If you're still toying with the idea of starting a freelance writing career, but you can't work normal business hours, this one's for you. Christian Simmons wanted to start freelancing, but with only weekends free for freelance writing work, they had concerns.
Here's Christian's situation:
How can I have a freelance writing business when the weekends are all I've got to write and see clients?
Most of the clients want someone who can write Monday through Fridays but I work as an administrative assistant at a local shelter during those times and so weekends are all I have.
How can I start freelance writing just solely on the weekends?
The idea that you have to work Monday - Friday to be available when clients might be in the office is a common misconception. The simple truth is, as a freelance writer you are your own boss. You set your hours.
Your clients get to tell you what they want project-wise. In the vast majority of cases, they don't get to tell you what hours you have to work on those projects. And there would need to be a good reason for them to do that. (That's one factor considered in the U.S. when the IRS looks at behavioral control when determining a buyer's classification as either a client or employer for tax purposes.)
But there's more to it than tax classifications and how that affects what clients or employers can demand of you. Here's the gist of what I told Christian about the viability of a weekend warrior freelance writing career:
I would start by laying out your communication preferences on your professional site. For example, I emphasize email on mine because I batch client responses. That saves time, and it prevents calls from interrupting you while you're "in the zone" writing. That benefits not only you, but also your clients. My own policy is that calls have to be scheduled in advance unless it’s a PR crisis, because I also do some PR consulting. You could simply have set hours where you keep your phone turned on and take client calls if that's preferable to you.
Then, I wouldn’t mention your working hours at all unless asked (or unless you set and advertise specific phone availability). What’s more important is delivery.
For example, if a client wants you to deliver an article a day, Monday – Friday, for their blog, you can get topic approvals early, batch-write them on the weekend, and either deliver before Monday morning, or try to quickly email or post each one on weekdays before you head to your day job.
That depends on the clients’ system. But most systems can save articles as drafts or schedule them to go live in advance, so it shouldn’t be an issue. (And that's only if you handle posting. It's even better if you can email the client a document and let them deal with the admin.)
It might be a problem if you’re covering breaking news. And that would put you in a tricky spot. In that case, the best thing I could suggest is either look for clients who post news less often (such as weekend summaries) or look into writing evergreen content or deeper features that don’t need such immediate turnaround. Most specialty areas have a need for both, though without knowing your specialty it’s tough for me to know if there might be other concerns.
Freelancing on weekends can definitely be done. It’s a great way to start out or work part-time long-term. I've watched someone do that as a software developer for years (taking a few client calls on weeknights after work, then doing actual development work on weekends only). So I’ve seen some of the challenges that come with it but know they can be overcome as long as you communicate openly with clients. And yes, that might mean reminding some of them of your availability occasionally.
Most clients are going to be willing to work with you as long as you can get them things in advance of when they want them. Early deliveries for a week's worth of posts is something I did with one of my first regular blogging clients, and it can be enjoyable. I delivered the next weeks' posts on Fridays at that time, but in your case there’s no reason you couldn’t do the same on Sundays.
There's nothing stopping you from freelance writing just on the weekends. Or just during the evenings. Or for a few hours three days per week. Or whenever the heck you please.
Unless you're working with local clients where you're expected to meet face-to-face, or if you do a lot of phone interviews and client calls, your working hours are totally up to you. And taking on those kinds of limiting gigs is a choice, and they're not necessary to earn good money freelancing.
Don't let an unconventional schedule prevent you from getting started. Do what you can with what you have. You can always change your schedule later if, or when, your situation changes.
Do you have a question you'd like to have me answer on the blog? Submit your question here and I'll do what I can to help.
Jenn has 18 years experience writing for others, around 13 years experience in blogging, and over 10 years experience in indie e-book publishing. She is also an Active member of the Horror Writers Association.
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