Stepping into the Writer's Life

  • I hate attending all these meetings at the office. It's already 2:30, and I haven't done a single thing …
  • When can I get back to doing something creative?
  • If I had more freedom with my schedule, I could try that yoga class at 11am on Wednesday …

I've worked for someone else in one capacity or another for almost 20 years now. And as the years went by, and I went from one job to another, never working for myself, thoughts like these nagged me constantly. I’m sure you’ve gone through the same thing.

Maybe you want to spend more time with your kids or family. Or learn French in France. Take a cruise through the fjords in Norway. You get the idea.

But things have changed.

I'm now living the writer's life as a freelancer. I recently finished a six-month contract with a software company and am now freelancing full-time. I couldn't be happier.

How did I got from working for somebody else to going out on my own?

I took Three Big Steps. And I think they'll help you get closer to your freelance life.

Step 1- Add new skills to your toolbox

I’d worked as a technical writer for the last 12 years for software companies, so I wanted to keep writing.

After discovering AWAI in 2009 and reading through the available training in all sorts of different niches, I decided that copywriting would be the perfect fit. It would allow me to use my existing skills, as well as flex my creative muscles by writing persuasive copy.

I started with The Accelerated Program for Six-Figure Copywriting to ground me in copywriting basics. Next, I took the Secrets of Writing High Performance B2B Copy, and The Business Side of B2B Copywriting to help me get set up for B2B copywriting. (B2B is business-to-business, which targets companies that sell products or services to other companies, not consumers directly.)

If copywriting is not your thing, AWAI has other programs to help you transform your career: travel writing, Internet research, graphic design, web writing, photography … whatever your interests, they can help.

You can take AWAI programs at your own pace. So if you were like me, still working a day job, you can do it at night or on the weekends. You make up your own schedule.

Step 2 – Get organized

While working through the programs, I realized that I needed to get more organized to make sure I fit in everything from my day job to my AWAI coursework to my house work. Every Sunday morning I would sit down for an hour or so and lay it all out. Evenings were for homework and getting some exercise. Days were for the day job. Weekends were for house work and relaxation. This kept me going as I worked through the programs.

If you've got a family, you might need a family meeting to sort it all out. You may have to squeeze in your homework between your kid's hockey or soccer practice. Your spouse can help with the grocery shopping or laundry. If your kids are older, ask them to take the trash out each week. The point is, you need to get buy-in from everyone to make it work. Remember, transforming your career will benefit everyone, so it's important that they understand that and know how they fit in to those plans.

I also started putting money aside for that moment when I was freelancing. I wanted to have a bit of a nest egg for when times were slow. I'd recommend you do that as well. How much you save is up to you. I had approximately five months of expenses saved up, as I wanted to concentrate on my freelancing business with no worries.

Step 3 – Work up the courage and Jump!

After this prep work, it was finally time to jump into the freelancing life. It took me almost two years from my conscious decision to become a freelancer to just go for it. I worked part-time freelancing while I still had my day job. I wanted to be sure the freelancing path was right for me. Some freelancers do this in order to build up a certain income level before making the jump. If you're not sure which approach is right for you, these articles from AWAI can help:

My own exit into full-time freelancing took a bit of detour from my plan. A friend made an offer that I just couldn't refuse: a freelance contract for a project at her company for six months. While this wasn't my "ideal" freelancing job, it certainly was a great way to ease into it.

I still went to an office every day, but only worked on one project. I was so "un"-busy that I was able to continue my promoting my freelance business on the side, and work with the one client I had already gained earlier in the year. I put aside a bit more money in my savings account. I attended webinars online at lunchtime. I read industry-related newsletters, and started networking with new people. (This is the sort of thing you could be doing right now to kick-start your freelance career.) And now that the contract is over, I am fully into my writer's life, and I love it!

I hope you'll be living your writer's life soon too. If you see me at a networking event or conference in the future, come up and say "Hi!" and let me know how you’re doing.

Julia Borgini helps geeks sell their stuff. She writes winning case studies and engaging website content for enterprise software companies, making it easier for their sales people to close business. To find out how she does it, visit, or follow her on Twitter @spacebarpress.

The Professional Writers’ Alliance

The Professional Writers’ Alliance

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Published: January 16, 2013

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