The most appealing jobs are the ones where you get to make money on your terms like freelance writing. If you can turn it into a full-time career, even better! However, before you take the plunge into the online world of writing for money, you should ask yourself some serious questions.
- Are you a skilled writer?
If the answer is no then you may want to consider something else. Articles that are packed full of grammar mistakes and misspelled words are simply not going to cut it.
- Are you okay with not making money right away?
The ugly truth of any startup freelance business is that you need time to establish yourself before you can turn a profit. When you start out nobody knows your name, you have an unknown (and therefore risky) reputation, and it will take a significant amount of work to build up your portfolio and client list.
- Can you work alone ALL the time?
This is one of those tricky things that everyone thinks they can handle, but it’s actually a lot tougher than it sounds. Sure, you can collaborate with your fellow freelancers online and hang out with your kids, but there’s something to be said for seeing people in an office setting.
If you were able to answer yes to all of these questions, then congratulations, you may have the chops to become a freelance writer. As the preceding questions eluded, it’s not all fun and games though.
For many people, freelance writing is a serious career choice that can be rewarding on many levels. Time management is essential to any writer, especially freelance writers.
In fact, one of the biggest challenges for freelance writers is time management. These six simple tips should set you on the right track. Once you get into the habit of using these tips, they will become second nature.
Set a Schedule
Treat your freelance writing career like a job. Like most jobs, you have a set time you are supposed to be clocked in for work and a time to clock out. Freelance writing should not be any different. Although freelance writing can be quite flexible, sometimes making a schedule will help you stay focused and on task.
Setting a schedule is great for those with a busy schedule and for those who have what seems like all the time in the world. Those who have busy schedules will benefit from scheduling certain times to work because it will allow them to have a timeline to accomplish everything they must do in a given day. Those who have all the time in the world, a schedule will help you stay focused on doing serious work.
Some people work better during the day, such as mornings or afternoons. Others work better at night. It is a matter of knowing yourself to better maximize your creativity. Some freelance writers have other jobs or obligations. Having a personal organizer and calendars will help keep your schedule organized and remind you of important deadlines and appointments.
Set Goals and Deadlines
Consider your schedule before setting goals and deadlines. Decide what needs to be done each day. For example, if you write articles you need to determine how many articles to write each day. If you market or promote your articles, set aside the time in your schedule to do this.
Also, think ahead. For some freelance writers capitalize on seasonal topics. Consider making a list of titles or topics to write on and the deadline by which you wish to accomplish this. Even if the topic or title isn’t seasonal, consider setting deadlines for these to be written. By setting deadlines, you are setting goals to accomplish and holding yourself accountable.
If you are writing the next best selling novel or non-fiction book, decide whether you want to complete a chapter a day, a week, or every two weeks, and so on. Remember to make your goals realistic.
Setting goals are easy compared to accomplishing them. Making sure your goals are accomplished is going to be up to you. One way to ensure success is to eliminate anything else that may distract you. Turn off the phone, the television, and anything else that may distract you. If kids are your distraction, depending upon their age, you could wait until their nap times or simply set them up with a quiet activity. If possible, perhaps have a family member or a babysitter what the children. If your budget allows, consider daycare for a few hours or even a parents’ day out program.
Always Carry Pen and Paper
Living in the age of technology, many people take a good old fashion pen and paper for granted. Many people prefer a laptop but pen and paper can still last longer than a battery along with being more portable. If you still insist upon bringing a laptop along, at least bring the basic pen and paper as back up. Some writers have written several articles by simply waiting in a doctor’s office or waiting for the kids to finish sports practice.
You can even utilize this time to write down any article, annotated bibliography or book ideas. You might be surprised at how often you can be inspired at the most inconvenient times, therefore a pen and paper becomes quite valuable.
Always Carry a Voice Recorder
What if you spend most of your time driving? Pen and paper or a laptop isn’t the safest method while driving. Consider investing in a voice recorder. You could choose a digital recorder that doesn’t require tapes or one that does. While driving or doing other activities, such as folding laundry, you could verbalize your article. Verbalizing your article or ideas is much easier than you think. You could, at a later time, then take the recorder and your computer and type what you have already composed. You can pause the recording and edit as you go.
