Being a freelancer is a confusing concept. When people ask me what I do, I often pause and contemplate whether or not it’s worth getting into. Sometimes I just site one of my lines of work for simplicity’s sake. But the truth is, I’ve worked pretty hard to get here…. to a point where I have 4-5 jobs going at once but still work less than my peers. A point where I can work from home in my pyjamas, at a coffee shop or while travelling.
Working for yourself is both a blessing and a curse. It’s freeing: I have control over my schedule and a choice of where I want to spend my day. It also keeps things interesting, since the work of a freelancer is typically quite varied. However, being self-employed requires a lot of drive, organization, time management, and oftentimes, flexibility. It can be rigorous and it can be lonely. But it’s definitely a lifestyle worth trying out for those considering it.
I’ve had a lot of people ask my advice on how to break into the freelance world, so I wanted to write a post about what it is I do as a self-employer and how I do it.
Alright, so for starters, my self-employment isn’t really self-employment. I’m not a business owner. Instead, I market my skills and have individual contracts which utilize my skills. So my freelance work is divided into two marketable skills: I teach online and I write. If you’re looking to start freelancing, I suggest evaluating your skill set as well as your interests. Research your field and see if there are opportunities to work remotely or from home. In this post I’m going to discuss the work I’m knowledgeable about.
Teaching English online is a great way to progress into the freelance world. It’s very flexible and lucrative. The company I work for is called VIPKID: it’s a Chinese company and one of the biggest in the biz. Here’s why I like it:
Flexibility: VIPKID allows teachers to choose their own hours. Every Sunday, I open time slots for when I’m available that week. I love that I can adjust my availability on a weekly basis. Since my students live in China and I live in Canada, there’s a 12 hour difference between us. I open time slots in the morning (my time)... I wake up, teach for an hour or two, and move on with my day.
Good pay: You can make between $14-$22 USD an hour teaching online with VIPKID, depending on your experience level and certifications. I have a TESOL teaching cert and a year and a half of teaching experience, and I earn $20 an hour. I believe you can apply without qualifications, but you will be paid less.
How you can teach online too:
Apply with my referral code and I will help you through the process! https://t.vipkid.com.cn/mkt/landing/personal?referralToken=aa0d418e97bf619bec09567692272a47&refereeId=17203593
I currently write for two main clients, and pick up side gigs a few times month as well. It has taken me a few years to get here, since being a freelance writer majorly relies on contacts and networking. Here’s my advice for aspiring freelance writers:
1. Start local
I freelance pretty consistently for a local paper in Halifax called The Coast. I first pitched to them when I was still in journalism school, and to my surprise at the time, the pitch was accepted! Since then, I’ve interned with them, worked there full time, and now am back to freelancing. Even though I moved away from Halifax for a few years, I maintained my relationship with editors there and that has served me well.
When I lived in Vietnam, I also freelanced for a local expat publication called Saigoneer. Upon arriving in a new country, I wanted to write but didn’t know where to start. So I thought about what I did in Halifax and tried to copy those actions in my new setting. It worked! I reached out to the editor in chief, we had a meeting and then I starting writing part-time for Saigoneer! It was that easy.
2. Facebook groups
There are a few Facebook groups that I check almost daily for new opportunities. I actually landed a job with my other consistent client, Skyscanner, from one of these groups. I also have picked up several travel writing gigs through advertisements on Facebook! Check them out! Thank you to my fellow freelance friend Mel Hattie (MelHadTea) for showing these to me :)
3. Maintain your already established contacts
Once you start to build a network of contacts, freelance writing becomes a lot easier. If an editor has worked with you before and liked your work, they’re more likely to A) accept new pitches from you and B) reach out to you with new opportunities. Just this morning, an editor I wrote for last month asked if I’d like to do more writing on a different subject! Connections are vital.
While self-employment isn’t a science and will look different for everyone, I hope this post offered some insight into my world of freelancing. It’s a difficult lifestyle sometimes, but I think it’s worth a shot if you want a change from the 9-5 office grind.
Is there something else you’d like to know? Reach out to me and maybe I’ll add it to this post! :) firstname.lastname@example.org
Are you a freelancer? What advice would you offer people who are looking make the lifestyle switch? Comment below!