What’s freelance writing business got to do with being a police officer? Well, they’ve got a lot in common it seems. If you take a look at a police’s duty, you’ll see that they’re transferable. They can easily be adapted to your business to help you develop or maintain productivity.
When I was asked for my contributor post for April, I couldn’t think of anything to write. That was until an image of a police offer popped into my head. At first I couldn’t make the connection between that image and coming up with an idea for writing.
So I took some time to think about the roles a police officer plays. After a while, I was able to see how their roles and those of a writer connected. I then looked at how you could borrow from their expertise to boost your business.
This post probably relates more to me than to you. Do you know why? I’ll be leaving my teaching job at the end of this month to work as a full time freelance writer.
I’m doing a Copywriting course which I haven’t completed yet. However, it’s time to step out of my comfort zone. It’s a bold move I’m making. But, if you want something and you don’t go for it, it won’t come to you. I’ll be using these tips that I’m sharing with you. That’s because I need any information that will help me succeed in my new venture.
So let’s look at what a police officer can teach us about running a successful freelance writing business.
- Discipline – “Discipline is the bridge between goals and accomplishment. “ ~ Jim Rohn
If you were a police officer you would have to be disciplined in your conduct. That’s part of their job and it’s not a choice. If they refuse to or don’t abide by set guidelines, then they would be dismissed.
As a freelance writer, no one is going to dismiss you if you don’t discipline yourself. But if you want to pay your bills, you’ll make sure you do what has to be done to run a successful business.
Discipline comes in the form of pushing yourself, even when you don’t feel like it. When you set goals you’re more likely to accomplish your writing dreams. Goals should be achievable. One of the easiest ways to see if you’re reaching those goals is to set SMART targets. They can be short-term or long term goals.
I’ll explain what that means in case you haven’t heard of it before. Let’s use myself as an example. I need to create a website for my freelance business within a week. This will be a short-term goal and I’ll use the SMART target to help me achieve it.
Specific – My goal is to buy a domain name, set up hosting and create a website.
Measurable – I need to measure what I’m doing. Is my goal within reach? What steps do I need to take to achieve it? For example, Come up with a domain name and research where I’ll register it. Next, I need to think about which platform I’ll use to create my website and who to host it with.
Achievable – Will I be able to achieve it within a week? In order to do that I will have to implement the steps above.
Realistic – Can I make this a reality? Is it possible to achieve this goal within a week? I need to factor in other commitments such as running a house, completing writing assignments and looking after my family.
Time-bound – My website should be completed by the end of one week. What do I need to do daily to achieve that? Maybe spend two hours each day on it to make this goal a reality.
SMART targets should be monitored and revised regularly.
Your task: Discipline yourself and create a weekly timetable to work by. Include specific times to read emails, send out queries to perspective clients, update your Facebook page, respond to and send tweets. Plus go an extra mile and set a SMART target for a short-term goal that you’ve been putting off. One that’s essential to the growth of your freelance writing business.
- Arrest Troublemakers – A big part of a police officer’s job is to arrest troublemakers. If they’re left to their own devices they can make life difficult or dangerous for the public. There are some areas that teenagers don’t dare go to. They’re guarded by gangs. Teenagers from other boroughs aren’t allowed to go there. If they’re from another borough and pass through those notorious areas, they could either get shot or stabbed.
Sadly, a teenage boy from a school I once worked at was a victim of this crime. He was coming back from a recording studio and because he walked through an area that he didn’t live in, he was killed. Troublemakers have to be arrested so that people are safe in their communities.
So what is the troublemaker that you need to arrest? Anything that hinders your progress. That list could turn out to be a big one. Still, some of the main troublemakers of writers are procrastination; wasting time on the internet; getting lost on Facebook; chatting to friends on your mobile when you should be writing, and watching TV at the wrong times.
Your task: Track your time. Write a daily diary of all the activities you do during the day, plus how long it takes you to do them. At the end of each day go through the list. This will show you how you’re using your time. Stop doing the things that’s not adding to your productivity.
