I'm a fulltime freelancer

By Ed Yong | July 20, 2011 12:00 pm

Today is a big day.

As of this moment, I am a full-time freelancer. I’ve just left the job I’ve had for seven years and entered the world of the vagrant scribe.

Wait, what? You had a job?

Yeah, I’ve been working at Cancer Research UK, leading a small team of information officers. This blog, and all the various things I do on the side have purely been a nights-and-weekends affair. Now, they’re moving from the periphery to the centre. It’s a bit like taking off a clamp and losing a foot in the process. I say goodbye to meetings, sign-off, commuting and office politics, but I’m also leaving some truly amazing people and some really good friends.

You’re just jumping on the bandwagon, aren’t you?

Look, I handed in my resignation notice three months ago, way before it became fashionable and everyone started doing it.

So what are you doing to do?

The basic plan is to sit on my sofa in a dressing gown, watching daytime TV and stuffing my face with crisps do more of what I do on the side: writing and talking about science, and about writing and talking about science. I’m working on four features at the moment, a few smaller but regular projects, something fun for Radio 4, a few talks, a spot of teaching at City University’s Science Journalism course, and more.


You don’t say. It’s a tough market. The pieces I collate in the weekly links are constant reminders of the sheer number of amazing science writers out there. And I’ve been led to believe that freelancing is not just about fast cars and untold riches. (It’s about unbridled power too, right? Right?) That being said, this is absolutely what I want to do and I think it’s a good time for it.

Will the blog continue?

Yes, absolutely. There shouldn’t be any dip in the frequency of posts, and if anything, I hope to make it better. The blog is a proper part of my income now, and any help with promotion – emails, Reddit submissions, tweets, shares, whatever you prefer – would be appreciated.

What would Peter Falk say?

And just one other thing…

A massive thank you to everyone who has given me invaluable advice about this, including Rebecca Skloot, David Dobbs, Jonah Lehrer, Carl Zimmer, Maggie Koerth-Baker, Frank Swain, Steve Silberman, and others I’m undoubtedly forgetting. But most of all, thanks to my wife Alice for her unerring support.


Comments (38)

  1. I just want to send you a message of support.
    Doing what you really want to do will be difficult at first, especially while you find your feet – but I guarantee that you’ll never look back because the universe will rise up and support you. It’s scientific fact 😉
    Well done!
    from a fellow ‘freelancer’,

  2. Ankur Chakravarthy

    Good luck with a career as a freelancer, Ed.

  3. Best of luck, Ed. It’s a big decision, but I bet you’ll look back on it and know it was the right one. And I for one am delighted to hear the blogging will continue unabated.

    Now put some clothes on, for goodness sake.

  4. Congrats! Fear is a great source of excitement. At least you live in a country where they frown upon letting people die because they don’t have employer health insurance.

  5. Thanks for the thank you, Ed, and you’re quite welcome. Best of luck and we look forward to reading even more of your great stuff.

  6. Congrats, welcome, good luck. And v. nice touch, thanking your spouse.

  7. Congratulations Ed :)

    I really enjoy your posts and agree that you’ve made the right move. I still wish you all the luck that one normally wishes on these occasions, but I don’t think you’ll need it!


  8. Just to supplement my Twitterish congratulations: Welcome to the club! The crappiest part, IMO, is dealing with the circuses that are contracts and tax regulations. Tough waters, they are.

  9. Your blog is so inspiring! I’m so happy for you! And looking forward to more of your blogging.

  10. We never liked you anyway


  11. Heather

    Congratulations and best of luck! I look forward to reading even more of your wonderful writing.

  12. Hi Ed,
    I just wanted to wish you good luck for the near future and all of your projects. Oh, and by the way: Your list of advisors sounds rather impressive. I’ll be sure to read and link to your awesome blog as much as possible.

    Kind regards from Germany,

  13. So, the steps to becoming a freelancer are:

    1. Start a blog, but keep your day job
    2. Have that blog picked up by a major science blogging network and then a major magazine, but keep your day job
    3. Win oodles of awards for all the the fantastic posts you do on your blog, while working full-time at your day job.
    4. Meanwhile, pitch and write articles for major publications, while keeping your day job and continuing to write blog posts at a furious pace.
    5. Keep that up for several years.
    6. Quit your day job, but keep doing everything else, only more so.
    7. Start wearing more comfortable clothes, or just wear less of the clothes you were wearing before.
    8. You’re now a freelancer!

    I now see why freelancers have such a reputation for “laziness.”

  14. JonF

    Congratulations and best of luck! Think about it: the less you wear pants, the more you save money and water on not doing laundry! So, really, this is the fiscally AND environmentally responsible thing to do.

  15. Jenny Morber

    Yay! As this undoubtedly will mean that more of what you do is available to myself, I applaud the change for selfish reasons. However, despite any evidence to the contrary I will continue to believe that pants are involved.

  16. Looks like it’s time to finally buy yourself that pair of pajamas! Frankly, the thought of this blog becoming even more badass is somewhat scary. But I’m looking forward to reading more excellent content. All the best.

  17. David Ratnasabapathy

    Publish your best posts as an ebook. I’d be happy to buy!

    It worked for John Scalzi.

  18. Congrats on the move. And to all you office folks: you can only make fun of our freelance fashions if you wear tuxedoes or evening gowns to work. Otherwise, you doth protest too much.

  19. May the force be with you!

  20. no luck needed, so congratulations.

  21. Congrats AND good luck. Though I’m pretty sure you’re headed for stardom no matter what. :)

  22. The best piece of advice I ever got was “do what you enjoy, at all costs”

    Simple, but scary

    It sounds like you’re making the right choice though

  23. Thanks for all the support folks (and for the several laughs in this thread).

  24. Well, you learn something new every day.
    Good luck – may your pyjamas reign supreme.

  25. You’ll be fine. How do I know? Because you are the best science writer!

    Any chance of more physical science stories, now you’re a pro? 😉

    Good luck!

  26. Gareth

    Congratulations, and good luck – selfishly, I’m now wondering how I will find the time to read more articles from you!

  27. Eleanor

    So more stuff for me to read? Excellente! I think that’s a win-win for both of us :)

  28. Congratulations! I’ve long thought this blog is good enough that it should be able to support you, so I’m glad you’re trying it out!

  29. Best of British sir!

  30. Congratulations!!!! I’m so happy for you. This is a big moment and I wish for your continued success with all sorts of stimulating and exciting endeavours.

  31. Wow–congrats, Ed! If you can’t make it as a freelancer, no one can.

  32. You will thrive – just remember that even though science writers seem thick on the ground nowadays, those who warp the facts are even thicker. On we go into the fray!

  33. Calum
  34. Orest

    Congrats Ed and good luck!


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