It's ok to be a FWIP - Freelance Work in Progress

Because SEISS - Self employed life is sometimes s&@t...

Freelancing can seem very overwhelming. From the noise of other people ‘massively succeeding’ to the silence you get after sending pitch emails or messages on social media.

There is a LOT of talk about September challenges, resetting and ‘back to school’ right now - and it can feel quite stressful if you’re not ready or keen to do anything like that. You can feel like everyone else is nailing it while you’re floundering.

I have felt like this so often in my freelance life. But recently I realised I’m not floundering - I’m just a FWIP: Freelance Work in Progress. I know I don’t always get it right, or perfect, but I’m learning that trying and persevering is key.

I often have conflicting feelings about my ‘success’ as a freelancer. I worry that my decisions are the wrong ones, or that I’m letting myself or the freelance world down. If I take a contract am I a cop-out? If I work for a client and don’t have time for my own pitches or blogs, am I a failure? If I don’t pitch for a while, am I a fake writer? If I don’t shout about coaching all day long am I really a coach?! Plates spin above me all the time, night and day, and I live in fear of one or more crashing and smashing on the ground. It can be exhausting. But remembering we are not a perfect finished product, and, instead, a FWIP, really helps me find clarity.

It’s all a giant recipe, with a pinch of this and a squidge of that making up the ‘freelance whole’ that is you. And, after all, we do what we need to do in that moment to keep things going. A contract might be the right thing for you - I often look for them pre-winter as I love to have something to commit to and that will pay me after the summer. Maybe a rest from pitching is what your soul needs.

If you feel like giving up because you’re not the perfect freelancer then I am sure you are far from alone! I felt that way before I set up Freelance Feels.

I hate to think anything I post might have a negative impact on people, too - such as this week when I was one of the people saying I was shortlisted for an IPSE award. Did I push a ‘why not me?’ button in others? I hoped not, and shared (as I will do here) that I have NOT been shortlisted for a podcasting in business award or a freelance writing award this year!

I think back to this time two years ago, when I was doing in-house work at a magazine. While I got to write some longer pieces, I was also writing some short ‘nibs’ (it stands for news in brief) for a weekly mag, one I’d worked on about a decade before… I felt, well, a little bit like I was stuck. Why was I STILL writing these snippets of stories, and not some giant investigation for a national newspaper? Well, firstly because I said yes (and there’s a lesson there, we always have the right to say ‘no, sorry, that’s not what I’m here for’. It’s risky, but we have the choice.)

But it’s back to the theme of the newsletter this month - I was being a FWIP. And you have to remember that the benefit of a job or piece of work, or a contract or one-off commission can be way more far-reaching than it feels at the time. Think about where that is taking you, how it’s driving you. I vowed, a year later, to raise my day rate and refuse to accept work that felt too junior, which was scary but felt right for me. If I hadn’t been in that magazine office for that time, I wouldn’t have come to that conclusion and decision.

Being a FWIP means you make mistakes, you make wrong choices, you back down on a negotiation.. but you use each and every moment that comes as a learning moment, and you add another little brick to the building that is your freelance life and journey.

And it also means that you do ‘your September’, resetting or planning or just being….

Coming up this month…

There’s still time to sign up to September’s Relight Your Freelance Fire group course. It begins on Monday 6th and costs £150. On a Monday you get notes and exercises to your inbox, then on a Friday at midday we have a group zoom - a chat with some ‘coaching moments’. You also get a 30-min one on one with me and email contact all month. Read what others have said about it on the Freelance Feels website and please do email if you want to ask anything about the course. We run with a min of 2 and max of 5.

Talking of resetting, I spoke to Abi Jackson at PA for an article about why a September reset could be just what you need, and it might make you think ‘hold on, how does SHE get in the press?!’ Well, of course I have contacts from my work as a writer. But it’s possible to build relationships with journalists and writers - if you want to know more I have two masterclasses and one one-day workshop running this month all about this. I won’t promise you ALL THE COVERAGE, but I can promise you how to not annoy journalists, how to be a media-friendly expert, how to find your voice and niche and how to use the coverage once you get it (after all, there’s no point being in the glossiest magazine in the world if your clients don’t read it!). Full details of all events on Eventbrite.

This blog post explains a little more how to go about getting featured in the press.

I’m also plotting some group coaching/mentoring specifically for freelance writers and journalists - watch this space!

Finally, the podcast will be back this Friday - and there was a special episode with Ralph Rolle, who is the drummer with Nile Rogers and CHIC as well as running his own cookie baking business. If you like the pod, I’d appreciate a review as that helps me get noticed in the busy world of podding… All episodes HERE.

Read, Listen, Subscribe…

Read: Lizzie Dening’s Out of office newsletter was recently about Overwhelm and I had a lovely chat with her about it.

Listen: I’m not sure how I’ve not found 99 problems (but a boss ain’t one) before, but I have now - great title and brilliant topics, worth checking out.

Subscribe: My friend Marnie runs a memoir writing business and is launching a course - details at

And to see you into September, here is Molly, my sister’s friend who makes some gorgeous art…

A post shared by @artbymolly_c

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