I wasn’t planning on being a part-time freelancer. Six years ago I made the move to full-time freelancing after my third career layoff. I knew financial potholes existed. I also swore I’d avoid the worst ones. I wasn’t planning to blow through emergency funds and my family’s patience or stiff-arm friends asking for updates.
Fast-forward five years. I was stuck in a major client drought and bottomed out financially. I realized I had to find a part-time job FAST and settle for being a part-time freelancer. Like it or not. And I didn’t.
It felt like failure — you thought you could do this and couldn’t, dumb bunny. But monthly expenses had become monthly drama, plus some ugly debt was staring at me.
Ever find yourself wondering if you can make a living as a writer and do work you love? I did.
I wasn’t thrilled about the idea of becoming a part-time freelancer just so I could collect a paycheck from a J-O-B. When I made the switch, it had a big impact on my money situation. But there were also some positive and unexpected benefits to being a part-time freelancer.
Stepped into my Wayback Machine and found this post from 2010 on productivity habits. And you know what? It’s still current. These habits have helped me and many other freelancers move up and earn more. Enjoy!–Carol
Time. We’ve only got so much of it each day. For freelance writers who are also parents, we’ve certainly never got enough of it. Or if you’re working a day job and freelancing on the side, you know you’ve got to use your time wisely.
Whether you have a wide-open schedule or just a few hours a day for freelancing, your productivity habits can have a huge impact on your writing career.
What’s the best way to spend your precious work hours? I’m often asked this question by writers during coaching calls. I had one say, “I wish I could follow you around all day and see how you do it!”
While I don’t think that would be pleasant for either of us (and might reveal an embarrassing amount of screwing off and/or snacking on my part!)…I realized that after a decade of freelancing, I have developed some strong opinions on productivity habits for freelance writers.
Here are what I consider to be the seven most important productivity habits a freelancer should spend their time on, in order of importance:
Want to know what a crazy writer schedule looks like? I’ve got three little kids. I have a day job as a health and wellness writer. I’ve got a solid line-up of freelance clients in the same niche and a bunch of looming blog post deadlines. Sometimes, it’s tough to get stuff done.
It’s always busy. There are a million things demanding my attention. And that doesn’t even include TV, movies, hours on social media, video games, hanging out with the guys, or sleeping in. Do people really do that anymore?
The hot 40-something woman I’ve been married to for 18 years is in grad school (future teacher). She volunteers where our kids go to school. She works part-time at a gym. And the kids have dance, Cub Scouts, homework, and probably some other activities going on that she-who-will-not-be-named will be texting me about shortly.
Then there’s my passion (some call it a sickness) for running. And I’m not talking about a 30-minute jog around the block. I ran a 100-mile race at the end of September. When the heck is there time to train for that?
Crazy. Every. Damn. Day.
How do I get it all done, and keep my freelance writing career moving forward? I don’t use any complicated planning tools to get stuff done (maybe I should), but I do follow a few basic rules to stay productive.
Fresh out of college, with no real world experience and no real job prospects, I dove into Textbroker in 2013, lured by the appeal of easy money.
Over the next three years, I slaved for 1.4 cents per word. Even though I was done with school, I was still living the life of a starving college student. Did you know it takes 7,143 words at that rate to make $100?
That’s hard to swallow now that I know it’s possible to make a lot more money from freelancing. If you’ve been writing for traditional-low-pay-race-to-the-bottom content mills, it’s time to rethink your approach to building a freelance business.
I couldn’t maintain such a grueling writing pace for bare bones rations. I wanted satisfying work. I wanted better clients. And I wanted to get paid well. I finally woke up and realized that low-pay work for content mills will never yield pro rates.
I put five key strategies in place to transform my freelancing business. The result: Bye-bye, content mills. Hello, better pay and better clients — including a major TV network within two months. Here’s how I did it:
Have you been trying in vain to get more writing or freelance marketing done?
If you want to earn more as a freelancer, improving your writing productivity can be huge. I’ve recently coached two different writers who told me they doubled their income, just by getting more efficient with their work day.
Productivity gains can be truly transformative for your career.
But what if you’ve tried the apps, used the checklists, gotten up earlier…and still nothing? You spend much of the day in a fog, trying to get focused and take action.
I have a confession to make: Often, that used to be me.
Over the years, I’ve come up with some contrarian approaches to productivity out of necessity, as a staff writer who *had* to file 3-4 stories a week or lose my job.
If you feel like you’re spinning your wheels, and it takes all day to get one tiny thing accomplished, I have five ideas for you to try out:
Having trouble getting to the writing? Here’s a perspective on writing procrastination that may help you get organized.