‘Isolation, imposter syndrome and all the ‘usual’ mental health challenges of freelancing are exacerbated at the moment,’ says Jenny Stallard, who well knows the strains that come with the many joys of freelance journalism, particularly in 2020. After facing some of her own mental health challenges as a freelancer, Jenny founded Freelance Feels last year for fellow ‘humans who work for themselves’.
you’re feeling the pressures of freelancing at the moment, read on for how
Jenny handles difficult moments, issues the community are battling right now
and what commissioning editors can do to expand their networks and amplify the
words of new writers.
inspired you to launch Freelance Feels?
Feels was born out of my own challenges in freelance life. In early 2019 I was
feeling really despondent about freelance life. I knew I wanted to be
self-employed but work was scarce and I felt like a total failure. I would
often get tearful, wondering if I was the only one. I felt lost, confused and
angry – I’d
worked hard to be freelance; why was it working for everyone else but me?!
That’s how it felt, anyway. I began to write blog posts about it, and the idea
for Freelance Feels began.
are the main challenges freelancers in your community are concerned about at
Finances, generating income, competing in an ever-growing, ever-busy space. I
have read that the number of freelancers has gone down because of COVID-19
(people leaving self-employment), however it feels like a very busy space to
me, still. Facebook groups and forums are gaining members by the day. We all
worry about money anyway but now the worry isn’t just generating income, it’s
whether the client will be able to pay in the current climate. We also face
huge challenges to our mental health. The pressures of generating our own
income are tough, especially for those with families who rely on them. Isolation,
imposter syndrome and all the ‘usual’ mental health challenges of freelancing
are exacerbated at the moment.
piece of advice for those who may be struggling with freelance life?
of my podcast guests have said they do this, so I’m sharing it – keep notes and
lists of successes. An email folder of nice emails, or notes on your phone,
screen grabs of nice things people have said to you. Then you can check back on
them when things seem more hopeless.
What’s your favourite thing about freelancing?
The freedom! I
love not having to ask if I can take a certain day off (Christmas is a biggie,
right?). I like that I can get up when I fancy (I often check emails and social
in bed with a cuppa before I get up ‘properly’) and love not checking the clock
on my ‘lunch break’.
advice would you give to commissioning editors looking to diversify their
In general, first of all, I’d say,
please reply! I think many comm eds only know the ghosting feeling once they go
freelance, but please, please just say ‘not for us’ if you’re not keen. Then
the writer can take the idea elsewhere and your inbox is less full, too. With
diversification, in particular, I would say one step before reply is ‘read it’.
I’ve been a commissioning editor and I know you get tons of emails – but that’s the job! So, read those pitches, see what the
person is offering, read their name and see if it’s one you recognise or one
that you should be working with. Don’t dismiss it too quickly. I’d also say
follow a diverse group of writers on social media; see what they are saying and
approach them if you want their voices in your pages. Consider graduates
looking for their first commission – they are often
THE voices we need to hear right now.
On the flip
side, freelancers need to be clear and concise in pitches – say if you are a voice from a marginalised community,
someone with a unique experience, then say why YOU should be writing the piece,
why your voice would be a good fit for that site.