Getting Started as a Freelancer

In 2005 I wrote an article on freelancing for my alumni magazine at Northwestern. My purpose was twofold—I picked up an assignment and I got to do some personal research in hopes of launching my own freelance business one day. I thought I would post the piece here for anyone who is thinking of hanging his or her own shingle.

One of the most important things I took away from the story is that successful freelancers have a base of reliable, steady clients and still maintain a list of publications they would like to write for at some point. Finding that initial base can be the tricky part. In my case, I was able to pick up my previous employer as a client. Plus, I had been freelancing on the side for years. Both of which helped as I was getting started.
When I wrote my story in 2005, one of my sources told me that freelancers are usually working constantly. Now that I’ve joined the ranks, I couldn’t agree more. Freelancers (and writers in general, I’m sure) are either researching or writing a story, generating story ideas, pitching the next project or mulling over the business side that comes with being your own boss.
The up side, and all of my sources agreed, is that the flexibility freelancing gives you is unbelievable. This week, in addition to meeting two deadlines, seeing one story published and conducting research for some upcoming projects, I was able to take my son to his first ice skating lesson and have a picnic at the park. You can’t beat that!

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