Over the past couple of years, two weird things happened to me.
The first is that I started doing a lot less freelancing, after almost a decade of doing it every single damn day. That’s what happen if you write a book series that people seem to like. Felt kind of weird to leave it behind, too – like a drunk friend who you’ve dropped off, who you can see fumbling their keys in the door, and you’re not entirely sure you want to drive away in case they somehow contrive to burn the house down.
The second is that the number of emails and tweets I got asking for freelance advice skyrocketed. I have no idea if this is some sort of condition, triggered when you turn thirty, but suddenly people were regarding me as an O.G. freelancer. Never mind that I still consider myself a five-year-old, professionally – I was getting advice requests. Loads of them.
So what I thought I’d do is put down a few key things I’ve learnt over a decade of freelancing. You should trust me, because I did it in multiple countries, for publications like The Guardian, Wired Magazine, and the BBC. I’ve won a couple of awards for my work, and have managed to sustain myself by writing full-time for the better part of that decade. So I know what I’m talking about, and these fifteen tips all contain things that anybody starting out will need to know. Or at least, they’re things I wish I’d known before I started out.
Oh, and I drew badly in a notebook to head up each pro tip. You’re welcome.
One of the biggest concerns new freelancers seem to have is their own personal brand. They place as much emphasis on developing their online presence and crafting their persona and visiting industry events as they do on actually… Well, you know, doing journalism.
And that’s fine. To a point. But do you want to know the way to an editor’s heart? Do you want to know what will get you commissions and bylines and money? Hint: it’s got absolutely nothing to do with how many Twitter followers you have.
I’m talking about a story. A good story. One that is interesting, and current, and which can only be told by you. One which you alone have the angle on. If you are trying to take on a new client, or pitch a piece to a publication, this is the surest way in. Find a story that excites you, and which you think will excite them too.
Because here’s the thing about editors. They LOVE good story ideas. A story or angle that they haven’t thought of yet, and which they can commission, makes them look good. A big part of being an editor is generating leads, and coming up with unique approaches that will satisfy their readership and their bosses. Giving them a good story will do both, in a way that 10,000 Twitter followers won’t even come close to.
Of course, that doesn’t actually cover how to pitch a story in the first place.
2. A (reasonably) foolproof method of pitching
The single most common question I get asked by newbie freelancers is how one actually pitches a story.
Here’s the thing. It’s really easy. Even if you’ve never met the editor, and he or she has absolutely no idea who you are.
I’d go as far as to say that there is actually a very simple formula for pitching a story to your average editor. I’m not saying this will work 100% of the time…but in a decade of doing it, I’ve found it to be the single most reliable way of pitching a story. It’s worked again and again and again.
The formula goes like this:
- Dig up the email address of the relevant editor. This takes a little work, but it’s not actually that hard to figure out.
- Write them an email. Your email should contain the following things: a very short intro of who you are and if you’ve written for anybody else; a headline for your story that neatly sums it up; a two-paragraph story pitch; a sign-off that asks for a response.
- After one week, send a follow up email.
- After two weeks, call the publication, and ask for a decision or an update.
- If you don’t have a decision after three weeks, pitch the story somewhere else.
Really, that’s it. And if you think it sounds complicated, then let’s apply it to battlefield conditions, with an actual story that I pitched and had commissioned.
In around 2010, I was living in London, and going to a lot of hip hop gigs. I’d recently been fired from the music magazine, where I covered them professionally, and since I didn’t actually know what else to do with my time, I kept going. Besides, hip-hop is awesome.
While I was doing this, I noticed that the same people kept appearing outside the clubs, all across London. They weren’t, despite my first reaction, selling drugs. They were selling albums. The same people, all the time. Yeah, this was the age of CDs and iPods. I’m fucking old, OK?
Here’s the email I sent to the music editor of The Guardian, after a little more research. Note that at this time, I’d been published, but in no publication that would impress him.
Dear [Name Redacted or he’ll kill me]
I’m a freelance journalist, and I have a feature story I think you’ll be interested in.
The rap sellers who brave the elements to sell their music.
They’re a familiar sight to anyone who visits a rap gig in the UK. Groups of young men, arms bulging with CDs, walking the lines outside clubs and selling their music directly to the fans. They come out in all weather, and stay till the early hours, before going to their regular jobs the next day. They’re armed with MP3 players so punters can preview their songs, and free promo CDs for those who say no.
