Based out of Montreal, Jenn Cox is a full-time freelance journalist. She got her start freelancing about three years ago, after working as an editor for two publications in both the print and online spheres. Wanting to try her hand at freelancing, she felt that it was “now or never” if she was going to get her start before the responsibilities of having children and other real life matters took hold.
Right after making the leap, Jenn took a freelancing workshop that was actually quite disheartening. The instructor told the class that they would never make much money and should only try freelancing if they were married to someone with a full-time job who could support them. Rather than let these dire words discourage her, Jenn decided that she “wanted to prove that person wrong” and used that as incentive to make her own freelancing career a success. So far, she’s had great opportunities and has continued to grow her business year after year.
In fact, one of Jenn’s favourite parts about freelancing is the gratification she gets from building a successful business. To keep herself incentivized, she maintains a folder with all her paystubs, and says that “it’s quite heavy after three years.” She enjoys the feeling of knowing each stub comes from a job that she pitched, interviews that she conducted, and work that she’s shared. She also likes to write about a variety of topics, with a focus primarily on those that fall under a lifestyle umbrella, like home decor, wedding, travel and parenting.
She finds, however, that working on her own so much can be a struggle, and so uses social networking sites like Facebook in order to network and stave off the loneliness that freelancing can sometimes bring. She also tries to get out of her home office from time to time, working out of cafes instead. Otherwise, she notes, especially in the winter months, it can happen that you “find you haven’t gone outside in five days.”
To keep herself on task, Jenn finds it important to set and keep a schedule. When she first started freelancing, she was keeping her own hours but realized that she was missing people who worked office hours. Now she gets up at the same time every day and knows her most productive writing times to schedule accordingly. She also says that she “couldn’t live without” her agenda, and uses a full page per day. She prefers a hard copy rather than a digital solution because she likes to be able to tear off the corner at the end of each day.
For those just starting out in freelancing, her advice is to “be persistent. Don’t think you’re being a pest to follow up on a pitch.” She found that by following up, even with a second or third email, she made sure that people saw her name in their inbox, “even at the risk of people giving me the job to stop me bothering them.”
You can learn more about Jenn and view her portfolio on her blog, Word Addict, and follow her on Twitter @wordaddict914.