A Day In The Life of a Freelance Writer & Editor

freelance writer & editor

For some freelancers, their days are organized and regimented.

Then there’s the rest of us.

People ask me all the time what it’s like to work as a freelance writer and editor. They seem to be intrigued with how I manage to make money when we are traveling. I’ll be honest – I have no idea either! Just kidding. (But kinda – it still blows my mind!)

I am a digital nomad (a creative professional who works not from an office, but the internet as she travels about). This means my daily life changes. The whole reason I chose this career was to have daily freedom and location independence. My work life changes from day to day, client to client, and definitely depending on which country we are living in.

But the bottom line is: I need money to support my adventures. So I have tried to make my work days as structured as possible. This also allows my clients to know they can depend on me.

What Do I Actually Do For Work?

Lots! Typically, I write for companies that focus on women’s interests, health/wellness, and travel, but my clients vary. Projects could include:

  • Write blog posts for companies and publications (my #1 source of income)
  • Write ‘about’ pages, sales pitches, product descriptions, social media posts etc. for various companies.
  • Write resumes/bios for professionals
  • Edit web content/ebooks
  • Keep my own blog

How Do I Choose My Days Off?

When I first started freelancing, I was still trapped by the typical two days off in a row, Saturday and Sunday. Now, I have learned to take the days off when it makes most sense. There may be a few cons to being a freelancer, so I might as well take advantage of the pros and take days when I need them!

We have been taking days off during the week in Rome to have somewhat smaller crowds. Last week I took Tuesday off to go sightseeing and Friday off to visit the Colosseum. This week we are going to Florence, so I will take those two travel days off.

marble macbook caseThis is my new marble laptop case. I adore it. It makes me want to work more. 

Do I Work At Home Or At A Coffee Shop?

98% of the time, I work at home. This is probably atypical, but I concentrate best in my own space. Once in a blue moon, I’ll get antsy and move to a coffee shop. When I was living in Costa Rica, I actually worked at a co-working space a couple times a week. I really liked that set up too.

freelance workGetting some work done at a coffee shop in Las Vegas

What Does a *Typical* Work Day Look Like?

Let me repeat: this is not a fully regimented schedule. Sometimes I deviate when things pop up. This is a go with the flow job. Still, this is a general idea of how I structure my typical work day.

9:00am – Wake Up & Read

I don’t set an alarm 99% of the time. I like waking up when my body is ready. I typically stay in bed for about an hour to check social media and read. As a bibliovore, this is my #1 time for reading. I like easing into the morning with a good book. I also strongly believe that to be a good writer, you need to be a good reader. Right now, I’m reading The Bell Jar.

10:00am: Workout/Yoga

I prefer morning workouts. While we were in Costa Rica, I would often go to a morning yoga class. In Italy, I’ve been either doing a YouTube video or using my resistance bands for about 20 minutes.

10:30am: Get Ready & Have Breakfast

I am NOT a morning shower lover. I’m at my most productive late morning/early afternoon, so I hate wasting that time blowdrying my hair. I will rinse off with a washcloth after my workout, tie up my hair, put on a bit of makeup, and call it good.

Breakfast is typically eggs with veggies or yogurt. If I have gluten-free toast, I’ll have that with peanut butter and half a banana.

cute mugMy favorite mug to work with!

11:00am: Check Emails & Pitch

As a freelancer, checking in with my clients is my #1 priority when I start my day. I see if new projects have been ordered or if changes have been made. Also, I will respond to any new clients who reached out.

Then on some mornings I will send off a pitch or two to get new work. This process varies. Sometimes I reach out to a company I believe in to talk about doing writing and editing work. Sometimes I check job boards. Sometimes I network on social media.

11:30am: Start The Project I Am Most Looking Forward To

I know they say to get the hard stuff out of the way first, but that can put me in a bad mood. It also zaps all my creative power for the things I’m excited about. I like to start with the project that excites me. Sometimes this is my own blog; sometimes it’s client work.

12:30pm: Switch To The Project I am Least Looking Forward To

Finally, it’s time to begin tackling either the hardest project or the project I am not excited about. I will work hard to finish it before lunch, so I can enjoy the second half of the day.

