I’m starting a regular post in this blog and I’m calling it “Featured Freelancer.” For many of us who are new to this work-from-home thing, freelancing can be lonely, so I’m always on the lookout for kindred spirits like me, freelance editors and writers who are dealing with the same issues that I face every day. If you’re an independent professional like me, I hope reading the stories of other freelancers makes you feel less lonely.
My first featured freelancer, Ariel Price, has been working independently for almost a year. A freelance editor who works from home, she specializes in editing fiction, Christian fiction and nonfiction.
Ariel started working independently after she interned for two freelance editors. “I really enjoyed the freedom I had and the thought of being able to accept a broader range of clients,” she shared.
While it has been less than a year, Ariel has no regrets. “Like any business, it takes a lot of consistent work, but I’m in this for the long haul,” she said.
Ariel shares three things she loves about working as a freelance editor:
- Collaborating with talented authors and editors. “Working with creative, bright people makes my job so much fun!”
- Being your own boss. “I don’t have a problem with procrastination; I am a self-motivator and enjoy the discipline it takes to get up every day, dress professionally, and get to work.”
- Exploring uncharted territory, within limits. “I love that through freelance editing, I have the freedom to be flexible so I can meet the needs of authors. I also love that organizations like the Editorial Freelancers Association, as well as other editors, are there to support me and guide me.”
As with any other job, working freelance also has its disadvantages. For Ariel, it’s having to manage accounts. Fortunately for her, she married a finance guy who helps her with her taxes (I only wish it were the same for me!).
Another challenge about working as a freelancer is that work follows you wherever you go, Ariel said. “It’s tempting to work too much, allowing work to cut into valuable time with my husband or just by myself.”
Like any other freelance professional, Ariel has to deal with the risk of not having work. “There are times of feast and times of famine—I just try to be smart and plan for those times when business is slow.”
I asked Ariel three questions I’ve always wanted to ask other independent professionals (but was too shy to):
What are your interests outside of work?
Playing piano, singing, reading for pleasure, watching old movies, and going on walks.
Do you still dream of going back to a corporate setup?
I miss working around other people; sometimes staying home all day gets discouraging. But I don’t miss not choosing my own work and having to abide by rules I don’t necessarily agree with.
What’s a typical day at work for you?
I cannot work without my laptop and a beverage. I start the morning with a cup of coffee, switch to water, have a glass of iced tea (or two) after lunch, and finish with more water. I must be sufficiently hydrated…and caffeinated. I also prefer to have my Chicago Manual of Style and Oxford American Dictionary near me, but I’ll usually leave those tomes at home if I choose to work at a coffee shop, which I do often. Contrary to many other editors and despite the fact that I love music, I don’t like listening to music while I work. I’m too tempted to sing or hum along, and I get distracted. Silence or meaningless background noise helps me concentrate. Currently my favorite workplace is Starbucks, because of the cheap, delicious iced tea and free Internet.
They say when you want something badly, the universe will conspire to make it happen.
One of my mini-dreams has come true.
I’ve always wanted to go back to feature writing. It was something I used to do many years ago for the now-defunct arts and culture blog Pinoycentric (some of my posts have been archived here). But real life happened. The desire to make money pulled me toward technical writing jobs and e-mail marketing that I decided maybe feature writing wasn’t for me.
And then I stumbled onto Mariel Jimenez’s blog and became a fan. Through her blog, I lived out my dreams vicariously–living in New York, writing for magazines. Mariel encouraged me explore the local magazine industry, gave me leads on whom to approach. I thanked her and put the idea behind me until such time when I was ready.
In January this year, the opportunity came to write for Redtag.ph, an online deal reviews site. I did a couple of stories just to get my feet wet and experience cramming for deadlines and working with an editor again.
The stint lasted only three months because Redtag soon closed down. But I loved every minute of it. I enjoyed the challenge of working with an editor, having someone to please and impress (as you would a college professor), and having another person edit my work for a change (after many years as editor, that was refreshing).
In April, when I started working from home as an e-mail marketing consultant, I told myself this would be the year I’d make my writing comeback. Why not volunteer at this online news portal? I told myself. I had seen their ad for editor, and while I thought I could do it, I had zero experience in news reporting (despite the fact that I went to journalism school). I told myself I’d be willing to work for free, just for experience.
I kept checking the ad posted on a friend’s Facebook profile, until this friend (someone I went to journalism school with) convinced me to try out. Really? I asked him. You think I can do it?
Of course, he said. You’re my go-to person when I need editing advice! (Sigh. I love my friends!)
The long and short of it is I didn’t get that editing job, but I left with something else. They asked me to start contributing stories and profiles about Filipino expats, a niche I had focused on for many years at Pinoycentric. Not only that, but they would also pay me for it!
I had come full circle, going back to what I loved doing three years ago, but this time with a wider audience.
When I dreamed of going back to writing, I didn’t think it would happen like this or that it would happen so fast. All I asked was the chance to write again–tell stories that celebrated the greatness of the Filipino spirit, stories that Filipinos actually cared about. I feel blessed that God gave me this chance to make that one dream come true, assuring me that I made the right decision to leave my old job.
Every writing assignment has been a challenge. I waited three weeks for a reply and exhausted all my North America contacts to get this story. (The headline says it all: “It was all worth it.”) Some days I wake up and, over morning coffee, agonize over my first paragraph. (I got performance anxiety over this. And I got first-time jitters when I wrote this.)
But no matter how difficult it gets, even when sometimes I want to strangle myself because of my fear of writing, I always remind myself that I am back where I’ve always wanted to be. I also say a huge thank-you to that Big Guy up there who made all this happen, and the two nicest people (Marielle and Ederic) who believed that I had more stories to tell world. Thank you! I hope I could inspire another person one day, in the same way you have inspired me. May God bring you blessings a thousandfold!
Image credit: Doc