A Day in the Life of a Freelance Writer & Podcast Host

Since I started working from home and freelancing a few years ago, I’ve been very interested in how people spend their days. I know that for me, the idea of having a flexible schedule is nice, but I still feel like I should be at my computer during what most people consider to be regular working hours.

Over the past few months, though, I’ve started to realize that I’m most productive in the early morning and in the evening. I’m productive when no one is bothering me, emailing me, or otherwise requiring me to activate do-not-disturb mode.

I definitely don’t take advantage of being freelance as much as I could and should. Last year, I was so sick for so long that I couldn’t leave the house. Now, I can, but the cold isn’t super motivating. So I’m looking forward to spring, summer, and fall, when I’ll be super psyched to take Ellie for a midday swim or hike.

A Day in the Life of a Freelance Writer & Podcast Host
Hello from underneath 900 layers!

So what do I do for a living?

I am a freelance writer. I write primarily about women’s health, fitness, and wellness, and dance, for various digital and print publications. I still write for Dance Spirit and Dance Magazine all the time, and I write for outlets like Well+Good and Women’s Health. Sometimes I pitch stories, but usually my editors come to me with assignments.

I’m also a podcast host (slash editor / producer / publicist / crisis manager). You probably knew that. You probably knew all of this already! But this is like Ali on the Run 101, which is fun to say. I’ve been hosting the Ali on the Run Show podcast for a little more than a year now, and I am thrilled to say it is now officially an additional source of income for me! The plan is to reverse the current ratio, so the podcast is the job and the writing is more of a when-I-have-time-for-it (or when I really love the subject) side hobby that happens to make some money.

My days are split up between podcast things and writing things. On the writing side, that means sending and responding to zillions of emails every day, interviewing sources for stories, writing said stories, gathering art for those stories, and finally loading those stories into whatever CMS that publication uses (WordPress, a custom CMS I’ve been trained in, or good old-fashioned Microsoft Word — my favorite!). It’s a lot of back and forth with editors and sources, and then various things like invoicing, touching base with editors about their current needs, and setting up calls with new editors.

A Day in the Life of a Freelance Writer & Podcast Host
The home studio, AKA my office. Covered in blankets. No makeup. Probably no bra.

I used to go to a lot of press events (Broadway shows, the ballet, fitness classes, events where brands debut their new lines and you get a sneak peek and some swag, stuff like that), but I go to far fewer now. I’m still always down for a trip to Broadway or the ballet, but the fitness-related press events are less enticing to me now than they used to be. (Free shoes! Cool! I know! But this might be a topic for another day.)

On the podcasting side, there’s the planning, the prepping, the recording, the intro and sponsor spot recording, the editing, the thank you note sending, the show note writing, the blog post writing, the graphic making, the uploading, the sharing, and the promoting. I love the prep and the recording, and actually enjoy the editing, too. The show note writing and graphic making are the first places I plan to outsource when the aforementioned income shift happens.

And then there’s my little bit of a personal life! Brian works a lot, which bothered me when I was sick because I was sad and lonely, but now doesn’t even cross my mind. Some nights I eat dinner alone. Other nights we eat together at 10 PM. And other nights he’s traveling for 10 days straight and I order sushi every single one of those nights. I tend to Ellie and make sure she’s fed and active and happy, and I try to exercise almost every day.

A Day in the Life of a Freelance Writer & Podcast Host
When Brian’s away, Ellie is SUPER snuggly with me. I send him photos like this every morning!

It all sounds really glamorous and exciting, right? So last Wednesday, I decided to lightly keep track of A Day in the Life of Ali on the Run. (I don’t call myself that at home, I swear.) Here’s a look at my life in sweatpants.

5:30 AM: Brian gets home from work! I am obviously asleep, but Ellie hears the door and starts tapping her tail like a maniac. Brian gets into bed, I get up to pee, and when I return to bed, Ellie has stolen my spot. She never does this to Brian. She loves my spot that I spend all night keeping warm. I can’t be mad. So I sort of slide in on the edge of the bed and try to snooze for another hour. It doesn’t really work.

A Day in the Life of a Freelance Writer & Podcast Host
Brian will be THRILLED I took this! And put it on the internet!

6:30 AM: I’m up. I grab my phone and start doing all the things you’re not supposed to do as soon as you wake up: Instagram, email, Twitter, Facebook, The New York Times. Whatever. (I went through a nice, long phase where I was waking up, meditating, and then going for a sunrise walk every morning. I’m not sure why I stopped doing that, but I should probably bring it back. I was so mindful then!)

