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A Year in the Freelance Circus: Cutting the Ties of the Nine to Five

On the 1 of October 2013, I celebrated the very first anniversary of my ‘going solo’ and pursuing a career as a freelance writer.

Having completed a degree in journalism during the spring previous, I found a nice grotty minimum-wage-paying job to see me through the approaching summer and all of the student-loan sized plans I had reflexively made during my final year of study.

A couple of months in, and after all plans had been fulfilled - I was in quite a state. Like most others graduating at the same time as me, I found myself questioning the very professional capability I had just spent three years of my life and about twenty thousand pounds of borrowed money attaining; and all before my career had even really begun!

As summer made its way towards autumn, action was finally taken. Enough was enough. “I am a writer, gosh darn it!” I proclaimed boldly*, as I handed my (completely understanding, to be fair to him) manager my notice and strutted away from the monotonous (and really, really underpaid) role once and for all.

Though I had been testing the water with several freelance job listings sites over the summer, I had no real concrete strategy in place for how I was going to approach this new occupation of mine- just the urge to make it happen and the willingness to live on an absolute bear minimum for as long as it took.

The first few months were by far the hardest. Not only was I working for more hours on client proposals and queries than it was proving to be worth (no-one replied to me for at least the first 6 weeks), but was spending an awful amount of time second guessing my decision to go solo and yes, still questioning my competence as a writer, or at least a professionally capable one.

Nevertheless, I somehow summoned the will to carry on (I really didn’t want to go back to that job of mine) and, whilst things are far from perfect, now have a reliable stream of clients who trust me to get things done for them. 

In this business, each individual is as vulnerable to an incapacitating and unforeseeable downturn as the next- and, though I do find myself enduring bad spells here and there, whether I’m unable to get my hands on any kind of substantial work for weeks on end or email/phone duelling with a client who is simply implacable and (perhaps even more annoyingly) reluctant to pay me for my services in a timely manner, I’ve still got to look on the bright side.

The modern freelance lifestyle is not one suited to everyone. After only one year I know now that only those who enjoy being their own boss, getting up whenever they want and listening to endless music of their own choosing should opt for this as a career choice…

Luckily, I absolutely thrive off each of those things, and though I could be earning a hell of a lot more money doing something else with my time, I have no doubt that I’ll get there in the end. Besides, money isn’t everything, at least not to me.  

It is my belief that the future of most industries exists on the internet, and as the first generation brought up with this immensely powerful tool at our disposal- we have no excuse not to at least try and benefit in our own ways from this seismic shift in industry calibration.


*That part didn't actually happen. 

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