Welcome to another installment of the Drinking Coffee With Writers series! We’re featuring writers from our community who have insight to share on their unique freelance journeys.

Today we’re chatting with Gabi Bellairs-Lombard, a creative content writer based in the KwaZulu-Natal midlands in South Africa. Gabi is the founder of Let’s Do This Write, where she offers a variety of creative content services.

While she hasn’t quite settled on her niche yet, she’s investigating some options in the cannabis industry. In the meantime, she has some wisdom to impart to other writers who are just getting started.

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Freelance Writing Cafe: What was the #1 reason you decided to start freelancing?
Gabi Bellairs-Lombard: I wanted more independence and flexibility.

How did you get started?
I resigned from my agency job to complete my memoir and set up a freelance business on the side to continue earning money. Little did I know that my freelance business would completely take over!

I then realized that freelancing was where I was meant to be as I enjoyed the freedom and empowerment of running my own business.

What is the most important lesson you’ve learned so far?
To stick to what you know. Many people compromise on their service offerings or rates and it ends up doing more harm in the long run, and you end up getting way below what you deserve.

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What is something you still struggle with as a freelance writer?
I am in my third year of freelancing and I still feel insecure that I’m not good enough. I often read copy and I think “damn, I wish I could write like that”. It’s difficult reminding myself that people have hired me for a reason.

The biggest struggle when finding work, though, is standing out. There is a such a huge pool of talented writers so convincing employers that you’re “the one” to hire is difficult.

What advice would you give to freelancers who are just starting out?
I think the biggest thing I had to learn, and what new freelancers should understand, is that you don’t have to be like all the other freelance writers. There is no one aesthetic for your Instagram feed and there is no package of the “5 most essential blogs to have on your website”. Just be yourself, dammit! And let yourself shine.

What’s your favorite thing about freelancing?
Working on my own terms and using my skills in the ways I think are best.

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Do you have a favorite productivity tip?
Honestly, 20 minute naps when I’m feeling drained have helped me refocus like no cup of coffee or walk in garden ever has.

Do you have a go-to mantra or quote that keeps you inspired?
My family’s motto is “patience and perseverance” and this has encompassed my career in the most apt way. I have been knocked down and rejected from dream jobs but I kept pressing on to discover other opportunities along the line.

We often want our success to materialize overnight but this is simply unrealistic. Patience and perseverance are critical. Taking it on the chin will be a frequent practice and so will biting the bullet!

What’s your favorite hot beverage to sip while working?
Green tea with fresh ginger and lemon.

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How do you find the motivation to work when you’re distracted or having a bad day?
I remember my “why”: Why I am doing this, why I love what I do, and why I need to put the graft in to reach my end goal of being a successful business owner.

What’s one interesting thing about you that people might not know?
I have lived in four different countries and almost went to the US to play professional soccer!

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Be sure to follow Gabi on Instagram, where she dishes out great writing tips, and check out her website, Let’s Do This Write.

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IMAGES VIA GABI BELLAIRS-LOMBARD