, 20 tweets, 4 min read Read on Twitter
I went freelance in June 2012, so in a few months it’ll be seven years - which I probably wouldn’t have thought possible if you’d told me at the time. After this horrible fortnight of lay-offs in the industry, am sharing some freelance advice in case it’s useful to others.
1. Get yourself a buffer fund. Work out what you would need to cover your basic costs for a month and keep it in a separate account. You WILL get stuck waiting for payments and it is a huge relief to know you can still pay rent. If you use it, top it back up when you can.
Important caveat to that: I planned to go freelance so had time in a job to save a small buffer. If you’ve been laid off it might be harder/take longer to establish, but I think it’s definitely something to work towards if you want to remain freelance for any period of time.
2. Pitch a lot, pitch everywhere. Think widely about places you could write for - international publications, online only, special interest mags - and research the kinds of pieces they run (reported, opinion, word lengths, subject matter) and rates.
I used to make massive lists of outlets to approach - a longer wish list and a shorter list of immediate priorities - so it was there if I felt stuck for inspiration.
3. Develop a thick skin. I’m sensitive by nature but don’t take rejection personally. It doesn’t mean you’re stupid or have bad ideas. Go back to the editor with new ideas, repurpose the rejected pitch for another mag. I’ve had stories accepted after 2 or 3 rejections elsewhere.
4. That said - don’t just copy and paste pitches. Have a look at where you’re pitching to. This doesn’t have to be hugely in depth, just a quick search to see if your story has already been covered, a browse to see if they run reported features/opinion/whatever you’re pitching.
5. Follow up on pitches. Lots of editors have flooded inboxes so won’t reply immediately or might miss your email, especially if it’s a cold pitch. That doesn’t mean they don’t like it. I usually send a brief follow up email after a week or so.
6. When pitching, include a brief sentence or two about who you are and what your work history is, with a link to any published work relevant to the publication or story you’re pitching to. Basically you want to make it as easy as possible for whoever is reading the email.
7. Try out writing for lots of places. The longer you’re freelance, the easier it’ll be to work out which places are not worth your time because the rates are too low for the level of work or because they’re so consistently late to pay.
You’ll also get a sense of the balance of work you can manage - eg. I can work on lots of things at once but find it very challenging to work on more than one longform reported piece concurrently. Learned that the hard way by taking on too much.
8. Make lists all the time. As you get more busy, it can be difficult to keep on top of contesting demands, deadlines, interviews, and admin. No one else is keeping track of your workload and usually no one is reminding you about what you have to do and when.
9. There’s no shame in not earning all of your money from producing journalism. I’ve almost always had some kind of extra, like (my current job) editing two days a week. I’ve also had phases making 100% of my income through writing/reporting. It’s possible but it’s exhausting.
Look into copywriting, teaching, public speaking, doing reports for think tanks, editing shifts etc. They can all bolster your income and provide some stability in an unstable profession.
10. This is basic but be professional. Don’t overpromise what you can deliver. File your copy on time and without loads of typos. If there’s a delay for whatever reason, let the editor know in good time. Be polite. Communicate clearly.
11. Invoice immediately! Plan in time for admin, otherwise you don’t get paid. Remember to factor in the (shitty) fact that most places only pay after publication - so if you’re spending 6 months on a project, that’s 6 months before you get paid. Put money aside for tax.
12. Again, kind of basic, but for me it’s important to get up, have a shower and get dressed as if I was going to work, even if I’m staying home. If you need to get out of the house to focus, work in a library or coffee shop.
13. It can be isolating to suddenly work on your own, so try to offset that. For me, that’s trying to keep my freelance work to office hours so I can socialise at the weekend and in the evenings, and having freelance friends (hi @calflyn!) I can talk to and bounce ideas off.
14. Enjoy the freedom. I like being able to go to the gym in the middle of the day, stop working at 3pm if I’ve finished, get up and go for a walk if I’m stuck and come back to it later, etc. Freelancing is stressful in lots of ways, so allow yourself to enjoy the benefits too.
Okay think that’s it for now - hope that’s useful!
Missing some Tweet in this thread?
You can try to force a refresh.

Like this thread? Get email updates or save it to PDF!

Subscribe to Samira Shackle
Profile picture

Get real-time email alerts when new unrolls are available from this author!

This content may be removed anytime!

Twitter may remove this content at anytime, convert it as a PDF, save and print for later use!

Try unrolling a thread yourself!

how to unroll video

1) Follow Thread Reader App on Twitter so you can easily mention us!

2) Go to a Twitter thread (series of Tweets by the same owner) and mention us with a keyword "unroll" @threadreaderapp unroll

You can practice here first or read more on our help page!

Follow Us on Twitter!

Did Thread Reader help you today?

Support us! We are indie developers!

This site is made by just three indie developers on a laptop doing marketing, support and development! Read more about the story.

Become a Premium Member ($3.00/month or $30.00/year) and get exclusive features!

Become Premium

Too expensive? Make a small donation by buying us coffee ($5) or help with server cost ($10)

Donate via Paypal Become our Patreon

Thank you for your support!