4 Life Lessons I Have Learned as a Freelance Writer

Cole Schafer Blog

When I quit my job as a digital marketing strategist to become a freelance writer, I remember staring at the glowing screen of my laptop thinking... what the fuck did I just get myself into? 

When I quit I had next to nothing in savings, not a single client and zero experience writing professionally. Seriously, I had never been paid a cent for anything I had ever written. 

All I had was a dream, a cup of coffee and my MacBook air. Oh, and two wildly supportive parents that have always told me I could do anything -- happily allowing me to move in post-graduation. This helped too. 

I have officially made a living as a freelance writer for 4 months now. I am far from being what I would consider "great" in the freelance-sphere, but I am getting there... slowly but surely. 

I wanted to share with you today a few life lessons freelancing has taught me over the past 4 months, some of which I hope you can apply to your own life. 

4 Life Lessons I have Learned as a Freelance Writer

1. Own Your Fuck Ups

Lesson #1: You are human and you will fuck up. You should be fucking up. It means you are busting ass and putting yourself in positions where there are high stakes -- meaning you can either win big or lose big. There is nothing wrong with failure, I would even argue it is good to fail. Just own it when you fail. Own your fuck up.

A while back I received a phone call from a startup I was doing copywriting for. They informed me that they weren't pleased with my work and would be heading in a different direction. 

My first response was to get defensive. Copywriting and writing for that matter are two things I am very passionate about. I was ready to fight back. But I didn’t. I held my tongue.

I took a deep breath and said a few closing words. I thanked him for the opportunity and got off the phone, letting him hang up first.

I reflected on my work and decided that I was better than the work I had done. I emailed my ex-client, shortly after the phone call. I informed him that I would not be taking compensation for the past two weeks of work. This was painful, I gave up $900 in income. But it felt like the right thing to do, so I did it. I held myself accountable -- I owned my fuck up.  

2. For Every $1 You Spend, Put $1 in Savings

Lesson #2: You can tell a lot about a person by giving them $2. The individual who lives too much spends the $2. The individual that lives too little, saves the $2. The individual that lives just right, spends $1 and saves $1. You should always strive to be the individual that lives just right.

When I was first starting out as a freelancer, I had roughly $750 in savings -- most of which I spent on purchasing a Macbook Air for my writing business. I was 5 months out of college, broke and living at home with my parents.

I quickly made a rule for myself, for every $1 I spent, I was going to put $1 in savings. There were times I didn't get to do the things I wanted to do, but it was this practice that got me through the dry spells of freelancing. 

This is one of the more important lessons freelancing has taught me. 

3. Education on a Budget

Lesson #3: If you want to grow, I have only one piece of advice -- read damn good books and drink coffee with people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world.

When I was starting out in freelancing, I was providing a service I didn't go to college for -- writing and copywriting. With a college education being $40k, I sure as fuck wasn't going back to school. So, I realized I would have to learn on a budget, from people and books.

This last year I started reading 3-4 books a month and writing stories about people who amaze me. My mind now moves faster, my creativity runs deeper and my heart has grown bigger. 

Mankind was born to move one another, to change one another and to love one another. I think at times, we forget this. We think we are on our journey alone, in constant competition. 

Becoming better is a collective effort. 

4. There Is Only One Sure Path to Success 

Lesson #4: The path to achieving success is very simple -- it is a relentless dedication to your craft, day in and day out.

There are a lot of dumb ass lifestyle coaches and entrepreneurs online that claim to hold some secret path to easy success -- this is bullshit. 

If you want something and I mean really want something, you have to be willing to lay it all out on the line. You have to be willing to bleed for it. You have to be willing to let your dream slowly kill you.
In the past 8 months, I have written 60 blog posts on my personal blog, which totals in at about 75,000 words. 

I have written countless pieces of content for startup clients, Entrepreneur Magazine and Medium, which total in at 100,000 words. 

In addition to this, I have probably written another 50,000 words that never reached the public because I thought they were shit. 

I have written roughly 28,000 words per month for the last 8 months. This adds up to enough words to fill over 4, 200-page books.

 I'm going to double this in 2017. 

There have been days where my dream of becoming a writer has sucked me dry of every word left in my entire being. 

But guess what? My dream wanted more, so I figured out a way to write more.  

By Cole Schafer