Freelance writing sounds like the ideal job doesn’t it? You don’t have a stuffy boss telling you what to do. No more getting stuck in traffic or crushed on the train like sardines as you commute to and from work. You can wake up when you want. Write when you like.
You’re as free as a bird. That’s the life. Or is it?
Before you give up your day job, be sure that a freelance writing career is right for you. It’s not for everyone. To succeed in this game you must have the right mind-set, attitude and other skills not related to writing.
At Writers in Charge we want to help you succeed as a freelance writer. But we don’t want you to start a career that will make you pull your hair out in frustration.
If you fit into all or most of the categories listed below you should think twice about becoming a freelance writer. But if you’re determined to choose this path, you’ll have to work extra hard at changing your characteristics. I’ve added some steps to take to help you get over the obstacles.
#1. You’re not self-motivated
Freelance writing is a business. It’s your business. And you have to treat it like a business. If you can’t motivate yourself to plan your day productively, market your business and look for writing gigs you’ll struggle.
You might be one of those people who need encouragement from others. If you don’t have anyone telling you what to do it’s difficult to motivate yourself. The truth is, if you don’t push yourself you won’t be able to cope as a freelancer. You will reap only what you sow into your freelance writing business.
How to motivate yourself:
- Plan your tomorrow tonight. Before you go to bed write a list of what you want to achieve. Use positive words in the present tense. For example, ‘I will email 5 query letters today and treat myself for achieving that goal.’
- Write something fun and light-hearted every day for maybe five to ten minutes. Flex those creative writing muscles and get into a routine of writing regularly.
- Write down a list of positive affirmations. When you get up in the mornings look at yourself in the mirror and speak those words to yourself. Two examples are, “I am an excellent writer and today my writing will shine. Writing opportunities are all around me and I will find them today.”
#2. You don’t enjoy working alone
Freelance writing is a lonely job. Your only company is you and your computer. If you enjoy being surrounded by people, this is definitely the wrong career for you.
When I quit my teaching job to become a freelance copywriter it was exciting. But after a few weeks I missed my colleagues in the staffroom. I missed going to lunch with them, having a laugh, working with the students and just being in a lively and busy environment.
One morning as I sat in front of my computer at home, the reality hit me like a ton of bricks. This is it! I’m going solo from now on. I must admit, I felt sad. But I couldn’t stay stuck in that moment. It was my choice to give up my job. So, I have to get on with it and learn to enjoy working alone.
How to combat loneliness:
- You don’t have to work at home every day. Sometimes you could take your laptop to the local coffee shop and work from there. Or if it’s hot and sunny find a bench in the park. You’ll be surrounded by nature, lots of people walking around and maybe a lovely pond or lake nearby.
- Go the library. Although it’s quiet, you’ll be mixing with people and possibly other writers.
- Attend networking events and make new friends. You’ll have someone to contact when you need to brainstorm ideas. And support each other by giving constructive feedback on your writing.
#3. You’re shy and don’t know how to sell yourself
A major part of freelance writing is marketing. You have to sell yourself. How do you do that? By making cold calls, sending direct mail, query letters and promoting yourself like crazy on social networking sites. If you’re shy and don’t know how to put yourself out there you’ll have problems getting clients.
The competition between freelance writers is fierce. It’s not for the shy, easily offended types. You have to put on a thick skin, pick up your batons and fight your way through. Okay, maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but you need to have a fighting spirit to make it.
How to sell yourself:
- Make a habit of doing some type of marketing each day. Pitch one or two articles or ideas to magazine editors or blogs daily.
- Approach websites that are willing to pay for your content.
- Let the world know that you’re available for writing gigs on Facebook. Get out there and make yourself known.
#4. You haven’t got patience
Is patience a word that makes you want to run and scream? Are you one of those people who hate standing in queues for long periods? If you answered yes, freelance writing will surely test your patience.
As a freelance writer you’ll get days or weeks when you’re playing the waiting game. You might have to wait for replies to queries you sent, or for payment from clients for work submitted. You also need patience for those unproductive days when your creative juices dry up.
How to develop patience
- One of the best and easiest ways of learning patience is by reading. Have you noticed how impatient people don’t enjoy reading? It takes patience to read a book from cover to cover.
- This might sound weird but try getting lost in your car on purpose. Two things will happen. You’ll either end up with road rage or discover how to be patient as you figure out how to find your way home. If you don’t drive, take a bus or walk to an unknown area and do the the same.
- “Have patience with all things, but chiefly have patience with yourself. Do not lose courage in considering your own imperfections, but instantly set about remedying them – every day begin the task anew.” ~ Saint Francis de Sales
#5. You’re not good at managing your finances
When you work for an employer, you’re guaranteed to get paid at the end of each week or month. But it’s different with freelance writing. You’ll have periods of abundance and periods of lack. Not only that, but you have to pay tax and insurance from your earnings.
In the beginning you might have to change your lifestyle and live a frugal one. ‘Take care of the pennies and the pounds will take care of themselves.’ That means don’t waste money, learn how to manage it.
How to take care of your money:
- Save for a rainy day. Put money aside for when times are slow and clients are not coming as fast as you’d like. Know how to budget.
- Depending on the country you live in, the tax man will need paying. Open a separate bank account and put money in for your tax and insurance contributions.
- Take a short course in bookkeeping. Or learn how to use Sage online to help you keep your accounts in order.
In addition, freelance writing requires dedication, good time management, effective planning, confidence and more. But if you’re determined to give it a go and work on the points I mentioned, you should do well. The power to fail or succeed as a freelance writer is in your hands.
Freelance writing is not easy but it’s rewarding. What challenges did you overcome on your journey in this field? Please share in the comments box below.
June Whittle is a WritersinCharge.com team member, a freelance writer, ghostwriter, copywriter and blogger. She’s passionate about sharing knowledge and inspiring others. To find out more about her check out her main blog MiraculousLadies.com