the month in review

April – a topsy-turvy month

By May 2, 2018 June 29th, 2019 14 Comments

Even though I have written about how it’s possible to be a part time freelance writer, I have to be honest and say that this month I’ve found it really tough. I’ve only worked about three days a week, but it’s been hard to fit all my work in. I had a press trip to Queensland in the middle of the month and five days later I headed off to present at The Launceston Freelance Festival. Those kind of opportunities are amazing, but there’s been very little fat in my schedule in April, so it threw things out a bit. Or actually, a lot. 

April – a topsy-turvy month

In terms of feature articles for magazines and newspapers, this month I:

Pitched: 4 (this includes re-pitching ideas that have been rejected)

Commissions from pitches or query letters: 1

Rejections: 2

Offers: 9 (where the editor approached me with a commission)

In terms of feature articles for corporate and B2B clients: (I don’t pitch these)

Offers: 9

Filed: 20

Because last month was so busy and full on, I spent a lot of April writing and catching up on articles rather than pitching. That said, because I have built strong relationships with editors and clients I still had quite of work flowing in.  

Highlights of the month

I went on a press trip, or famil as they are commonly called in Australia, to Tropical North Queensland. Before I went I had one story commissioned and am working to get more articles out of the trip to make sure it’s valuable for both me and the PR who hosted me.

But as well as the amazing food (if you’re ever in Port Douglas make sure you go to Harrison’s), beautiful accommodation and phenomenal experiences, one of the best things about going on a group press trip is meeting other journalists, writers and editors. Having the chance to share stories and experiences with freelancers and colleagues is so important and it felt like such a treat to have two full days with other travel writers and hear about how they were making freelancing work for them, what markets they were writing for and to hear their ups and downs. 

I’ve also spent the last couple of days at The Launceston Freelance Festival where I got to meet several fab freelancers who I’ve never met online like Ginger Gorman, Sue White and Nina Hendy and others in the media such as Melanie Tait , who is one of the most genuine and open-hearted journalists I’ve met. 

I was moderating a session with Ginger and Tracey Spicer about cyber hate and online misogyny. Tracey has been instrumental in uncovering sexual misconduct within the Australian media and entertainment industry, and after harrowing experiences of trolling, Ginger is now writing a book about the dark and dangerous world of cyber trolls.  

Australian figures place the number of women in the media who experience trolling at 1 in 2. It was such a frank, open and often chilling discussion about Ginger and Tracey’s own experiences as well as the ways we can tackle this insidious and pervasive problem. 

I also presented a session about the lessons I learnt from my first year of full time freelancing. It was such a great crowd – full of other freelancers – not just journalists – who were supportive, curious and so engaged.

I felt incredibly lucky to be included in such a great lineup of entrepreneurial freelancers, who are really making their mark and carving their path. And if you ever doubted how busy freelancers can be and their skills at multitasking you just needed to look around at the airport as we headed back to our respective cities – freelancers doing interviews on the phone, others catching up on emails, others writing blog posts (who, me?), and others finishing off articles. 

Before I started full time freelancing I often felt that I didn’t need a physical community of freelancers around me – but actually, through my co-working space and this festival, I’ve realised there is absolute value in really connecting with others who are embracing the future of work – of being in the gig economy, digital nomads, location-independent workers (whatever you want to call it) – because we are each other’s greatest resource and support. 

Another highlight of April was that one of the writers that I coach got in touch towards the end of the month and let me know that for the first time she had set herself a goal of reaching $5K in April. 

She has been using my excel spreadsheet to set a target and track her goal and with four days to go, she was only $500 off her target. How good is that?!

And I have forged two new relationships with new publications. As you know, I always think it’s important to be putting yourself out there – pitching ideas, connecting with editors on LinkedIn and being proactive. Often it pays off. 

Lowlights of the month

I’m still really struggling with balancing all my work and fitting it all in. Last year I got used to having the ‘luxury’ of time, but only having three days a week to work has been harder than I anticipated. 

At lots of times this month I’ve felt overwhelmed by the amount of work I’ve had to do, and even though it’s all got done, my plan for May is to really ease back and rethink just how much work I can (and need) to take on. 

I also had a bit of a stinging exchange with an editor that I work with about a due date for an article. I don’t think either of us was 100% right or wrong – but it has taught me to be very clear about expectations. She usually comes to me with work, but hasn’t since the exchange, so I do wonder if I’ve accidentally burnt that bridge. 

