Freelance Writing with a Disability: Struggles and Triumphs
How Difficult Can Freelance Writing with a Disability Really Be?
Freelance writing can be hard on a non-disabled person, let alone freelance writing with a disability. Some disabled people who freelance may view it as the only way to have a real career due to their inability to drive, I am one of those people. I have Cerebral Palsy, and I get around using a wheelchair.
My name is Miranda, and I have been freelance writing since 2012. It started as a way to earn some “street cred” in the field while still earning my Bachelor’s degree in Literature and Language. I slowed down in 2013 after starting my Master’s in Professional Writing. Once that journey ended in 2015, I started looking for full-time remote writing work.
They don’t tell writers about trying to get a traditional full-time job with a company, only remote, that the rates are pretty laughable to survive on. At least, this was my experience. After years of rejections, acceptances, and ultimately, not making enough to live off of with the number of hours I was putting in, in 2018, I went my own way. I haven’t looked back since.
Honestly, I was never really keen on being my own boss. The idea made me nervous. My grandmother, the biggest cheerleader in my pursuit of the written word, always suggested it. Running my own business just looked too stressful, and I am a total worrywart. My opinion would change after helping a friend with her resume.
She was my best friend since Pre-Kindergarten, so, naturally, I was going to help. She grew up with me and knew me as the nerdy writer, so it didn’t surprise me when she asked. What surprised me was when she asked me to do her husband’s resume, and they both wanted to pay me. I denied it at first. The couple knew I didn’t have any work coming in and insisted. After completing their documents, I asked her, “Do you think I should try doing this full-time?’ Her response? “Absolutely.” Miranda the Freelancer was born.
For the longest time, my bread and butter were resumes. I also offered other writing services, but everyone knew me for my resumes. It wasn’t until recently that I started turning the focus away from resumes.
The thing about resumes is everyone should have one, but not everyone needs someone to write them a resume. The resume business is a hot and cold one. Besides, one tends to get bored with writing resumes and cover letters constantly. I started searching for regular clients who could use me for my content writing abilities. Regular clients would also land me frequent work, which meant no living from resume to resume. It seemed like a win-win.
However, it’s not an easy task to find regular clients. I recommend that freelance writers look for leads every day. Some may turn into regular clients, but some may only be one-off projects. You can keep those clients on your clientele list; they may ask you for other services later. Once that project is completed, you will always need something to fill that gap. The downside is that daily lead searches can be pretty tiring, especially for those that have disabilities and may live with chronic pain.
I still have my first regular client to this day, but I have a reoccurring problem with them; communication. They still don’t respond to emails promptly, and payment schedules are very fuzzy. Communication is critical on both sides of the coin. Unfortunately, it is prevalent for freelance writers to have to chase payments.
My regular clientele list has been growing since I started lead searching daily. Even with the problems of receiving payments on time and lacklustre communication, I can earn multiple fees weekly, which has helped me tremendously. Working through exhaustion is something I have learned to live with, and breaks in between tasks can help remedy the situation.
A few weeks ago, I received an email from a small power washing company in New Jersey. They had been referred to me by someone who works with my website’s hosting domain. Referrals are a freelance writer’s best friend, and they got me my biggest project and payout to date. I did 15 landing pages for the company’s website and earned over $500.
The project and payout are still small potatoes compared to some of my peers, but in the words of my wise grandmother, “You’re doing so much better than when you first started!” I’m evolving at a good pace. I believe that if I can keep this up, I can build my business to be something special. I am incredibly thankful to that company for giving me the opportunity, and I would write for them again in the future.
Due to my partner working full-time and studying to be an electrician, I will never be able to get to a traditional job. I’ve made my peace with that and I’ve accomplished more than I ever thought possible since I started Miranda the Freelancer in 2018. I’m confident in my abilities to keep it growing, and my disability can never stop me. That’s something to be proud of.
The Sensational Museum
‘Using what we know about disability to change how museums work for everyone’ is the tagline for The Sensational Museum
Led by Professor Hannah Thompson from Royal Holloway, University of London, The Sensational Museum is a £1 million pound-funded project by the Arts and Humanities Research Council whose goal is to alter current access methods and introduce a deeper sense of inclusivity within the museum sector in the UK.
Thompson is joined by a plethora of professionals on this project who unite on the idea that disability needs need to be put at the centre of all museums’ strategies going forward. There is Social Design specialist Anne Chick from the University of Lincoln; Psychologist Alison Eardley from the University of Westminster; and Museum Studies expert Ross Parry from the University of Leicester. They will work together between April 2023 and July 2025 to really transform the way disabled and non-disabled people interact with the art and each other in museums in the future.
Collaborating with museum staff as well as disabled and non-disabled visitors, the more-than-equipped team will be looking into two core areas: new ways of accessing museum collections and cataloguing objects in a more inclusive way. The key idea is to acknowledge and put into practice the fact that the needs of diverse visitors are all unique and not everyone absorbs art in the same way. Sector organisations include VocalEyes, an initiative that works towards inclusion for the visually impaired and blind in the arts and heritage sector, Curating for Change which helps create career paths for the disabled community, and the Museums Association, a membership organisation that campaigns for socially engaged museums. They will all be on hand to offer acute advice and inspiration as to how this project can create innovative change within museums across the country.
