Cheryl Wright loves her freelance writing job. And what's not to like? She's able to make a living from her passion, help people in the process, and instead of a cubical surrounding her office space, Cheryl has the Caribbean. Sound like an ideal work environment? Of course it does. But before you go drifting off into dreams of a freelance writing paradise, be sure to do some thorough investigation.
In this Salary Story, Cheryl Wright shares her thoughts, feelings and the challenges that face her as a freelance writer. With freelancing comes freedom, but it also requires hard work and self-motivation. Read on for an inside look at the practices of a successful freelance writer. Then find out if a writing career is right for you. With PayScale's salary data, you can find the average salary range for a copy writer, salary range for grant writer and a writer's average salary in other industries.
PayScale: How would you describe your Freelance Writing job?
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Cheryl: I’ve long since stopped writing the decorating features and columns that launched my freelance writing career. I broadened my horizons and found my true voice. Now lifestyle articles, as I call them, are my specialty. They include inspiration, motivation, setting goals, finding and pursuing one’s dreams, self-care and so on. My weekly inspirational column, Wright Words of Wisdom, in a Sunday pullout magazine, allows me to write on the topics that interest me and are common to women. My three blogs are the perfect avenues for me to share some of my more personal thoughts on life, writing and my Christian faith. My work can be found on content sites like Author Nation, Syndicated Journalist and Triond.
I enjoy writing feature articles, but I would always choose the option to write a regular column. I thrive on the discipline required to produce work on a regular, tight deadline. Response from readers is a real boost to my confidence and undeniable sparks of inspiration. I’ve thought about copywriting and commercial writing but they are not for me, at least not right now. I enjoy the personal touch in the writing that I do.
PayScale: How did you decide to become a Freelance Writer?
Cheryl: After receiving my diploma in interior decorating and design, my passion soared and I sought to fill a void in a local print magazine. After two years I realized that my childhood dream to be a writer had become a reality. That’s when I began exploring the world of freelance writing. So I parlayed my experience writing a decorating column into a reputation for consistency, dependability and professionalism and my publication success increased. When my first personal essay was published online, the response from readers propelled me to define my true voice and enhance my penchant for a more personal and conversational writing style. I found my true voice and my home. My column, blogs and articles on content sites have a faithful and growing readership and I remain passionate about the topics I write about.
PayScale: What do you love about being a Freelance Writer?
Cheryl: My inspiration is knowing that what I write reaches people who need help, encouragement and inspiration to defy the pull of conformity and remain true to themselves, define their dreams and set goals to help them pursue their passions with all their might. Their emails confirm that I am where I am supposed to be and doing what I am supposed to do. And, it is always a pleasure to reply, even to those that say only, "Thank you." There is a deep sense of accomplishment, fulfillment and feeling of honoring my passion every time I hit the send button to submit an article for my column, a query, an assigned piece to a client, or posts to my blogs. Even on the days when my mind is in a fog and I feel lost in the world of words, I never lose sight of the big picture - I am living my dream.
PayScale: What are the biggest challenges you face as a Freelance Writer?
Cheryl: There are three major challenges: (1) Staying focused on the work at hand - incoming e-mails and the lure to surf is a daily distraction. I'm better at it now because after I clear my inbox in the morning, I disconnect from the Internet until I have completed the tasks I targeted for the time period.
(2) Resisting procrastination - With a middle name like "Procrastinator" you may well imagine the extreme measures I have to take sometimes. However, self-talk has been my greatest ally. All day I keep reminding myself that today is yesterday's tomorrow, and tomorrow is not mine to bank on. Strange as it may seem, it works for me, most times.
(3) Managing my time - I thought I was the epitome of time management until I began writing full time. It remains an ongoing battle. Lists, planners, alarms, threats and promises, I use them all. When one method is overused to the point of being ineffective, I switch to another. I'm always on the look out for gadgets and systems to help me manage my time better and smarter.
PayScale: What kind of advice would you give someone trying to break into this field? Is there any advice you wish you would have known when you first started out as a Freelance Writer?
Cheryl: Work with your natural tendencies. Admire other writers, but be the writer only you can be. If only I knew this in the beginning, the early years of my writing career would have been less stressful. Maybe it was there in the avalanche of books and articles I read, but my wild enthusiasm and burning passion must have blinded me to it. For years I struggled and agonized to make myself write and work a certain way. Thankfully, I have learned to sing to the tune in my own heart and dance to the beat of my own drum. My advice to aspiring writers is to not put so much pressure on yourself to be a particular way. Being your authentic self will always lead you to your path and your passion.
What are the most exciting things that have happened to you while working as a Freelance Writer?
Cheryl: Earlier this year, I received an email from a woman in Arizona, inviting me to speak to a small group of women in her community. She had been reading my articles for some time and wanted me to conduct a one-day workshop with her group. While speaking to groups of women is something I would love to do, traveling to the U.S. for one day wasn't possible at the time. She didn't know that I lived in the West Indies. Nevertheless, she gave me an open invitation to visit if ever I travel there. Recently, I received two more invitations to speak. One, to the yearly group of graduating engineering students in my country and in the Caribbean region (this is an ongoing assignment.) And the other, to speak to Administrative Professionals at their Motivational Morning session. This is amazing because this is an area I've been pondering for quite some time. I see it as a natural extension of the topics I write about. Plus, it complements my writing.
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