2:30pm: Lunch

I love lunch. If it’s a workday, I typically try to make food at home or go someplace close by. These aren’t my days for sweeping and winsome lunch dates. In Italy, we have been sautéing veggies and meat for a filling spaghetti.

Many times, Kyle and I will chat during this time. I also might take a walk or run to the grocery store for dinner items. I try to use this time to play some music on my guitar too.

3:30pm: Social Media/More Emails

I try not to waste too much time by going to my email repeatedly. I normally recheck in with my emails after lunch and then spend time on social media. Facebook typically starts out work-related and then a James Corden video will pop up on my feed, and I’m lost forever.

4:00pm: More Projects/Blogging

I try to work hard for a good chunk after lunch. While I’m working, I will listen to music. If I’m in deep thought, I normally opt for instrumental music on Spotify. If it is an easier project – like blogging for my own website – I’ll often listen to chill music. My latest fave is Foy Vance (thanks Emily at Ember Grey for the recommendation!)

I do normally get up and walk around a bit in the middle. I may see what Kyle’s painting, make a snack, go for a walk, or just sit on the couch for a bit.

freelance writer & editor

6:00pm: Finish Deadlines, Send Invoices & Check Emails For The Final Time

This is my time to tie up loose ends. I normally try to wait for all my invoices until the end of the day. Like only checking emails a couple times a day, if I kept going back and forth to my invoicing system, I’d waste minutes. As a freelancer who only gets paid for billable minutes, I don’t like to waste a single one.

7:00pm: Start The Dinner Process

I probably cook dinner 1/3 of the time. Kyle definitely cooks more than I do. We have no written rule or set days. It’s basically who gets to the kitchen first. I’m a better sous chef than I am a head chef, so I often come in and chop veggies or boil pasta for my guy. Music during dinner preparation is a must! Country is a dinner go-to for us. I heart Sam Hunt.

Side note: In Italy, we have spent a few evenings enjoying aperitivo, the evening pre-dinner cocktail at some of the bars. This means, we don’t start dinner prep until about 8pm.

8:00pm/9:00pm: Shower, Read, Play a Game, or Watch Netflix

I will often take a shower after dinner. I only wash my hair about once a week (It has saved my damaged hair! I use dry shampoo in the mornings), so it rarely takes long.

Then it’s relaxation time. Most nights I read a bit, then we end up playing a game or watching a Netflix series we are obsessed with. Normally, we get obsessed together (we just went through a Modern Family binge), but recently I’ve been watching Call The Midwife (LOVE) while Kyle watches Peaky Blinders.

This time could also be used for: seeing friends, playing music, cleaning, making phone calls (I’m the stereotypical introvert who hates talking on the phone, but I realize it’s a must when you’re living abroad), or going on an evening stroll.

12:00am/1:00am: Bedtime

I’d be lying if I didn’t say I always go through social media when I get to bed. I know, I know, I shouldn’t. But I do. I don’t smoke. I don’t do drugs. I exercise and eat well. Allow me my one vice.


You will probably notice two things:

I work only about 6 or 7  hours a day. This is for two reasons:

  1. I won’t sacrifice my life for my hustle.
  2. I find that with creative work, I hit a wall at a certain point. My brain will not write or edit one more word after about 6 hours. I won’t be productive, so I might as well do something else.

I sleep about 8 or 9 hours a night. This is for two reasons:

  1. I have a benign heart problem that causes my resting heart rate to run about 105bpm. I have learned over the years that I can either live in a state of worn out, or I can sleep a lot and have a productive day.
  2. The whole concept of denying our body rest in pursuit of the hustle is disturbing to me. My mind is my tool. If I don’t let it rest, it won’t be as brilliant as I need it to be!

That’s it, folks – a day in the life of a freelance writer and editor.

  • If you too are interested in abandoning the traditional job life in favor of the freedom to pursue an interesting life you love, email me: taylorduvall1@gmail.com … I will send you a half off code to my The Interesting Project Workbook and be available for any questions!
  • If you are looking for a writer or an editor, be sure to check out my Work With Me section!

