Making a living as a freelance writer can be a very difficult task. If you become successful enough to make a regular paycheck, you are likely busy most of the time. Freelance writing requires focus and speed. You have to produce quality writing on limited deadlines. The busy, constant go atmosphere of freelance writing is part of the excitement this career offers. However, it is very rare that a freelance writer will have projects to complete at all times. While ideally you would have a constant flow of income producing projects, this just isn’t realistic. Some clients may ask for more work from you during certain times of the year. As with any business, freelancing is going to have up days and it is going to have down days. The key to becoming a truly successful freelance writer is learning to use your downtime wisely. These three tips will help you to be productive in your freelance business even when you have no projects to work on for your clients.
1. Work on long projects: One of the most difficult aspects of managing a career as a freelance writer is setting your own schedule and remaining productive. Oftentimes, when things get slow and we have no short term projects to work on, we fail to work on our long term projects. In so many ways, freelance writing is like school. We get assignments and we put them off until the last minute. Just because we do not have any short term projects due in the immediate future, does not mean that we do not have long term projects we’ve committed to for the future. All too often, we put off these long term projects until right before they are due. Part of becoming a more successful freelance writer is learning to manage your time and your projects in an efficient and intelligent way. If you get through your short term projects and you are allotted some downtime, use this freedom to work on your long term projects. If high school or college taught us anything, it should have been that procrastinating always made things more difficult. I know it may sound silly or simple, but start long projects early. Don’t wait until the last minute. You will produce better quality material and save yourself a week of major stressing.
2. Organize and clean things: Another great thing to do in your spare time is organize and clean things in your home office and on your computer. Working from home allows a lot of freedom. You can sit at your desk in your home office, kick off your shoes, and leave trash around. While this is fabulous on busy work days, having a lot of clutter piling up in your workspace can be very detrimental to your productivity. Take some time to clean things up and organize. Clear away unneeded papers on your desk and documents on your computer. Organize things in files and folders. Backup all of your important files to an external hard drive or to an online file sharing/storing service (my favorite is Dropbox). There is nothing worse than losing track of things you’ve written in the depths of your computer. Keep things neat and organized, so that you know where to find things when you need them. Also, if your computer decides to quit on you, don’t lose all of your valuable work with it.
3. Scope out the field: A huge part of blog writing and freelance writing involves knowing where your skills are marketable. One of the best ways to find new clients or new material is by exploring the internet. Read other people’s blogs and websites and find out what they are doing and what they are interested in. You may come across something that inspires you. Finding other areas of the blogosphere or internet that you can capitalize on is a great way to increase your earning potential. Don’t limit yourself to one area of service or one genre or writing. This is a surefire way to lose steam and interest in what you are doing. Explore new and exciting niches. While you may not find any new clients simply by exploring new blogs and website, you may find a little inspiration and motivation just in seeing what others are doing.
Freelancing is a busy business. Learning to manage your own schedule can be a struggle. With time and practice, you will become an efficient freelancing machine. One of the best ways to manage your time successfully is by also managing your downtime successfully. Keep yourself occupied during work hours. Even on days where you do not have any immediate assignments due, find things to do. Work on other projects, organize things, clean up, research things, or just write. It’s important to treat freelance writing the same way you would treat any other job or career. While freelance writing is a fairly atypical career, maintaining a steady work schedule is the key to success.
This guest post is contributed by Lauren Bailey, who regularly writes for best online colleges. She welcomes your comments.