I’m in the process of transitioning to freelance-only and will make the big change for good on Dec. 1. From then on out I will be working strictly on a contract basis. So far so good as I’m starting to take on projects now. I’m finding a good balance between long-term, bigger projects and assignments with a quicker turn-around. This is helping me with multitasking: researching, writing and pitching — all simultaneously. I’m also finding a balance between writing stories for national publications and regional and city publications.
To prepare for freelancing full time, I’ve been doing a lot of reading about how to be a successful freelance writer and how to encourage the entrepreneurial spirit within myself. I’ve always associated the word entrepreneur with money, finance and business — things I’m terrible with. (When I see numbers, I feel like I’m trying to read letters with beer goggles on. It’s confusing for me.) But as it turns out, entrepreneurial means being a self-starter, self-motivated, etc. — and I am those things! (Minus anything having to do with money.) Through my research, I’m finding that there are a few parts of freelancing that make me a little nervous though.
Sunday night I felt a wave of anxiety hit. I spent the entire weekend cloistered in our apartment, reading, sitting on my laptop and glued to the TV watching zombies (Walking Dead + Call of Duty zombie mode), and realized that the next day was Monday and I’d be in my apartment again — alone, in the silence, working by myself. Panic hit and I realized that freelancing and working from home was going to be hard for me. I’m a loud extrovert who thrives on human interaction. How the heck was I going to be OK at home, alone, working every day when I get my energy from people? The idea of rolling out of bed, putting on my glasses, throwing my hair up and brewing a pot of coffee being the only part of my morning routine scared me. An entire pot of coffee later it would be 1 p.m. and I’d still be alone at home in my pajamas, writing, editing, pitching. And then at 4 p.m. maybe I’d decide to go to the gym or for a run. My day would be peppered with frequent breaks for fresh air and dog walks in my jammies. Maybe I’d walk to the mail box. Maybe I’d get dressed in real clothes. Maybe I’d grab coffee with a friend. That depressed me.
So, as these anxieties came to a head, I did what any other Gen Y kid would do — I looked for solace in my Twitter feed. And then, as if the Twitter gods heard my prayers, @forbes tweeted these 104 characters of inspiration: 7 reasons you should try freelancing. (Click here for blog post.) I clicked on the link and was instantly hooked. The journalist Susannah Breslin, who blogs regularly for Forbes, was doing a “30 days of freelancing” series. Perfect timing. I got so excited when reading her blog that I backtracked and started reading her entire series from the beginning (so far it’s a 19-part series). It was fantastic because she said everything with such frankness. For instance, freelancing is great for a certain type of person, and oftentimes it’s awful and you will fail. She laid everything out — the good, the bad, and the really bad.
One of her posts in the series mentioned what type of person should be a freelancer — someone who can handle failure, who is a self-starter and an introvert. My stomach dropped when I read the word “introvert.” This was my main hang up and here she verified it. I woke up Monday morning and emailed her my concern.
I’m 25 and am the editor of a regional women’s publication. I’m moving to freelance-only in the next month and so far I’ve been working hard to multi-task and rake in work before I take on freelancing full time.
My big hang up is that I’m a loud extrovert and I get my energy from people, interacting with humans and honestly, commotion. (I was that weird kid in college that used to study in the cafeteria.) I’m a self-starter, am great at taking rejection/failure and criticism, but am finding the worst part of freelancing is the silence … and being at home. I don’t want to have to go to a coffee shop every day and work from there (I can a few days a week). I also don’t want to have to throw down cash to belong to one of those office workspaces you rent. Do you have any exercises/activities you can suggest for the extrovert freelancer?
Susannah got right back to me via email and then responded to my problem via her blog entitled, “I want to work from home but I’m a big mouth.” (Click here to read the blog post.) Two things. First off, awesome title. Secondly, she really figured me out quickly. Susannah made me realize I can make it work. I just need to figure out how to tailor freelancing to my extrovert personality.
And on upside, on days when I’m cloistered in my apartment at least I have my dog and cat to talk to … (right?) … and Stacey and Clinton from What Not To Wear.