Hi WriteWorldwiders! Thanks for being here, and welcome to the latest in our series of advice-packed writer interviews. Today’s interview is with Lindy Alexander, who is a health, food, business and travel writer based in Australia.
We first heard of Lindy through her awesome post “Side Hustle to $50K in 6 Months: This Writer Made It Happen” at Make A Living Writing. We knew she had lots of great advice to share with aspiring freelance writers, so we reached out to see if she’d like to be interviewed.
Thankfully she agreed, and was kind enough to share her insights! Here’s what she had to say …
1) Hi Lindy, please tell us a little about yourself.
Hi! I’m Lindy and I’m a freelance writer based in Australia. I write for Australian and international magazines and newspapers, as well as writing content for not-for-profits and other organisations. I have two small children and live with my partner in a vibrant country town about 1.5 hours from Melbourne.
2) How did you break into freelance writing? Did you grow up wanting to be a writer?
I have always loved writing but I never really thought it could be my career unless I studied journalism (which I didn’t). When I was on maternity leave with my first child in 2012 I undertook a short online course on feature writing for magazines and newspapers, thinking that I would be thrilled if I managed to get anything published. Within a few weeks of completing the course I had my first article commissioned and I was hooked!
3) How long did it take you after deciding on this career to become a full-time writer?
My professional qualifications are as a social worker (I have a PhD in social work), and I worked for 10 years in the profession. After I had my son in 2012, I freelanced on the side for five years while also working a couple of days a week as a social worker and finishing my PhD.
I decided to go full time at the beginning of 2017. My partner wanted to stay at home with the kids and he also wanted to study so it was a perfect time for me to take the leap into full time freelancing.
4) Winning new clients is always a hot topic on the WriteWorldwide blog. What are the most effective prospecting methods you’ve used to find new work?
The majority of my writing is for newspapers and magazines. So I send editors of these publications “pitches” or “query letters” outlining my idea and why I think it’d be a good fit for their publication (I have a blog post about getting started as a freelance writer for magazines and newspapers and what to include in a pitch, together with a download of 10 successful pitches here)
But I have also found lots of clients through LinkedIn and cold emailing. It really is a numbers game – you have to be prepared to put in lots of work reaching out to people and also time following up and nurturing that relationship.
5) What’s your opinion on the subject of choosing a writing niche?
To be honest, I think there’s way too much emphasis on choosing a writing niche, especially for beginning freelance writers. I don’t really have a niche – I write about lots of different areas such as food, travel, health and business – and that hasn’t hampered me in the slightest. I’m on track to earn 6 figures from freelance writing this year.
I think start writing what you love and your niche/s will follow.
6) Many of our followers are students, 9-5ers, and parents — most of them struggle to make time for freelancing. How were you able to fit in writing around being a mom and going to school?
It’s not easy. But you can do a lot in 10 or 15 minutes. You can send out a query letter, or a letter of introduction. You can retweet something interesting that a potential client said, you can comment on a LinkedIn post. All those little things add up. So even if you are not “writing” you can still be doing the business of a freelance writer.
For me, I was pretty disciplined. I would work each night after my kids were in bed. I would do interviews via email or in my lunch break at work. I found little bits of time and made the most of them.
7) Name one book, one tool, and one article that have helped you in your writing career.
I love Rev for transcribing my interviews. It’s fast, effective and has made my life so much easier.
Even though it’s not necessarily for freelance writers, Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott is full of wonderful insights and practical advice for writers.
When I started out writing for magazines and newspapers, editors were mysterious creatures to me! I never knew what they were thinking or what they wanted – this article really helped me understand what they were after.
8) Keeping motivated can be tough for many freelance writers. How do you keep yourself motivated and productive as a writer?
I have lots of work on and I hate letting people down, so that keeps me motivated! But of course, like everyone, I have days when I just don’t feel like it and I can’t get started. Those days, I try to be kind to myself and if I can, I take some time off. Having that time away from the desk is just as important as being at the desk.
I find that it really helps if I have planned what I’m doing each day the night before. That way I don’t get into any internal arguments with myself about what needs to be prioritised. It’s already all sorted.
9) I noticed you’re actively posting on your blog, The Freelancer’s Year. Do you think it’s necessary for every writer to have a blog?
Not at all. Running a blog is an extra thing to do each week, so unless you’re looking at it as a business, I wouldn’t be writing a blog!
10) What does the future hold for you – are you involved in any writing projects other than freelancing?
I’m not sure what the future holds – I love what I’m doing and feel very blessed that I can write for some of Australia’s best-loved magazines and newspapers.
I have just started offering mentoring and coaching to freelance writers who want to earn a great living from writing, so that feels very exciting that I can help others achieve their dreams.
Oh, and in terms of writing projects, I have a half-finished non-fiction book tucked away in a drawer that I really should pull out and finish one of these days!