I seemed to have God's go-signal, as my cousin sent me the link to an advertisement for a seminar: "How to start a career as a freelance writer in the Philippines". Held in an accessible place at a convenient time for an affordable price, it was like all the stars had aligned so that I could attend this.
And so off I went to 47East in Esteban Abada, Katipunan on a Saturday morning, excited to learn more about this path I'm about to take. Though many had signed up, only four people had arrived. Which I actually liked better because it made the discussion more casual and free-flowing.
It was definitely an informative morning, as Ime Morales, founder of the Freelance Writers Guild of the Philippines, shared tips on how to get started, as well as the types of opportunities available out there. It wasn't a step-by-step procedure or anything, but more of points to consider if you truly want to pursue this path. As I am slowly realizing, freelancing is bound to teach me many things about myself and how I really want to live my life, as I am in control of everything for the very first time.
So the talk really helped set the direction for me, and I now need to think of the following:
What's my specialty?
Based on my previous career, I would say writing press releases, personality features, and feature articles. I enjoy doing interviews and telling a story.
But based on my writing style, I believe I'm also capable of writing corporate materials like brochures, manuals, and content for company websites.
The seminar taught me that it's important to have a specialty so that it will be easier to be top-of-mind when clients have specific needs.
What are my fields of interest?
Again, if I were to base it on my previous line of work, it would probably be local show business. But really, I like travelling, reading, and watching movies. I've just never really tried writing about full-length reviews about places, books, and movies. I guess now I'll have the time to try.
Knowing what interests you is important because writers have to be credible. The only way to have credibility and engage people with your writing is to be truly interested in your subject, because your interest and passion really do show in your work.
How much is my work worth?
This was the most eye-opening part of the seminar. Although I haven't been as allergic to numbers as the stereotypical communications major, pulling numbers out of thin air to make costings has always left me beffundled.
Thanks to the seminar, I learned first to create a quota for myself. I examined my monthly expenses and determined how much I would need to earn in order to meet these obligations.
Then I decided on how much time I would have to work in a day (which then multiplies into number of hours in a week, then in a month). As tempting as it is to say that I would only work for two hours a day and spend the rest of the time sleeping and basically just bumming around, the seminar also taught me that freelancers need to have an incredible amount of self-discipline, and treat yourself as though you were treating an employee. Whatever standards of excellence you would have as a boss in a regular workplace must be applied to yourself now.
So yes, I made my computations based on an eight-hour workday, five days a week. Just as my weekends are sacred to me now, I feel I must continue to keep them sacred even as a freelancer. Now that I have an hourly rate in mind, it will be easier now to gauge how many projects I will need to take on in order to prosper.
Where can I find opportunities for freelance work?
Here, I realized that I am lucky to have friends in the right places. All I need to do now is get over my shyness and announce my availability to the world.
And when the opportunities come --as I have faith that they will-- I have to say yes to everything in order to really establish myself. My mantra now is "Newbies can't be choosy", and I'm ready to take on all the jobs that I'm capable of doing without sacrificing my health.
As much as this path is scary and unpredictable, and while I've always feared the unknown, this is the first time that I am excited to face a blank slate in my life. Maybe it's because I know I am blessed to have family and friends rallying behind me and believing with me that I can do this.
So I'm keeping the faith, high on optimism as I count down to September. 😄