Self Reflection On My First Year As A Freelance Writer

I’ve been doing this freelance writing thing for a year now, and I’m proud to say that I’m still alive. It wasn’t always easy, but I never expected it would be. 

So what have I learned? Here are 10 lessons (plus a few more tips) that have resonated since ditching the office life and learning to work from home:

reflecting on my first year as a freelance interior designer
1. Embrace the journey of freelance writing with an open mind.
2. Recognize the value of self-assessment and continuous learning.
3. Build a supportive network to navigate challenges effectively.
4. Set achievable goals and celebrate even small accomplishments.
5. Adaptability is key; be prepared to pivot and learn from changes.
6. Prioritize self-care to maintain a healthy work-life balance.
7. Cultivate resilience to handle setbacks and overcome obstacles.
8. Reflect on both achievements and failures to grow as a writer.
9. Embrace a growth mindset and remain curious about your craft.
10. Keep refining your writing skills and exploring new opportunities.

Learning Never Stops

The first thing I realized is that learning never stops. It’s a skill that you can use every day, in every situation. In fact, the more you learn, the more opportunities will open up for you, and the better equipped you’ll be to take advantage of them.

I learned this lesson over and over again during my first year as a freelance writer: when things didn’t work out as planned (and sometimes when they did), or when I had to solve problems on my own without any help from others. 

And no matter how smart or experienced I thought I was, there were always new skills or ideas waiting for me just around the corner things that would make my projects easier to do next time around!

To become a better writer, it’s essential to embrace a growth mindset and continuously improve your skills. Explore our guide on 10 Things That Will Make You a Better Writer to discover effective strategies for enhancing your writing prowess.

Nothing Comes Easy

While this business has been an “easy” one to get into, it’s also a rollercoaster. There are ups, downs, and everything in between. Nothing is easy about being a freelance writer and that’s what makes it so great! You’re always learning about yourself and the world around you. 

You’re constantly growing as an individual through the challenges presented by your career path (whether those challenges are from learning new skills or taking on new projects). 

The journey may not always be easy but there will be times when it seems like it will never end but don’t give up! Every day I wake up with excitement because I know there is something new waiting for me out there to learn about or experience.”

You Can Talk A Big Game, But You Can’t Fake Results

This year, I’ve learned a lot about myself and the business of freelancing. One lesson that has stuck with me is that you can talk a big game, but you can’t fake results. 

You can make excuses for not working hard enough or for not putting in the hours to get your work done on time, but at the end of the day it comes down to two things: how much effort do you put into your craft? And how fast are you able to adapt to change?

I’ve only had one major meltdown this year (that was mostly caused by my poor planning) and it was an eye-opening experience. 

It made me realize that if I want something badly enough – whether it’s good to work or calmness in life – then I need to be willing to put in the necessary work and hustle until those goals become realities.

Writing is a craft that can be honed over time with dedication and practice. If you’re looking to enhance your writing abilities, consider trying out these Time-Tested Ways to Become a Better Writer and witness the transformation in your writing journey.

I’ve Never Felt So Much Like A Failure And So Much Like A Success Before In My Life

I’ve never felt so much like a failure and so much like a success before in my life. Sometimes I’d work for days, only to find that I hadn’t completed the project on time. 

Other times, I would land an article with one of these publications and be thrilled until I saw that it had gone through multiple rounds of edits and required more work than initially expected.

What’s great about freelancing is that you have room to grow as a writer, but there are also plenty of ways things can go wrong along the way: you’re beholden to editors who might not understand what needs fixing; 

Your subject matter might not align with what the publication wants, or your personality may clash with an editor’s expectations (which happened several times).

The key here is learning how to bounce back from failure. As soon as something goes wrong, take stock of where you stand in terms of deadlines, costs incurred (if any), etc., and make decisions accordingly. 

