Next Stop: Your Magazine Dream Job

8 Hacks Every Freelance Writer Needs on Hand

By Bianca Mendez

There are so many reasons why freelance writing sounds like a dream. You are your own boss, you set your own hours and you decide where to work — whether it be at a coffee shop in Italy or in bed with your PJs on.

But ask any freelance writer, and you’ll soon learn that it’s less glamorous than it sounds. It can get challenging at times, always pitching and seeking paychecks, and not to mention figuring out your own health insurance and taxes. But as you’re building your portfolio and chasing bylines, you tend to learn a few tricks along the way that make your job easier and more productive. That’s why we asked the freelance pros what work hacks make their careers better.

Use Organization Tools

“Asana! I cannot stress enough how much this tool has helped me organizing my workload. I have a separate projects for each element of my business (pitching, marketing, clients etc), and create tasks within each of them.” — Stephanie Simpson, freelance copywriter and blogger

“I use an actual physical planner to write down my deadlines. The act of actually writing them down helps me remember!” — Nicole Slaughter-Graham, freelance writer

“I use Trello and have a column each for early-stage story ideas; ideas I’ve pitched; assigned stories; and stories sitting with an editor. Then I can just move story cards between columns as they move forward in the process.” — Rachel Cernansky, freelance science journalist based in Denver.

“I keep spread sheets of pitches and assigned stories,”  — Jaimie Seaton, freelance journalist for Washington Post, Newsweek, and numerous other publications

Stay Focused

“I set alarms every 90 minutes so that I can focus and not get sucked into the vortex of editing and writing. It’s the Pomodoro technique, modified.” — Stepfanie Romin, freelance writer
“I’ve recently incorporated some apps to help my tracking: Toggl, for time-tracking (can see breakdowns per client and project) and MileIQ for mileage.” — Katy Schamberger, freelance writer and digital marketer based in Kansas City
“I use the Completo App (…/completo…/id917800959…) because it lets me set sub-tasks (for a story I might input specific interviews, research I need to do, outline, first draft, etc), and reminders that notify me a week, two days, etc. in advance so I don’t just get a reminder the day something is due.” — Amy Westervelt, writer and editor

Join Online Support Groups

“Freelancing can get super lonely, leaving all up to you to gain the stamina to work. Joining support groups online can help you connect with other freelance writers, share tips, brag about your work, and even hear about other freelance jobs.” — Bianca Mendez, writer/editor and author of this article

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