At the point of writing this post, I’ve been in the freelance writing game for about 6 months. And so far, it’s been a pretty. darn. sweet. 6 months.
Writing for a living is something that has always been an appealing notion to me. Writing to persuade someone to do, think, or buy something – even more so.
I’ll be completely honest with you though, before starting out, I had no idea that there was even a job title for someone who produced that kind of written content.
But um… yeah… first things first…
Is it something to do with copying someone’s writing?
Is it something to do with copyrighting someone’s writing?
Or… is it something to do with copyrighting copy without copying the written copy that someone had copyrighted because it was their written copy?
None of the above (and thankfully not the latter).
And luckily there are plenty of amazing resources that meant it didn’t take long before I worked out that copywriting is about using language in a persuasive way, with the practical purpose of making the reader think or act differently than they did before.
Glad to see that one cleared up – and equally glad to discover that kind of written content has a name.
Of course, the ins and outs of copywriting go much deeper than that, but rather than discuss those here, I want to take this post in a more contemplative direction.
I’ve decided that this post will act a bit like my 6-month employee work performance appraisal, except I’m both the employer and the employee (…is this one of the many perks of freelancing I’ve heard so much about?!).
So, if you’re new to the freelance writing world – welcome! – and I hope that this list can provide you with some insight or encouragement to keep on writing.
If you’re well-seasoned in the industry, hopefully, at the very least, you’ll find what I have to say relatable.
1 | Perfectionism is out.
Alright, let’s kick this off with a big one.
Perfectionism is a time vampire. (‘Time vampire’ being the incredible Laura Parker’s phrase, not mine.)
It’s an unrealistic standard that can quickly burn through your valuable energy. It’s an unachievable expectation that can rapidly descend into getting nothing done, and is the sure-fire way to take time away from the other important tasks in your life.
Don’t get me wrong, there are times when we’re all guilty of giving in to it.
In most cases I find that perfectionism comes from a place of wanting to produce the best work I possibly can, yet feeling like what I’m producing is anything but that.
I would always argue that doing your best, and producing quality content, is something never to be discouraged.
Boycotting perfectionist tendencies doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice aiming high.
When it comes to getting something written, I’ve been there myself. I’ve sat there willing the perfect string of words to come out that are amazing first-time round.
Often the disappointing reality is that those perfect words never appear (first time, at least).
I like to see it like this:
Yeah, when playing golf a hole in one can happen. And I’m sure it’s a great feeling when it does. But it’s not an expectation of any professional golfer, or a question on their ability if they don’t.
So why as writers do we get so frustrated with ourselves for taking more than one swing to get those quality words on the page?
I’ve come to learn that it’s better to write lit-e-rally anything than to just sit there imagining that perfect end product.
I often find myself quoting the advice of writer Clare Lynch. Her words
| “Don’t get it right, get it written”.
are a handy little mantra in those moments when I’m struggling to get the words on the page.
Just remember that it’s always important to push yourself and to try your best – as long as it’s both realistic and achievable. Which, by the way, perfectionism is not.
2 | Networking is in.
Networking can seem like one of those things that’s really difficult to start – but it’s one of the most worthwhile things you can do for yourself as a freelancer.
It’s absolutely what you make of it though.
Networking doesn’t just have to be about putting yourself out there in a way that’ll find you your next writing gig or your new clients – even though that’s obviously important in terms of making a living.
Your work life is tougher when try you go it alone.
Seek out and surround yourself with other freelancers in the same boat as you. Chances are, they’re experiencing the same frustrations, the same funny moments, and the same need for some motivation every once in a while too.
Having that channel of relatability and support does the mental health wonders.
But maybe you’re not too sure how to go about finding these other freelancers?
Twitter chats are in invaluable networking tool. They’re a great place to find other freelancers asking the same questions that you are – with the added bonus of having other freelancers answering them too.
And if you’re looking for ideas, one Twitter chat that I could not recommend highly enough is #ContentClubUK.
If you’re concerned that because it’s Twitter that the chat could be negative or stilted – don’t be!
It’s a melting pot of advice, help, humour, motivation, and biscuits. Can’t forget about the biscuits.
To get involved, follow along with the hashtag #ContentClubUK, where a different freelancer each week asks the community 3 questions related to different aspects of freelance life, for 30 minutes. Phew.
The genuine willingness to share and support amongst the #ContentClubUK guys is a massive part of what keeps me pushing myself to be a better freelance writer.
Right when I feel I need a boost most, #ContentClubUK swoops in to save the day, and it’s a community that I’m extremely grateful to have found and now be regularly a part of.
While this goes for all Twitter chats: they really are best put to use when you get involved. So… if you’re reading this, get yourself involved!
#ContentClubUK is held every Tuesday at 11am GMT.
3 | When your motivation wanes… Try this!
I’ll admit, it was early on in my freelance journey when I began to really feel the wrath of waning motivation.
The apprehension when you realise that there’s so much to learn, and that there’s so much work to be done to get to where you want to be.
That creeping inner voice that makes you doubt how good you are.
And that irrational feeling when something is proving to be a struggle that has you considering whether or not to burn everything to do with freelance writing to the ground.
We’ve all been there at one point or another.
We’ve all had those days when you just can’t seem to focus on work or anything productive as a result of feelings like these.
But I’m happy to report that there’s a pretty simple remedy that works an absolute treat.
Make a list of all of your freelance goals.
Yep. Not exactly a revolutionary idea, but believe me that when it’s done right it can be an effective one.
Set aside 30 minutes, grab a hot drink, and start to list as many long-term and short-term goals as you can think of.
Think about why you started freelancing in the first place, and remind yourself of the reasons that have made the freelance lifestyle so appealing to you.
The only rule when writing these goals is that they have to actually matter to you.
Your goals could be anything from:
- aiming to be a successful freelance writer.
- eventually writing a book.
- making a good income.
- being your own boss.
- finding new clients, and building professional relationships.
- successfully growing your own business.
- having more flexibility over the hours you work.
- being able to make the time to learn, improve and develop your skills.
- having more control over your work-life balance.
- making more time to spend with the people you care about.
- doing a job that you enjoy, and work that matters to you.
- being more selective over the type of work you do.
- establishing yourself as an authority within your niche.
- gaining more traffic for your website.
- building a following or community for your blog.
- having the capacity to be more creative.
- allowing yourself more time for your hobbies.
- setting your own standards for success.
- being able to go to work in your slippers.
- not having to see your pet’s sad face when you leave the house to go to work in the morning.
- your undying love of regularly having to explain to people that freelancing is a real job (joking, maybe?)
- simply, just proving to yourself that you can do it.
Hopefully that’s a few ideas to start you off.
Your own list should be as long, or as serious, or as personal as you need it to be.
Once you have your list, the trick is to make sure you keep it somewhere handy.
Be that in a notebook you use often, in the notes app on your phone, or stuck onto the lid of the biscuit barrel – doesn’t matter, as long as you’re able to see those goals regularly.
Whenever your motivation takes a hit, it’s always good to refer back to the reasons why.
Yes, freelancing can be tough, and yes, at times freelancing can be frustrating.
But for all the reasons above (and many, many more), freelancing can also be the right path to success, to satisfaction, and to happiness for you. At the end of the day that’s what matters most.
Let me just finish on a massive thank you for reading my second #Write52 post. It has been awesome to have you here.
If you’re still not sure what #Write52 is, read this and this. Should help clear things up. Ed has also been engineering a fantastic weekly newsletter, which you can sign up to here. Be sure to do that, and you won’t miss a trick.