Thursday, 29 January 2009
In a comment on this post, my friend Deborah of [ddot] wrote: i'd love to read more about how you established yourself as a freelancer and how you continue to develop your work/portfolio.
So, that's what this post will be about.
When I finished high school I didn't really have a plan for my future, so I started studying English at the college in Stavanger. After a year I moved to Bergen to study at the University, and to cut a long story short, I have a master degree in media studies.
By the time I started writing the master thesis, I was really tired of my part time job at the newsstand selling newspapers, chocolate, cigarettes and hot dogs. It was time to come up with an idea of what I wanted to do when the thesis was done, and I found out that it would be nice to get some sort of hands on experience with working in media. Sølve was - and still is - a very important supporter, motivator and coach in this process. He's the one who has taught me everything I know about sales.
Most of Norwegian media - TV, national newspapers and magazines - are based in Oslo. Very few media, except local, are in Bergen. Also, few jobs are announced, so it's hard to get a job in an editorial staff. That's why I started freelancing. I thought "why not just give it a try?" Sølve supported me 110 %.
I have always enjoyed writing and I have always read magazines - especially women's magazines, home decorating and travel magazines. This combination lead to me trying to freelance for magazines. I had no idea what I was doing in the beginning. No one told me how freelancing works, or how to write a magazine article, for that matter. Neither did I know of blogs nor websites writing about freelancing (mentioned here). It was a fumbling start back there in 2003, but I learnt by doing.
I learnt that sale is a very important part of being a freelancer. I learnt that calling the editor is smarter than just sending an e-mail, and I quickly had to overcome my fear of phone calls. I learnt that it is important to keep regular contact with editors so they get to know me and remember me. I learnt to be patient and to accept refusals.
For a couple of years the freelancing was my part time job while I wrote the master thesis. When I finished the thesis in June 2006, I felt that my freelancing job was worth persuading as a full time job. At least for a year. If after that year my income was decent enough, I would continue freelancing, if not, I would have to apply for a regular job. Now I have been my own boss in my own full time job for a little more than two years. Its hard work, but I love it.
I still learn a lot every day. Sale is still important, even though it is easier now because I have contacts who know me. It happens more often now that they contact me and ask me if I want to do this or that job. It is also easier because I have a solid portfolio to refer to. I have become more focused on the fact that I run my own business, and that my business needs to develop. I have also learnt the importance of making plans so that I know where my next pay will come from. I have learnt that I don't need a master degree in media studies to work as a journalist and copywriter. I don't think I have ever been asked about my education, but it gives me a professional ballast that I'm very happy I have.
In a perfect world I will keep freelancing until I retire. It's really, really fulfilling to create my own job.
How about you? Any thoughts on freelancing vs. having a regular full time job? Anyone else working freelance who wants to share their story?