Image: Angela Shupe
Well the time had come, to step out of hobby land and into the strange, unknown world of freelance writing. It was exciting and frightening all at once. At first I thought I was having a heart attack, but I was having chronic anxiety attacks instead. And I was waking up at night with ideas for articles running through what was left of my brain. I was on a high and I couldn’t wind down.
I knew my career as a freelance writer was not going to last if I couldn’t get some sleep and calm down. So what did I do? I pretended that I was not a professional relying on my own efforts to build an income. I pretended that writing was still my hobby and that it didn’t really matter if I wrote or not.
Strangely enough this psycho-tactic did the trick. It took the pressure off. I felt a huge load lift from my shoulders. Nothing had changed but the way my mind was coping had changed entirely. And I settled down into a routine that was less stressful and produced regular work.
12 Survival Tips for the newbie Freelancer
- Attend to your appearance. Dress as if you are going to work in an office. I made the mistake of some days working in my dressing gown and not getting showered until about 4pm in the afternoon. I felt like a slob and a client on Skype caught me out one day. Never again. Always look as good as you can because it will make such a difference to how you feel.
- Decide on a writing routine and stick to it. Try to set a minimum amount of hours that you will write daily. And if you write for more, then all the better. Housework, shopping and cooking are great robbers of your writing time. If you were working for an employer I am sure you would not be popping out to do the shopping now would you?
- Keep your desk clear. When I first started, I had papers, books, notes for several jobs all cluttering up my desk space. I couldn’t find what I wanted. It was utter chaos. Now I try to work on one project at a time and clean up every evening to that I have a clutter free space to start in the morning.
- Write a to- do list in the evening for the next day. List 3 things that you would like to achieve the following day. This gives you something productive to aim for when you begin.
- Buy a filing cabinet, store all those files that you will need to store in an organized way.
- Keep a record of all expenses related to your business for tax purposes.
- Educate your family and friends to leave you alone when you are working. Sometimes family members may sabotage your efforts to start your business, it is up to you to be strong and disciplined in relation to your work.
- Turn your answer machine on. It is easy to get distracted by incessant phone calls if the call is from an important client you can always get back to them when you have finished your sentence.
- Pitch yourself as an expert, this takes confidence and courage and this means turning down work that is not a good fit for you.
- Marketing yourself is an important part of the freelancer’s life. Build up your marketing arsenal gradually and regularly. List yourself on all free online directory listings. Build a wordpress website or use one of the other writers’ websites out there to advertise your services. There are many ways to market your business so decide on a marketing strategy and allocate at least 2 hrs a week for this.
- Read and educate yourself. Keep up with browsing expert writing sites and read consistently in areas that interest you.
- Jump on the social media wagon and connect with others who can help your career. Always be ready to help others.