Working as a freelance writer provides lots of flexibility and freedom, but that comes at a price. Ann-Margret Hovsepian understands that, and she’s worked hard to succeed at her freelance writing career. Here’s what she had to say about how she’s made a career for herself.
Tell us about your business: what do you do, when did you start your own business, and why?
In December 1997, I quit my job at a small family-run trade magazine to start my own business. At the time, based on the experience I had, I thought I would offer my services in desktop publishing and proofreading, and do some freelance writing on the side. Over the few years that followed, as I took on various assignments and got a better feel for what I was good at and what kinds of jobs were available, I shifted my focus to writing and copy editing but continued to take on related assignments. Today I do virtually no editing. I have been able to hone my writing skills and establish long-term relationships with editors of publications I love writing for. Working on book projects (I’ve had four published) has also allowed me to concentrate more on writing. A recent fun twist to my freelance career has been adding “Illustrator” to my tagline, as I’ve had opportunities to contribute original drawings to a couple of coloring book projects and create my own devotional coloring book (Restore My Soul, which came out in 2016).
What has been your biggest struggle in launching your business/career?
I was in my mid-20s and still living at home when I started out, so I didn’t have to worry too much about the financial side of things while I worked on getting my business off the ground. A bigger struggle was getting the word out about the services I offered and trying to convince people to hire me when I had so little experience. It didn’t help that I was a bit timid, but I kept at it, knowing that it might take some time to see results.
How did/are you overcoming it?
Patience has been key for me. Many people want to become overnight successes but I was willing to bide my time and be content with the results, as long as I knew I was doing my best.
What’s surprised you the most about working for yourself?
I can’t really think of any surprises—I did a lot of research before launching my business and I come from a long line of entrepreneurs.
What’s your favorite part of this kind of work?
The freedom to reshape what I do as my personality, skills, interests and experiences evolve. It’s nice to set my own schedule and be my own boss, but those two aspects of being self-employed also come with challenges, so I’d emphasize that what I really love is the freedom to be creative and selective about my projects.
Is there any one event/moment that helped you move from starting your own business to making a living with your own business?
It’s hard for me to pinpoint when/how that happened so I can’t really answer this question.
If you could give a new freelance workers/entrepreneurs one piece of advice, what would it be?
Before you launch your business, make sure it’s really what you want to do; i.e. are you passionate about the business or are you doing it just for the money? Being an entrepreneur takes a lot of discipline, professionalism and courage, and sometimes the payoff is delayed or not as great as you’d hoped. You have to love what you’re doing enough to stick it out until you get over the “hump” and start reaping the benefits of your hard work.
If you could do one thing differently in your career, what would it be
That’s a tough one to answer because my journey, though rocky at times, has brought me to a good place – perhaps later than I’d hoped, but at a time that also feels right. I suppose, however, that I could have been a more disciplined with my time management and more assertive in looking for assignments.
What’s your favorite kind of work? Why?
I love writing inspirational / editorial types of pieces where I’m given a topic and the freedom to run with it. Then I feel like I can put my heart and creativity into the article rather than having to rely on interviews and research to write someone else’s story.
What does your work space/office look like?
In the last few years I’ve taken to calling my office a studio since I also do my art and illustration here. I have a desk for my computer where I do all my writing and “business” work and a separate table where I draw and work on my calligraphy and other projects. A sunny window, a faded green rocking arm chair, four overflowing bookcases, my sewing machine, cabinets stuffed with art supplies and fabric, and half a dozen plants complete the picture.
What does your work day look like?
I haven’t had a typical work day in a long time. It all depends on what projects I have going on during a given week. Some days I sit for hours working on an assignment, while other days I jump from answering emails to catching up on paperwork or tackling a volunteer project. The unpredictability could be maddening, I suppose, but it seems to work for me!
What’s your go-to snack when you need one?
I don’t have a specific go-to snack. It depends on what I have a hankering for! (Dark chocolate is always a welcome snack, though, if I have some handy.)
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Can’t think of anything at the moment…
Thank you so much for appearing on my blog! Have a blessed day!
Thanks, you too!