If everything has gone smoothly so far but now things look uncertain because someone else failed at their job? That can happen! This isn’t anyone’s fault except maybe yours if this type of thing happens too often but there isn’t any point in beating yourself up about it either; 

Just stay focused on getting those articles done no matter how long it takes or how many revisions are required by your editor(s).

Making Excuses Is The Easiest Thing To Do

I’m not going to lie, making excuses is the easiest thing you can do. It’s much easier to blame others for your lack of progress than it is, to be honest with yourself and admit your faults. 

You can’t expect other people (whether they’re clients or colleagues) to make progress with you if you haven’t come clean about what’s holding you back no matter how small the issue may seem.

As much as I would have liked someone else to take responsibility for my lack of discipline and self-awareness, I knew deep down that no one else could change how I thought or acted except for me. 

My clients deserved honesty from me about any challenges we faced together so that we could tackle them head-on instead of sweeping them under the rug until they became unmanageable later on down the line.

Even when faced with challenges or a lack of motivation, there are ways to learn and write properly. Our article on How to Learn to Write Properly When You Don’t Care provides valuable insights to help you maintain your writing momentum.

Don’t Get Too Comfortable With Nothing To Show For It

My first year as a freelance writer has been an incredibly rewarding one. It’s been a lot of work, but I’ve learned so much and met some incredible people along the way. But I’ve also learned that it’s easy to get comfortable when you’re not making any money.

I had been working on my novel-in-progress for several years before I left my day job at the end of 2016. Once I leaped full-time writing, however, things started moving very quickly and they haven’t stopped since! 

As great as that sounds on paper (or screen), it can also be overwhelming if you don’t have anything tangible to show for all this time spent in front of your computer screen or notebook.

Don’t get too comfortable with anything to show for it: If you want something done well enough to publish, then do it well enough so that someone will pony up money for what you’ve written!

The Competition Is Fierce And Collaborative

At the beginning of my career, I was afraid that the competition would be too fierce and that I’d have to struggle to find work. But it turns out that there are a lot of writers out there who are hungry for the same opportunities as me. 

Competition is healthy because it makes us all better at what we do, whether by inspiring us with new ideas or forcing us to get better at what we do. 

You can learn from your competition by analyzing their strengths and weaknesses and figuring out how to improve them in your writing. 

You can also collaborate with your competition many writers are more than happy to share advice or resources with other writers who are just getting started.

The Creative Process Is All About Making It Up As You Go Along

The creative process is a lot like a game of chess. You can’t predict what your opponent will do next, but you can make a good guess based on their previous moves and their personality type (introverted or extroverted). 

While you can’t predict the future, you can plan for it by setting goals for yourself that are achievable and meaningful to your life. 

And while you may not always get what you want in this world (i.e., an ideal situation), it’s important to remember that whatever happens in life happens for a reason even if we don’t know why yet!

Every Project Is Different And Some Are More Fun To Work On Than Others

One of the things I enjoy most about freelancing as a copywriter is how flexible it is. When you’re working in-house, your assignments come from one place, but as a freelancer, there can be many different types of clients and projects that float your boat. 

Some jobs are creating opportunities where you get to create something from scratch; other jobs require you to take existing content or materials and make them sound fresh and interesting again. 

You may also get asked to write about topics that aren’t necessarily your area of expertise, but can teach you something new along the way!

Because every client has their own needs when it comes down to hiring writers like myself (or even just friends), they tend to bring out different sides within me too: sometimes I’m able to be funny while other times it might mean being serious; 

Sometimes I’ll feel more like an English teacher than anything else because my client doesn’t know much about writing style but needs help understanding why some words work better than others depending on context etcetera…

Perfectionism can often hinder creative expression, so it’s important to focus on the act of writing itself. Discover why it’s crucial to Write More and Worry Less About Perfection in our informative piece and let go of unnecessary writing stress.

Secrets To success

I’m not a big believer in “secrets to success”, but let me tell you about some things that have helped me along the way.


I love writing. I love it. I never thought this would be my career, but now that it is I am so grateful!


