Why is she successful, and I'm ? What is he doing differently?
These are questions many freelance writer asks while on their journey to business success.
While starting as a freelancer sounds like the Instagram fantasy everyone wants, it also can produce ongoing struggles such as comparing your success to others.
But, comparison aside, there isn’t one thing that separates successful freelance writers from those who are struggling to thrive. Instead, a combination of several habits can make the difference between building your dream writing business and consistently wondering why you’re not achieving your desired results.
In this article, I'm going to share 10 habits and traits of successful freelance writers.
As a personal growth exercise, use this list to reflect on your current habits.
Change isn’t always easy, but it’s the first step towards gaining the success you envision.
Successful freelance writers do the work until it works. Let's look at pitching as an example. To successfully pitch potential clients, you need to send out pitches regularly and follow up on pitches that were sent.
You can't send two pitches per month, then wonder why you're not booking more clients.
You can't send one pitch to a potential client and give up when you don't hear back immediately.
I’ve received many of my best clients after sending a pitch along with 1 or 2 follow up messages over 30-90 days.
Keep putting yourself in front of your ideal clients and following up on opportunities.
It's not a "no" until they say so.
The second powerful habit is choosing a focus for your business.
You have to balance so many things as a freelance writer - pitching, completing client work, holding discovery calls, and the list goes on and on.
It can be easy to become unfocused as you build and grow your business.
Starting with a specific niche within your market can help you focus on your business and build a lane for yourself within the writing industry.
Do you want to focus on copywriting or content marketing writing? Do you want to write in the finance industry or the medical industry?
Whatever niche you choose to focus on, stick to that niche, and invest the necessary time and effort to dominate the market.
Manage your time effectively
Next, it's crucial that you become a master of time management.
You want to be sure to strike a balance between completing client work and working on your business.
Tasks for your business might involve pitching, bookkeeping, checking your emails, and sending contracts and invoices.
On the other hand, your client’s work involves writing blog posts, emails, editing tasks, etc.
Completing your business tasks also includes focusing your efforts and energy on what your business needs to succeed.
Do you need to strategize or figure out how to send better pitches?
Are you investing time in your professional development?
While it may sound like a difficult task to manage time between your business and your clients, developing a system for doing both is critical for your success.
Prioritize and group your tasks
Learning how to prioritize your laundry list of tasks goes along with the idea of time management.
For example, this week, I wrote down every client task I needed to complete; every email, every blog post, everything.
I then prioritized each one based on their due dates to ensure I met deadlines.
Using a scale of importance helps you prioritize tasks with several close due dates.
For example, if task A has a high level of importance, and tasks B and C are a medium to a low level of importance, prioritize task A before completing B and C.
Prioritizing tasks based on due dates is a great tip to maximize efficiency, but adding on the productive habit of grouping remaining similar tasks will help skyrocket your workday task completion.
This process involves selecting and clumping small related tasks into cohesive parts.
For example, checking and replying to all of your emails simultaneously or writing two similar blog posts one after the other is less stressful for the mind to process rather than jumping from emails to blog writing and so forth.
Grouping helps your mind to navigate the workload by completing similar tasks and preventing boredom or brain fog.
Both of these habits are incredibly useful to employ because as your business grows, your responsibilities and to-do list increase. Having strategies that focus on time management and balance will decrease your stress and make your workdays far more enjoyable.
Operate like a business and always be professional
Operating and managing your business like a business is an essential habit to develop on your path to success.
As a freelance writer, you want to showcase yourself as a professional in all areas of business, including your:
Use a professional email address for all of your business communications.
For example, email@example.com may represent your little pony fantasy, but it won't increase your brand's professionalism and authenticity. Choose a professional email address with first and last name or your profession such as firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, or JDwrites@gmail.com.
The second aspect is pricing. As a beginner, you want to avoid charging exceedingly low prices such as $0.02 per word.
Charging this low for your services not only sends the wrong message about your business' professionalism and value, but it is not a sustainable means of living. Set professional rates to reflect your understanding of the value you bring to clients and in consideration of the financial goals you have for your business.