I also want to carve out time for a creative project – I’m not sure what that will be – but something that feels nurturing. For the last year or so I’ve been in a reading and exercise slump and I want things to change. Do any of you have a nurturing side project? One that has no expectations, but just joy?

Despite my busy-ness and the stress of the last month, I have to say, I wouldn’t change it for the world. I have so much freedom and flexibility to create my own future and for me, that’s worth everything. 

Income report for April

I was commissioned $7834 worth of work.

I invoiced for just under $8K.

Some people have been asking if I’ve got an income target of $100K this year.

I don’t really have a yearly income target, but my monthly targets now are between $5 – 7K. I’m still not sure how viable that is on three days a week.

As always, I’ll keep you posted. 

And for those of you keen to know about the Katherine Sabbath cake deal (if you’re not sure what  I’m talking about you can find out at the end of this post) – I hit my subscriber target and when I arrived home from The Freelance Festival my partner had Katherine’s amazing pop-up cookbook on the bench. I think he’s slightly regretting making the offer. 

Now to choose the creation … 

How was your April? What are your goals for May?

14 Comments

  • Melanie Tait says:

    Hey Lindy!

    Thanks for the super kind shout out. It was great meeting you – and so inspiring to see what you’re doing and hear about it IRL. Sorry to hear the month has been a bit up and down – fingers crossed you’ve not burned any bridges with your editor.

    I recently had to pull out of a story a few days in (for a couple of reasons – the hours of the appointments for the talent of the story didn’t correspond with my day job, and I came down with a really bad back). I was so worried the publication wouldn’t want me to do something for them again, even though they’d been great about it at the time – and hadn’t pitched to them until today. And, what do you know, they’re keen on both stories I pitched. So you just never know.

    Good luck with the cake! Can’t wait to see the pics. Are they as yummy inside as they look on the outside? M x

    • Lindy Alexander says:

      Thanks Mel, it was so lovely to meet you!
      I’m so glad the editor is keen on your stories – I do think (most) editors are usually pretty forgiving of the things that can crop up in people’s lives … I’m hopeful this one is, but if not, that’s ok too.
      I’ve made one Katherine Sabbath cake before and it was incredible. That’s a good sign I reckon! x

  • Rachel says:

    Great post Lindy. The festival sounded amazing. I had hoped to make it down there but it was not to be this year – it would be fab to meet in person some other time, though πŸ™‚

    I’m always interested reading how you’re going with the part-time thing. I’m in the same boat as you know – 2.5-3 days/week work. It really is hard getting everything done and can be super stressful. That said I’ve taken on a heap more work this month and am determined to become more productive so we’ll see how that goes. This month I’ve filed 4 big features with 3 more to go, plus worked on copy for 2 client websites BUT to do all that I’ve had to be really strict allocating time. It’s a massive juggle. My 3yo is going to pre-school next year so I’ll be ramping it up more then!

    • Lindy Alexander says:

      I would love that Rachel! If there was one person who I feel like I know well online but haven’t met in the flesh, it’s you!
      Goodness, you’ve had a big month. Have you got any clear ideas about how you’re going to become more productive? (I think I need tips!)
      It gives me great comfort knowing that there are others like you out there doing the juggle and doing it so well.

  • Collette says:

    Part time can be tough because your focus isn’t just on work; there’s keeping the home fires burning – getting kids to and from their stuff – be it school, kinder, day care, getting them fed, etc. But also trying to maintain the impression (to clients and editors) that you’re full time. It’s a tough balance and one I am yet to master. On the passion project, I love to sketch and am trying to make more tim for this – it’s one of those activities that I achieve ‘flow’ – where time and space disappear and there is only me and the art. I love it. I don’t do anything with the pictures, except post them on Instagram if I am feeling particularly proud of a piece. But I have recently taken on a little side job where once a month a deliver an ‘arm chair travel’ presentation to a group of elderly people in a nursing home. On Monday we went to Turkey, last month was Vietnam, next month is Thailand. I get paid for it, but only for the hour I present for, and it takes about four hours to prepare the slides, but I am loving it. I get so much out of it, and I always get one or two residents come over to me at the end wanting to chat, which is just the best. So I guess that’s a bit of a passion project because it combines my love of travel and of people, and older folks have got so much to give. I’d love to hear more about what you decide to pursue. xx

    • Lindy Alexander says:

      Oh Collette, I absolutely love the idea of the arm chair travel you are doing in the nursing home. What a truly transportational (is that a word?!) idea. I reckon there’s a story in that!
      And yes, it’s an interesting (and at times, frustrating) juggling act – though interestingly from the freelance festival, 95% of the participants were female. That does make me think that this is something that particularly suits us. Not that it makes it any easier when you’re trying to reply to emails, make lunches and seem interested in the latest Lego creation πŸ™‚
      I’ve been thinking lots about what my passion project may be – I think I’m looking for the zone that you wrote about, but it also needs to be fairly time economical … I’ll keep you posted!