- Walk The Beat – Have you really stopped to observe a police officer walking his beat? He seems to stroll about leisurely. But there’s a purpose behind his walking. He’s checking out the area to make sure that all’s well. This is part of his regular duties.
Part of your role as a freelance writer is to walk. Walking is good for your mind, soul and body. It’s a brilliant way to clear your head. Sitting and staring at the computer screen for too long will make your head feel muffled. When I do that, after a while I get sharp pains across my neck. It’s also recommended to take regular breaks from the computer.
When ideas are not flowing and you need some inspiration, go for a walk. Walking revives your mind and stimulates creativity. If you live near a park or big open space, walk through it and be inspired by nature. Take your notepad with you. Write down ideas as they come to you so that you don’t forget them.
Your task: Make time for a break during the day, even if it’s 15 minutes. Use that time to go for a leisurely walk. It could just be around the block, but it will help to keep you focused.
- Let off the sirens – There’s no way you can ignore the sound of a police siren. It’s loud! Just the noise alone forces you to pay attention to it.
Your siren is to set alarms or reminders. You can easily do that on your mobile phone. Sometimes I find that my days are crammed with so many things to do. The best way for me to remember important tasks is to set reminders on my iPhone. It could be something as simple as a reminder to return a call to one of my daughters.
You could even set your alarm a few days in advance to remind yourself of an important meeting coming up with a client. Or maybe you need to research for an article that will require a lot of time. Planning in advance will give you the necessary time you need to prepare.
Your task: If you’ve got a deadline to meet, set a reminder on your phone three days in advance. Use that time to research and write your outline before writing the final copy.
- React calmly under pressure – Can you imagine a police officer panicking when he’s supposed to be arresting someone or breaking up a fight? He certainly wouldn’t last long in his job.
What do you do when the heat is on and you have some urgent projects to complete, a family to look after and deadlines to meet? You need to stay calm and put things in perspective.
A few weeks ago I was asked to proofread and edit a 15 chapter book for a client. I was also given a deadline. It was a big project which was needed urgently. I took on the project just after I moved house. So there I was, trying to unpack, go to work, attend regular weekly sessions at church and clean my new house.
I could have easily become overwhelmed under pressure. To stop that from happening I slowed down on the unpacking. But I made sure that we had the essential items available to use.
I used the times when I was at home to proofread and edit. It meant staying up till well past midnight some nights. I told my family and friends that I was busy so I couldn’t see them. I prioritized my workload and was able to finish that project on time.
Your task: Put a list together of all the tasks you need to complete. That way you can see in black white what needs to be done. Put them in the most relevant order and prioritize the important ones.
- Make sound decisions – It’s crucial for a police officer to make the right decision. Making a wrong decision could result in an innocent person being sent to prison.
Likewise, you making a wrong decision could cost you money. Be sensitive when making decisions. Don’t take on too many projects. On the other hand, don’t turn away too much work either. Balance your workload. Evaluate how much you can do within the time frame you have.
The decision I made to quit work was not an easy one. The first thing I did was to weigh up the pros and cons of giving up my job. I asked myself some serious questions. One of the major ones was would I be able to pay my bills as a writer? After assessing my skills I decided that it was the right decision to make. I’ve got a teaching qualification so if I needed to, I could easily do some tuition jobs to make extra money.
On the other hand, if I work hard and market myself properly, I know that I can make a decent income as a writer. Besides, when I complete the Copywriting course I’ll have more skills to add. So a lot of thinking and discussions with trusted people helped me make my decision.
Your task: When you’ve got to make a decision, write down the positives and negatives about that decision. Look at each side objectively and the consequences. If need be, have someone who you can talk to and feed ideas off. Let them help you with your decision making. Sometimes two heads are better than one.
Maybe your freelance writing business and a police officer’s job aren’t so different after all. It’s just a matter of making slight adjustments to make sure that you’re being just as productive as they are.
Can you add any tips to this list? I would love to hear them. Please share with us in the comments box below.
June Whittle is a blogger, freelance writer and working towards being a successful copywriter. She maintains and writes for her two blogs. If you would like to find out some more about her check out her main blog. Thanks for reading.