you the freedom to pursue topics that interest you and work with publications that respect you and your talent. It takes a certain go-get-em mentality, but if you can muster up the courage it’s a great way to make your living and have some freedom doing it!

Nicole Cordier

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4 Responses to Looking Forward: Life as a Freelance Writer

  1. pdxsx says:

    Fantastic advice, Nicole. Especially the part about freelancing, tax write-offs and invoices. You rocked this penultimate post, lady!

  2. simonemyers says:

    Thanks for this post, Nicole! I never thought that I’d be freelancing; but one of my internships is having me work with them as sort of a freelancer, so tip number two was definitely on point with my situation. The first time I looked at the invoice they sent me, I was so confused!

  3. cbuch232 says:

    This is really interesting Nicole! I agree that it’s vital for us young journalists to know what we’re worth and I think your chart provides a good value estimate.I just got offered a freelance gig to write for a school district, but I’m guessing the chart wouldn’t apply to that but understanding tax law and learning how to write invoices could be very useful. I also agree that the freedoms involved with freelancing seem very attractive for now, but obviously eventually we’ll want something more steady. Thanks for the insight!

  4. hansonlauraj says:

    Nicole, are you thinking of going into freelancing? That’s awesome! Thank you for the great advice. I remember hearing a lot of this advice when I took Feature Writing at the J-School. The best tip I heard was to get a separate credit card to use for freelancing payments. That way, you’re able to keep all of your tax write-off payments in the same place.

    Thanks for the reminder about how invaluable it is to cultivate a broad freelance network!

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