  • Hey Lindy,
    Just started following you a short time ago and have been enjoying the updates. My April started off badly, but thankfully ended well. Was dealing with a payment problem from a global client that was getting very frustrating, but we sorted it out. Phew!

    That new client has given me a bit of financial breathing room so I can tackle some side projects I haven’t been able to get to yet. Not nurturing ones, as I’m hoping they’ll turn into income streams, but they’re things I’m very interested in and get joy from working on. Does that count? πŸ™‚

    • Lindy Alexander says:

      Absolutely that counts Julia! I’m so glad that your April turned around – it’s funny how in just a few weeks that can happen.
      Thanks so much for your comment – lovely to have you here.

  • Kate says:

    Hi Lindy,

    I just wanted to say thanks for your blog. It is so generous. I’ve picked up some great tips, but perhaps even more valuable are the things you’ve said that have resonated with me. Like this post! The juggle is real.

    x

    • Lindy Alexander says:

      Thank you so much Kate. I feel grateful for the community of people who read this blog and reassure me that my experiences are common and normal!

  • Bron Willis says:

    Hi Lindy,

    Thanks for this post – another great one! I love it that you’re open about both the ups and the downs. Hearing about the struggles as well as the wins makes your blog so valuable – and makes your readers feel like it’s not just them that finds it tough at times. I love that you’re searching for a passion project and recognising when you need to nurture yourself that little bit more. I signed up to Julie Red Projects for a three-week workshop recently as I love to sew! Do you sew? If so (ha ha) then I thoroughly recommend it. Scheduled time with other women doing something fun. Goodness I would be surprised if you ever burnt a bridge Lindy – your communication skills and diplomacy are excellent so I would think it’s hard to take anything except the best intent out of an exchange with you. Good luck with that one. Great that you got to Launceston too! I’m heading there soon but for a different reason – bushwalking with my Mum! (perhaps you could call that a passion project too!) See you soon Lindy.

    • Lindy Alexander says:

      That’s so funny that you mention sewing Bron because that’s exactly what I was thinking about doing! I’m a terrible sewer but I love the idea of learning something where you have to concentrate so hard that everything else slips out of your mind.
      With the editor – I think it was a case of us both having assumptions that we didn’t check with each other – she had said that there wasn’t a firm deadline (or words to that affect) and so I put the piece at the bottom of my list of things to do …
      Oh I love that you’re going to Tassie to walk – such a beautiful place.

  • Claire says:

    Time is a thing I REALLY struggle with, every single day. So many unexpected things pop up and before I know it, the week has evaporated and I haven’t done half of what I was hoping to do. I constantly feel overwhelmed and frustrated, it’s very hard. The freelance festival sounds great. I went to a little local literary festival in a nearby village the other weekend and it was absolutely fantastic, so inspiring. Fiction writing is something I really want to do, so it was great to connect with some successful authors. I’m going to try and go to others from time to time if I can, and I’ve connected with a writing/self-publishing group as well which is a supportive thing.

    I never have enough reading time either. I’ve got a (young) dog now though who makes sure I get enough exercise. You need a puppy! (Only joking, you really, really don’t.) A side project I’d love to have time for is calligraphy. Occasionally I do a bit, but mostly it’s there for the future, in case one day I have the time.

    PS. We’ll need to see the cake…

    • Lindy Alexander says:

      Oh my goodness! A puppy! That’s brilliant Claire! πŸ˜€

      At the freelance festival, one of the speakers talked about dedicating his time each day to the "essential few rather than the important many" tasks. I really liked that.

      I do also think that as freelancers we are probably more productive that we give ourselves credit for. I’m sure even though you feel you haven’t achieved half of what you wanted, it’s probably more than if you were in an office and had meetings and colleagues interrupting you?

      And yes, there will be pictures of the cake. If ? When? it gets made πŸ˜‰

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