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If you’re wondering about freelance writing as a home working career, today we have an interview from Dr. Kristina Nelson, an award-winning freelance writer with some serious credentials and some useful advice to share.
Please can you tell us a little about yourself?
I have been an English professor for 16 years, and am also a freelance writer. The past two years or so, I have focused far more on my writing career, enjoying the variety and spice that it offers. Having taught writing for so long, I completely enjoy doing it as a career, and see writing as an art form of perfection.
In my personal life, I am legally separated and going through a divorce, which has been another difficult transition, but inspires me even more with my work and writing. I find that trials and tribulations in life make us better people, and they can also make a writer perform better as well.
How long have you worked for yourself as a freelance writer?
I have worked for myself for about two years now, as a writer, not counting my time as a professor or when I wrote as a professor. I define working for myself as freelancing. In that respect, times can be feast or famine for most writers!
You sound like you wear many different hats in your working life – how do you manage to organise everything?
With freelancing, I find it’s easiest for me to create a schedule of what I plan to complete each week. When I make a weekly planner, it’s much easier to keep track of what articles are due when, and who needs what.
There is always a bit of a challenge here, but once you’ve been freelancing for a while, you do learn how to juggle the different aspects of writing.
What advice would you give someone who wanted to begin a life of freelance writing?
If possible, it’s a good idea to do some side writing and self-publishing to build up a community of readers. I find many jobs I apply to are impressed by my readership, and this tends to make things easier for me when applying around for new freelancing gigs.
It’s probably one of the best selling points I have. It does take some time and effort to do this, but it is very worthwhile.
Do you think anyone can be successful as a freelancer or are there some essential qualities?
I do believe there are some essential qualities to become a successful freelancer. (Editors note: I do too – and discuss them here).
First, having education and experience in whatever industry you are freelancing in is an extreme help. You also need to be very versatile and adaptable to the variety of assignments you will need to take on. Freelancers also need to be very self-motivated, since many of them work from home.
What’s been your biggest life lesson since being self-employed?
My biggest life lesson has been to always plan ahead. You might have an ongoing contract with a company and think you are set, but honestly, those can end at any time when you’re freelancing. Always keep your eyes open for new gigs and opportunities.
Do you think it’s become harder or easier to establish a home working career?
I feel that this really depends on the industry and the person’s qualifications. I’ve been fairly lucky since I built up a readership and worked as an English professor for 16 years. However, it’s probably not easy for everybody, and is going to have much to do with that person’s background.