The Interesting Project

Dropping The Idea of a “Soul-Career”

Dropping The Idea of a “Soul-Career”

soul-job

Soul Mates.  The romantic idea of one person made just for you.  No others could ever bring love and joy and fulfillment.  Just him.  Just her.  Is this romantic notion fact or fiction?  Some hold to this concept like a religion and spend their life searching for and holding onto the one person who completes them.  Others scoff at the idea of there only being one in a sea of billions.

Whether or not you hold to the idea of soul mates, most of us do hold to the idea of “soul-careers.”  And I think it hurts some of us.  Let me explain.

I used to think I must have a soul-career: one tangible career that would lead me into my 50s or 60s happily and successfully.  This idea terrified me.  How was I going to choose THE ONE?  What if I regretted my choice and wanted to breakup from my career?  Would the 45 year old me still be into it?

The Boyfriend and I were talking about how amazing it is to work for ourselves in creative fields while living in various countries throughout the globe, but we both wondered if this was something we’d want to do forever.  If not, what do we do then?!

But I remembered something: life is full of weird twists and turns you could never expect.  Our careers may be like that too.  And even though the core of who we are may stay the same, we are still evolving and changing creatures.  Yet, we sometimes tie our hands by thinking we must have the same career at 22 that we do at 42 and 62.

It goes like this:

We got to school as children.  Then the government suddenly tells us we are adults, and we are to choose a college major that will guide the rest of our lives down the path of our soul-career.  We are supposed to spend 40 hours a week for the next 40 years in this one and only job.  Then we retire and do all the things we’ve always wanted to do.

There are 3 massive problems with this “Soul-Career” concept:

  1. At 18 or 19 or 20 years old, most people still don’t know enough about themselves to confidently choose one career for the rest of their lives.
  2. People change throughout the years.  The person I was 5 years ago is not the exact same person I am today.  The person I’ll be in 20 years – I can’t even imagine who she’ll be!
  3. Hating what you do everyday and praying that retirement comes quickly sounds like a good way to miss out on way too many years of your life.

This is why I think we should drop the concept of the soul-career.  Instead, we should embrace the idea that there may be more fish in the career sea!  Sure, there are some lucky folks who grow up knowing exactly what they want to do for their entire lives.  They confidently choose their major, soar through their careers, and feel sad to leave at retirement.

Then there is the rest of us.  Maybe we don’t know what are passions are, or maybe we have so many passions we don’t know how to choose, or maybe our passions and interests change a lot.  How do we choose our college majors and careers?  What if we’ve already chosen, but want to change our minds?

If you are one of these people, like I am, maybe we aren’t soul-career-ers.  And that is perfectly okay. Here’s the deal for us:

  • You only need to take the next right career step at at time.  Take step 1, then step 2, and don’t try to jump to step 312.  You’re not there yet.  You won’t be there for years. What is going to pay the bills and nicely support you and your family?  What are you good at and interested in right now?  Do those things.
  • If you end up hating the college major or career path you’ve chosen, don’t stay stuck. Get creative.  How can you combine your the education or experience you do have with the path you’d rather go down now?  Maybe you’ve studied medicine for years and hate it, and you want to be a writer.  You could easily write for health companies and market health and medicine as your niche.
  • Sometimes you just yell “Plot Twist!” and change your career: As long as you’re taking care of your responsibilities, the world is yours.  Why feel obligated to stick to one idea? Yes, it will take some hard work and extra time, probably some extra learning and dedication too.  But you are not bound to any one career forever.  For inspiration, here’s a list of 13 awesome people who did a huge career change.

So my friends –

If you are currently making the college major choice with fear in your eyes.  BREATHE.

If you are starting a new job and have no idea if you can make it into your career.  BREATHE.

If you are a few years in and like it, but wonder if there is something else out there.  BREATHE.

If you flat-out hate your career and want to switch.  BREATHE.

If you’re a parent who wants to dump the career to be a full-time parent. BREATHE.

Then remember –

There are seasons in life.  Winter doesn’t have to look the same as spring.