I get paid by the word and whether or not my client needs rewrites or edits is out of my hands. As long as they are happy with what they receive (and they are!), then great! If they ask for rewrites or edits, then that is what we do together until everyone is happy with their end product. 

But sometimes clients don’t want revisions; sometimes they just want something else entirely written at another time slot.

Instead of whatever revision request, we may have received from them previously during any given contract period covered under our agreement terms outlined in writing before any type of payment was made towards the said project(s).

Always Deliver Your Best Work No Matter Who Sees It In The End

This is the most important lesson I’ve learned. It’s the biggest takeaway from all my time freelancing so far.

When you’re working for other people, your job is to deliver their best work. When you’re working for yourself, your job is to deliver your best work, not theirs.

It’s easy enough to get caught up in the cycle of doing client work and getting paid for it that you forget what being a freelance writer means: doing work that’s meaningful to both parties involved (and sometimes even more so). 

A good relationship between freelancer and client should feel like two creative minds coming together on an idea and working through each stage together until they have something great at the end of it all. 

But during those stages where things aren’t going well or there aren’t any big breakthroughs happening at all? 

That’s when we need our projects as much as ever to keep us motivated through these challenging moments by reminding us why we do this thing called “freelance writing” in the first place!

If You Don’t Have Time For It, Don’t Agree To It

This is the number one rule of freelance writing I’ve learned in my first year as a writer. You need to be honest with yourself about what you can and can’t do, and if something will take more time than you’re able to give, say no. 

If it’s not worth your time, then that means it’s not worth being paid for either! If someone wants work done but doesn’t want to pay enough money (or maybe even any at all).

They’ll likely end up being an unhappy client who vents their frustrations on social media or elsewhere online so why would anyone want that headache?

On the flip side: if someone asks too much of me outside my skill set and I don’t feel comfortable doing so, I’m going to let them know and hopefully still get paid for my services despite the extra effort required on both ends of our relationship

When faced with challenges on a writing project, sometimes the best approach is to relax and trust the process. Check out our advice on Stuck on a Writing Project? Stop Worrying and Start Relaxing to learn how to overcome writer’s block and find your creative flow again.


I started my journey in January of 2018, thinking I would be able to do this. What I didn’t realize was that it would take me almost a whole year and a lot of hard work before things started to click. Now that they have, though, I’m not going back. 

When people ask what I do for a living now, instead of saying “writer” or “freelance writer,” I say “content marketer.”

Further Reading

Here are some additional articles that offer valuable insights and perspectives on freelance writing and the lessons learned from personal experiences:

How I Landed My First $1-per-Word ClientDiscover the journey of a freelance writer who successfully secured high-paying clients after six months of dedicated work.

Lessons From My First Year as a Freelance WriterGain insights from a writer’s firsthand experience in the freelancing world during their initial year, and learn from their successes and challenges.

Freelance Writer ReflectionsExplore reflections and advice from a freelance writer, offering valuable perspectives on the freelance writing lifestyle and lessons learned.


How can I improve my chances of landing high-paying freelance writing clients?

To increase your chances of securing well-paying clients, focus on building a strong portfolio, networking within your industry, and showcasing your expertise through targeted pitches.

What are some common challenges faced during the first year as a freelance writer?

The first year as a freelance writer often involves managing inconsistent income, establishing a reliable client base, and balancing workload with self-care.

How can I stay motivated and overcome writer’s block?

Maintaining motivation and overcoming writer’s block can be achieved by setting achievable goals, taking breaks to recharge, and exploring new writing prompts and exercises.

What strategies can help me transition from a part-time writer to full-time freelancing?

To transition from part-time to full-time freelance writing, create a financial plan, secure a steady client base, and ensure you have a buffer fund for any lean periods.

How do freelance writers effectively manage their time and projects?

Effective time management for freelance writers involves setting clear deadlines, using task management tools, and creating a structured work routine to maximize productivity.