7 AM: I’m at my computer doing email things and eating a Superhero Muffin.

7:30 AM: If Ellie had her way, she would sleep until 1 PM every day. But today is a school day, so I wake her up to take her out for a quick potty walk, then give her breakfast.

A Day in the Life of a Freelance Writer & Podcast Host
When the sun hits your face…

7:50 AM: The day officially begins. I get Ellie in the car and drive her down the road to school, which is doggy daycare, but I like to think she’s learning all day, so…it’s school. She goes to school a few times a week so she can get some energy out and socialize, and so I can work uninterrupted. And every single time, she’s a little hellion when I drop her off. She runs in the room with all the dogs, and tries to tell everyone she’s the boss. Thank god her teachers like her.

8:10 AM: I make it to Orangetheory early, so I have time to run into Trader Joe’s to buy clementines. They only have mandarins, so I buy those. I don’t think they are the same thing.

8:30 AM: Orangetheory! It’s a power day, which means we’re doing lots of all-out sprints on the treadmills, and lots of jumping and explosive movements on the floor.

9:40 AM: Orangetheory is only 10 minutes away, which is great. I’m home soon after class, I take a quick shower, and I’m back at my desk by 9:50.

A Day in the Life of a Freelance Writer & Podcast Host
I miss Ellie when she’s at school! So this is a #TBT.

10 AM: I’m covering for Well+Good‘s news writer, who is out this week. That means I get newsy assignments from my editor and it’s my job to report on them and write them as fast as I can. It’s news! It’s urgent! I file (that’s writer talk for “finish and send to editor”) my first two stories by 11:30, jump on an interview for another at 12, and then final my third story for the day at 1:30. The nice thing about doing news stuff is there’s no time for writer’s block or procrastination.

1:30 PM: Housekeeping things. Emails. Invoices. Switching laundry from the washer to the dryer. More laundry in the wash. It never ends.

2:30 PM: I realize hey, I haven’t had lunch! The fridge is in rough shape, so I run to the grocery store across the street and pick up some carrots, pita chips, and a frozen gluten-free dairy-free pizza. I told you this was all glamorous!

3 PM: I have a call with an editor at a publication I haven’t written for yet. I finish the call excited to have a new client. Yay!

A Day in the Life of a Freelance Writer & Podcast Host

4 PM: More housekeeping. Confirming podcast guests. Making a crappy graphic for that week’s episode. (I wish I had graphic design skills. Ugh.)

5 PM: Record the intro, sponsor spots, and closer for the following week’s podcast episode. I try to work as far in advance as I can while still keeping everything relevant. Because freelance work can pile up fast — one week a few weeks ago, I had to write 32 stories in five days — I want to always make sure I’m on top of podcast things. Lately I’ve been in a good groove. That’s not always the case. (It also depends on guest availability, which can change last-minute.)

6 PM: I drive to pick up Ellie from school. When it’s warm out, I walk. But it’s cold out, so I am lazy and I drive.

6:30 PM: I make frozen waffles for dinner. I put strawberries and blueberries on top, so it’s basically just a fruit salad.

A Day in the Life of a Freelance Writer & Podcast Host

7 PM: It would be amazing to someday hit Inbox Zero. I know that will never happen for me, but right now I’m at Inbox 182, and I’d at least like to be closer to Inbox 100. Or Inbox 180. For every email I send, I get three more. It’s never-ending.

8:30 PM: I realize I haven’t made the bed. I had asked Brian to strip the sheets in the morning and he threw them in the wash and I left them in the dryer and now it’s 8:30 PM and I haven’t made the bed. So I do that. Exciting!

8:45 PM: I upload this week’s episode of the Ali on the Run Show for the world to hear. This week’s (last week’s) guest is Desi Linden, and we talk all about her Boston Marathon buildup and how she’s feeling about the race. It was a super fun conversation (despite nonstop Skype issues), and it’s always satisfying uploading a new episode. I upload it to my podcast host site, then embed it here on my blog, and I update the master podcast page. I make sure the show has successfully uploaded to its additional destinations — Apple Podcasts / iTunes, Spotify, SoundCloud, Overcast, Stitcher, and Google Play — but I won’t promote the episode until Thursday morning. I just like to have them up and running (running!) Wednesday night so they’re there for your Thursday morning run or commute.

9:30 PM: I take Ellie for her last walk of the night. When Brian’s around, he usually does this, but it’s just the girls tonight, so we go for a little cruise around the neighborhood before coming inside, cleaning the paws, and eating a bedtime snack (a Greenie, for her — they’re not really my preference).