These groups include people like Rhyme Asylum and Unusual Suspects, and I want to profile them for The Guardian first. What makes them adopt this selling method? What challenges do they encounter? Are there rivalries? I believe this story highlights a part of the industry that hasn’t been covered before, and I think your readers will really enjoy it.
What do you think?
Let’s break this down.
The story contains an interesting angle, asks questions, is clearly something that hasn’t been covered before (hint: before you pitch something, make sure someone hasn’t written about it elsewhere). It’s also very obviously a story that didn’t get fed to me by a PR person. It shows that I have a familiarity with the London hip-hop scene, and the club scene, and that I have an idea who the major players in the story will be.
It lays out the angle and the approach in two concise paragraphs – which, coincidentally, also show that I have the ability to write a story, or at least a narrative, in a short space of time. It does everything I need it to do. The salutation and the sign-off are short and polite, and the headline, while not amazing (mostly because I’m terrible at headlines) gets the point across.
I’ve also made it clear – I want to profile them for The Guardian first – that he’s got this as an exclusive now, but it won’t be for long. If I don’t hear from him, I’ll take it somewhere else. Worse: if he doesn’t act fast, another publication might run the same story. We’re not in the scoop-based world of news desks here, but all the same, he’d rather avoid pointed conversations with his boss as to why the competition has all the best ideas.
I didn’t know the editor I pitched it to. He didn’t know me. But after a follow-up email, he commissioned me, and told me to go ahead. That pitch became this story, and The Guardian became one of my best clients (and they did a great job with the piece). Every pitch I sent had the exact same format and goals.
I’m not joking when I say that this was probably the most important pitch email I ever sent. Writing for The Guardian opened A LOT of doors. Never underestimate how a well-crafted pitch email can work for you.
3. Know your field
Admittedly, this piece of advice comes from a guy who has written about everything and anything, from rapping mob bosses to acoustic drought technology. But it really, really helps if you know the field you’re writing about.
You have to immerse yourself in it. You have to get out from behind your desk, go and talk to people, know the players – and the people who aren’t players, but want to be. Be nice to everyone. Get numbers. Get email addresses. Get the hell off Twitter. Get a PGP key and make it easy for people to give you tips.
Look, I was never a news journalist. I was never very good at it. But one of the reasons that I survived and thrived as a freelancer for a decade is because I knew what I was talking about. When it came to something like hip-hop, nobody could touch me. I knew the music and the industry deep.
4. Have multiple clients – and know their value
Another one of the reasons why I killed it as a freelancer: I was a fucking mercenary.
I am absolutely unashamed of it. I wrote for anyone and everyone. Obviously, I didn’t write for publications with odious political views, or those which had a terrible reputation – I did have some standards. But what I mean is that I totally slept around. From the very start, I courted multiple clients, found multiple stories, and never took my eyes off the fact that an editor, no matter how nice, could only pay me so much.
This is the one big advantage freelancers have over wage slaves. If one of your clients goes bust: well, it sucks, but you should very easily be able to switch your efforts to the dozen others you have already. A client who doesn’t pay you should not completely derail your life, mostly because you already have plenty more in the pipeline. Above all, be ruthless. If an editor is taking too long to get back to you on a pitch, or you’re not satisfied with the rate you’re getting, take it elsewhere. Seriously. I know you have relationship with that editor and you send each other cute GIFs and make random, funny subtweets about each other, but in this case, fuck him. You got a story, it’s got to be told, and you need to get paid for it. If he won’t shit, then he needs to get off the pot.
To be clear: I’m not saying you should treat clients badly, or pitch the same story to multiple locations. I’m just saying you should act like a cigar-chewing, bearded, baseball-capped merc with an offshore account and a tattoo that says COME AT ME BRO. Even if you’re a skinny-jeans-wearing hipster from Brooklyn.
And by the way, let’s just talk about client value for a minute. Pop quiz. Who is more valuable: an international publication with a giant masthead, that pays you once a year after you’ve gone through a byzantine invoicing process, or a smaller site that can hit you with regular work and pay you promptly?
I’m certainly not saying you shouldn’t go after the big magazines or websites. Freelance careers are built on the bylines you can get in reputable publications. But unless you’re Ed Caesar or Taffy Brodesser-Akner, you aren’t going to be getting these every single month.
