It’s a big transition from working for someone else to working for yourself. Not everyone is cut out for it; it takes discipline and Mad Organizational Skillz. A freelancer doesn’t have the luxury of waiting for the muse to hit. We all know she’s a tricky wench, and she’ll take a hike when you have most need of her. If you think freelancing is easy or doesn’t take a lot of time, think again.
Plan your day, but before you do that, determine which part of the day is most productive for you. Are you a morning person? Do you write better in the afternoon, or are you a night owl? It may take some time for you to figure out just what kind of a schedule works, but it’s imperative to recognize your work habits and utilize them to your best advantage.
Make a list. Try to do this the night before, and not the morning you start. Make a list of projects that have deadlines; these take priority. It’s a nail in your professional coffin to miss a vital deadline; so of course, these tasks go on the top of the list. Next come the other eggs in your basket, be it a content site like Constant Content, Helium, or another passive stream of income. Even if you post one article a week, that’s 52 articles per year. Those articles will earn for you long after you’ve posted them, so they are important.
Following projects with a deadline and your passive stream, another important part of freelancing is looking for new work. You can decide if this is a daily project or not, but keep in mind nothing is forever and gigs come and go. Keeping an eye on what’s out there is crucial to maintaining a steady flow of work. Sign up for the free newsletters like at The Core Creative Group or Chasing The Muse; I’ve never received spam from either of them, and they are a great resource for job searching.
Next comes networking. You never know from where your next fabulous contact will emerge; hopefully you have a blog or website to promote yourself (if not, what are you waiting for?) because that’s part of the freelance world. It’s difficult to get work if no one knows where or who you are. Choose your contacts carefully. Use Twitter, Blog Catalog, Facebook, MySpace, Entrecard – the list of social networks is endless. Put your website address in your email signature. Reach out to other freelancers, interact with people – it’s true a lot of writers are introverts, and working from home can be lonely with no other adult interaction. We’re writers and we need human contact, otherwise, who are you writing for? Get involved, and give back to the writing community. I promise it will come back to you.
In between all of this, you must write, write, write. Need inspiration? Check out this post on blogging and SEO from Cute Writing for how pro bloggers work it, and tweak it out so it suits you. Again, interact with other people; find out what they need, what they’re talking about. Read current events, check out new gadgets, new sites, or even old ones…there’s a whole world of inspiration out there, but you have to get out there to see it.
Keep flexibility in mind when you plan your day. It won’t always go smoothly. Events and emergencies will happen, and flexibility is one of the main perks of a freelancing career. Don’t forget to schedule down time for yourself, time to take care of business and household chores, spending time with loved ones and just getting out of the house. Have some damned fun once in awhile! Don’t schedule yourself so tight that you feel strangled – that goes against the fun of freelancing.
First things first; one step at a time. Make a list, and go from there. Before you know it, you’ll have everything under some kind of control, and you’ll get more done than you thought you could.
Now, if I could only get twelve more hours added to the clock….heh!