Full-time freelance writer
being a writer

A Day in the Life of a Full-Time Freelancer

When I first got into freelancing, I really had no idea what to expect. I Googled a few things on how to find jobs and how to track my time, but I never really looked into what daily life as a freelancer would be like. I figured the whole point was that it could be anything, really, whatever I needed it to be. Trouble is, I’m a very extroverted, easily distracted person, and without some semblance of routine, I had trouble really working full-time. It’s been over a year since I started freelancing, and I’m just now really getting into the swing of things.

Full disclosure, I still don’t work a full 40 hours per week and I definitely don’t have a routine set in stone, but I think it would have been helpful when I was first starting out for me to see what a “typical” day freelancing really looked like so I thought I would share my semi-routine with you all. Still, it’s hard to reduce the crazy world of freelancing to one “normal” day. Some days I have lots of paying work lined up and it just needs done, but a big part of freelancing full-time is actually lining up that work and sending out pitches and quotes. So here are three different “typical” days in my life as a full-time freelancer: working, half work half outreach, and looking for work.

Typical Working Day:

9am – Wake up, scroll through social media for half an hour, then get out of bed

9:30am – Eat breakfast and shower

10:30am – Sit down at my desk in my office, catch up on emails, check social media some more even though it’s completely pointless because nothing interesting has happened in the last hour, then finally look at what needs done today

11am – Get started on the most pressing work task. If something is slightly less pressing, but still urgent, and I can finish it in under an hour, I typically start there to give myself a jumpstart

12pm – Get a snack

12:15pm – Keep working on whatever is most pressing. Use apps like Forest and Chrome extensions like StayFocusd to avoid getting on social media some more

1:30pm – Lunch break. Sometimes I make lunch and eat it while I continue to work, but oftentimes my brain needs a break at this point, so I’ll watch an episode or two of Parks and Rec while I eat

2pm – Keep working on the most pressing tasks

3pm – Take a break to aimlessly walk around the house or accomplish some minor chore, like tidying up or turning over laundry

3:30pm – If I’ve been working on tasks for one client all day, this is usually the time when I switch over to working on tasks for a different client. This is just because I tend to get bored working on one thing all day and switching up clients keeps my brain engaged and fresh

5:30pm – Chat with the husband about his day when he gets home. Once my husband comes home, I’m almost always done working on paying work. This is just because once my husband is home, my little extroverted heart just wants to hang out with him and it’s nearly impossible to convince myself to go back to work

6:30pm – Make dinner

7:30pm – Eat dinner and watch a show (currently we’re watching Firefly and it’s wonderful and I’m dreading coming to the end)

9pm – At this point in the day, anything can really happen. I may go straight to bed, or I might do dishes (I should really choose this option more often), but a lot of the time I use my evenings to work on unpaid work. If you’re making your living from freelancing, I recommend limiting the amount of unpaid work you do, but if you’re just getting started, sometimes unpaid work is just part of the unfortunate “paying your dues” stage. For me, my unpaid work is almost exclusively my blog

11pm – Bedtime! Yes, I realize that going to bed at 11 and getting up at 9 means I sleep for a whopping 10 hours per night, but hey I’m pregnant, give me a break

Typical Work/Outreach Day:

9am – Wake up, scroll through social media even longer, because I know I don’t necessarily have a full day’s worth of paying work lined up

10am – Breakfast and shower

11am – Get all set up in my office and proceed to mess around on social media, my blog, and any other random website that isn’t related to the limited amount of work I know I could get done in like two hours if I just sat down and did it

12pm – Realize it’s almost lunch time and I have failed to get literally anything done and decide I need to accomplish something before I’m allowed to eat. Pick a task that seems relatively simple and tackle it

1:30pm – Lunch break. On days like this, I tend to do outreach while I’m eating lunch because I always think it’s a relatively mindless task when in reality it requires great attention to detail and I almost always let my food get cold while trying to script the perfect proposal. Lunch outreach usually means getting on Guru.com (the website I use to find jobs), scrolling through the “Writing and Editing” filter, and applying to 3-7 jobs that pay decently well. If I’m lucky, one or two will actually respond and if I’m very lucky, I will actually land one of the jobs

4pm – Go back to paying work that’s already lined up because even though there’s very little of it, I’m now starting to get nervous I won’t actually get it all done today like I was supposed to

5:30pm – Half-heartedly chat with husband for a  minute before going back to work as I struggle to finish my tasks that I thought wouldn’t take long but I’m still only halfway through

7pm – Either make dinner or put husband in charge of dinner, depending on whether or not I managed to get enough work done to feel okay about stopping

8pm – Eat dinner and watch Firefly

9pm – On days where I both work and actively seek out more work, I typically use my evenings to do more creative outreach. Instead of just getting on Guru and responding to job listings, I might search for online magazines looking for contributors or look up organizations dedicated to my interests to see if they have a blog that needs consistent updates. In my experience, people rarely respond, but then again, sometimes they do

10:30pm – Crawl to the safety and warmth of my bed and try not to feel overwhelmed

Typical Outreach Day:

9am – Wake up and scroll through social media, as usual

10am – Make the bed, tidy the house, do the dishes, take a shower, maybe even start laundry or do some meal prep. Not having work lined up and waiting means I tend to take my sweet time getting around to what I need to be doing, even if it is the ever-vital task of actually obtaining work

12pm – Lunch time. I might scroll through my phone some more or turn on a show, as a reward for all my hard work around the house, which was definitely not procrastinating in disguise, no sir

1:30pm – Get all set up in my office to start looking for work, only to continue procrastinating by getting on literally any website that isn’t related to work

2:30pm – Finally get overwhelmed by boredom and frustration and decide that actually doing outreach like I’m supposed to might actually be worth it. Get on Guru, send out several proposals, reach out to various magazines and organizations, maybe update my online portfolio

4:30pm – Work on the blog. Even though it isn’t paid work, it’s still something that requires consistent care and upkeep, and outreach days always feel like the right time to get ahead on my blogging goals, probably because I can only do so much outreach before I start to feel my sanity slipping

5:30pm – Chat with the husband briefly, then continue working on the blog

6:30pm – Make dinner

7:30pm – Eat and watch Firefly

8:30pm – Watch some mindless show for a few hours before bed because I’ve spent enough time on social media and random websites today

11:30pm – Sleep, glorious sleep

So those are some pretty “typical” days for me as a freelance writer. I know, they involve a lot of mindless scrolling through social media. I’m working on changing that, but I thought you should see how my days actually go, not how I want them to go. In reality, being a freelancer and working from home means you’re easily distracted, often bored, and not nearly as productive as you think you’ll be. But that doesn’t mean you’re getting nothing done. Something is always better than nothing. Progress is better than perfection (because perfection is bullshit).

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