February - a magical month
February was a good month. Although my monthly income was much lower than this time last year, I had a couple of experiences where I seriously pinched myself at the opportunities I’ve been given since becoming a freelance writer. So often we are solitary workers at home, in a cafe or a co-working space, and it’s rare to have any significant amount of time with other writers. So when it does happen it feels like a blessing.
February - a magical month
In terms of feature articles for magazines and newspapers, this month I:
Pitched: 5 (this includes re-pitching ideas that have been rejected)
Commissions from pitches or query letters: 4
Offers: 4 (where an editor approached me with a commission)
In terms of feature articles for corporate and B2B clients: (I don’t pitch these)
Overall, for February I filed: 10 articles
Lowlights of February
Thankfully, I actually didn’t have too many lowlights in February.
It’s taking me a little bit of time to readjust from my hectic schedule of the last couple of years where I was really pushing myself to earn a certain amount of money each month, to concentrating on building my course and systematically planning where I want to be in the next 12 months - 5 years.
While I am still setting a monthly income target, I recognise that working three days a week and concentrating on travel writing as the main kind of feature writing I’m doing, as well as developing a course isn’t going to bring in the same amount of income as it has in the last couple of years.
I’m still having headaches with the tech side of my course and I seriously underestimated just how difficult and time consuming this part of it was going to be.
For everyone who is interested (and patient) - thank you - the course is coming, I promise. Just a lot slower than I ever anticipated.
I also had a massive tax bill to pay this month, and while I knew it was coming and had put the money aside, it still hits your bank account (and heart) hard to see your balance drop by tens of thousands of dollars.
Highlights of February
I had loads of highlights in February.
Harry Potter and The Cursed Child
My second famil of the year was undoubtedly one of the best.
In early December I received an email inviting me on a famil or press trip, where I would be able to attend a preview performance of Harry Potter and The Cursed Child, a week ahead of the gala opening in Melbourne.
I think the email had been in my inbox for fewer than 10 seconds before I replied.
Can you tell that I’m a big Harry Potter fan?
I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that I am intrigued by the world JK Rowling created, and the intricacy and depth of her planning - did you know she spent five years plotting the twists and turns of each of the seven books in the series?
I find that kind of dedication and concentration incredibly inspiring.
I have also been reading the Harry Potter books to my son for a little over a year (we’ve paused after number four - The Goblet of Fire - as the books get decidedly grim and dark, and I’m not sure my 7 year old is robust enough yet), so Harry Potter was fresh in my mind when I received the invitation - I literally ran around whooping with joy.
While I was on the famil (it was by far the biggest one I’ve ever been on - 30 journalists from seven countries), I couldn’t help but feel so grateful for the opportunities that freelancing has offered me.
After the first night (the play is split into two parts so you can either see it as a matinee and evening or over two nights), we had drinks with the cast (I had a drink with Harry Potter!) and the next day we met the director and had a chance to go behind the scenes at the beautiful Princess Theatre in Melbourne.
Talk about lucky. And the show is incredible. Magical. Wonderful.
The only downside was that it was my son’s birthday on the first night of the performance.
I must admit, I only told him that I was ‘away for work’ until I had returned from the press trip, complete with merchandise for him to soften the blow.
It was his party a few days later and I think I made it up to him with a golden snitch piñata (you can see a pic on my Instagram). What do you think?
I also went to Travmedia’s IMM in Sydney, and while the day was as busy as ever, I felt like I made more use of my time there and was more systematic in the meetings that I had.
I even had an exciting offer of a famil that came out of an IMM appointment (but I’ll save that news for next month because I technically got the offer on 1 March)
But mostly, it was wonderful to catch up with ‘old’ freelancing friends and meet new ones.
I caught up with writers that I’ve known for a few years mostly through online communities, as well as a former-editor-now-freelance-writer I met on a press trip who has become a very good friend, and I also met several people who read this blog. I can’t tell you how lovely it was to hear about their lives, writing and travel plans. And I’m so glad in some small way this blog helped some people find out about IMM and attend.
