NOTE: Fear and overwhelm might be one of the biggest stumbling blocks to building your freelance career. But it doesn’t have to be. Read this to find out how to finally get the ball rolling. Enjoy! —Carol.
The Internet has made some things about building a freelance career as a writer a lot easier.
You can investigate what a magazine has recently written, for instance. Or find an editor on LinkedIn.
But in other ways, our Information Age has caused problems for writers.
I know because I keep hearing comments from new freelance writers like this:
“There’s so much to know and the world of freelance writing is rapidly changing. I feel so behind and don’t know how I’ll ever catch up. Can you help?”
Wondering if you can really jump in and build a freelance career as a writer, even though you don’t know everything right now?
I do have a tip on that.
Admit it’s a bottomless pit
Stop imagining that if you study study study — you read enough blog posts, buy enough books about writing, and take enough courses — there will be a point where you will feel you know “enough” about freelance writing.
And then, boom! You will dive in and be writing up a storm.
This will never happen.
You will not look up one day and realize you now know everything you need to know about blogging or writing magazine articles or whatever your chosen niche is, and now you’re ready to do this writing thing. Because new blog posts and e-books come out every day, with new tips for freelancers and solopreneurs.
So how can you kick your freelance writing into high gear?
The reality is, you have to start writing and marketing, and learn as you go. Yes, you will feel nervous that you don’t know it all. But that’s the only way you will move this forward.
Here’s a simple, five-step plan for cutting the overwhelm and getting your freelance writing biz into gear:
1. Find an expert to help you build your freelance career
There are a million people who blog about freelance writing on the Internet. There are books, and videos, and e-books. Figure out the mode in which you like to learn, and then find one or two experts who deliver advice in that mode, and whose advice really resonates for you.
Check out their credentials. How long have they been freelance writers? How successful are they?
If they’re the real deal and you love what they have to say, then commit to reading (or viewing) them closely.
Next, look at what else you’re consuming, and start trimming it down. Yes, even if that means you’re going to unsubscribe from my blog.
You want to go from the spurting firehose of way-too-much information of various quality levels down to a small trickle of high-quality stuff.
2. Look for action items
As you read your chosen gurus, look for actionable advice. Something simple and practical you could do right now, or that you could put into practice soon.
Maybe it’s just one tip, or maybe it’s a whole article writing class that’s a perfect fit to give you the chops you need to quickly move up to better-paying markets.
Now that you’ve found your action item, stop reading.
Yes, let those emails you subscribe to pile up for a few days or even months. (I’ve been known to end up with more than 1,000 email newsletters piled up to read when I’m ready.)
3. Stop worrying
The thing that keeps many writers frozen is that they’re worried the action item they’ve chosen isn’t the best one. You might feel like you’re flailing around and wasting time.
But this will never be the case. When you take action, you are learning — even if it’s learning that plug-in doesn’t work for you. That still moves you forward.
And if that action item spoke to you and made you want to stop reading and go “Oh man, I’ve got to try that!” it’s probably something you need. Trust your gut on that.
4. Take action
When you’ve found one writing prompt that speaks to you, a great social-media marketing tip, or that perfect class, stop reading.
Now, go and execute on that.
Put everything you’ve got into that class. Or go download that plug-in you want to try. Implement that one new design trick on your blog.
Now you’re ready to come back to your experts and read some more. You’ll be surprised how much more efficient this is if you do it in batches instead of reading a bit every day.
Taking breaks when you’re not in ‘learning’ mode will also help you come at the advice with fresh eyes. You’ll be able to spot that next great action item more easily.
Keep at this, and you have the perfect recipe for a thriving freelance writing business. You’re taking concrete action to grow your freelance business and improve your craft, and you’re continuing to learn how to do it better.