On most days we freelance writers live sheltered lives, working in front of our computer, in our home office—absent the distractions of office co-workers, inter-office meetings, and water cooler gossip. While this may sound like an ideal job, it doesn’t mean that what we do is not like any other business. We may be self-employed but we single-handly must perform tasks often carried out by staffs of workers at large and small scale businesses.
Because working as a freelancer is like any other business, I thought I’d reveal my daily ”on-the-job” routine. My job is not like a factory where I churn out 500-word articles every thirty minutes, but it does require that I accomplish certain tasks to maintain an income and acquire more clients.
My routine described below is written in a blocks of time, but because I work independently I can be flexible with my schedule. However, to keep myself from getting too distracted, I do try to adhere to a routine. Some of these tasks might be done in the evening and on the weekends. But I mostly like to leave my weekends free for photography shoots or relaxation. Especially on Sundays I try to leave my computer to my kids, simply because it’s important to get away from the typing, web browsing, and researching.
8:30 to 10:00
Check email and read through a set of RSS feeds. Part of my reading is research for ideas and keeping current on topics for the type of articles I write, for MakeUseOf.com and AppleMatters.com. I also use some of the reading time for online networking, e.g., posting comments on blogs and in forum threads.
At least every other morning I try to spend time on job boards, such as Odesk.com, and carry out other marketing related tasks. My goal now is to apply for four or five client jobs per week.
10:00 to 2:30
Because one of my base jobs is to write a weekly column of articles for two websites, I try to draft one or two articles per day to keep up with the deadlines for those sites. The actual writing for these sites is not the hardest park of the job. It’s the time required to research topics and prepare screen shots that I will use in the articles. Revising and editing articles also require significant time and can often be tedious.
I focus next on single independent jobs, including individual projects for clients. These projects include both writing and photography related jobs.
2:30 to 3:30
I’ve started making a habit of setting aside my “final drafts,” and proofreading the work at least an hour after I finish the writing. I find that if I set aside drafts and clear my head of the writing, I can proofread the work more efficiently. In the near future I would like to contract my work out to a copy editor, because I think any writer can be critical enough to proofread his or her own work.
3:30 to 5:00
I go back through RSS feeds again to scan updates. Keeping current on news, reviews, and other technology related information is one of the ways I come up with topics for writing.
If I’m caught up on client jobs, I work on “self-projects,” which currently include writing an e-book guide, updating my blog/business site, and creating marketing material for my business.
I start winding down after 5:00pm, turning my attention to home and children responsibilities. My sister-in-law, who now lives with us, helps out a lot with preparing dinner, so my wife and I don’t have to concentrate on that responsibility. Of course her help won’t be available always, so I’m not getting used to it.
Other weekly tasks include going over my personal and business finances, keeping my office organized, sometimes taking an online course or working through a how-to book to improve job related skills, reading books and magazines, and attending a local networking event.
Working independently from home has it perks but for the most part it means you need to be organized, focused, and self-driven. Sometimes I long to work a normal 8-to-5 where I can do my job and leave it behind in the evening. But I like the flexibility of working from home and doing a variety of jobs. All this can only be accomplished if I stick to a routine and respect my job as a profession.