It would be nice if we were all Taffy Brodesser-Akner, but we are not. I’m certainly not, which is just as well, as I’m not sure my wife wants to share a bed with Taffy Brodesser-Akner.
For most freelancers, myself included, the bulk of your revenue comes from smaller, less exciting jobs. I wish it was the other way round, but at a time when the entire media is going through the equivalent of an ongoing Cascadia fault rupture, it isn’t.
The lesson here is that you need to learn to value certain clients, and you need to know which clients are going to get your time. One of my most valuable clients over the years was a music magazine who let me write for them on a monthly basis, but could only pay me three months after the print run, after they themselves had been paid. Now initially, that was a giant pain in the arse – but they were commissioning me to write for them every month, for reasonable amounts, and they paid like clockwork. So that meant that after the initial three month period, I was getting a regular income from them every single month. If I was still writing for them today, and decided to stop, I would still be getting paid three months down the line.
That is an extremely valuable client to have. That is far more valuable than writing for, I don’t know, Slate or Salon, who would probably pay you a decent sum for a piece once or twice a year. Again, I’m not saying you shouldn’t write for Slate or Salon or whatever – just that you should know who gets your time. The mid-sized and little guys can be immensely valuable.
Oh, and when you’re hunting for new clients, don’t neglect places like Craigslist. You think I’m joking? The single most lucrative client I’ve ever had came from a Craigslist posting. Not only have they paid me thousands and thousands of dollars over the years, and become some of my closest and friendliest colleagues, but they also hold the all-time record for fast invoice payment. Thirty seconds. I sent a PayPal invoice, went to take a slash, and came back to find that I’d been paid in full. Nobody is beating that. Not ever.
5. Act like a pro
So you’re the newest, greenest, rosy-cheeked rube in freelancing. You have no idea what you’re doing, and you don’t want to piss anyone off, and you really want to make friends.
The easiest way to mark yourself out as a pro, from the get go, has nothing to do with your actual stories or output. It’s to do with how you conduct yourself. It’s about doing things that separate you from the herd.
Like insisting on a 50% kill fee, right up front. That’s a fee you get paid if you produce satisfactory work that isn’t published.
Like asking about sidebars, photos, links in the copy. Who’s responsible for those? What credits do you need to get? Do they want you to take photos, and if so, will you be paid extra? (Please say yes. Thank you.)
Like establishing upfront the number of rounds of edits you’ll be required to do – and whether adding in any extra copy beyond that required of a simple edit for clarity will get you more money. (Please say yes. Thank you.)
Like establishing a publication date early on – and getting on their case if it slips.
Like invoicing – how, to whom, when by, and payment terms. BEFORE you start working.
And on that note:
6. What about contracts?
OK, firstly, this isn’t legal advice. Any fuckups you make are your own. I’m a writer, not a lawyer.
In theory, you should ALWAYS get a contract. It protects you, it protects your client. It’s a good thing. The contract should be clear and simple and easy to understand. You should not have to hire a legal professional to vet them.
But. And it’s a big but.
For a lot of clients, I didn’t operate with contracts. My agreement with them was written, over email, but that was it. Had things gone south, technically, I wouldn’t have been able to fight it. Fortunately, things never went south – I was always paid, even if the story didn’t work out. And for a lot of pros, that’s the reality of the industry. Many agreements are informal. Don’t be surprised if it happens to you – although honestly, having a contract is always better.
Look, I’m not going to spend ages breaking down rights and moral obligations and the like. There are plenty of resources for that, like this one. You could also do worse than get yourself a standard, boilerplate writing contract. I used this one for years, modifying it for each client. Feel free to utilise.
BUT AGAIN BIG BIG BIG DISCLAIMER I AM NOT A LAWYER I AM NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR ANYTHING YOU DO. CONTRACT IS OFFERED AS IS. GET A LEGAL PROFESSIONAL TO CHECK IT OUT OR PSYCHOTIC GIBBONS WILL EAT YOUR BRAIN.
7. Never miss deadlines
Come on guys. Jesus. It’s not that hard.
You’d think this is obvious, but so many freelancers are lazy, or stupid, or both. Deadlines get missed, and then these chuckalucks act all surprised when nobody wants their stuff anymore.
Never. Not ever. Not even once. You meet your damn deadline, no matter what. If you absolutely have to miss a deadline, or the story has exploded, or you have exploded – let your editor know before the deadline. WAY before. And you’d better have a damn good excuse. Like. “My grandma murdered my parents and is now being hauled off my the cops and I have to save my younger brother and the world from a nuke with Donald Trump’s face on it” good.
