I’ve been freelancing for over a year now, and I’m pleased to say I have most of the job down pat. I can pitch, I can write the pieces I promise, and I can deliver on deadline -- that’s more or less the basics of the entire operation. But even after a year of freelancing, there are some things I’m just not quite as proficient at as I wish.
Thinking of my “brand.” The entire idea that my name and body of work could be considered a brand freaks me out entirely. It sounds weird and feels pretentious to talk about my social media presence or website with business jargon. I mean, I’m just hanging out in my studio apartment writing about stuff I find interesting. Does that count as a brand?
Marketing my work. Another business-sounding term that really wigs me out is marketing. I’m a writer, not a salesman, and the idea that I have to “sell” my writing is entirely alien to me. Plus, I’m from the Midwest, where as Don Draper once said, it’s considered rude to talk about yourself. My automatic assumption in all interactions is that if someone wants to talk to me, they will. And if they don’t talk to me, they probably find me horrifically terrible and annoying. I have a feeling a lot of people feel like that, but it sure doesn’t make marketing any easier.
Describing my job. People ask me what I do for a living and I kind of seize up. I’m proud of being a writer and I love sharing my career with others, but the inevitable follow-up “What do you write?” is the worst. Because I write ... a lot of stuff. I cover a lot of ground, be it topic or medium wise. I’m on multiple websites that just don’t quite sound right together, and I write about anything from Iran to museums to food. Summing it all up in one sentence is (obviously) a work in progress.
Not fangirling over every assignment. I’m sure that readers of my blog think of me as a super smooth operator, but let me tell you the truth: It’s all an act. I get so excited every time I land an assignment, you would think I just got a book deal. Part of it is that this is all (still) very new, and the novelty of editors liking my ideas hasn’t worn off. And part of it is just my genuine desire to write, and the thrill of getting “permission” to do so. Freelancing can be hard because you don’t have anyone above you giving you the go-ahead, so accepted pitches are kind of as close as you get to a higher authority giving you a pat on the back.
Fellow writers, anything that's still a big hazy for you? Or anything that you were surprised became second nature?
Bridey is a freelance writer living in Washington, D.C.
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