Vanlife jobs series on remote writing
This post is part of our series on remote jobs for van life.
This article focuses on freelance writing and since it’s the first of three, we’ll also cover some general concepts to help you take your first steps to become a professional writer.
Later articles will cover entrepreneurial writing including blogging, self-publishing, where to source information and how to secure your first commission as a remote or location-independent writer. Stay tuned…
Freelance writing for Vanlife
Few remote jobs are better suited to vanlife than writing. Freelance writing allows you to write from anywhere, making it a great vanlife job.
In recent years, the web has seen a huge increase in the number of writing opportunities. Although there is plenty of competition, demand for good writers has never been higher.
Some freelance writing opportunities include:
- Content writing for blogs and websites
- Sales copy writing
- Product descriptions
Essential tool for successful Vanlife writing
You don’t need to have a fixed office location or expensive equipment to be a freelance writer. A laptop and a reliable link to the internet are the main requirements. A cell phone helps for in-person interviews or project discussions.
Some require a quiet space to work, but a good pair of headphones makes it possible to tune out nearly any noise happening in coffee shops or other public places with free WiFi and a comfortable place to sit.
And of course many Vanlifers design their van builds to include a desk and work space where they can be comfortable and productive.
It also helps to have very consistent Wifi for campervan work and our resident writer, Jenny shares all her tips, tricks and campervan gear for signal boosting while on the road and at the campsite.
You will find a spellchecker and word count tool are essential. There are plenty of free options; my favorite being LibreOffice. You might find a Thesaurus will come in handy and there are plenty of those for free online.
If you plan to do any remote editing jobs, you will also need track changes and time tracking tools.
Taking notes on paper with a pen helps me think and process certain projects, so I find it useful to have a notebook or other paper nearby.
Once you’ve got your equipment and location sorted, you can turn your mind to other less tangible but equally important essentials.
Tips for getting started with Vanlife freelance writing
Like any activity, writing is a skill that improves with practice and dedication. Whether you are starting as an amateur or have a Bachelor’s degree in English, you will improve every time you apply your mind to writing.
You can also learn from other successful writers and bloggers. Reading their material will help broaden your vocabulary and appreciate a well-formed article.
It’s always worth learning from other people’s mistakes or picking up tips on writing trends, which change over time.
Consider yourself in training and spend time daily following established writing bloggers and immerse yourself in resources such as:
- Class Central: A source for news and trends in online education. Includes many posts and resources for writers.
- A valuable Huffpost article on blog writing.
- Bird by Bird, by Anne Lamott: One of the most popular how-to books on writing in recent years.
Developing a consistent writing habit
“I write only when inspiration strikes. Fortunately it strikes every morning at nine o’clock sharp.”
~W. Somerset Maugham
For some of us it takes real effort to develop the discipline and mindset of freelance writing. But if you want to take freelance writing seriously (and be taken seriously as a freelance writer) it’s best to it down at your laptop and start work at a set time most days.
Your consistency and growing body of writing will pay off in the form of skill and diversity.
Why you should blog
While you are waiting for your first paid commission, you can practice your writing skills by starting your own blog.
A daily blogging habit will soon become much more valuable than just practice.
Imagine someone asking for your resume, and you reply with a link to a blog with hundreds or thousands of posts, as well as links to paid work.
Having a blog will allow you to build up a portfolio of work, providing discipline and structure to your working day, even if you’re not being paid just yet.
You will soon have a resource of writing samples for potential clients who want to see your style and quality of writing before offering you paid work.
Best selling author Seth Godin has been publishing a daily blog for many years and he talks about why and how he does it in this article.
Seth is one the bloggers I follow and I highly suggest that you do the same. He offers mountains of highly valuable info about marketing, business, culture and many other topics.
Breaks from work; more than physical
Remember to take regular breaks to stretch your body and enjoy coffee or lunch before returning to work again. Give your mind and body a break and the ideas will come more easily.
If you are absorbed in your writing, you can easily skip taking regular breaks, but this only leads to brain fatigue and burnout, poor circulation and unhealthy back/muscle posture.
Ben Whiting, who writes about time and how we spend it, writes in this article,
“But by taking a break, you are preparing yourself to accomplish even more when you return to work”.
It’s important to train yourself in the habit of consistency, and scheduling regular breaks needs to be part of that. It all contributes to a better quality of work and a better lifestyle over all.
What do you want to write about?
One of the biggest perks of being a freelancer is that you’ll get to choose the type of work you’ll be doing.
Not that every job you take needs to be fun or stimulating (it is work, after all), but again, you get to choose, so ask yourself what you want to spend your days writing about.
Diversify your writing topics
Some choose to write on a diversity of topics and styles so they have something to satisfy more client requests.
The downside to this is that it can take years to learn to constantly adapt and switch to different and new topics.
The upside is that in the long run, being a topic chameleon will allow you to take more jobs as you’ll have writing experience and samples in more niches.
If you have a lot of life experience, or you’re just a very curious person who’s always reading and studying a wide variety of topics, this may be a good path to becoming a valuable freelancer.
Another approach is to focus on a more narrow range of topics so you can offer specialized writing services. Starting out this way will allow you to find an area of specialization, which can be more lucrative in the short term.
Sticking to what you know and choosing topics that you are passionate about can allow you to offer something unique, and stand out from other writers.
For example if you have medical experience, you could develop a very valuable freelance business by focusing on that field.
The same is true If you have restaurant or construction or any other specific work experiences.
What are your experiences, questions or concerns about Vanlife Jobs: Freelance Writing?
Thanks for reading! Please comment below.