This is the single simplest thing to get right, and you would be amazed at how many people cock it up.
8. Make editors’ lives easy
Editors. They are harassed, underpaid, overworked, stressed, ears angled for even a whisper of layoff rumours, inboxes overflowing, PRs trying to corner them to pitch them their client’s new vacuum cleaner solution. Poor bastards. Pity them. Help them.
And by help them, I mean, be the person who always shows up.
Respond to questions in a timely fashion. Make sure the nitty-gritty stuff – the grammar, the headings and subheadings, adhering to house format, the photo credits – is all shipshape. Be polite. Be friendly. Above all, deliver good stories, and report them to the best of your ability. Be a credit to your profession. Grow wings. Fly. Swoop down on lesser journalists and gut them with your talons.
Just checking you were still paying attention. But seriously: outside of delivering good pitches, one of the best ways to get editors onside is to be the nicest, most helpful person you can. Onside editors equal pitches, which equals more money. Onside editors, when the chips are down and they need something done, will think of you first. That’s money in your pocket.
And would sending them a bottle of whiskey at Christmas really be that much of a stretch? (Please say yes. Thank y – I mean NO. Please say no. It isn’t a stretch. Send them a damn bottle.)
9. Admit mistakes. Fix them quickly.
They happen, more often than you’d think.
I used to do a lot of pro audio writing – as in, articles for people who mix music and do sound design, which is something I have a background in. I wrote for some pretty heavy hitters, and for years, they were some of my most lucrative clients. Good guys, too: always paid fairly, paid like clockwork, pleasure to deal with.
But sometimes, I’d fuck up.
See, doing this kind of writing involves a lot of technical knowledge. I am not, as a rule, a details guy. It’s not that I’m lazy – I just have a zillion things going on in a brain that never seems to shut down, so I’d miss stuff. Occasionally, I’d miss stuff that would sneak through into publication, and then readers would notice.
Boy, they’d notice.
More than once, I got a giant bollocking from my editors. And it wasn’t just the audio folks. With Wired Magazine, I once submitted what was (I thought) a very cool piece on a South African entrepreneur, who had figured out a way to get music to people in the townships who didn’t have smartphones, doing it via text message. Or at least, that’s what I thought was the case. In reality, the person behind it had stopped doing that ages ago, and I’d been too enthused with the story to notice. It was only after it was published that he pointed out, not without a little confusion, that he had started offering song downloads using mobile data, and hadn’t done it by text for years.
Well, fuck. That was embarrassing. I had to go back to the editors, make a humble apology, and tell them I wouldn’t be invoicing them for the piece. To their great credit, they let me continue writing for them, and said they were happy to publish a corrected piece. I went on to write many more stories for them – and let me tell you, every single one of those pieces got triple and quadruple checked. Had I not apologised, immediately offered to correct the mistake, and declined to invoice, they wouldn’t have worked with me again. Instead, they got someone who owned up to responsibility, and allowed them to save a little bit of money while still publishing a (corrected) story. And anyway, we’re not talking about saving kids from Donald Trump nukes. The world didn’t end when I had a brainfart on that story.
So when you screw up – and you will – apologise, and offer to fix it straight away.
10. Get an accountant
One of the things that continually confuses me is when fellow freelancers say “I don’t make enough money to pay an accountant.”
These people are totally fine with doing their own taxes every year. They seem to think that they are being responsible and frugal by spending hours and hours filling out revenue forms – hours that could best be used actually, you know, pitching stories and finding work.
What these folks fail to understand is that an accountant isn’t just there to do a job you don’t like doing. He or she is there to save you money. A good accountant should pay for themselves – if they are doing their job, they will save you far more money than you spend on them.
I went for years doing my own taxes myself. In the year I finally decided to get an accountant, it was a goddamn revelation. He highlighted things I didn’t even know I could claim, things I would never even have thought of. Did you know, for instance, that if you live in the UK you can claim for the laptop you use to do your job, as long as you bought it in the past seven years and haven’t claimed for it previously? Neither did I.
In his first year, my accountant – a quiet chap from a reputable firm in London – saved me around £3000. His total bill? £400. Obviously the savings were less in the following years, but I still use the guy – every year, he helps me keep the maximum amount possible. He is still, after five years, an expense I have no trouble handling. He literally pays for himself.