“Many people want or need to access and process information in ways that are not only – or not entirely – visual. But museums are very sight-dependent places. Let’s imagine a museum experience that plays to whichever senses work best for you. The project aims to give all visitors inclusive, engaging, enjoyable and memorable experiences,” Professor Hannah Thompson.
Visit The Sensational Museum website to stay up-to-date with this project and how it’s developing. It has the capacity to create real social justice and impact the disabled community and how they will be able to engage with art in a more inclusive way in the future.
All I Want For Digital Campaign Calls for Inclusive Future
All I Want For Digital is Knocking Down Disability Accessibility Barriers Online Worldwide
Global digital transformation agency Cyber-Duck has launched the ‘All I Want For Digital’ campaign, which aims to remove digital accessibility barriers worldwide. Diverse users of the internet need to be heard and listened to. Is there enough being done to include them across all digital channels? Data from WebAIM, shows not, with less than 3% of website homepages being truly accessible to all users, meaning that the majority feel excluded from what most people take for granted. This is exactly what the #AllIWantForDigital campaign is shining a light on; the need for all brands, companies, and individuals to work harder to make all their digital experiences inclusive.
‘Ask yourself, what one thing would make digital better for everyone?’
This is the question Cyber-Duck team members asked a group of campaigners, Paralympians, creators and personalities with visible and hidden disabilities. The goal was to learn about their positive and negative experiences of online interactions in order to provide the world with inspiration to better the digital world.
Former tech journalist Rory Cellan-Jones, comedy writer Sara Gibbs, author and campaigner Sandi Wassmer and gold medal Paralympian Giles Long are amongst others, featured in the campaign as representatives of people living with disabilities and how they’re affected by non-inclusive digital experiences. They share their reasons why they want to see positive change in this space. Take Mik Scarlet, TV presenter, co-CEO Phab, and wheelchair user, who says, “I want people who design or own a website or app to have a mind shift change. To stop thinking that they’re designing for disabled people or for those people over there and remember that good products work for everybody.”
Danny Bluestone, CEO and Founder of Cyber-Duck says, “Whether you are trying to pay utility bills online, order groceries, find gifts for friends and family, apply for a job or keep in touch over the holidays, no one should feel excluded because of poorly designed digital experiences, which are not inclusive.”
Bluestone explains further that this inclusive mindset should be adopted at the first stage of a web design, “Accessibility guidelines are a tick box activity for some. But we and our campaign partners want to see more positive action taken to design with inclusivity in mind, creating accessible experiences, which benefit everyone. Accessibility can’t be an after-thought and can’t be solved with plug-ins.”
The campaign has been supported by key charities and initiatives including the Royal Association for Deaf People, Employers Network for Equality & Inclusion, para-sports
classification organisation LEXI, disabled children’s community Phab, digital disability awareness training platform AbilityNet, and the British Interactive Media Association, which supports the next generation of digital professionals through knowledge sharing and developing talent. This campaign alongside this powerful group of initiatives together have the power to create impactful solutions to improve the usability of digital products for everyone.
Take a look at the All I Want For Digital campaign here.
Tatiana Lee: Advocating for Accessibility and Inclusion in Media and Tech
Tatiana Lee is an award-winning disability inclusion and accessibility consultant, producer, model, actor and activist
To celebrate International Women’s Day 2023, Included is proud to be sharing in the joys of women and their successes. International Women’s day is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women around the world. The globally-celebrated day was initiated in 1908 when women marched through the streets of New York calling for higher pay, shorter hours and the opportunity to vote. A year later, the Socialist Party of America celebrated the first National Woman’s Day. Notably, today we will be celebrating Tatiana Lee, Apple TV+ Accessibility Lead.
Tatiana Lee is an award-winning disability inclusion and accessibility consultant and is herself a wheelchair user. She has also modelled in campaigns for Apple, Target, Zappos, and a host of others. Lee’s activism was influenced by the underrepresentation of people with disabilities in the media and entertainment industry. Her passion and commitment to creating a more inclusive Hollywood and creating accessible working places pushed her to advocate for accessibility and disability visibility in the entertainment scene.
She was known to be very consistent on social media platforms — raising awareness and seeing that emerging disabled creatives access opportunities to be included in Hollywood films and other entertainment platforms. Speaking on her experience of navigating the entertainment industry as a disabled woman of colour, Lee expressed that “I have discovered a more profound passion advocating for accessibility and inclusion in Media and Tech.” She continued,“I never thought six years later that I will be taking on a role that encompasses all those passions into one,” Lee said.
However, Lee’s advocacy, consultation, and production projects won her numerous awards, notable among them was the Hollywood Fringe Festival Encore Producers Award. Most of her works were featured by reputable media outlets, including Forbes, CNET, Washington Post, and Apple Newsroom.
Tatiana Lee is not only an incredible example of what disabled women can achieve but her work is also increasing opportunities and improving the lives of disabled women.