2016 UPDATE – Reading through the post below, which was originally written in 2012, is such an incredible time capsule for me, as my life looks very different now. Where before, I was a young, married professional, I now balance my writing career with parenting a two-year-old boy who’s absorbed all of the energy I used to spend on dance classes and drinks out with friends.
That’s not a complaint – my journey to parenthood leaves me fully aware of the gift he is on our lives. If anything, it’s given me a new appreciation for the flexibility my freelance career gives me and the way it lets me be present in my son’s life. A few weeks ago, I ducked out in the afternoon to go to his daycare Halloween party (where I was one of just a few parents able to attend). If he’s sick, I don’t have to explain, yet again, to a grumpy boss that my son needs me.
Getting anything done with a toddler underfoot requires significantly more time and planning than the carefree life I described below in my original post. Both lives, however, are equally valuable – and equally meaningful – to me. Maybe someday I’ll write an updated post on what running a freelance writing business with kids looks like for me, but for now, please enjoy the snapshot of the kind of life that’s possible as a freelance writer…
I swear, I’m half writing this one for you guys and half writing it for my parents, who never seem to quite believe that this whole “web writing” thing is how I make a living. But anyways, I thought it’d be interesting to give you all a feel for how an average day looks in the life of a professional web content writer.
(And of course, this article comes with the mandatory disclaimer that there’s really no “standard” day or set schedule when you’re a web content writer. The description that follows is how some of my days look, but my schedule’s always up in the air depending on whether I’m working from home or the office and whether I have any other commitments planned for the day.)
Rise and Shine!
I wake up around 7:30 – naturally, without the use of an alarm clock. After grabbing a quick shower, brushing my teeth and getting dressed, I head downstairs to make breakfast (fascinating stuff, I know…). While eating (or, rather, drinking) my healthy, healthy smoothie, I spend my first hour working on the most difficult piece of writing I’ve got scheduled for the day. I tend to be a morning person when it comes to writing, so I make an effort to get a solid chunk of productive work done at the start of each day.
Once my hour-long timer is up (I’m a big fan of the Pomodoro method), I turn my focus to the day’s prep work – following up with client emails, mapping out deadlines and connecting with people online. By the time I’m feeling organized, it’s time to pack up my computer and catch the 9:47am bus downtown to my co-working office.
Everything’s Great when You’re Downtown
The office I work out of is on the 8th floor of an office building that overlooks the state capitol building in my city. It’s a beautiful view, and I love being right downtown in the heart of things. I’m at the office and set up at my desk by 10:30am, which gives me another solid two hours of writing before lunch – which, weather-depending, I love to pick up from my favorite food cart on the square and enjoy it on the public terrace overlooking one of the lakes that surrounds my city.
I’m a big believer in long, leisurely lunches – perhaps as a result of being trapped in the “eat at your desk” mentality of the corporate world for so long. I’ll take a book to read while I’m nibbling away, or go for a long walk along the lakeshore to clear my mind before getting back to work around 1:30pm.
The afternoons are my hardest productivity times, so I’ll usually schedule tasks that require less creativity for these hours – whether that’s writing simple articles or browsing industry blogs to keep my skills up. If I’m working from home, I’ll move my schedule around so that I can nap during this time or hang out with my husband (unfortunately, my co-working office hasn’t yet installed a napping area!).
If I’m going home at the end of the day, I’ll grab the 4:30pm bus home and spend the rest of the evening hanging out with my husband. Depending on my workload, I might try to squeeze in another two-hour block of writing – usually from 7:00-9:00pm, when my energy levels start to perk up again. But if it’s a quiet night, we’ll go for walks around our neighborhood, cook dinner together, play board games, go out with friends or sip wine on the couch while cleaning out our DVR.
Other nights, I stay downtown after work to either grab dinner/drinks with friends or take a dance class before catching a later bus home. Once I’m home, though, I try to shut down my computer and keep my iPhone tucked away in my purse, as I’ve found that too much “screen time” zaps my ability to be creative the next day (something about energy management and digital stimulation, which I’m sure I’ll cover more on this site in the future!). In general, I try to be in bed by 11:00pm on “school nights” – since I tend to wake up early each day regardless of what happened the night before, an early bed time is an absolute must to keep myself from burning out.
Obviously, this is all subject to change. Things like doctor’s appointments, car repairs and grocery shopping can all disrupt my schedule, although what I love about my job is that it gives me the flexibility to work around these human needs. It’s the perfect antidote to years spent having to negotiate with bosses over whether or not I could get even an hour free during the week to go to the doctor or dentist for regular checkups.
I’ve built this type of flexibility into my schedule on purpose, as it allows me to live and work at a pace I’m comfortable with. I can’t tell you how grateful I am that I’ve been successful enough to make my vision of ideal living a reality, but I can tell you that the hard work I put into growing my web content writing career in its early stages has been more than worth it.
So now, I want to hear from you… I started my freelance writing career with the deliberate intention of creating the lifestyle I described above. What does your ideal life look like? And if it doesn’t look like the life you’re living now, what can you do to bring yourself into closer alignment with this vision? Share your thoughts in the comments section below:
It’s great to see someone design what they love to do around the type of lifestyle they want to live. Love what you do Sarah.
Thanks Forrest! It’s been a long process to get from the life I had to the life I wanted, and I’ve been incredibly fortunate that my circumstances have allowed me to plan my life in this deliberate way. Definitely something I’m looking forward to helping others achieve through this site 🙂
In as much as I want to follow the routine of well-paid writers like you, distractions lead me to write at the end of the day…which is obviously not good. Honestly, at the end of the day, I find myself hooked watching crime and investigation stories. Writing follows…next morning.
Haha – yeah, I know how difficult staying on track can be. I wish you all the best luck at finding a way around your own obstacles 🙂
nice schedule maitenance sarah.
i’m trying to quite my current job and go freelancing, since m not sure about my earnings from freelancing m continuing with the current one and trying to freelance at the same time.. resulting in a not so good in quality stuff which i myself keep deleting..
I guess i’ll need to have a better timetable for juggling this both.. 🙁
Hey Soubhik! I definitely understand how difficult it can be to balance both a full-time job and freelance career – I did that for a long time and it wasn’t any fun. I hope you’re able to find a solution that allows you to do good work while juggling all of your responsibilities 🙂
Thanks so much for this post Sarah
It’s great to vicariously experience the life you’re living
Gives loads and loads of “entrepreneur fuel”
I’m excited at how mentally AND physically healthy you are with the life you’ve created for yourself
And huge kudos to knowing when you work best and how your energy levels fluctuate.
It’s no wonder your writing is so easy to read and engaging
Wow – thanks so much for your kind words and for taking the time to comment on this post 🙂