A Day in the Life of a Freelance Writer & Podcast Host
Pretty nighttime views!

I didn’t keep track of what time I went to bed that day. When I’m home alone, I usually go to bed around 10. If Brian’s around, it’s much later. I usually do the same social media routine in bed. Sometimes I read. Other times I play Two Dots until my eyes start to glaze over. We don’t have a TV in the bedroom, so I don’t do that. I never meditate at night. I don’t put on moisturizer or fancy face cream. I should start establishing a better bedtime routine.

Exciting stuff, right?!

In summary: I sit at my computer all day most days! Sometimes I get to talk to really cool people. It’s a good life, even if it’s not super fascinating on internet paper. I like writing. I love talking to people. I love podcasting. And I love you.

SO I WANT TO KNOW: What’s usually the best part of your day? What’s something you do every single day that makes you happy and fulfilled?



9 Responses

  1. I’m so glad you got a sponsor for the podcast and made that your main gig! Everyone who has any hint of notoriety is selling stuff on instagram etc. so I was sad to hear you were in a rut about your career when you should certainly be getting paid for producing a weekly podcast that so many of us love. Anyway, love what you do, keep it coming and keep the Ellie pics coming … obviously 🙂

  2. Thanks for this! I also work from home full time, but I do not have a dog or anything else around with life in it. The TWO THINGS that I make sure to do each day are: (1) Exercise; (2) Leave the House and talk to a human. I often feel I don’t have time for those things, but in 10+ years of working in my home, I’ve learned that I have to do those things whether there is time for them or not. They pay me back. Look up “Sharpen the Saw” for more. Thanks again– I just love your blog so much!

  3. Ali! I have wanted to tell you that your podcast is the absolute best one ever, and this blog post is a great opportunity to do so! 🙂 I’ve listened to a lot of running related podcasts (and other podcasts too) and I love that you walk the line between journalist and fan. You’re so great at what you do! Sometimes podcast hosts can be light on the journalism, but you aren’t afraid to ask challenging questions. On the other hand, I love that you never seem detached from the topic or guest. When you’re excited, you make it clear… and most of the time I’m excited too so it makes it extra fun. Anyway, you’re the GOAT of my iPod, haha. I’m glad to read that you’re going to continue podcasting. 🙂

    Also, I love posts like these because I’m nosy as hell and I love to know what other people do each day.

    The best part of my day is usually in the morning when I wake up my 4 month old twin girls and feed them. If I’m lucky, I’m greeted with double smiles. If I’m too slow to warm up bottles, then I’m greeted with double crying but the sweet, sweet sound of silence once they’re happily eating is like a weird, masochistic reward LOL. After they finish, I should bust ass trying to leave the house early enough for the daycare drop off and getting to work on time, but instead we sit on the floor and I talk to them and enjoy some morning hugs before being a responsible adult and facing the day. (Needless to say, I’m late to work… a LOT).

    Take care!

  4. Thanks for the peek into your day! I always find these posts interesting. I’m glad you have been feeling better. I’m really looking forward to some nice spring weather here – especially if there was no wind! I’m sure we won’t get that lucky though.

  5. Loved this!! I’m impressed with how early your up and how late you go to bed! I feel like a grandma over here on the west coast! Up around 5:30 and usually in bed between 8 and 8:30! And I too love my OTF!! ❤️

  6. I am so envious of the flexibility you have! I get to work from home once a week and I love it -especially the part where I don’t have to commute an hour to work.

    It’s so inspiring seeing you pursue a career you love. It gives me hope that I could get a bit closer to figuring out that part of my life too.


    I loved reading this, though, and I love that you’re shifting to more of what’s truly making you happy. Hoping to find that soon myself <3

  8. This is really interesting, especially as I’m sometimes on the other side of those freelance calls, though I don’t think we’ve actually worked together. I feel you on the fewer event acceptances, there just aren’t enough hours

  9. Thanks for sharing this little bit into your life! I’m always curious how other work-from-home people shape their days because sometimes it can just be a black hole of computer screens! I always look forward to the first few hours of work when the house still smells like coffee, it’s so peaceful outside, and my brain feels fresh 🙂

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about ali

I’m the creator of the Ali on the Run blog and the host of the Ali on the Run Show podcast. I’m also a freelance writer and editor, a race announcer, a runner and marathoner, a mom, and a huge fan of Peanut M&Ms, Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again (way better than the first one!), and reliving my glory days as a competition dancer in the early 2000s. I’m really happy you’re here.
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