You. Are. Not. Stuck.  Be bold and be brave.  And lose the idea of a “Soul-Career” – there are so many other fish in the career sea.

P.S. – I love writing.  I thought I would write 80% of the time and edit 20% of the time.  That’s changing.  I’m finding that I like the balance of about 60% editing work and 40% writing work.  Also, someday I may teach.  Also, someday I’d like to be an activist.  Also, someday……..

soul_career

Ladies, You Need to Follow Your Arrow

Ladies, You Need to Follow Your Arrow

arrow

Have you ever had a moment in your life when you realize, I mean deeply and terrifyingly realize, that you’ve gone way off track?  You knew who you were at one point in your life, but the person inhabiting your body now is foreign to you.  Mama always said to not talk to strangers and yet, somehow, you’re that stranger.

I would look at my hands and think, “Yes, these are Taylor’s hands.”  I would hear myself speak and think, “Yes, this is Taylor’s voice.”  But I examined the life I was living and thought, “Who the hell is this woman?”

This important, yet freaky realization typically comes at rock bottom.  The end of your rope.  Fortunately, that’s the same spot where inspiration typically comes knocking.  For me, inspiration peaked its head around the corner in the form of a Facebook photo quote a couple years ago.  This exact one:

Follow Your Arrow

 

Arrow.  Focus.  Launch.  Aim.  These words resonated with me, so I latched on to them.  There was something there for me in the midst of the muck.  I was backward, and I was being dragged by difficulties.  So the thought of being launched into something great was fine by me!!

Enter Kasey Musgraves.  About the same time as my “Who Am I?” meltdown, the country singer published this tune called “Follow Your Arrow.”  It goes like this:

If you save yourself for marriage
You’re a bore
If you don’t save yourself for marriage
You’re a whore-able person
If you won’t have a drink
Then you’re a prude
But they’ll call you a drunk
As soon as you down the first one

If you can’t lose the weight
Then you’re just fat
But if you lose too much
Then you’re on crack
You’re damned if you do
And you’re damned if you don’t
So you might as well just do
Whatever you want
So

(Chorus) Make lots of noise
Kiss lots of boys
Or kiss lots of girls
If that’s something you’re into
When the straight and narrow
Gets a little too straight
Roll up a joint, or don’t
Just follow your arrow
Wherever it points

If you don’t go to church
You’ll go to hell
If you’re the first one
On the front row
You’re self-righteous
Son of a-
Can’t win for losing
You’ll just disappoint ’em
Just ’cause you can’t beat ’em
Don’t mean you should join ’em

(Chorus)

Say what you think
Love who you love
‘Cause you just get
So many trips ’round the sun
Yeah, you only
Only live once

(Chorus)
And follow your arrow
Wherever it points

The song is clever and comical, but it makes an important point.  People want lots of conflicting things from us.  We need to be good, but not too good.  Skinny, but not too skinny.  Educated, but only in the “right” fields.  When we play into that, we start pretending. Before we know it, we get to that point where we don’t even know who we are.

There is so much talk about going out and FINDING yourself.  But I think sometimes we’ve already been found.  Our natural tendencies and desires, the things that make our eyes light up and our hearts beat a little more quickly – we know those things deep down, or at least we have an inkling. Maybe it’s not only about finding the pieces of who we are; maybe we also need to drop the pieces of who we are not.  What’s left is your arrow.

arrow

My “Arrow” came to represent the real, deep, nitty-gritty Taylor and all my dreams and plans – minus the pretending and role-playing.  Lo and behold, once I started following that arrow, I found out that my life was really interesting TO ME, and I genuinely loved it.

It is THIS concept that has urged me on to create The Interesting Project.  I’m getting close to launching a workbook that helps young women (18-30ish) follow their own arrows by pursuing interesting lives that THEY love. As part of this project, I will also offer free goodies, some blog posts, and newsletters to aid in the process.

I know what it’s like to forget about your arrow. I know what it’s like to be pulled backward from life’s difficulties. But I also know what it’s like when you follow that arrow and really start pursuing an interesting life you love. THAT is what I want for my fellow ladies.

