By January 21, 2014 Read More →

10 tips for the freelance writer

10 tips for the freelance writer - Catherine YaffeFreelance writer Catherine Yaffe shares what she’s learnt over the past few years.

I have dabbled as a freelance writer since 2007 but took the plunge to become full time in July 2013. I knew it wasn’t an easy option and believe me there are easier ways to earn a living but once you see your name in print – it’s definitely worth it.

I am extremely lucky to have my very own Shed of Words, a small but perfectly formed (and well insulated!) garden office where I can be found most days scribbling away.

I’m generally either working on my new book Unsent Letters, writing up news stories for local businesses or creating fictional characters for my short stories. Such a varied life means different revenue streams so if one dries up you’ve always got a backup!

Along the way I’ve made mistakes, as we all do when we’re learning our trade. I hope these tips will show you some of the pitfalls to avoid as a freelance writer.

My 10 tips for the freelance writer:

1. Remember you are operating a business. It has to be profitable. Take into account the amount of time you will spend researching an article when agreeing a fee. If someone’s paying you £220 for 1,000 words and you spend three days researching it, you’re not earning much more than the national minimum wage.

2. The key to profitable working is to work on more than one commission at the same time. Spend half a day drafting and sending pitches that will allow you to build up a bank of work. It’s a good habit to get into.

3. Get a good night’s sleep – set up a to do list for the following day’s tasks, pay your taxes, whatever – it’s good to be able to sleep at night.

4. Hit that deadline – even better be a day or so early. Editors will be more likely to use you again if you make their life as easy as possible.

5. Have strict payment deadlines – and stick to them! I work on 14 days which usually means I get paid inside 30 days. A ‘Gentle Payment Reminder’ email a couple of days before payments are due can work wonders!

6. You will either be too busy or too quiet – there is no in-between.

7. Don’t spend too much time on your own. It’s dull and not very inspiring!

8. Cut the guilt and take time out for yourself… a trip to the gym, a walk in the park or a visit to an art gallery. It’s OK for your brain to dry up from time to time and it’s important to revive those creative juices by taking a break.

9. Keep hydrated. Water’s great for the brain.

10. Whatever else you do – get dressed every day! It can be so tempting to slob and stay in your PJ’s which does nothing to switch your brain into work mode and you’ll just spend the morning procrastinating!

Happy writing!

work from home secrets

Catherine Yaffe is a freelance writer based in Yorkshire and has her first book ‘Unsent Letters’ due for publication in 2014.

Posted in: Making money

2 Comments on "10 tips for the freelance writer"

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  1. Fantastic post Judy! I’m with you that it is crucial to take time out and relax every now and then. It is also a good tip to hit all deadlines so your clients know that you are reliable.

    The best way to do this, in my experience, is to be realistic about your deadlines in the first place.

    Do you always get dressed up when you work frome home? I loved your post!

    • Hi, Katrin, so pleased you liked the post and the credit is due to Catherine for generously sharing what she’s learnt 🙂
      Yes, always best to under-promise and over-deliver, no matter how tempting it is to come up with an unrealistic completion date!
      I always get dressed when working from home, but not dressed up! I’m one of the comfy home working clothes camp and once got a stern message from one of the dressed up brigade telling me I wouldn’t be as professional if I didn’t wear professional clothes. So it’s a case of personal preference and doing what works for you.