Freelance Life: Behind the Scenes II
An interview with Abbie of @ab_reads
In the second instalment of our freelancer interview series, we speak to celebrated bookstagrammer Abbie of @ab_reads. With a passion for translated novels and all things bookish, Abbie shares her thoughts and reviews of each novel she reads with her 78,000 followers on Instagram. If that's not impressive enough, she was also awarded Bookstagrammer of the Year at the 2019 London Book Fair! Her blog, Northern Bibliophile, is filled with literary gems from around the world, helping her readers decide what to add to their ever-growing TBR piles.
Read on to find out more about Abbie, and to peek behind the curtain of her life as a freelancer!
Hey, Abbie! Tell us a little about who you are.
My name is Abbie, I’m from the North East of England and I’m a freelancer – currently doing a bit of everything! I do copywriting for a few small businesses, I’ve written articles for online and print publications, I work with brands to create content on Instagram, and I also work part-time for The StoryGraph.
Where are you currently based? What made you choose this location?
I’m still based in the North East! I’ve always been a homebird, and I honestly couldn’t see myself living anywhere else. I think the North East is too often overlooked when it comes to the UK. Everything is so London-centric, but it’s brilliant up North!
What first inspired you to pursue a remote working lifestyle?
Being a homebird – I feel best and work best where I’m comfortable. I worked in an office for a year and it was fine, but I hated commuting and some days you just want to do your own thing. I genuinely think that after the pandemic eases (if it ever does), remote working will remain. So we all just got a head-start on the new normal!
What's your favourite part of your job?
I love being able to set my own schedule. Pre-pandemic, I would often go on day trips with my family, including my two-year-old niece, and then catch up on work when I got home. Having that freedom is invaluable, and even though right now I can’t do that, it’s what I’m most looking forward to when restrictions are lifted.
Of course, I also love the freedom of choosing what projects you work on! My days are always different and I enjoy the variety.
What's the most difficult part of your job?
I’m terrible at selling myself, which sounds really bad for a freelancer! I do get over it and do it, but I find it so difficult to talk about myself and my skills. I have really bad imposter syndrome, so I’m constantly worried that someone’s going to realise I have no idea what I’m doing! When in actual fact, I do have skills and knowledge, and I just need to get better at owning that.
What would your dream project be? Where do you envision your career taking you in the future?
My work at The StoryGraph is really taking off! It’s a book tracking and recommendation website founded by Nadia Odunayo, and I’ve been working with her for over a year now. My roles are varied and always evolving, from customer service to helping out behind the scenes. I hope at some point I’ll be able to combine my love of books and writing and do something with those at The StoryGraph!
Do you prefer to base yourself in one place, or travel often?
I like to stay firmly at home! I’m the least adventurous person you’ll ever meet. Travelling makes me anxious, and I end up forgetting to have a good time because I’m worrying over every last detail. No, I like to stay at home with my dog!
Do you prefer to use a coworking space, or to work from home? Why?
I’ve actually never used a coworking space! And I can’t see myself using one anytime soon, what with the global pandemic. But I think I’d prefer working from home anyway, as I like to have all of my home comforts around me.
What is the one app you couldn't live without?
My to-do lists are always written down in a notebook! I prefer having something tangible in front of me. If I used an app for my to-do list, I’d probably forget to check the app. At least with a notebook it’s right in front of me, and I have the satisfaction of crossing items off every day.
Any words of advice for those looking to begin a freelance career?
Make sure you can be strict with yourself when it comes to finances. Sometimes freelancers can go through dry spells with not much work coming in, so it’s really important that you don’t go overboard treating yourself when you do get paid. You need to plan ahead, put money aside for taxes and National Insurance (do NOT touch it), and make sure you have enough to see you through any emergencies. I’ve always been a saver, so it’s not been an issue for me. My workload took a serious hit during peak pandemic, and I was very grateful to my past self for being so careful with my finances. Just make sure you’re prepared for any eventuality!