When I decided to do interviews with successful freelance writers, the very first person I contacted was Marye Audet. I first met Marye when we worked at the same blog network years ago. Marye has maintained a freelance career for many years and I can’t wait for you all to meet her.
Enjoy this interview.
How long have you been freelancing? How and why did you decide it’s what you wanted to do?
I have been freelancing for 7 years. I really just sort of “fell” into it – I was a stay at home homeschooling mom and not looking for a career. It was a lifeline for me when, three years later, my husband of 30 years left and I had six kids to support.
Have you noticed the “feast or famine” world that people think about when they picture freelancing?
Not really. There is a little variation but I have clients that have a set amount of work for me to do every month, plus I have my own blogs producing income. I make a little more in the winter and a little less in the summer but I wouldn’t call it feast or famine. More like Steak or Hot Dogs.
Many freelancers today work for clients and also supplement that with their own blogs and books. What’s your approach to maintaining a successful freelance career?
The term “successful” is subjective. I don’t know that I would call myself successful because there are so many others that have bigger blogs, more work, etc. I do think that in order to make a living at freelance writing you must have several things going at the same time. It could be your own blogs, books, a variety of clients, or a combination but if you are dependent on one income source you could be burned. More than one client has terminated a contract abruptly. If you don’t have something else to fall back on you are screwed. It’s also important to constantly look for work. I try to send out three or more resumes a week.
In your opinion, what’s the best way to get new clients as a freelancer?
Again, have a variety of methods. You never know what is going to work for you. I check websites that list writing jobs on a daily basis, I have gotten work through networking, and I have gotten work by someone contacting me because they read one of my articles.
Tell us what your day is like. How many hours do you work and do you have the flexibility that many freelancers crave?
A classic day is me getting up at 7am and working for an hour or two before fixing breakfast for everyone else. Working can consist of writing, research, job hunting, or social media! After that I usually try to get my recipe developing and images done early in the day. I will work on articles while a cake is baking, for example. I spend afternoons handling articles and often am editing images and studying the newest SEO practices, federal regulations, and work related information while I watch television with my husband at night. Once he goes to sleep, especially at the end off the month when there are deadlines, I may work in the dark until 2:00 or 3:00 am. Keep in mind that I write an average of 200 articles a month between my online clients, my magazine clients, and my own blogs. Plus I am writing two books.
I do have that flexibility though. I can run to lunch with my husband, take a day to go antiquing (I call that shopping for props – so essentially it is work, too!), or attend a karate tournament without worrying about taking time off.
What’s the biggest misconception people have about freelance writers?
I guess that it’s easy work. I have people ask what I did for a living and when I told them they say something like, “Oh I should do that!”. I have had people ask me for advice on starting a blog and think that they are going to be making a real income in a matter of months. It frustrates me. I always tell them that it will take at least a year of 12 to 16 hour days before you will really see a living wage… and that’s if you consider the annual salary of a migrant worker in a third world country a living wage. It could take more. Freelancing is like anything. You have to put a ton of time into it to see results.
The other misconception is that we are well paid. Yes, I average a relatively decent salary because after seven years I refuse to write for peanuts… or popcorn. I have seen advertisements for writers to work for $5 for 500 words. Really? By the time you research, write, edit, find images, upload, and invoice you have made about $1.25 and hour. Do you really want to work for $1.25 a hour?
Do you have a favorite book about writing or small business that has helped you?
Who has time to read?
LOL – Very true! What’s your best advice for someone who wants to start freelancing today?
Don’t quit your day job. Start a blog and write in it several times a week. Build a social media following. Study the information about search engine optimization, keywords, and writing for the web. That is your foundation. Contact your favorite blogs about guest posting – it will build credibility. Create a LinkedIn profile. Then, when you have stuff published create a resume and think about cover letters. Once you have all of that behind you’ll be able to contact clients.
Where can we find you online?