I love when this blog introduces me to new people. KeriLynn Engel is one of those people. When Keri signed up for my newsletter, we struck up a conversation. What I learned was this is a woman who is bright, eager to learn, and able to discern what's right for her business and what's not.
That's one hell of a beginning, too. She's new to freelancing -- just this year -- but her insightful advice shows a depth of understanding of what's needed to succeed. I'm so happy to share her advice with you because it's advice from the trenches -- that sort of live-and-learn advice we forget to include when we're way too far into the career.
5 Top Tips for Freelance Writers
I've been freelancing on the side for years, so when I went full-time in January 2014 I felt like I knew exactly what I was doing, and had total confidence I could make it, and quickly.
Well, relying on freelance work for 100% of your income is a little different. It took a bit longer that I thought, and I definitely had a LOT more to learn that I thought.
But, thanks mostly to the wisdom and advice I've learned from following Lori’s and other writer blogs, I learned quickly! Now, following Cathy Miller’s tip #9, I’d like to give back and pay it forward. Here are some of the most important lessons I've learned:
1. Set & review goals often. Set yearly, biannual, monthly, weekly, and daily goals. Take stock of where you are now and where you’d like to be, then start tracking your time and activities to find out what you’re doing now and what you need to do differently in order to reach your goals. I don’t reach every goal I set, but I know my career is developing in the direction I want it to thanks to this practice.
2. Experiment to find what works for you. You probably read the same fifty-bajillion posts about the "rules of freelancing" that I have: never work in your pajamas, don't run errands during the day, always get a deposit, never work for free. But really each list of rules is just the list for that one individual author… You’ll have to create your own list. One of the best things about freelancing is you have the freedom to discover what work habits are the most productive for you — and they're sure to be different from everyone else's. Try breaking the rules and see if it helps or hinders you.
3. Find fitting role models… At first in my freelance career, I tried to read every freelance writing blog and follow everyone's advice. After reading a bunch of contradictory advice, and discovering I can’t actually do everything at once, I realized I needed to choose just a couple of role models to follow… and that some of the blogs I had been following, while they were great blogs, made no sense for me personally. (Like following a freelance magazine writer when I have zero interest in magazines- still don't know what I was thinking!)
4. …But don't negatively compare yourself to them. Role models are great to follow for ideas, tactics and techniques, and inspiration. But don't beat yourself up for not being as successful as them overnight! Many well-known freelance writers in the blogosphere have been at it for many years, some even decades. You won’t be at their level in just a few months.
5. You can't do it all. There are so many blog posts out there about things you "must" do to be successful. But nobody can do it all. Try out the advice you find, but not all at once! For example, instead of trying every marketing technique at once, just pick one or two to focus on this month. If they don’t work for you, try something different.
My favorite thing about freelancing is that you have the freedom to craft your own career to fit you, no matter how weird you are! But it does take time to discover what works for you. Don’t expect to know it all right away — enjoy the process as you learn about yourself.