Getting a freelance writing business off the ground can be all-consuming. There are a lot of things you need to account for like building a portfolio of solid clips, sending out applications to freelance gigs, and maintaining a blog. You have to spend time doing your own accounting and marketing, your taxes and client research. Above all else, launching a freelance writing business requires organization. In fact, I’d venture to say the combination of determination and organization can propel a business forward much faster than any level of inherent skill!
Because being able to string sentences together won’t do squat for you if you lack the tenacity to put yourself out there over and over again.
Today, let’s cover how those two all-important things, organization and determination, break down. I’ll do so by offering examples from my professional life. Are you ready?
Why Organization Matters
Or, as I like to refer to it, getting one’s shit together. