Name: Fiona Thomas
Job title: Freelance Writer
Time in current role: 3 years
Why did you decide to go freelance?
When I graduated from university with a degree in music I didn’t know what I wanted to do so I fell into a career in hospitality and hated it. I didn’t know how to find a job I enjoyed so I stayed there and climbed the ladder to my detriment, as I had a mental breakdown in 2012.
After that I continued to work in hospitality with less responsibility and took up creative writing on the side for fun. My secret hope was to go freelance so that I could manage my mental health with more freedom than a traditional job which didn’t offer enough flexibility. I started a blog and after a few years I had enough experience to start pitching to online publications and get paid. A few months later I got an indie book deal to publish my mental health memoir. I never thought that being self-employed would be my calling but it makes so much sense now that I’m actually doing it.
My secret hope was to go freelance so that I could manage my mental health with more freedom than a traditional job which didn’t offer enough flexibility
What are the key functions of your role?
I deal with lots of different clients, mainly providing content writing services for small brands and other freelancers. This might be writing blogs posts, newsletters, website copy or social media captions. I also write for some magazines including Happiful Magazine. On top of that I’m writing my new book. Basically I do a lot of writing!
Talk us through your typical working day
I get up at 9am and do a home workout until 10am. Then I have a shower and sit down at my laptop at around 10.30am with a cup of Lady Grey tea and some overnight oats. If I have any client calls (I like to do video chats) I get them done in the morning. If I don’t have any of them I’ll crack on with the task of the day. I try and focus on no more than two tasks per day as multi-tasking doesn’t work for me.
Today for example, I edited and proofread an article for a magazine and then recorded an episode for my new podcast which is launching in April called Out of Office. Tomorrow is a full day of writing Instagram captions for a photographer client of mine, then the next day is a full day of writing newsletter content. I find batching tasks in this way is much more productive and eases my feelings of anxiety.
I try and focus on no more than two tasks per day as multi-tasking doesn’t work for me
Your favourite part of the job?
Creative writing. I love exploring mental health topics and making them accessible and entertaining to read. I try and inject a bit of humour into all of my work.
…and the part you could do without?
Chasing invoices is pretty hellish.
How would your clients describe you in three words?
Loyal, relatable and creative.
I love exploring mental health topics and making them accessible and entertaining to read
Plans for the future?
I’m really focused on honing my craft as a creative writer. I’ve just signed up for an eight-week workshop on character development and I would love to write a fiction book or a screenplay in the next five years.
Do you have any advice for other aspiring freelancers?
So much! My book Out of Office is out in October and it’s a helpful guide for freelancers with tons of my experience and expert tips. I think the most important ones are:
– Don’t be afraid to fail or too proud to change your mind about something that isn’t working.
– Charge more than you think you’re worth and always save money for tax.
– It’s OK to say yes to every piece of work in the beginning but start to analyse what you like and don’t like about each project, then tailor your marketing efforts to make sure you’re always moving towards your dream clients. LLY