Ah, the allure of the freelance lifestyle. No office hours to adhere to. A flexible schedule. Being your own boss. Working when you want to. Who wouldn’t want that? I know I would! But this does not resemble my situation in the least. Maybe one day.

I’ve been doing this freelance English copywriter ‘thang’ for almost six months. Hmm…wonder what next week’s post is gonna be about? It’s been full of twists and turns, ups and downs, and a butt-load of curveballs.

But I’m starting to get into the swing of things. I currently have enough regular work that I have to plan my days to ensure I get everything done that I want to. I mean really plan. So, what does a day in the life of an English copywriter/content writer look like? Wonder no more…

Up before the crack of dawn, accomplishing more by 8 am than most people do all day

Pffft…I couldn’t even type that with a straight face. That statement is much closer to being true of my wife, who also works as a freelancer. She’s an early bird. Always has been. I don’t like it. I don’t support it. But I’ve accepted it. I’ve also accepted the fact that I am not, nor will I ever be, an early bird. Night owls of the world unite!

up at 8 am

I get up at the crack of…eight. Which for me, ain’t bad. I have a quick shower, chug half a liter of water, and pour myself my first vat of coffee. I usually watch the news while I go through my ‘morning routine.’ 

Duolingo - top of the diamond league

My morning routine consists of four different activities I’ve done every day for over two years. I have an app that tells me so.

  1. Practice ear-training with an app. I suck. I will likely never get better.
  2. Review fretboard flashcards to memorize chords and note locations.
  3. Make three attempts to beat my personal best on this fretboard interval trainer.
  4. Review Korean on Duolingo (+30 exp. pts). Last week’s update gave me a new level to work on.

While doing the last two items, I sit on the floor and hold leg stretches. I ain’t getting any younger. I’ve been more sedentary over the past 18 months (especially the last six) than any time in recent memory. It ain’t much, but I’ve noticed it does give me a bit more flexibility.

With my ‘morning routine’ over, it’s time to go to the office

My commute involves moving from my sofa to my computer desk. It’s not a long journey. This is where the magic happens. Can you imagine a less magical place?

my office - a magical place

We live in a 3-bedroom apartment in Seoul. My wife and I occupy one bedroom. Aside from the bed and closet, there’s not much room for anything else—certainly not a desk.

Our teenage son occupies the second bedroom. Well, sort of—there’s a transition in progress ATM, but he hasn’t completely moved out….yet. My wife has used the 3rd bedroom as her office for years. She’s got dibs.

When I decided to make the switch to freelancing, I needed to set up camp. I spent most of last year teaching Zoom classes from our veranda. I needed a quiet, private space, but it was less than ideal.

Fortunately, I didn’t have classes in the dead of winter or summer. But it was still plenty uncomfortable at times. I knew the veranda wouldn’t be a realistic year-round solution. And thus, the living room office was born.

the living room office

It’s not perfect, but it gets the job done. This is where I’ve done all my work for the past six months. It’s where I wrote this blog, along with all the previous ones. It’s also where I practice the guitar—but more on that later.

My life is about routines—I have routines for everything

I’ve also got a routine when I get to my office. I check several sites daily. They’re primarily social media and news sites—both international and Korean. I check the stats for my website and Instagram feed. I sip on my jug o’coffee as the cobwebs slowly fade away.

BTW, I’ve referred to the vessel that holds my morning coffee as a vat and a jug. I don’t know how else to describe it. It’s from RTIC, and I’ve been using this thing for years. It keeps my coffee hot for ages while I sip on it. Nothing like starting the day with a motivational message either!

massive RTIC coffee mug with motivational message
Normal sized mug on right included for scale

Around 10 am, it’s time to start work. I have three current clients that provide me with regular work. I mainly do copywriting with one client, content writing with another, and proofreading with the third. So I get to work on my three main skill sets.

My day starts with checking emails and other messaging apps. I check for any overnight updates on tasks or deadlines and any urgent new assignments. 

I’ve mentioned my life is all about routines. I like plans. I like knowing what’s coming up next. It’s become painfully obvious that all goes out the window in this field.

During an interview with one client, I asked the two interviewers what a ‘typical week’ looks like. When they stopped laughing, they kindly explained that no such thing existed. I’m doing my best to adapt.

Though I like routines, I’ve learned variety can be the key to creativity

I spend the first two hours on whichever tasks are most urgent. I find myself jumping back and forth between different tasks. When I hit a wall with one task, I move on to another. This keeps me fresh.

It also means I have several browsers, time trackers and a ridiculous number of tabs open at any given time. My laptop is less than a year old, but if I ever decide to upgrade it, the first thing I’ll do is add more RAM.

too many tabs and browsers

I’ll then take a short break, check a few websites, including my site stats. It’s always nice to confirm precisely how many people are not reading my latest blog. Then it’s back to work for another couple of hours.