The benefit of being speedy
Earlier in February I wrote about the one attribute you need to make more money, and funnily enough, just after that post went live, I received two offers of work.
The first was from a small business owner that I’ve written for in the past asking me if I was able to write a blog post for her and as it was timely, turn it around within 48 hours.
I could have done it.
I could have shuffled and juggled and made it work, but I’m not really interested in writing for small businesses anymore (see my link to the post above) and it wouldn’t have been worth my while, even if I had asked for a rush fee.
So I said no.
Later that afternoon, I received an email from an editor at a content agency that I occasionally do some work for saying that she had a brief that she needed turned around by 10am the next day (it was 2.30pm when she emailed).
I took a look at the brief and emailed her back immediately saying I could do it.
Why? Because the rate worked out to be more than $1/word, the brief was clear and the article only needed desk research, no interviews.
Of course, it’s not always going to happen like that.
Sometimes you’ll turn down work and there will be tumbleweeds for days or weeks afterwards, but I do believe that if you stick to your guns and know what you are worth, then you will find clients who are willing to pay you well for your words.
Branching out from freelance writing
As most of you know, I’m not offering coaching for a little while as I get my course up and running, but I still had a few sessions booked in with people who organised their coaching a while back.
I had a really interesting session with a cinematographer who is based in Toronto, who had reached out because he wanted to see if my freelance writing techniques and strategies of attracting clients could be translated into another field.
I love the idea that some of my strategies can be used in areas other than writing - I’m really hopeful that he’ll see success from implementing some of the techniques we talked about.
I was thrilled that The Freelancer’s Year was included as one of the 50 best writing blogs in 2018 according to UK Writers Hub. It’s a stellar list of resources that I’m steadily making my way through, so I’m incredibly happy to be included.
A resource I’d recommend for freelancers
I’m probably way behind the times (in fact I know I am), but I’m really enjoying Gretchen Rubin’s blog and resources.
Gretchen is a bit of a guru when it comes to habits, human nature and happiness, and believes that people tend to have main four tendencies - we are either Obligers, Upholders, Rebels or Questioners.
Upholders want to know what should be done
Questioners want justifications
Obligers need accountability
Rebels want freedom to do something their own way
I took her quick quiz about the four tendencies and found it so useful to think about how I respond to expectations.
I also really loved her blog post about whether you’re a marathoner or a sprinter when it comes to work - I love the way she describes sprinters (which I so clearly am) and how they differ from procrastinators:
From my observation, sprinters deliberately wait for the pressure of a deadline to help clarify their thinking… Another friend has a book to write, but she won't start until a few months before it's due. She likes to sprint, and she knows how long it will take her to write the book, so she doesn't want to start until she'll feel the deadline pressure.
This approach seems different from procrastination. With procrastination, people feel as though they should be working, and they wish they could work, but somehow they can't make themselves. They aren't choosing to hold back; they can't force themselves forward until the deadline is so urgent that they must act.
Just reading that has made me re-evaluate how I describe myself - sprinter sounds much nicer than procrastinator, don’t you think?!
My income for January
On average, I’m working three days a week so I set myself an income target of $6,000 for February.
Similarly to last month, I ended up getting commissioned $5593.
I invoiced for total of $6,741 in February.
I’m definitely noticing that as I focus more on travel writing that my income is dropping.
Last year I was working 3 - 4 days a week on average but because I was doing more corporate work I was able to maintain similar earnings to 2017.
It’s not something that I’m worried or stressed about, just something that I’m noticing - even two or three jobs a month that pay 50c/word compared to 80c/word can end up making a big difference, especially because with travel you might be out for a few days (or more) and so you’re not writing during that time and then you have to write the story once you get home.
Before I finish, I’d love to ask you all a favour - I have my content scheduled for the next month or so, but after that I’d love to hear what kinds of posts you’d like to read.
More interviews with editors?
More interviews with writers?
Less travel writing content?
More content about how to find high-paying corporate clients?
Please feel free to comment or email me: lindy [at] lindyalexander.net - I want to make this blog as useful for you as possible.
How was your February? What was your highlight or lowlight of the month?