Time flies really quick and it’s funny how much one can do in such a short period of time.
I was the last person to imagine that freelance writing will be such a great part of my life – I didn’t even have any plan for it to be a long-term business, but I’m growing to love it every day.
I’m now very proud to be a freelance writer and I see myself writing for years to come. One thing I have noticed however is that there are some fundamental lessons that will influence the career of any freelance writer no matter how long he/she has been writing.
The 9 lessons I have learned below helped make freelance writing extremely easy for me while at the same time ensuring I don’t sacrifice my desires just to make that extra cash.
Lesson #1: It’s Not about Working 8 Hours a Day and 7 Days a Week
One thing I have noticed is that a lot of people have great misconceptions about freelance writing. They see freelance writing as a kind of strenuous job that requires you to work 8 hours a day and 7 days a week to make a great income.
The reality is that the contrary is the case and if you are very smart you will be able to make a lot more by doing a lot less as a freelance writer. Sometimes I only write for 3 hours a day, and there are weeks I don’t even write a single article for a client, yet I’m still able to make thousands of dollars at the end of the month.
Freelance writing is not the kind of hell most people picture it to be. It is great fun if one can learn how to get the best from it.
Lesson #2: The Amount You Earn Isn’t Dependent on the Number of Clients You Have
I know this sounds funny but you’ll be amazed to see how true it is.
While having a few more clients might mean an increase in income and results for some freelance writers what it signifies for other writers is bondage. I’ve only been a freelance writer for 8 months now and it is starting to become evident that the amount you earn isn’t dependent on the amount of clients you have.
I have had people offer me $10 for an article, and I have written for clients in upwards of $100 per article. One thing I have noticed is that the best way to earn more money isn’t by getting just any client, but by getting the best clients!
The best way to get clients to come to you is by starting a blog; I go into more details on how to get clients to contact you through your blog in Stop Pitching Clients.
All those low paying gigs are an insult to your career and I’d advise you to flee from them like a plague.
By taking every single job that comes your way you are committing yourself to jobs and clients that will only end up wasting your time and that will also end up depriving you of future opportunities.
Lesson #3: The Amount You Earn Isn’t Dependent on How Many Days You Work
This is a more recent lesson and something I have been leveraging effectively quite lately.
If you read my income reports and you see those nice income from freelance writing you would think I’ve been working pretty hard and that I sometimes have to sacrifice my sleep to make it possible. The reality is that I haven’t for a single day sacrificed my sleep in my entire freelance writing career just to get work done. In fact, those income you see are the product of a few days work. I spend the majority of my time watching movies, reading books,
playing games and doing other things. I only spend an average of 8 days working for clients in a particular month – the remaining days are spent doing whatever I want.
This isn’t the same with every freelance writer and for some people working for more days signifies more income, but I have learned to make the best of every single day. I can decide to work for 6 hours at a stretch when I work, I can decide to work for 10 hours.
It’s all about getting the best from every single day – whenever you work, try to get two times your usual work done in less than half the time, without sacrificing quality. In other words, be a content producing machine.
You can read about my productivity secrets here.
Lesson #4: There is Nothing Called Writers Block
I know that is such a bold claim especially since I’m someone who used to believe there is writers block.
One of the revelations I’m starting to see as I grow as a freelance writer is that there is nothing called writers block. You can only give out what you take in and the only limit to your productivity is your intake. If you are a writer who does a lot of writing and gives reading less priority then you will no doubt run out, but if you’re a writer who reads more than you write then you will definitely never lack ideas.
You need to understand however that we sometimes need to take a break. Give yourself a day off or two and you will find yourself supercharged when you decide to start writing again.
Lesson #5: The More You Write the Better You Become
I get emails from people regularly and some people believe I’m a talented writer.
In case you’re yet to know I’m a young writer from a non-native English-speaking country and I’m no different from any of my friends from other parts of the world. I also wouldn’t pretend that my writing is anywhere near perfect, but one thing that is clear to me is that the more you write the better you become.
The highest number of articles I ever wrote in a day a few months ago was 7, and after that I broke down…I lacked ideas and even felt sick, but these days I write 10 articles in a day as if it is nothing and I’m pretty sure my articles keep on getting better, not worse. The reason for this is that introductions just come to me as if it is nothing, I get the ideas as if it is inside of me and the writing just seems to flow as if I’m destined to write. There really isn’t any secret! It is because I do it everyday.
The best way to learn a skill isn’t by learning it, it is by practicing it!
Lesson #6: Every Writer Needs Constant Motivation
There are days when I find it completely difficult to write, not because I lack the ideas or I have no experience in the field, but because I’m suffering emotional distress.
I have noticed that the most dangerous threat to the work of any creative person is emotional distress. There are worms and trolls everywhere around you and they have no other job to do than to eat you up.
It becomes really difficult to write when you’re suffering from outside criticism, and in situations like this it is best to strengthen yourself. You need to realize that some people just don’t want to see you succeed, so instead of thinking about their ‘irrationality’ start seeing them as the trolls they really are and start focusing on being the best you ever can be.
Above all, surround yourself with people and things that motivate you. It doesn’t matter how much it will cost you, it will end up paying itself on the long run.
Lesson #7: It is Disaster to Take Work that You Cannot Do
You might not be sued for it, but it will cost you dollars on the long run!
I also learned this lesson early on in my freelance writing career. It is best not take a job if you don’t have what it takes to do it, no matter how lucrative it may be. The reason for this is that instead of that job contributing to your income and portfolio it will end up costing you precious time and money, and might even put you in the bad light of a client.
Every single minute wasted on something you’re not qualified to do is a minute better spent on something you’re better at.
Lesson #8: Your Best Work Might be the One You do for Free
I’ve seen several writers become confused when you start telling them to have a blog, to market themselves and to even submit guest posts to other blogs. They believe there is no point in writing for free when you can easily get paid for your work.
The best thing you might do to build your business might be to write that free article. I wrote over 270 guest posts before getting my first client but I have made over $30,000 with them in the past 8 months (it might be small to some people, but that is several millions in my country!)
No free work is too much as long as it will expose you to a bigger audience. Write that free guest post, submit it to a big blog and let guest blogging do its magic!
Lesson #9: It’s All About Results
So you want to ensure you keep on getting jobs? You want to ensure you have a raise in income? Why not stop thinking about yourself for a minute and spend some time thinking about your clients?
Do you think they have a money tree in their backyards so it is extremely easy for them to pay you? You are writing for businesses and the better the business of your client becomes because of your writing the more gigs you will be getting on the long run.
It’s true you shouldn’t waste your time thinking about what doesn’t concern you, but if a client is giving you a job with an expectation you’re sure can’t be achieved, make it clear before starting the job. It’s better not to work for a particular client than to work and not be paid!