Organize Your Work Space
The first step is creating a workspace. When you treat freelance writing as a job or career, whether part-time or full-time, you will find that you will have more success. Make sure you have a location in your home that is focused on your writing career. Be sure the space is organized and neat so that you can find things easily. Also determine what things you will need, such as a computer, printer, paper, pens, sticky notes, etc. Also have a personal phone book, address book, or Rolodex nearby so you will have important or relevant numbers close by.
Consider having a couple of notebooks handy for taking notes and jotting down reminders for future projects. Some best writers and authors live by sticky-notes. They are easy to jot down reminders and either stick to a wall or board.
Just as you would clean up your workspace before you leave any other job, get into a habit of cleaning up your workspace daily. Also, have a weekly and monthly routine to discard any old notes or filing important information that you weren’t able to get to immediately. Having an organized workspace will help you become a more efficient freelance writer.
For most of us, a simple organized plan is just what we need to stay focus and be the most successful writer we can be. Most successful goals require planning and freelance writing is not any different. You will find that many successful freelance writers use most if not all of these five simple methods to manage their time. In fact, most successful careers required implementing a plan and time management is a large contributing factor to success.
- You can work from virtually anywhere. If you don’t feel like leaving the house for a week straight, you can do that. And if the view gets boring you can pack it up and go somewhere else to work like the park, library, or even the coffee shop.
- There is virtually no required equipment besides a computer, internet access, and your wits. The first two are free to use at any public library, but you’re on your own for the wit.
- You can have flexible working hours. If you find that you’re at your sharpest at 2 am and have a hard time waking up for a standard 9-5, no problem. As long as you meet your client’s deadlines you are good to go.
- No uniform is required at your workplace. If you don’t want to dress up like a professional then you’re free to do so. Heck, you can work in your pajamas and not shower for weeks on end (although that’s not recommended),
- There is no sweeter joy than being your own boss. You make the rules, you choose the assignments you want to take on, and you have complete creative control.
- It can be hard to get started. Learning the ropes, creating a portfolio, finding clients, and networking can take a lot of time and energy. Only people who are truly committed to sticking it out will find themselves making an income out of writing.
- Working alone can get lonely. You should prepare for this by scheduling out time for socializing in the real world. Having coffee with a friend or a lunch date are great for breaking up the quiet monotony that can come from working all by yourself.
- You may lack professional support that are present in a traditional office setting. For instance, you won’t have a supervisor to guide you on what format looks more appropriate or co-workers to use as a sounding board. The best way to bypass this is to be active in the online community. Freelance writers are a very friendly crowd and are always willing to help out a newbie. Post comments and questions on topical blogs or forums.
- Overworking is another problem that freelancers face. When you set your own hours it can be easy to lose track of time when working on a project. While having set working hours is a good solution for some, others find that it hinders the creative process. Personally, I like to track my hours on my Google calendar, and when I hit 40 hours I know that I’ve put my time in for the week.
- There is no separation between work and home when you’re a freelancer. No longer can you leave the stress at the office because home IS the office. Setting up a designated workspace in your home will make setting boundaries easier. If all else fails, try working from the library or another quiet location.
- Freelancing is a popular career choice and has never been easier with the implementation of technology. This also means that there has never been more competition. No matter how good of a writer you are or how many people you know, there is always going to be someone with a slightly better edge. Freelancers need to have a thick skin to handle a lot of rejection…and yes, you will be rejected at some point.
Welcome to the world of freelance!
Freelancing is a wonderful career choice if you have the dedication to make it out to the other side (the money side that is). Getting to the point where you’re making substantial income is the hardest part about it. The only tip I can give you is to hold on to your day job while you gain traction and remember that you write because you love to write, not to make money. When you write quality work the money will find its way to you eventually, just stick with it.