Around 3 pm, I usually take a break and do a quick 10-minute meditation/mindfulness thing. I don’t do it to relieve stress. I don’t do it to ground myself. I originally started doing it to help with focus while playing the guitar.

But I’ve found that the 10 minutes of quiet helps my body relax, and it often recharges me—almost like a power nap. It takes 10 minutes of my day. I don’t see any downsides, so I’ll keep doing it.

The secret to language learning? Practice, practice, practice. The secret to mastering the guitar? No idea!

At this point in the day, depending on my workload and mood, I’ll either keep working or get in an hour of guitar practice. I practice every day. While working at my last job, I’d practice several times a day—sometimes for upwards of 3–4 hours during vacations. These days, I can manage an hour of practice, but that’s it.

practicing the guitar every day

With that much practice, you’d think I’d be a virtuoso. I assure you that couldn’t be further from the truth. When lockdown restrictions are lifted, and my band can play again, come to one of our gigs. I promise that I won’t dazzle you with my guitar playing. That’s a guarantee.

By this point, it’s around 5 pm. It’s time for my first food of the day. I didn’t forget to write about breakfast and lunch. For the past year, I’ve been doing intermittent fasting. I don’t eat until 5 pm. At 5 pm, I have a peanut butter chocolate shake and a handful of almonds.

I eat dinner between 7:30–8:00 pm. Other than a nightly glass of scotch, that’s it for food. Following this regime, you might assume I’m incredibly lithe. Remember my comment about coming to a gig? That’s a twofer. I’ll prove not only am I a lousy guitar player, but I’m also overweight.

5 pm may be quitting time for most, but not me

After my quick snack, it’s back to work. At this point in the day, I’m hoping that I’ve met most of my goals for the day and completed all the tasks required by my clients. If I haven’t, it’s time to finish up whatever tasks have pressing deadlines.

With my clients being in different time zones, I like to submit work at night, so it’s ready for my clients first thing in the morning. That way, they have time to review it and provide me with feedback by the time I sit down at my computer in the morning. 

online feedback from clients

It’s also during this time that I’ll often do work for non-regular clients—i.e. one-off jobs. I may use this time to browse job boards for any interesting opportunities. To be honest though, at this point, I couldn’t take on much more. Even after I’ve finished all pending work for my clients, my day isn’t done. It’s then time to work on improving my business. 

After an hour off for dinner, I work on any tasks related to growing my business that may be at hand. That includes things like:

  • Catching up on email tips and ideas I get from other blogs and copywriters
  • Reviewing my website to apply any new ideas or techniques I’ve discovered
  • Collecting and organizing pictures submitted by friends and other online sources
  • Writing posts for those pictures and scheduling them
  • And of course, writing blog posts—like this one

There’s never a shortage of things to do!

Following your own advice—not such a bad idea!

At about the same time I switched careers, I also picked up a new habit. I began watching Korean TV shows to improve my listening and vocabulary skills. I use the same method I wrote about in this blog several months ago. I finished the popular drama Sky Castle a few weeks ago. Now I’m enjoying a lighter show—The Sound of Your Heart.

English comedies tend to have a lot of puns, plays on words, and cultural references. I haven’t found that to be the case with this show, and it’s good to end the day with a laugh—and a glass of scotch.

scotch - a great way to end the day

With the day pretty much over, there are two final things to do. I log the hours spent on client work, website improvement, reading and learning about copywriting, and post/blog writing. I then make my to-do list for the next day, so I know exactly what I need to do when I sit in front of my computer the next day.

I prefer doing this at night, so I don’t waste time trying to decide what to work on in the morning. With my list finalized at night, I can get right to work when I sit down at my computer in the morning.

gotta make that to-do list

Sometime around 1 am, I call it a day. I’ve never had trouble sleeping, and that’s not a problem these days. Nothing like an honest day’s work (even if it is spent sitting in front of a computer) to make sure you sleep like a log.

Jealous? Ready to quit your job and start freelancing?

So there you have it. Pretty glamorous, huh? I know I’m working my ass off now—and that’s okay. I’m attempting to switch careers, and I need to prove myself—to potential clients and myself.

I do have the freedom to switch up my schedule, provided I meet my deadlines. I can still make COSTCO runs on a weekday morning rather than brave the weekend hordes. I can run other errands during the week when the need arises. On the flip side, I have no weekends. I follow pretty much the same schedule seven days a week.

In a few years, I will have established myself. I will have proven that I can do what I claim I can do, and then I can raise my rates and cut back on my hours. Well, that’s the plan anyway! But for now, I’ve got to do the grunt work and get my reps in. And for the time being, I’m lovin’ it!

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