Many people who have 9-to-5 jobs are puzzled when I say make my own schedule. They aren’t sure how a freelance writer could make a living working for media companies and brands. 9:30 a.m. I’ve found that most people working in media and publishing offices typically start their days around 9:30 or 10:00, so I’ll log on around then and the first thing I’ll do is see what replies came in overnight. For better or for worse, it’s entirely up to me to come up with the ideas that would be interesting to work on.Most of the time, I reach out to editors I’ve worked with in the past since I’ll better odds of getting a pitch accepted. I’m part of Contently’s talent network and write for some of their clients. The interview is very straightforward. We talk through his career and focus the end on his latest single. Unfortunately, the editor I emailed from that spirits publication no longer works there, so I’ll have to find another contact. Now I’ll have to send a query to the actor’s publicist to try to set up an interview. I’m strict about starting work at the same time every morning and, I’m equally rigid when it comes to finishing at 5 p.m. As a freelancer, there’s always work to be done.
“What do you do all day?” Whether I’m making small talk with a stranger, catching up with a family member, or even chatting with a close friend, it’s a question I have to field over and over again as a freelance writer.
Many people who have 9-to-5 jobs are puzzled when I say make my own schedule. They aren’t sure how a freelance writer could make a living working for media companies and brands. There are a ton of misconceptions to clear up when it comes to my gig, and while there are plenty of perks to the career path I’ve chosen, there’s also frustration. I’m perpetually hoping each day will bring less of the latter and more of the former.
Most people assume freelancers just roll out of bed whenever they’d like. While that’s an occasional luxury, I learned early on to keep a rigid schedule. I’m diligent about starting work at 9 a.m. and ending at 5 p.m. I work every weekday with few exceptions.
Holding myself to typical work hours gives me the perfect amount of time to get a normal day’s tasks done. Most importantly, it grants me nights and weekends off. Without a schedule, my job would be a stressful free-for-all.
The quest for normalcy is also a reason I enjoy working in coffee shops. Since I’m lucky enough to live in Brooklyn, we have an embarrassment of riches in that department. From my perspective, a good coffeeshop to work in has to have two qualities: ample, comfortable seating and robust WiFi. There’s nothing worse than troubleshooting internet issues when you’re trying to be productive. (A good cup of coffee and tasty snacks aren’t bad either.)
Lately, I’ve been starting most days at two places. There’s Butler, a small, laidback bakery and cafe steps from the Williamsburg Bridge. Other days, my main workspace is Gotan, a bustling European-style eatery full of glowing laptops, which offers great breakfast and lunch.
I’ve found that most people working in media and publishing offices typically start their days around 9:30 or 10:00, so I’ll log on around then and the first thing I’ll do is see what replies came in overnight. Today, an editor wanted me to quickly punch up a piece I wrote a couple of weeks ago. It’s a commentary tinged with humor for a major men’s publication, and we need to get the language just right. I never mind punching up pieces as long as the feedback is specific. Who doesn’t want their writing to be better?
Since I cover many topics, from music to humor to general human interest, my inbox is typically drowning in a deluge of press releases and unsolicited emails from PR firms and companies around the world. Eighty percent of these pitches are useless to me, but those other 20 percent can be valuable when it comes to finding a nugget of a great new idea, a possible future gig, or a new contact.