How I became a freelance content writer

A while ago, I was interviewed about why and how I became a freelance content writer. Here’s the story I shared.

The start of my journey with fibromyalgia

I developed fibromyalgia one Saturday afternoon when I had just turned thirty. I was out shopping with my husband, when I suddenly experienced shooting pains in both legs. By the time I got home, the pain had spread to my arms and by the end of the day, I was feeling so exhausted that I could hardly walk to the end of the garden path.

Although my illness began with chronic fatigue, the pain gradually intensified until it felt like my skull was on fire. I was just about able
to walk around at home but I couldn’t sleep properly until my lovely GP managed to find a combination of really strong painkillers that made things more bearable.

At this point, I couldn’t even tolerate wearing shoes for long, as every step that I took hurt my head. This meant that I couldn’t go out much, and we even had to change the car, because I felt every bump. I also had to stop working.

That was 18 years ago and I am feeling much better now, thanks to effective medication and a flexible work life. I try to take every day as it comes though, as I have had a few minor flare-ups.

Becoming mum

When I initially developed fibro, I was working part-time as an English tutor for my local adult education service. I was super excited about developing my career and my husband and I were about to start a family, as my job was flexible and came with excellent childcare facilities.

When fibro struck, my plans completely fell apart and I began to wonder if I’d ever become a mum. However, just a few months after I left work due to my illness, I bumped into a lovely lady whose fibromyalgia was much worse than mine. She invited me round for coffee, shared her experiences of parenting with a chronic illness and convinced me that I could cope with becoming a parent. One year later, my daughter was born (she’s now 17).

Freelancing with a family

An image of a laptop, notebook, pens and coffee on the desk where I plan my blog writing.

As my baby grew into a little girl, I found myself feeling restless. I wanted to work, but I knew that I wasn’t ready to go back into a teaching job, as I was still struggling with pain. So I started to think about alternative careers.

One day, I was reading a magazine I subscribed to, when I noticed that the editor was looking for new contributors. I’d always enjoyed writing, so I started to scribble down some article ideas and sent them off via email. I wasn’t really expecting anything to happen, so I was astonished when the editor replied, commissioning me to write the first of several articles for her.

Realising that I had discovered a potential career path, I kept an eye out for more writing opportunities and I quickly found a regular gig writing remotely for a parenting website. I then joined a digital agency that was looking for freelance content writers to work remotely. I haven’t stopped writing since!

Being a freelance content writer is brilliant, as I’m able to work from home and at my own pace. If I’m having a good day, I’ll write from nine until four-thirty, so that I can afford a little flexibility on bad days. I also feel incredibly relaxed at home, as there are no office politics to worry about and I don’t have to worry about trying to attend work socials.

Top tips for aspring freelance content writers

If you’re considering becoming a freelance content writer but you have a chronic condition that sometimes limits your activity, don’t take on too much at the start. Be realistic. You’ll soon know how much work you can cope with. Also, try to work with people who respect you and don’t let anyone mess you around, as that can be really stressful. I’ve learned this the hard way!

If it’s possible, try to do your work in a room that you can close the door on, as this will help you to switch off and relax properly when you stop. Make time to rest properly. Switch off the computer at the end of the day and always take a lunch break. I allow myself 30 minutes to check Facebook and Twitter at the start and end of the day, as I can then resist looking when I’m struggling to write!

Finding content writing gigs

I’ve found quite a few writing gigs on job sites like Indeed, so it’s worth a look, as remote jobs appear daily. This is where I saw the advert for my first content writing gig, which gave me the opportunity to write for some big brands and build my portfolio.

Avoid accepting ridiculously low pay even when you don’t have much experience, because it’s hard to put your prices up once you’ve set a low rate. Visit the ProCopywriters website for average copywriting rates and lots of tips from experienced writers.

If you fancy exploring content writing as a career, it’s also worth checking out local digital agencies, as they are often open to receiving samples from freelancers. Use Google to search for a few local agencies and visit their careers pages to discover whether they outsource any work.

Networking with other freelancers is also a great way to learn and pick up work, so I’m a member of Freelance Heroes which is a fantastic community on Facebook. I would definitely recommend joining groups like this, as you can ask for advice, share your blog posts and find writing gigs. Make sure you connect with other writers/editors on LinkedIn too.

Freelancing pitfalls

I’ve only encountered problems when I’ve taken on too much work. When this happens I get tired and stressed, which can lead to a mini flare-up. So I’ve now reached the point where’ve learned to say no. For example, a marketing manager rang me up last week. She worked for a digital agency and wanted me to “dash off” a few key website pages for various dental websites.

In the past, I might have accepted the work, but I knew that I only really had time to meet the deadlines I already had. Also, the rate the manager offered me was ridiculously low and I value my skills. So I said no, but I agreed to connect on LinkedIn.

Although it’s hard to turn down work when you’re starting out as a writer, I would recommend only accepting deadlines you can manage and rates that are fair. There are plenty of people out there who are wonderful to work with, so it’s worth the wait.

Looking for an experienced freelance content writer to write your blog posts, articles or website content? Feel free to contact me via my contact form or drop me a DM on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.

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