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Australia’s total lockdown almost destroyed my writing business

I’m a freelance writer and the sex columnist at Maxim Magazine. Throughout the pandemic, I’ve lived in the most locked-down city in the world – Melbourne, Australia.

My country is often referred to as the land of the free but, with draconian measures in place for nearly two years, including closed borders, perhaps we are no longer worthy of that title.

In total, my state endured 262 days of lockdown plus a night-time curfew. If that wasn’t enough, we were also slapped with a five-kilometer-radius stay-at-home order, where we could only leave the house for exercise, grocery shopping, or a medical emergency.

Who could have ever imagined that we would live through such a time? But, as Mark Twain famously said: “Truth is stranger than fiction because fiction has to be possible and truth doesn’t.”

So, how did this wave of totalitarianism affect my work as a freelance writer? And, what did I do in response to survive?

It’s worth pointing out that I’ve been living solely off my writing income since 2011. Long stretches of solitude, and sitting in front of a laptop for hours are ‘normal’ for me. So, unlike other Aussies, I didn’t struggle with the lack of socializing or human contact.

However, losing a bunch of long-term clients after their businesses were destroyed affected my financial and mental health. Stressed out by my predicament, I struggled to write at all. Prior to the lockdown, I would sell two columns per week (and that was on top of my content writing and adult copywriting).

There was no magic fairy I could call upon in my time of need. So, I did what any self-respecting freelance writer does, and started to get creative with how I brought in the cash.

LETTERS OF INTRODUCTION

Letters of Introduction (also referred to as LOI’s) are an amazing tool to return to when your freelance writing business goes bust.

An LOI is a letter or email that writers send to companies they’re interested in working with. I’ve picked up many top-notch clients over the years by using this method. It’s a surefire way to increase your client base and your freelancing income.

REVIEWING PRODUCTS IN YOUR NICHE

Perhaps you write about beauty, or law, or petcare, or the automotive industry? It doesn’t really matter what niche you’re in. There are always brands and companies that want their products reviewed.

I’m a sex columnist, so sex writing is my niche. During the pandemic, luxury sex brands sent me complimentary products to trial. Not only did I enjoy receiving freebies but I also got paid to have my reviews published in famous publications.

Any writer can review products and create a passive income. All you need is ‘the audacity’ to contact the brand and ask.

PAID GUEST BLOGGING AND CONTRIBUTING

Every single company, publication, and business in the world requires writers. That is not a fantasy. That is a fact.

When one loses all their clients (like I did) during the pandemic. Reminding oneself that PAID writing work is available can be a very powerful motivator. After taking stock of my situation, I decided to make contact with 10 very successful sex brands/companies to tell them I was looking for paid sex-writing work. That action alone got me two ongoing blogging gigs that I am still doing today. Typing ‘paid guest blogging’ into Google can sometimes be the most intelligent thing a freelance writer can do.

PITCHING OUTSIDE YOUR COMFORT ZONE

Like many writers, I often get cozy with the publications I write for because familiarity feels safe and secure. But, sometimes writers have to cast their nets a little further. It can be scary, but is well worthwhile. Lockdown pushed me to pitch to publications outside my comfort zone and, in return, I was rewarded financially.

I would never have chosen to live in a state with the toughest lockdown and restrictions in the world but, in saying that, I’ve learned about my own versatility as a writer. Whatever happens in the future with my freelance writing business, I know for a fact that I’m going to be okay.