It’s been about a year since I became a freelance writer, and the road hasn’t always been smooth. Luckily, I’ve been able to turn those bumps into useful lessons that can help you too, regardless of your occupation.
Starting can be the hardest part.
I’ll be the first to admit, even with this article, the most challenging aspect of starting a new project is, well, the start. There ware few things more imposing than the open expanse of a totally blank page. Outlines and brainstorming can help, but they can also be just another kind of procrastinating too.
The key is to find a way to push through that first resistance and get something down – anything will do, as you can always revise it later, but just get some momentum going.
It’s okay to not know everything.
I’ve come across some topics that were completely unfamiliar to me in my time as a freelance writer — everything from something as prosaic as cordless vacuum cleaners to the more esoteric, like out-of-body experiences.
Luckily, though, the modern world has put the world’s knowledge at our fingertips, and with a little searching you not only will gain the content you need for a given project, but the research skills for your resume.
Sell yourself, because no one else will.
I was told a long time ago to “sell myself” during job interviews. I didn’t really understand what that meant, though, until I was faced with finding clients and jobs on a daily basis.
You know how you’ll be of benefit to your client or employer, so tell them! Or better yet, show them. Be your own storyteller with samples of your writing or examples of your accomplishments.
Be open-minded about your income.
I’m able to make a fair amount of money freelance writing, but like any sort of self-employment, that income isn’t always consistent.
Thus, being unable to rely on the standard nine-to-five model, I’ve had to be a little more unorthodox. Over time, I’ve had part-time jobs at the Census Bureau, an evangelical radio station, a medical college, an elderly sculptor, a labor union, and many other jobs.
Not only did I benefit from the money, of course, but those adventures gave me all sorts of ideas and material for my writing.
Learn to use deadlines.
Whether you’re freelancing or employed or just need to do the dishes, it’s natural to procrastinate. Unless you’re one of those rare individuals who have learned how to consistently finish their work early, it’s easy to beat yourself up when you’re yet again down to the wire.
When that moment hits, though, try to switch up your perspective and use the pressure instead of despairing. Often our best work comes from that pressure, but not if you’re focused on angst instead of the project itself.