A Year of Being a Full-Time Freelance Journalist

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A year ago, I left a “glamorous” career in book publishing as an editor. You may think I’m out of my mind for cutting a consistent cash flow and throwing away the relative safety of a traditional job. But I’ve always loved uncertainties, and I don’t fear the unknown. In fact, it challenges me. When someone says not to go there because it’s scary, I will smile and still go there anyway to see it for myself. So I threw everything to pursue what I’ve always wanted in life—to be the boss of my own business.

Of course, I didn’t just wake up and decided to call it quits with my previous company. I made sure to save a lot of money when things get rough. I’ve been side hustling since college—circa 2014—so the freelancing lifestyle doesn’t scare me anymore.

This month marks my first year as a full-time freelance journalist. I made it unscathed after all! It was an awesome year of discovering what direction I really wanted for my career. It was also a year of pushing limits and facing challenges head-on, no matter how hard they were.

In a year that I’ve been doing this, I learned and realized some things.

It’s a Business Ran by One Person

Being a full-time freelancer is having your own business. It’s not just a side gig or raket, as they call it. It’s a legit business on its own. Imagine yourself being the CEO of your own company. That’s how it should be.

I’m proud of the things I did so far because not everyone has the guts to leave their comfort zones and start their own companies.

Some People Think I’m Unemployed

Just because I’m in my pajamas while typing on my phone doesn’t mean that I’m not working. The most hurtful thing that I’ve heard people say so far is to “look for a real job.” That’s very disrespectful because what I do is a “real job” itself. Maybe they meant a traditional job. But I’m a writer, and everyone  knows that the creative industry can be very flexible.

There are also some people who ask me to do this and do that—drop everything and meet them when I’m brainstorming for new article ideas. They must be thinking that since I’m a freelancer, I can go out and rescue them any time of the day.

To tell you honestly, I plot my work schedule two weeks earlier. I know what I’m going to do in a particular day. If my schedule wasn’t followed, I will book an extra day to make up for the time lost.

Hey, y’all. News flash: writing is hard. I have to make a living, too, you know.

It’s Sometimes Difficult to Follow Schedules

Being a full-time freelancer, I control my time. But unless I want to starve, I still created a schedule that works for me.

I am a regular contributor for three publications. Since I’m a creature of habit, I created a schedule so that I can keep working on my assignments every day for each publication. I dedicate six hours from Monday to Saturday for work. This setup is not much different from a traditional job in a newsroom. By having a schedule, I become productive.

My typical day would be reading a book while taking notes for a Publishers Weekly review, listening to an audiobook and taking notes as well for an audiobook review for AudioFile Magazine, writing well-researched articles for Book Riot, and editing a manuscript of a client. The publications I write for are very respected in the industry, and they have high standards. Thus, I do my best to deliver results. I really take time to match the tone of my writing to their publications.

Some days, I’m in a coffee shop or a library to do research for a piece. Sometimes, I’m fact checking and editing articles.

A Year of Being a Full-Time Freelance Journalist | ArvynCerezo.com

Some Lines Get Blurred

I admit it. I’m the usual freelancer. I’ve worked in my room, in a coffee shop, in a public library, at a friend’s house, at the beach, and in some hotels. Although I have my “home office,” there are times when I answer e-mails during vacations.

This is something I’ve been working on—to draw the line between work and leisure.

Sometimes, You Make Do With What You Have

I’m lucky to have regular contributor positions for three publications. I don’t really run out of assignments to do.

Some days, I try to create a pitch for other online publications. Oftentimes, I receive an out-of-the-blue message from my website to edit this and proofread that. These book editing projects take me months to finish. That’s because I have to do substantive editing and fact checking. Some months, I get surprised to receive a royalty report from my book.

This is how the cash flows in.

And when things really get rough, I just think that I’m not a refugee being displaced in a war.

It’s a Competition, and I Have to Catch Up

Since freelance writing is oversaturated, I need to best everyone. I do what companies do to their employees—I send myself to industry-4related events to network and sign myself up to online training sessions. Well, I basically taught myself technical SEO, web development, CSS and HTML, and Spanish. I think that everything will be easier for me as well (I hope!).

I also read a lot to make sure I’m updated with industry news.

A Good Online Presence Is Everything

Before I embarked on this journey, I made sure to buy a domain and create a website. For me, it was an investment. It was a way to legitimize my business and to build my brand as a leader in my industry. I want everyone to know that I’m just not a nobody. I want companies to take me seriously.

Since I’ve done a lot of stuff in the past few years, I wanted to put them all in one place. My goal was to create a one-stop shop for everything about me—from blog, to portfolio, and résumé as well.

This project is paying off so far as I see the views spiking up on this website. On some occasions, I receive unsolicited e-mails to work for some projects.

The Bottom Line

It was such a good experience for me, and I can say that it’s been a fruitful year. Right now, I also feel like I am a different person from last year. And you know what? I think that’s the most important thing—to keep learning and growing.

Is there a chance I will go back to a nine-to-five job? Who knows? I’m very flexible, and can work in any condition whether freelance or full time. Of course I will be open to wherever life takes me.