If you are a young woman wanting to move from thinking about your dreams into LIVING your dreams, The Interesting Project will be for you.  Please subscribe to my new newsletter right here, and you will be updated as soon as The Interesting Project Workbook and all the other cool stuff is available.

Remember, my friends, your arrow is there. Follow it wherever it points!

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Why I Choose Integrity Over Profit In My Business

Why I Choose Integrity Over Profit In My Business

Why i Choose Integrity Over Profit In My Business

Being a writer/editor is rewarding, enjoyable, and sometimes even glamorous (and sometimes SO NOT glamorous). That’s all you can ask for, right?  Wrong! You can also ask for money! I have said it before, I’ll say it again: the word “starving” is not required before the word “artist.” Creatives don’t need to suffer in order to produce awesome work!

But.  (There’s always a but….)

Since I don’t believe money is naturally good or bad, we need to know when money acts as a good thing and when money acts a bad thing.

In my life and particularly my creative business, money acts as a bad thing the second I choose profit over integrity. That is why I have decided that the foundation of my business is and must always be integrity. It will be the ground I walk on as I grow, expand, succeed, fail, and succeed again.

Why I Choose Integrity Over Profit In My Business
Story time:

I recently landed a job (yay!) as a social media manager and content writer for a company, working only a couple hours a week. Without sharing many details, this company sells a consumable product with an all-natural ingredient that has a long list of benefits. As a proud hippie, I’m all about all-natural health products, so I was EAGER to create their content.

I spent a couple hours talking about specifics and negotiating my prices. Then I was hired.  I love being hired as a freelancer. I become giddy. But the giddy ended quickly after I immediately did more research on this super ingredient and found it has traditionally been used as an abortifacient and can cause heavy menstrual bleeding.

Women are my audience! Women’s issues are my issues! I want women to be healthy and safe.  Thus – I can’t work for a business with a product that can terminate a woman’s pregnancy and bring other potential harm to her health.

They were going to pay me good money, and I turned it down.  Honest moment: there was a twinge of sadness that I’d be losing decent weekly income from easy work I enjoyed doing. The Boyfriend had to take me out for a drink that night. And don’t think I didn’t try to think of other possibilities like “Well I’m not technically SELLING the product…”  But no! NO!

In her book Rising Strong, Brene Brown brilliantly gives her definition of integrity:

“Integrity is choosing courage over comfort; choosing what is right over what is fun, fast, or easy; and choosing to practice our values rather than simply professing them.”

If I had kept that job, I would have been comforted by the fun, fast weekly paycheck. I’m a freelancer – any amount of money feels like a squishy pillow to rest my crazy head.  But I can’t talk about fighting for women and then work for a company that goes against what I want to see for women  – healthy lives!

My fellow creatives and business owners and human beings:

If we get rich, but lose our integrity – what was it for?

If we choose comfort, but lose our courage – what was it for?

If we choose what is fun, fast, or easy, but lose what is right – what is it for?

If we profess values, but don’t practice them – what was it for?

Profit is great and necessary. But profit means nothing if we lose who we are.  As for me and my business, we’re gonna take the hit every time.  Anybody else in?

Here’s our manifesto:

The Integrity Over Profit Manifesto

What does integrity mean to you?  Let me know in the comments!

Blogging: I’m Coming Back to the Heart of It

Blogging: I’m Coming Back to the Heart of It

I started blogging because I had something to say, and I liked to write. Somewhere between then and now I lost the IT.  The WHY THE HELL am I doing this.  I’m taking it back.

If you’re not in the blogosphere, you may not know that there are literally THOUSANDS of articles out there on how to create the perfect blog/post to receive views.  Tips to go viral, build readership, etc. The more views you get, the more followers you get and opportunities to write PAID sponsored posts and advertisement.

That’s all great.  There is nothing wrong with this; everybody should learn about their craft AND pay the bills.  Nobody wants to do a lot of work to get only 5 hits on your new blog post.  But I had slowly felt inundated with feelings of inadequacy when reading about these algorithms to get high views and followers.

