Freelancer Story: ‘Store everything!’

Meet Dane, a published author, freelance writer, poet and (occasional) musician with a passion for language and learning and a Level 5 PPH’er.

Tell us a bit about yourself. How did you get into freelancing?

I’d been thinking about moving into freelancing for quite a while and finally bit the bullet after picking up my first client. That came about through sheer chance on Twitter, but it gave me the push I needed to get my portfolio in gear and to start building up the infrastructure I needed to go freelance full-time.  

What was your previous job before deciding to go freelance?

I was working as a social media specialist at a marketing agency. That’s another reason why I decided to go freelance – I didn’t enjoy the work much and I was getting rusty because I was the only person there covering social media marketing, digital marketing, email marketing and analytics. I found that less and less of my day was spent writing, which is my passion – and so I decided to go out and do something about it.

How did you come across PPH?

I’m actually not too sure. I think I must have heard about it while I was still working agency-side. Either way, it was the first site that I signed up to when I decided to make a go of freelancing, and it also brought in a couple of clients who I still work with today.

What was your first job like on PPH?

My first job was to write a monthly wrap up for the LinkedIn page of a client who works in construction, and it was actually quite a lot of fun. The client is a great guy and I had some previous experience of the construction industry, and the wrap ups themselves were meant to be a bit of fun – so I got to share stories of some of the strangest buildings in the world.

Funnily enough, that client was pushing for a freelance career himself – and now I’m working as a full-time freelancer and he’s heading up his own agency. It worked out pretty well for both of us – and we’re still working together today.

What is a typical day like for you?

Confession time: I’m a night owl. I tend to wake up at around half ten and get pretty much straight to work, and then I work until my girlfriend gets home. After that, I switch around to working on my own projects (I write books) until she goes to sleep. Then I put in a couple more hours until I’m ready to go to bed. I pretty much work from when I wake up until when I go to sleep – but not always on projects for my clients. Being freelance gives me the flexibility to shift my hours around as and when I need them.

How does freelancing compare to a 9-5?

Personally, I love it – although it’s not for everyone. I feel like I’m working harder, but that’s because I know that if I work overtime then the money goes into my pocket – and not into my employer’s. I’ve always been frustrated when working a 9-5 because I’m obsessed with efficiency, and when you work for someone else you can always see little things that could be tweaked and improved. I was never given the authority to do this in my old role, so it’s great to have total control over my work and life – and especially on the clients that I work on. I can fire clients if it’s not working out.

What benefits have you found by using PPH?

It’s basically an intermediator that matches buyers to sellers, which means it’s invaluable for picking up new business. You can search through jobs to see what people need and then pick and choose which you respond to – pitching your services to a receptive audience instead of to random people who don’t actually need to outsource but who are politely listening because they feel obliged to. Plus it’s much cheaper than other freelancing sites if you need to buy more credits to apply for more roles – which I encourage you to do.

What does your future hold? Where would you like to take this?

I had this conversation with a potential client the other day. I have no desire to become a multimillionaire but to work myself into the ground along the way. For me, freelancing is all about taking on the projects that I want to take on and earning enough money to support myself as an author. If I could drop my freelance hours in five years because I’m earning more money from royalties, that’d be marvellous. Ultimately, as long as I can continue to be my own boss and to make a living from my writing, I’m happy. Freelancing is the easy route to monetisation, but there are other options that might take over in the future. We’ll see!

What are your top 5 tips for freelancers who are new to PPH?

  1. Be patient: It can take a dozen applications before you land your first job role. Stick at it, though, and you’ll get there.
  2. Have a great portfolio: This means different things to different people. For myself, I think that as long as your portfolio shows what you can do and communicates your personality and your philosophies, it’ll do the job.
  3. Don’t be afraid to negotiate: Sometimes it’s worth doing work for a lower rate if it’s something you really want to do or which will look great on your portfolio. There’s also nothing wrong with sticking to your guns and demanding a higher rate than a client offers.
  4. Fill out your profile: Use a high quality headshot and include as much information as you can. It’ll make it easier for people to find you in search and to get a good idea of what you’re all about.
  5. Have fun: If you’re not enjoying yourself, it’ll show in the work that you deliver. Don’t be tempted to apply for jobs you know you’re not going to like because in the end, every party will be disappointed. If you’re going to do whatever people ask you to do, you might as well be in full-time employment.

What are your top 5 tips for your particular role? 

  1. Proofread: Your reputation is on the line. If errors slip through, it looks like you don’t know what you’re doing.
  2. Don’t be drawn in: I see a lot of people offering ridiculous rates like $1/1,000 words. Don’t fall for these shysters – they don’t want a professional writer, they want to take advantage of people who desperately need the money.
  3. Know what your time is worth: Most people start with an hourly rate, but you’ll also be asked to quote per 100 words for different disciplines, like proofreading, editing and writing. Some types of writing, such as SEO copywriting, also take more time than others.
  4. Store everything: You never know when you’ll be able to repurpose or re-use something that you’ve written, especially when you want to create case studies or update your portfolio.
  5. Save time for amends: Even the best writers in the world have to amend their work – that’s why they work with editors. Allocate a little time on every project for amends, just in case – if it’s signed off without any feedback, that just means that you’ve earned a little time back.

What web browser do you use?

Google Chrome. Chrome is my homeboy. My Chromeboy.

If you were an animal, which one would you be and why?

I’d be a wolf. They’re kind of solitary and kind of social, highly intelligent and they like the night.

What do you think of Dane’s story? Please leave messages of support for Dane in our comments box below!
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Dane Cobain

Freelance writer, editor and social media marketer.

High Wycombe, UK


Kelly Jane
Kelly Jane
Kelly is PeoplePerHour marketing expert. She has a wealth of experience in digital and social media marketing. As a freelancer, she has been committed in helping small businesses grow by offering them agile and result-driven marketing services.
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