Freelance Diaries: What I Actually Do in a Week

I’ve been meaning to write some freelance-related posts for a while, and after a few people mentioned they’d be interested in reading about my freelance work, I thought it was high time I got around to it. So, say hello to a new blog post series – Freelance Diaries!

To start off the series, I thought I’d answer one of the most common questions I get asked: what do you actually do? Obviously, this will differ greatly for different freelancers in different industries, but this is what my weeks generally look like as a freelance social media manager and writer.

freelance diaries what i actually do as a freelancer

My Freelance Income

I do quite a lot of different stuff when it comes to freelance work, but most of it falls under the general headings of “social media” or “writing”. At the moment, my income is made up of the following types of work:

  • Social media management for brands – 40%
  • Writing for online publications – 35%
  • Blogging for brands or individuals – 15%
  • Sponsored work on my own blog/Instagram etc – 10%

The majority of my work is stuff that rolls over from month to month, which is really helpful when you’re trying to establish a steady freelance income. I do the occasional one-off project, but the majority of my work is done on an ongoing monthly basis. The exception to this is sponsored blog/Instagram stuff as it tends to crop up as and when it’s available, rather than steadily every month. I see this part of my income as a nice little bonus, rather than something I depend on every month – that way I don’t feel too bad if I don’t earn much (or anything!) from my blog in one particular month.

freelance diaries what i actually do as a freelancer

What My Week Looks Like

So what does a typical day look like? Let’s break out that old cliche… every day is different! It is a cliche, but it’s true – no two days are the same and I often find myself swapping things around last minute or doing something I’ve never done before.

But, as most of my work is ongoing, I’ve managed to get myself into a general routine which helps me to stay organised most of the time. Generally, I work Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm but I’ll have the occasional lie in on a Monday morning or work late if there’s something that really needs done. The beauty of being freelance is that you can set your own hours, but I try to stick to this routine as most of my friends work to this schedule. There’d be no point me taking mid-week days off and then never being able to spend time with my friends at the weekend!

freelance diaries what i actually do as a freelancer

Monday

I like to spend Monday getting my week organised. After checking my emails and social media, I’ll start the day (usually around 10am as I hate early mornings!) by writing a to-do list for the week. It’s useful to see when I have any meetings or deadlines so I can plan the rest of my work around this.

The rest of Monday is usually spent scheduling in social media content for clients and catching up with anything I might have missed over the weekend. It’s hard to avoid client social media at the weekend, but aside from responding to messages/liking tagged photos etc I leave everything else to catch up with on Monday.

I usually have time to get one or two blog posts for clients written up on Monday afternoons too.

Tuesday

Most of my social media clients are local businesses in Edinburgh, so once a week or so I’ll pop in to take some new photos and catch up with any news I need to put on social media. As well as taking photos, writing social media posts and scheduling them in, I also need to create content calendars, social media plans and keep track of statistics.

Any spare time will be spent working on blog posts for clients, catching up on emails and doing freelance admin. You know, all the boring stuff like updating my website, chasing invoices and keeping my accounts up to date. When it comes to my accounts, I prefer to update them daily (or whenever a new invoice comes in) so they’re always organised and I don’t have to hunt around for receipts and invoices at the end of each month.

freelance diaries what i actually do as a freelancer

Wednesday

I don’t usually have too many meetings (although this week I’ve had four which is unusual!), but if I do I try to schedule them for Wednesdays to help break up the week a little bit.

If I’ve been organised, I’ll have done most of my client work on Monday and Tuesday, so by this point in the week all I need to do is finish things off and do any ongoing tasks (like interacting with followers on client social media accounts). If I’ve got a particularly busy week client-wise, I’ll spend the rest of Wednesday getting on with that work. If things are a bit quieter, I’ll use this time to write up a blog post for my own blog. Most of my blogging is done at evenings or weekends, but if I have a spare couple of hours with no client work to do, I’ll squeeze one in during my 9-5!

Thursday

Thursday is a shift day for me, which means I need to be at my desk from 9am to 5pm. I’m a freelance writer in the online features team at iNews, so I spend part of my day writing articles, part of my day interviewing people for features, and part of my day searching for and pitching new ideas. Most of my articles are focused on Edinburgh or Glasgow, but they can be pretty varied. I’ve written about everything from The Walking Dead themed pop-up bars to the best underrated landmarks in Edinburgh.

freelance diaries what i actually do as a freelancer

Friday

Friday is another iNews shift day, so I’ll start by finishing off anything from Thursday and then pitching/writing new articles until 5pm. Aside from replying to emails or social media messages, I don’t do any other client work on Thursdays or Fridays. So if anything crops up that needs done before the weekend, I need to wait until after 5 to do it. It’s never anything major (just scheduling a couple of extra social media posts or sending something off before a deadline) so I’m usually done by 6pm at the latest.


So, there you have it! That’s what a typical week looks like for me, as a freelance social media manager and writer based in Edinburgh. I quite like my little routine as it gives me enough structure that I don’t feel lost, but enough freedom that I can take a random Wednesday afternoon off to go shopping if I really want to. That’s what I love about working freelance – even if you work typical 9-5 hours, you can choose what you do and how you use your time within those hours.

Hope you enjoyed the first of my Freelance Diaries posts – please do let me know if you have any questions you’d like answered or any topics you’d be interested to read about in an upcoming post!

freelance diaries what i actually do as a freelancer

Gillian

Freelance social media and digital marketing consultant with a penchant for writing blog posts, drinking sickly sweet cocktails and exploring the cobbled streets of Edinburgh.

10 Comments

  • So interesting to see the breakdown of your time! I’m definitely interested in becoming freelance it’s just drumming up those customers, but for now I’m just getting as much experience in marketing as I can. Very helpful post!

    • Gillian says:

      Definitely a great idea to get lots of experience! It’s quite scary making the jump to become freelance, but I think it’s really worth it in the long run.

  • Emily says:

    I just started freelancing a couple of weeks ago and I really love the flexibility it gives me but I do have a lot more to learn about invoices, tax, chasing late payments, how to find new clients and regular work and all the not-so-fun stuff. It would be great to get some posts about that and learn from someone who has experience in it.

    Emily | http://emilytrinh.com

    • Gillian says:

      Good luck with your new freelance career, I’m sure you’ll love it! The boring admin stuff is definitely the least fun part, but once you get used to it it does become a lot easier. I’ll definitely pop this down in my notebook for future Freelance Diaries posts!

  • Chelsea says:

    Really great post! I’m just dipping my toes into starting up as freelance, so I’m definitely looking forward to see future freelance diaries! X

    • Gillian says:

      Thanks Chelsea, hope you find the posts helpful!

  • Caitlin says:

    This was really insightful! I’m looking forward to the rest of the series!

    • Gillian says:

      Glad you enjoyed it Caitlin!

  • Danae Bursae says:

    I love that you work for local businesses from home. That’s a really great idea and I think I’ll pitch some small shops around me:) Thanks for the inspiration!

    • Gillian says:

      Good luck! I love working for local businesses as you can meet some great people and end up working on some pretty interesting projects!

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