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How To Conduct Your Freelance Writing Business Like A Police Officer

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.

21 Comments on "How To Conduct Your Freelance Writing Business Like A Police Officer"

  1. Kingsley Agu says:

    Fantastic June!!
    You seriously nailed the “cop” and “freelance” correlation perfectly!
    Just like you said, I need to focus more on making sure I don’t waste too much time doing unnecessary things which I ought not to do at a point in time.
    Thanks for this smart and powerful article! You’ve really inspired me today. Thanks once again.

    @Dele,
    Long time no see. We should play CHESS when you’re less busy. Miss that game.

    • June Whittle says:

      Thanks Kingsley. I need this article for myself as well. We can never get too much inspiration. I left work last Thursday and am now a freelance copywriter. It’s scary but in a nice way. I’m so excited!

      Now is the time to really put all my advice into practice. Otherwise I’ll be regretting my decision. But as they say, “Forward ever, backwards never!”

      I appreciate your response. 🙂

  2. Usman says:

    Discipline really is an important thing. Also you do need to have set goals and proper timetable, this will save a lot of time.

    • June Whittle says:

      DISCIPLINE deserves to be written in big bold letters. Without discipline we would be lost as writers. It’s so easy to procrastinate and get caught up in things that’s not relevant to achieving goals.

      I find that following timetables helps a great deal. It keeps you focused. But only if you actually use it!

  3. Dear June,
    Tracking time is a police report, and taking a break is a taste of freedom. Each vital to freelance success.
    Best wishes to you!
    Thanks for the thoughtful post.
    Heather Villa

    • June Whittle says:

      I love that Heather. Freelance success is what we all strive to achieve.

      This is my first week as a freelancer. It’s the first time in my life that I’ve not had to rely on getting a pay cheque at the end of the week or month. So if I want to pay my bills and eat, I have to pull my fingers out and get on with it.

      Thanks for your comments. 🙂

      • If anyone can do it, you can! You have the skill and passion. Just remember to be a nice boss to yourself. It’s okay to take breaks. It’s even okay to “leave work” a little early every so often.

        • June Whittle says:

          Thanks for the support and advice Heather. It’s appreciated.

          When it comes to taking breaks, that’s something I need to force myself to do. It seems that I’m permanently glued to the computer screen. 🙂 It’s a great feeling of freedom though being my own boss.

  4. Hey June,

    I really like the idea of having to make sound decisions and at times those decisions do have to be split second decisions. Being able to have good judgement, know what your getting into, and make sure no one gets hurt.

    Thanks again for sharing,

    Eric

    • June Whittle says:

      Yes Eric! Making the right decision is vital. The wrong ones could be very costly. Sometimes though we may wonder if we’ve made a mistake. But like you said, having good judgement is an important part of decision making.

      Thanks for your thoughts.

  5. This is good list to follow those all steps which will be give you success and when you will have ideas like that then that day is not far away from you when you will catch success in your life.

    • June Whittle says:

      It’s good to have lists and to read from list. But real success comes from actually doing what is advised in those lists. That’s where discipline comes in by making sure that we don’t just read, but take action.

      Thanks for commenting.

  6. John Gibb says:

    hey June,

    you have a strange and intriguing way of getting content ideas for your posts, congrats!

    You see, I’ve always been impressed with those who could access ideas with breeze. It never came easy to me and I have marveled many times when others seem to get post ideas so easily. Then, I figured out their secret… connecting two unrelated things into something new and reliable.

    Like you did with the police officer. Your comparisons and allusions are quite smart, love them all!

    I guess it’s valid what psychologists say that our brain is like a muscle and we have to train it on a daily basis to enhance our memory and mind… hey, want to write like a pro and fight writers’ block? Exercise your brain and connect orthogonal ideas in new ways, it works!

    Also, I like the questions you asked yourself before deciding to quit your day job, very insightful. Sadly, most writers don’t ask these questions themselves, and just (naturally) quit, then they come back to 9-5 for one reason or another, a year or two later.

    *** Cannot wait to see what your copywriting course is all about. I wonder how will you make it unique as there are plenty other similar offers on the market available, freely or at a premium price. I won’t doubt your skills or knowledge, just would love to hear some ideas you’ve at the moment… maybe it’ll spark some form of collaboration with other readers.

    Hope it helps!

    • John,

      I truly appreciated June’s post and your comment.

      About effortlessly writing…I’ll let you in on a little secret. When I write a blog post or an article, I think and think about whatever it is prior to writing down my thoughts.
      However, what you said about relating two different things will help me so much with the writing process.

      Thank you!

      Best,
      Heather Villa

    • June Whittle says:

      Very interesting comment from you John. I appreciate the time you put into it.

      Sometimes ideas flow easily for me, other times I do have to think hard. But I do enjoy coming up with unusual ideas for posts. It’s brings out my creativity.

      Practice makes perfect. The more you do something the better you get. Exercising our brains do wonders for improving memory and producing excellent stuff.

      The decision to quit my job wasn’t an easy one. I had to make sure that I was taking the right steps. And it’s always good to have a back up. Mine is teaching. But I’m going to try my hardest to make sure the freelance copywriting works out for me.

      I think you misunderstood the copywriting course information that I gave. I’m completing one not setting one up. But who knows, maybe one day I’ll be in a position to offer one online.

      If you would like some information about the copywriting course I’m doing, fell free to contact me on my blog. I’ll give you some details about it. I don’t think it’s right to advertise that on Oni’s blog. 🙂

  7. Destiny says:

    Excellent and inspiring article June. This is the first time I’ve read your content. I really like the idea of tracking your time spent each day. I’ve been just very recently doing that as I am working my online ventures and I see how I can really throw away important time on non productive things. I gotta change that for sure. 🙂

    • Emitomo Tobi Nimisire says:

      Wooow!!!
      I love this…..! I don’t think this is of help to the freelance writers alone, because I am not and I have learnt so much from it, especially the DISCIPLINE aspect!

      • June Whittle says:

        Thanks Emitomo! I’m so glad that you found this article helpful. It’s good to know that it applies to others who are not freelance writers.

    • June Whittle says:

      I think we’re all guilty of wasting time on non productive things. It’s easy to get distracted when we work from home, especially online. It’s tempting to click on the email or Google link. The next thing, we’ve lost an hour or more of our precious time.

      Thanks for reading. 🙂

  8. I know I need to employ more discipline into my daily routine – starting with a weekly schedule. Also found it interesting how much emphasis you put on taking time out to go for a walk and clearing your head – wise words (but something freelancers often neglect to do with work piling up!)

    Thanks for sharing June!

    • June Whittle says:

      You’re welcome Kirsty. Clearing our heads really work. It gets rid of all the clutter in the mind, and stimulates creativity. I’ve been busy setting up my copywriting business and my head felt like it was swimming this morning.

      I set myself a timetable, which I’m trying my hardest to stick to. I made sure to include lunch breaks in it. Anyway this afternoon, during my lurch break, I sat in the garden for 15 minutes. It was lovely. I felt much more focused and motivated afterwards. 🙂

Onibalusi

Welcome! I'm Bamidele Onibalusi, a young writer and blogger. I believe writers are unique and highly talented individuals that should be given the respect they deserve. This blog offers practical advice to help you become truly in charge of your writing career.

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