Writer's Workshop: The Truth About Freelance Writing

I am excited to bring you my first blog contributor! Robin Reetz is a freelance writer (writing for Refinery 29, Teen Vogue + much more!) and the woman behind one of my favorite blogs Second Floor Flat. On her semi-regular column Robin will be sharing her life as a freelance writer, and providing great tips for writing and digital communication. So without further ado - here is Robin's first post!

Aside from abstract artist, there’s maybe no other job that so many people think they can do than that of a writer. This is something I can say because I’ve been working as a writer and digital journalist for about two years.

Because of the assumption that writing is an easy gig – nice work if you can get it – I dread telling people what I do for a living. In my experience, when you first tell someone that you write for a living – particularly on a freelance level – they tend to assume that you’re unemployed, beyond poor, or even lying. At least that’s how it feels.

Take it from me – working as a freelance writer and digital journalist isn’t about scribbling your thoughts and musings into leather notebooks in European cafés – though I have done that. Instead it means working on multiple projects and putting your skills to use in a variety of ways. Just like a designer’s job is much more than seeking inspiration and landing branding projects with dream clients, the same goes for a writer.

Though I worked in magazines previously, my career as a freelancer began two and a half years ago. The decision to go freelance was something I fell into after I moved to London from New York and fell into contract work, which turned into freelancing. Since then, I’ve made my living as a freelance journalist in a few different ways.

For anyone out there who’s looking to get into freelance writing or journalism, I’m going to give it to you straight up: you’re not going to make any money. Depending on your contract or agreement and the type of work you’re doing, many of the major, glossy magazines you might die to contribute to will not pay you enough to live off of. Unless you’re a staffed contributor, you will not earn enough money to support yourself.

But you can certainly make a living from your talents. Though I call myself a freelance journalist because it’s the quickest thing to say, I do much more than that on a daily basis. Aside from contributing fun, fashion pieces and market round-ups to places like Teen Vogue and Refinery29, I also interview and write profiles on artists and designers for DesignGood. As a team at DesignGood, we contribute monthly columns to places like Conscious Magazine and GFDA. In addition to that, I share a lot of my personal writing through my blog. I also do freelance copywriting work and social media management – both jobs that benefit from or require the skills of a writer. 

Writer is a vague term and I hesitate every time I brand myself as one. It rolls off the tongue much easier than Journalist/Content Manager/Copywriter/Social Media Manager, but the reality is that in today’s world, that’s a taste of what you might be doing. Personally, I like being able to use my voice on a variety of platforms in a variety of ways – from personal essays to marketing copy to social media – and I find it helps to keep my skills limber. 

Not to mention that it makes up for all of those hard days spent in European cafés – but that’s just the life of a freelance writer.

Robin Reetz

I’m Robin – a freelance digital journalist with about seven years working in media. My primary experience lies in fashion, lifestyle and design writing, and I've worked at places like Teen Vogue and Refinery29. In addition to my work, I also write about the independent fashion community (which I love) and chronicle my experiences as an expat on my blog

I've worked in many sides of the industry – from magazines to agencies to e-commerce. I'll be sharing what I've learned about writing and digital communication both from my professional experience, and from the experience I've gained as a blogger.