Guys: this is a no brainer. Get an accountant. Get. An. Accountant. Unless you earn absolutely dick-all, it’s the best decision you’ll ever make. You’ll still have to keep track of income and expenses, but that’s just spreadsheeting. Let your numbers person figure out the hard shit.
11. An easy way to save money
OK, so this isn’t really for my guys in the US. But if you live in somewhere like the UK or Canada, consider this a handy bonus tip.
In these countries, you have a personal allowance before you start to get taxed – usually around $10,000 / £9,000. Any money you earn before that is not subject to tax.
When I first began freelancing, I tried to be as diligent as possible, from the very beginning, about putting money away for tax. Every single payment I received, I took a chunk of it, and put it in a savings account, ready to be (grudgingly, it must be said) sent to Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs.
When tax time came, I diligently filled out the form…and stopped, confused. I was paying far less tax than I thought I would have to. You’ve already got the punchline: the personal allowance. In my very first full year of freelancing, I earned around £22,000 (not a particularly good year, but then again, I was just starting out). Except, I wasn’t paying tax on the full amount. I was paying tax on £13,000, before expenses were taken into account.
After I paid my tax, I had a reasonably substantial amount left over. Free savings. I could literally put that away in my bank account, and forget about it. I did. And have done so every year.
The beauty of this tip is that you don’t actually need to do anything you’re not doing anyway. Just take tax off every single payment you receive, and stash it somewhere. When it comes to tax time, you’ll have a handy surplus.
I fully admit: this might not work if you have debts to pay off, or if you are really struggling and need the money. But if you’re making a decent living, this is an extremely handy way to put away some cash in savings every year. And remember, I’m a writer, not an accountant or tax lawyer, so use this tip at your own risk.
12. Don’t stand for late payment
Since we’re on the subject of money, I want to talk about getting paid.
You can’t go three clicks online without tripping over freelance horror stories. Clients who pay late. Clients who won’t pay. Clients who pay only half of what they were supposed to. Clients who give you excuse after excuse after excuse. Four- or five-figure jobs that never materialise.
Every time I read these, I breathe a little sigh of relief. I have been so lucky. I can count the number of clients who have screwed me on one hand and still have room for a pinky ring.
That being said, there have been a few occasions where payment hasn’t appeared, and I’ve needed to get angry. So here’s my advice on this particular topic. A client gets exactly one strike and one strike only. I don’t care if they’re the motherfucking New Yorker.
Payment terms should be agreed before the job starts, and if they can’t or won’t adhere to it, they get a polite but very firm email asking for immediate payment. The next email escalates things, tacking on late fees (I usually charge 20% per week), and even – in one case I had to deal with – threatening Small Claims Court. The goal here is to make enough noise that it’s easier to just pay you to make you go away. And if you’re worried that this will harm your relationship with the client… Well, they’re not exactly paying you anyway, are they?
13. Budgeting – and accepting the rollercoaster
This is apparently the money-themed part of this particular diatribe. Don’t worry. Only a few more tips left.
There are two parts to this one. The first is that you need to budget. You need to budget. It’s an absolute necessity. It doesn’t matter how you do it – I find a Google Docs spreadsheet works perfectly well. But you need to know what money is coming in, and from whom, and what you’re doing with it. I tried to run my budget at least three months in advance, but there’s no reason why you shouldn’t do longer.
But: your budget has to be flexible. The thing about freelancing, which you probably realised already, is that you’re never quite sure exactly how much money you’re going to make in a given month. I’ve had months where I’ve cleared £4000 – after tax. I’ve had months where I’ve cleared £400. I had one memorable month, shortly after I first started, where I earned about £22. You can do a bit of projecting, to some extent, but if you’re going to stick this out you have to be comfortable with the fact that your financial life is going to be a bit of a rollercoaster. The general idea is to try and save as much as you can in the good times, to help get you through the bad.
In a way, I sort of became addicted to the rollercoaster. It kept me hungry. It always kept me looking for the next story. If you think it doesn’t sound fun, if you’re even a little bit worried about not having a regular income every month… Then maybe you need to rethink whether freelancing is for you.
By the way: can I address, really quickly, the question of how much you should be paid?