Another part of operating as a business is how you manage your finances. There's a lot to managing finances as a writer, but you should start with the basics, such as keeping your personal and business finances separate. Mixing your money can be a disaster during tax time.
While you don't need a large social media presence to thrive as a freelance writer, LinkedIn is a platform that's worth using consistently. Optimize your LinkedIn profile to showcase your work and to stand out in the competition.
Since you are a writer, this should go without saying, but please adhere to grammar rules when communicating with a client or potential client. Poor grammar is deeply off-putting to clients and can communicate that you aren't a good writer, which is the opposite message you want to send.
Have a thick skin
As a freelance writer, you are a business owner. As a business owner, you need to have thick skin to hearing no or being ignored when sending pitches, receiving revision requests, and clients failing to renew contracts.
Over time you will need to send pitches to potential clients and publications, and you won't receive a response, or you'll be told your work isn't what they want.
You will most likely have a client who offers you a chance to complete a test project. You might believe you nailed it, but come to realize the client didn't like your work and decided to go in a different direction.
It is in your best interest to surrender your ego, reflect on your writing, alter your strategy when pitching and maintain a growth mindset even amid the rejections.
When you receive negative feedback on any part of your business, realize that it's about your business, not about your personal value or worth. Taking a self-deprecating approach is not healthy for you or your business' success.
Set goals for your business and reflect on where you want to be long-term as a freelance writer.
Do you want to work part-time or full-time?
What is your revenue goal?
How many hours do you want to devote to your business each month?
Reflect on these questions and similar ones as you think about the type of business you want to grow.
For me, I needed to build a writing business making a full-time income while working part-time hours because I homeschool my daughter. This same goal is important for many of my coaching students because they work a 9-5 or have other responsibilities that don't allow them to work full-time hours on their business.
But that doesn't have to be your goal.
Decide the ideal lifestyle you want and set goals within your business to achieve it.
Be resourceful and enlist your community
You should use your resources to find opportunities.
As you grow your business, you'll start receiving referrals. However, in the beginning, you will need to go after clients regularly. Even fully booked out writers pitch their services and use their resources to continue connecting with potential clients.
Take advantage of the different ways to find clients, such as using Facebook groups, networking on LinkedIn, or connecting with those within your network.
Maintain a growth mindset
One critical component of success, both professionally and personally, is having a growth mindset.
With a growth mindset, you believe your skills can improve, grow, and evolve, unlike having a fixed mindset in which you don't think you have the ability to improve.
Having a fixed mindset will prevent you from expanding your services.
For example, if you feel like you're not the best email marketing writer, stating "I can't be an email writer because I don't have the skills" sabotages yourself from adding this service to your offering.
People aren't born with the ability to write effortlessly.
They have to fail, learn, and grow to become the skilled writer they are today.
While I have a natural writing ability, I didn't come out of the womb knowing how to write engaging articles that incorporate SEO strategies. I had to take the time to build this skill, and it's my growth mindset that helped me believe I could do so.
Never underestimate yourself.
While you're en route to achieving your freelance writing goals, remember to invest in your self-care. Get plenty of sleep, eat nutritious food that feeds your body and mind, and exercise regularly. If you ignore your body and mind during this journey, your vision for success might not meet your expectations.
Not operating at a healthy optimal level, both emotionally and physically, can prevent you from reaching your goals. We function best when we find a balance between work, play, rest, and good health.
Finding this balance in your daily life will help you overcome the obstacles that are sure to pop up and give you the required self-discipline and motivation to excel as a freelance writer.
The power of enlisting powerful habits
Have you incorporated any of these habits for success in your business? For many freelance writers, it is a work in progress, but that's okay.
It takes time, motivation, and what I always say, practice makes progress.
The more you practice and consistently work towards improving, the better results you will receive.
Ready to start or grow your freelance writing business.
What productivity habits have helped you as a freelancer? Comment below.