Things like:

the exact way to phrase a title to make it totally Pin-able

the exact way to create images for Facebook/Twitter/Pinterest

the exact group to join to boost your comments

the fonts and hashtags to use and not use

the phrases and topics to use and avoid

the way to format your paragraphs just right for optimal reading

the need for writing 6 posts a week that are all the “correct” word count

the exact way to become a social media master

I couldn’t keep up.  I had SO MUCH anxiety.  Instead of enjoying writing about topics I’m passionate about, I was freaking out and spending SO MUCH TIME putting out these “perfect” posts that followed x, y, and z.  Some did go mildly viral.  My following even grew some.  But I lost the IT of why I wanted to blog.  I wasn’t always being fully true to myself.

All this info on blogging is valuable and may be the exact way I should be doing things to make money, grow, and extend my reach.  If you’re a blogger, it may be some of the most solid advice you can take.  But I’ve come to my own personal conclusion since I can’t keep up anymore:

To put it eloquently, F*CK IT!

I’m tired of trying to force my words and ideas into a certain box that’s considered the “way to do it” even though it truly may be the way to do it.  I’m doing it MY way. I want my \ blog to be so incredibly…me.

I sat in bed this morning and looked at some of the blogs I adore that got me into blogging.  These are all HUGELY popular.  I noticed something.  They aren’t all the same or following the same “rules.”  Not by a long shot.  And they don’t always have perfectly cropped and edited images.  Each of these blogging women simply have interesting lives and ideas, and they share them with their readers. 

On one of her “Big Magic” podcasts, Elizabeth Gilbert (my idol and author of Eat, Pray, Love) said that in order to be interesting you have to be interested.  I want my blog to be interesting.  Instead of spending all my time studying how to make a Pin on Pinterest bring in thousands of views, I want to soak up all the things I’m interested in.  That interest I have will seep through and make my blog interesting.

And you guys – My life IS interesting.  For example:

I woke up this morning (Sunday) in my studio in Tamarindo, Costa Rica, not knowing what I was going to do today.  Hours later I was belly down on the net of a catamaran and three dolphins swimming RIGHT underneath me!!!!  I could almost touch them!!!  They would jump in and out of the water as if they were putting on a dance.  It was rad.

Maybe a better blogger would have had a camera right there to capture the moment to share it with their readers.  But GUYS!!!!!   I was too busy seeing the dolphins to think about getting the perfect shot.  And you already know what a dolphin looks like!  If not, here is a stock photo:

dolphin-203875_1280

BUT WAIT!  THERE’S MORE!

Then, with snorkeling gear in hand, I went down the catamaran’s slide and into the Pacific.  I saw schools of yellow and blue fish.  AND THEN I HELD A REAL LIFE OCTOPUS!!!!!!  Or rather, it held me.  It suctioned right on to my arm.  AND THEN I HELD A REAL LIFE PUFFER FISH!!!!!!!   I also didn’t get a picture of any of these instances.  Holding an octopus makes you forget to pull out your iPhone and decide on the perfect VSCO filter for your blog.  Here’s a stock photo (not me, obviously):

octopus-523654_1280

I want to share that stuff with you guys.  To me, that’s what’s interesting.  I don’t have the time or the emotional strength to follow all the rules that are supposed to make your blog the latest and greatest.  I’m too busy being interested in other things.  But I promise to share those interesting things with you!

Here’s what to expect: I’ll be writing two or three posts each week that will probably be on travel, womanhood, faith/spirituality, creativity, love, and whatever crazy things/opinions I have up my sleeve.  We can talk about how not to just survive life, but to really THRIVE!  We can talk about the hard and controversial things.  It won’t always be pretty because my life isn’t always pretty.  I may cuss.  I’m not shying away from topics that would traditionally be considered bad for keeping followers.  I will attack the real oooey-goooey parts of life.

I have plenty of freelance clients who can use my knowledge of algorithms and creating viral content.  Here, this is just me.  All my opinions, ideas, and interesting parts of my life.  Without the fear of how many people will click to read.

 

P.S. If you’re a blogger choosing to do your blog a different way, I TOTALLY SUPPORT YOU.

P.S.S. Here is a pic we actually did take today.  Onward, fellow travelers of life!

20150920_172656