A Day in the Life of a Freelance Writer

  • Sumo
After donning a cap and gown in 1999, I ventured into the print media industry as a photojournalist and features writer for a few daily and weekly newspapers. Since no journey is complete without a few detours, I'm also happy to say I've also worked as a cashier, sold cameras, tried to open my own photo studio and have spent time as a volunteer coordinator.
After donning a cap and gown in 1999, I ventured into the print media industry as a photojournalist and features writer for a few daily and weekly newspapers. Since no journey is complete without a few detours, I’m happy to say I’ve also worked as a cashier, sold cameras, tried to open my own photo studio and have spent time as a volunteer coordinator.

This summer I’ll celebrate seven years as a full-time freelancer.

A week doesn’t go by that I don’t field questions about how to be successful and grow a freelance business. The short answer: consistency. I work at sustaining and growing my freelance writing client list and income each and every single day.

So, how do I do that?

Here’s a breakdown of a typical day for me.

6:30am: Peek at my smartphone while trying not to wake up the dogs. Delete random promotional work emails that I’ll never read and catch up on Twitter notifications that popped in overnight. If I’m really motivated, I might sneak in 15 minutes of yoga or watch the news on TV.

7:30am: Feed the dogs, whip up a smoothie and get ready for the day. Since I work from home, this usually means brushing my teeth, putting my hair in a ponytail and staying in pajamas until I get dressed for the gym.

A Day in the Life of a Freelance Writer
Aronia berry smoothie! Yes, please!

7:50am: Open 15+ tabs on my desktop computer and check Google Calendar for the day’s agenda. I map out time to write, research, market my business, exercise and take breaks.

8:00am: Clean out my email inboxes, reply to messages, browse social media and respond to comments. I manage four Facebook pages, Twitter, Pinterest, StumbleUpon, Google+ and LinkedIn for my business, so I have to stay on track to get all of this done in an hour. Sometimes I add a few scheduled posts to Buffer or jot down proposal ideas to work on later.

9:00am: I tackle my first writing project of the day. Sometimes I’m revising and polishing a draft. Other times I’m starting from scratch. Today, I’m penning this post during this time slot.

9:55am: Pull myself away from the keyboard and slip into a swimsuit. I need to get out the door in about 10 minutes to make it to my aqua therapy class at the local gym. I attend three days a week to keep my rheumatoid arthritis in check and to socialize. Working from home can get pretty quiet at times.

pool_friends
This was snapped at a Halloween party in the pool. I’m the orange pumpkin on the far end!

10:30-11:30am: Exercise! If I’m not healthy, my business isn’t healthy!

11:30-12pm: Shower, get dressed and head back home.

12-1:00pm: Make and eat lunch. I focus on a whole foods diet, so no fast food or microwave dinners for me. I often roast veggies in the oven, make a bean burger, warm up homemade soup or chop tons of veggies for a fresh salad. Sometimes I’ll wash dishes or fold laundry while lunch cooks. Or, I catch up on Facebook and return personal calls.

salad_dressing_1
1:00pm: Check back in on email and social media messages. Pray that sources have replied to my messages and a few publication notices linger in my inbox. I love seeing progress!

1:30pm: Start another writing project. This might be doing some research, creating an outline, writing or editing a previous draft. This usually lasts an hour or two. During the afternoons, time gets away from me when I’m in the writing zone. I’ve worked through dinner without any clue…multiple times.

3:00pm: Break! I usually make a cup of hot herbal tea and enjoy a snack with the dogs. Sometimes we relax outside in the sun for a few minutes or snuggle on the floor.

A Day in the Life of a Freelance Writer
Break time with the furry co-workers!

3:30pm: Back to work. I’ll switch gears and focus on writing for one of my blogs (not a client) or doing some marketing work for myself. I maintain my own website and social media feeds as promotional tools, so there are always plugins to update, posts to write and broken links to fix. Sometimes I work on photos for my clients or my blogs in the afternoon.

4:00pm: I’ll wrap up the day by working on another draft. I prefer to start the next day with something already created, so I can drive right into writing. Blank screens in the morning make me feel less productive.

We're an increasingly mobile society. That often means working away from our desks and at odd hours of the day. I too am a digital nomad. Today I'm writing from a hotel room on a laptop. http://wp.me/p3QyJU-jR
We’re an increasingly mobile society. That often means working away from our desks and at odd hours of the day. I too am a digital nomad. Here, I’m writing from a hotel room.

5:00pm: I’ll check in on email and social media quick and schedule a few posts for when I’m away enjoying dinner or evening activities with my family. I also add new writing assignments that have popped in throughout the day from my ongoing clients to Google Calendar.

5:30pm: Start prepping dinner. The hubby and I love to cook, so there’s a good chance we might be whipping up homemade lasagna, Chinese food or taco bowls.

eggrolls2
Egg rolls and veggie stir fry! Yum!

6:00pm: Eat dinner and relax with something on Netflix. We don’t watch enough TV to pay for cable or satellite dish. We love house remodeling shows and can’t wait for the next season of Deadliest Catch. I’m also a sucker for Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Law and Order.

7:30pm: Take the dogs for a walk or catch up on a few things around the house. We try to do most of the house cleaning and laundry on the weekend, but it’s nice to get ahead during the week when we can. Check in on work email to make sure nothing has exploded or needs immediate attention.

A Day in the Life of a Freelance Writer
The pups love rides in the Jeep just as much as going for walks!

8:00pm: Head back to the computer and work on edits or last-minute projects with short deadlines. Or, sometimes I just feel like writing for my personal blog, Cupcakes and Yoga Pants. If the hubby is working late, I’ll stay online for a few hours networking on Twitter and brainstorming pitches for clients. I’m always looking for my next writing project, even when my calendar is booked for weeks at a time.

10:00pm: Bedtime. I usually read fiction, a few favorite blogs or catch up on my personal social media feeds in the evening. Who am I kidding? I also land on my business accounts to post about random things, like dreaming about ice cream.

Rinse and repeat five or six days a week. Sometimes I also work Sunday to meet tight deadlines. It’s tough to turn down extra projects when you have a stack of vet and house repair bills lingering on your desk.

I can't complain about working in my yellow ducky slippers or taking a lunch break in the backyard with my pups. But, working from home has challenges. I'm prone to writer's butt and hermit habits.
I can’t complain about working in my yellow ducky slippers or taking a lunch break in the backyard with my pups. But, working from home has challenges. I’m prone to writer’s butt and hermit habits.

Of course there are days when I budget time to catch up on accounting work like invoicing and printing end-of-month reports, attend webinars, participate in client meetings, apply for new projects or conduct phone interviews.

No two days are ever identical, and that’s what I love about my career. Although the freelance business doesn’t fit neatly inside a 9-to-5 package, that’s just fine with me. As long as I’m learning and creating, I’m a happy gal!

How do you spend your days? If you’ve done a day in the life post, I’d love to read it. Share a link with me in the comments below!

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