Time for another post from my new series called #AFreelancersLife! Here's what's it about: In my 4 years of freelancing, I have come across so many other amazing self-employed ladies both on- and offline, and I loved picking their brains about what they do, how they do it and what they love about it. I decided it's time to share their passion, their successes and also their doubts with all of you. So from now on, I'd like to highlight freelancers every month from & around Vienna from all sorts of backgrounds, so if you would like to be featured just drop me a line and let me know!
This time, the delightful Andie Katschthaler agreed to answer a few questions on #AFreelancersLife. She started to work as a freelance copy-editor and blogger full-time earlier this year and already has a lot of great insights to offer. Based in Vienna, she works with clients both local and global and also has a couple interesting side projects in the works. Enjoy!
How long have you been a freelancer and what exactly is it that you do?
I’ve been doing some half-arsed freelancing ever since I graduated uni. But 7 months ago I went all in — full-time freelance, warts and all! My work happens in roughly three areas. I have a few ongoing clients, for whom I blog regularly. Additionally, I take on self-contained projects writing or overhauling website copy for companies. The rest of what I do somewhat fits under the umbrella of “consulting”: Creative stuff, branding, helping a company find their tone of voice, copy editing etc. When I’m lucky I have time for my side projects as well. I’m in the process of starting a mental health advocacy organisation, working on a startup idea with my partner, and figuring out how to turn part of my work into an online business.
How does your typical work day look like, if there is one at all?
I take my time getting ready at home, including a proper breakfast, and then commute into work. I have a desk at a coworking space, sektor5, and that provides me with some routine, a clear feeling of “you’re at work now, so work, damnit”. I usually spend most of my day there. Sometimes I stick around for events or meetups. I’m lucky enough that I often get to see my partner while at work, because she’s part of the sektor5 team. So I don’t generally have to rush home to make sure we get to spend time together.
What does your freelancing work entail specifically?
Lots of research, sometimes trying to understand technical things so I can explain them to readers. And, obviously, a lot of writing and editing, searching for free stock photos and image editing. Sometimes I take on small translation tasks as well. Then there’s the shenanigans that come with freelancing that no one ever warns you about: Emails, estimates, proposals, more emails, trying to understand what it is that a potential client wants, invoicing, oh — and more emails.
What has been your biggest highlight so far as a freelancer?
That moment when people start spreading your name, and all of a sudden you have the luxury to pick and choose who you want to work with — that’s pretty fucking grand when it first happens. But I’m especially thrilled to see and hear that clients are happy with my work, telling me how much they love what I did and that they definitely want to keep working with me for a long time.
How does your previous education and experience tie in with your current freelancer work?
I have a degree in journalism, and while the degree is not worth a dime, the things I learned studying and working as a journalist are extremely valuable. I used to work in daily print journalism, and to this day I can create great copy at an immense speed if I have to, and write to exact length specifications. But I’d argue that of the myriad of other jobs I’ve held — from video editing assistant to crêpe baker, from SEO writer to PR officer — each and every random one has taught me something that can be of use in my freelance work.
Do you sometimes have motivational lows, and if so, what do you do to get out of your low?
Most of the time I can’t afford to wallow in a motivational low because I have short deadlines that I need to keep. If it’s the rote work that’s bothering me, I’ll just buckle down, turn on some music, and do the work. What gets me out of ongoing motivational lows is getting exciting new projects or working on my own side projects, so I feel they’re going somewhere. When I’m just having a bad day, most of the time it’s great people who get me out of my funk. There are a few, friends near and far or my desk mate at sektor5, who have a knack for cheering me up.
What do you love about being a freelancer? What do you hate?
I love the fact that I don’t have a boss to answer to. Granted, I have many bosses now, but since I can pretty much choose who I work with these days, I’m not dealing with utter incompetence on a daily basis anymore. I hate the endless emails and conversations that often predate an actual gig. The back-and-forth is exhausting and taking time away from the work I love doing. So is invoicing, even though it means I’m getting paid. I’m one of those people who say, “The first person I’ll ever hire is a personal assistant!”
How do you structure your day: When are you taking breaks, when are you working, when are doing which tasks in particular?
Lately, I’ve been experimenting with batching my time. I’ll research a bunch of blog posts in one block of time, then take a break and then write them up all chunked together in another block of time. Not having to switch tasks between research/writing/photo editing seems to help me be more productive. I also set one or two time slots aside for communications tasks every day.
It takes me a while to look alive in the morning, so I aim for getting into work at 10. I start working on creative tasks right away, hitting my stride mid-morning. Then I usually get rid of some communications tasks like emails. I’ve noticed that I’m pretty useless in the early afternoon, so I usually just take a late lunch and use the time to socialise with coworkers and have a bit of a laugh. I also like to schedule meetings for that time if I can. I like to work a little bit into the evening, when I hit my creative stride again, until 7 or 8ish, depending on whether I’m attending an event that night. Sometimes I’ll go home and finish some work there after dinner.
Which are your favorite 3 websites or apps you’re using on a regular basis regarding your freelance work?
Google Docs, Toggl and Todoist. I love working with Google Docs, because it’s simple to share the work and to give and get feedback. Toggl and Todoist are part of the set-up that keeps me organised. I track all of my time with Toggl, even things that are unbillable and tasks that I’m working on for my own projects. Todoist holds my to dos every day.
Tell us about an exciting project you have worked on which made you proud.
Together with a graphics designer I recently created a postcard that I’m quite proud of. It’s called “Everything will be oh cake”. The copy was my idea, and I love how the designer made the pun work so well. As a copywriter, it can be hard to make your portfolio look good since, essentially, it’s just a bunch of words. This postcard works excellently for showing off my skills in a way that also looks appealing.