As a Freelancer I’m Master of My Own Universe

It’s been 10 years since I came to Mexico City. I never planned on making it my home but after only a few short months, I had fallen for this chaotically romantic and endlessly surprising city.

Living in the United States, nothing depressed me more than having to get into my car and drive out to a strip mall to eat Japanese food, or buy toilet paper, or get my haircut. In Mexico, I drive nowhere. Public transportation is not only efficient but also delightful, allowing me pauses in my day for people- and city-watching.

Everything I need is within walking distance of my two-bedroom apartment—pharmacies, grocery stores, taco stands, markets, even the place I get my hair cut. And when I walk through my neighborhood all my neighbors are walking too, and hanging out in front of the convenience store chatting, and passing the soccer ball back and forth on the tiny side streets.

There are dozens of nearby cafés, bookstores, and even a few small museums. People sip wine outside during their lunch hour, walk their dogs in the park, or use the shared bike system to get from one appointment to another. As a freelancer, I spend lots of time in local coffee shops and the many Mexico City co-working spaces.

Most days I start work at around 9 a.m., answering emails, sending queries, writing, and editing. Early afternoon is lunchtime in Mexico, so around 1 p.m. I take my dogs out for a walk and stop at one of the many fondas that I love near the park. Then it’s back to work for the rest of the afternoon, usually until 6 p.m. or 7 p.m.

From the windows of my fourth-floor apartment I can see the city pass below me each day as I write and translate from my home office. My income comes from various types of freelance work. I work an average of 30 hours a week writing for online and print magazines, writing for my own Mexico City blog, and translating for a range of clients that include scriptwriters, authors, social scientists, and marketing firms. After I published a book about my neighborhood last year I was approached to design a tour of the neighborhood, so now I’ve added tour guide to my freelance resume.

I started freelancing while I was still working a full-time job as a reporter at a local paper, slowly growing a list of contacts and creating my blog. I now have a regular schedule of pitching publications and I’m often approached for contract work such as book research or an article series for marketing purposes.

Writing my book was a huge boon to my business as a demonstration of my expertise and knowledge about Mexico City. In freelance writing, it helps to have a “niche,” whether it be a city, a type of travel, or something that you can present yourself as an expert on. Within that niche, income-stream diversification is important, not only to ride out the uncertain waves of freelancing but also because variety keeps you stimulated and motivated to work.

What I love most about freelancing is that I’m master of my own universe. I could never exchange my life today for the drudgery of a 9-5 ever again.

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