It takes time to build up a freelance writing business from scratch, particularly if you are trying to create an income stream that covers your outgoings and enabled you to freelance full time. For that reason, it’s common for budding freelancers to start their careers in their spare time and keep a regular salaried 9-5 job for “guaranteed” income.
Moonlighting after hours as a freelance writer is a great way to get started in the business without giving up your job security (it’s what I did!). However, it also means that you will have a lot less time to devote to your writing, marketing and other aspects of your business.
We’re all living increasingly busy lives and with the pressure of work, family and trying to squeeze in a bit of downtime, it’s no wonder that weeks can go by without getting any work done at all.
If this sounds like you, pull up your chair, grab yourself a coffee and read on — I’m here to show you how to stop making excuses and get down to work.
Whatever you may think to the contrary, it is possible to devote sufficient time to your 9-5 job, your spouse, your children and your freelance writing business without sacrificing your sleep or your sanity. All you need is one hour a day.
Finding Your One Hour
Sixty minutes is such a short space of time that anyone can squeeze an extra hour out of their day. You may protest over and over again that you’d love to start your freelance business but you simply don’t have the time. If this is the case, all you’re really doing is making excuses and finding reasons not to work that don’t exist. Success has to come from within.
I’m not disputing the fact that you’re a busy person – many people live very busy lives and some have far less free time than others. You may be working three jobs. You may be a single mother of three toddlers. You may be studying full-time as well as working a part-time job.
The fact is, if you really want to succeed as a freelance writer, you will need to make time to work on your business. This may be harder for some than it is for others, but it’s never impossible.
You don’t need to work for hours every day to be a successful freelance writer. An hour a day may not sound like a lot but it adds up. A lot can be accomplished in seven hours a week.
Start by looking for wasted time in your day that could be devoted to writing instead. Television is the biggest culprit here for most people, so if you spend any time at all watching TV during the day, you can consider your claim that you have no free time to be invalid.
It’s also common for time to be squandered surfing blogs, browsing Pinterest and checking in on Facebook. Don’t think you waste much time at your computer? Install RescueTime and prepare to be amazed and appalled in equal proportions. This software runs in the background of your computer, logging everything you do and sends you a report at the end of the week. Wonder where your time goes? You’ll see it in black and white, broken down by category and website.
If you really don’t watch TV or spend much time at your computer it may be a little harder to find your one hour, but it is always possible. Look for ways you can steal small amounts of time out of your day – ask your spouse to watch the children for an hour a day or cook dinner while you work, use your lunch break at work for writing while you eat, or get your kids to help with the chores to cut down on your cleaning time.
You don’t necessarily need to work in one chunk of time if finding a spare hour is particularly difficult for you. Two half-hour sessions could also work, or even three 20-minute sessions.
If juggling your time in this way seems impossible, there is an even easier solution: simply get up one hour earlier or go to bed one hour later. Cutting down on sleep is not normally a recommended strategy but when you’re trying to get your business started, it’s a small sacrifice to make.
Making the Most of Your One Hour
Now you’ve managed to carve an extra hour out of your day on which to work on your business, it’s vital not to waste it. Spending your hour every day on social media is not the best use of your time, no matter how important you think marketing is.
When you’ve only got a short space of time in which to work every day, planning is of the utmost importance. Planning your activities will help to stop you from wandering off track and will ensure that you’re never sitting around wondering what to do.
How you divide up your time comes down to individual preference, but you’ll probably want to make sure you spend part of your time writing for clients and part of your time doing marketing activities such as writing on your own blog, guest posting, applying for jobs and so on.
When you first start your freelance writing career you’ll probably find that you’re spending at least half of your time on marketing activities rather than doing actual writing. As you become more well-known as a freelance writer and start getting regular work, you’ll be able to cut down on your marketing time as you’ll find that clients actually start coming directly to you and you won’t need to spend as much time looking for work.
You may want to devote each day of the week to a particular activity or client, or you may want to split up each hour to do different tasks each day. Experiment with different working methods and see what works best for you but always remember that the key is to plan in advance. Keep a calendar of planned activities for your freelancing activities for at least one week in advance and create a checklist of tasks you must complete each day.
Remember not to over schedule yourself when your time is short. Nobody likes turning down work, but taking on too much and overrunning deadlines looks unprofessional and may damage your long-term reputation. Be aware of how much you can get done each week and try to leave slack time to allow for setbacks and delays.
Growing Your Hours and Your Business
As you build up your client base and become faster at writing and more efficient with your working processes, you’ll find that you’re actually achieving quite a lot in your one hour a day. If you spend two hours a week on marketing activities and five hours a week writing at an equivalent rate of $100 an hour, you’ll be making $500 a week. Once you achieve figures similar to this, it may be time to start thinking about ditching that day job, or at least reducing your hours so you can spend more time on your freelancing business.
$100 an hour may seem an unachievable target when you’re just starting out but in fact this is a very reasonable hourly rate for a freelance writer. The trick to achieving rates like this is learning how to work quickly and continuously increasing your rates as you gain experience and clients.
One hour a day, $500 a week. Sound good? There’s nothing stopping you from starting today and achieving this goal within only a few months if you work hard and are determined to succeed. Believe in yourself and your dream of becoming a freelance writer is well within your grasp.