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5 things i learned after 5 months of freelancing

Even though I have a regular 9-5 job working at a magazine I’ve always admired, my side hustle has been especially lucrative lately. I’ve been doing a lot of freelance writing, simultaneously bulking up my portfolio as a writer and making some extra spending money. There’s something wonderfully appealing about freelancing…you can work from home (or anywhere in the world with an Internet connection), have flexibility with deadlines, and get to write about things that interest you.

I know some people do this full time–I’m not sure I ever could, since the money varies month to month, but so far it’s been a great way for me to profit from something I’m passionate about–and something I’d literally be doing for free, anyway (cue: this blog). Here are five things I’ve learned since stepping up my freelance game in June.

1. It will take forever to get paid.

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Between waiting for invoices to be approved and checks to go in the mail, expect to wait a month until you see payment for your story.

2. Keep track of EVERYTHING.

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I write for multiple sites, and it quickly became difficult to keep track of who had paid me and who I still needed to send invoices to. I use Google Sheets to keep track of every story I sell, and note within this document which pieces have been invoiced and paid.

3. Follow up.

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Editors are busy–you’re probably one of many writers they deal with, so if you don’t hear back for a few days, don’t take it personally. Don’t be afraid to follow up…especially if they owe you money.

4. Use a dedicated workspace.

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Some people are good at working from home, and while I like the idea very much, I’m not one of them–though that may change once it gets colder and I don’t want to leave my apartment. If I have an overwhelming amount of work to do, I take my laptop to a local coffee shop and stay there until the battery dies.

5. Pitch as many ideas as you have.

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I send dozens of pitches a week, knowing that only a handful will get picked up. I’ve learned that I have a better chance of getting more stories picked up if I pitch more in the first place!

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FINALly

My semester from hell is finally coming to an end. In less than two weeks, biology labs, late nights in the darkroom, and hours of online homework will cease to exist. The beginning of this semester, I suffered some sort of mental break and decided to change my course of study. When I registered for classes for the fall semester of my junior year, I originally had a schedule packed with journalism and art history classes, but two weeks before summer break ended, I switched my schedule to follow a pre-med track. This misguided decision has caused me to withdraw from one class (a first), found myself in danger of failing another (another first), and faced more stress than I have ever handled.

The silver lining of this semester is the reassurance it has provided that I’m supposed to be a writer. The struggle I have had for the past three months has driven my desire to become a journalist more than ever before. Failure in one field has made me feel like I am actually capable of achieving my dreams.

Better things are ahead, but in the meantime, I will be at my desk until my exams are over, and have stocked my pantry with plenty of coffee and microwavable meals.

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currently:

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