Based in Chicago, Illinois, The Freelance Beat is a blog exploring the triumphs and challenges that freelance journalists encounter in their early and mid-careers.

Freelance Wins You Need to Celebrate

Freelance Wins You Need to Celebrate

If you told me five years ago that I’d be writing articles for news sites and print magazines, I’d probably think, “Bitch, please.” Not that I thought I was totally incapable of doing this, but back then it seemed impossible to get a regular gig in journalism, let alone getting a freelance piece published.

But here I am, a full-time freelance writer with print bylines in The New York Times, Marie Claire and High Times—yes, High Times, too—as well as web bylines in, and No, I promise you this is not a humble brag. It’s a reminder to myself that I’ve done some pretty cool stuff in my career. I’m sure that if you go back through your portfolio, you’ll find some work that you’re proud of, too.

It’s easy for freelancers to get stuck in the grind. Deadlines. Drafts. Interviews. Edits. Photos. Videos. Tweets! It’s a lot to manage. Plus, there aren’t co-workers or bosses to celebrate big accomplishments with when you work for yourself. No plaques, trophies, certificates, or bonus checks. So, just like your marketing, creating, accounting and everything else, you need to appreciate your mini and major freelancer moments. I have a few wins I love to celebrate:

Landing a new client

On-boarding new clients is critical getting your business off the ground. No clients means no money. So, when you get a new source of income, pat yourself on the back. You had enough confidence, experience and good ideas to attract a person or company who’s willing to invest in you. You’ve already won half the battle.

Finishing a draft

Listen, it’s hard as hell to write. Every time I start, I’m like, “Do I even know how to write? Why would anyone hire me?” So, when I finish a draft, I get so excited. Even if it’s not that good, it’s still good. Once you have something down on paper, it’s easier to edit later.

Getting a story published

Yay! You made it through the editing process! You fought for quotes, conceded on key points, went through a round (or two… or three?) of revisions. Now, the world gets to see your work.

Getting paid

If you freelance long enough, you get screwed over by a client who pays late, partially pays or doesn’t pay at all. When your check arrives on time and in full, be happy. Pay yourself. Every penny you bring in is a result of your hard work and a step towards your independence.

Making an impact

It’s rare, but sometimes my stories really take off on social media. I most recently experienced this with my story about black women getting their hair searched by TSA, an investigative feature that has been retweeted more than 3,000 times. Not exactly viral, but I’ll take it! When your story reaches people and advances a critical conversation, it can be overwhelming. But it’s so important to celebrate that, because that’s what journalism is supposed to do.

They say it’s the little things in life that matter. For freelancers who spend a lot of time on their own, it can seem like it’s you against the world. Whether it’s treating yourself to a nice dinner, taking a vacation, or splurging on a little something that you’ve always wanted (bonus points if it’s a business splurge), take a second to celebrate your accomplishments. You’re totally worth it.

What freelance wins do you celebrate? Tell me in the comments or email me at


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