It’s a tricky one, mostly because markets and publications differ so wildly, and despite there being various freelance unions out there, there’s no real agreed fee. At the start of my career, I charged around 10p (UK pence) per word, so a 1000 word story got me £100. If that sounds low, remember that it was 2009, and my word rate immediately got a big bump when The Guardian (who, bless their organically-farmed cotton socks, are completely open about their payment terms and publish them on their website) paid me three times that for the same amount.
These days, I tend to sit at around 20-25p per word for a story, although often I’ve negotiated a flat fee that is much higher – like I said, this kind of thing fluctuates wildly, and negotiating your fee is a skill you’re going to have to learn. One thing I’ve never done is charged a client by the hour, mostly because it’s never clear at the start how long a particular story is going to have to take. A client is not going to be best pleased if you charge them for the ten hours you spent hunting down an interviewee whose comments didn’t make it into the final piece. So don’t worry too much about hourly rate. Go for a per word rate, or a flat fee.
14. Never write for free
Hoo boy. Here we go.
But the exposure! But the portfolio! But it’s a really big publication and it will get my name out there! But I’m only a student and no one will pay me to write for them because I haven’t written for anybody yet! But I don’t know what I’m doing and they said they’d mentor me! But –
Ugh. No. Fuck no. This is like missing deadlines: not ever, not even once.
I will just – just – about accept a full-time student writing for free. If you’re doing a university journalism course, it’s not outside the realm of accepted practice to spend a few weeks doing a work experience gig somewhere, although God knows this alone has enough problems, especially if you come from a family without the money to support you. I would certainly be happy to see this practice eliminated, although I do understand the logic behind it.
But after you get out? After you have your degree? You are absolutely forbidden to write for free. You are a professional, you are good at what you do, and no outlet, no matter how small, should expect you to cover their light bill. If they cannot pay you, they are simply not worth your time. End of. Whether you’ve got one piece published or a thousand, your job is simple: treat your work with the value it deserves.
Some outlets work on a revenue share scheme: so if your post gets a certain number of shares and likes, you get a share of the revenue. I despise that sort of thing. It’s like paying someone using a loophole. I’ve never done it, and would never do it, but more and more outlets are starting to utilise it. If someone does pitch this to you as recompense for your work, make sure you know exactly how much the average payout is for a particular piece, and get them to show you success stories. If they have a thousand articles on their site but only one or two success stories? Move on.
Every journalist who refuses to write for free is another pile of dirt thrown on the coffin of this shitty, scummy idea that writers should be in poverty. Fuck that.
15. Working from home is awesome…until it isn’t
I was genetically created to be the perfect organism for working from home.
I am much more productive when there is no one around. I get a lot more done if I can stomp across my living room, muttering to myself, while insultingly loud dub music is playing in the background. I frequently work in attire that is vastly unacceptable to the majority of people. On the few occasions where I have had to work in an office, I have been repeatedly brought up for my slovenly appearance and tendency to snort loudly. Also farting. But that’s another story.
However much or however little money I make, freelancing from the privacy of my own home really agrees with me.
But even then, there are times when I find myself climbing the walls. Occasionally, I long for human contact. The late afternoons tend to be the worst, when I slowly realise that I haven’t got nearly enough done, and my list for the next day is filling up ridiculously fast, and I feel like a bit of a failure. This wouldn’t happen, I tried myself, if I’d only go and work in an office again. Or in a co-working space.
Fortunately, I know myself reasonably well. The feeling soon passes.
You… I don’t know you. I don’t know how well you’d cope with being on your own for hours at the time. I think the key is to not be surprised when being on your own becomes a challenge. Do what you gotta do. If that includes going to a coffee shop or going for a walk or a wank or whatever, then do it. Just be warned that at some point in your freelancing career, you are going to regret working for yourself.
I’ll tell you one thing it’s given me: discipline. Needing to write to actually put food on the table is an incredible motivator to get things done. Whenever I speak about my books to people, they often express amazement that I was able to sit down and write them at all, saying they’d never have the discipline. My response is very simple. I learned discipline over a decade, because if I didn’t have it, I didn’t eat. That thing sort of works its way into your bones.
One last little tip before you finish this long-ass article and go get some lunch. Remember to stop working. My wife actually had to hold an intervention in the early days, when I was staying at my desk for ten, twelve, fifteen hours at a time. No job, no gig, no matter how lucrative or important, is worth your free time, your health and happiness. Striking a balance is hard, but you have to do it.
Now go. Away with you. Start pitching.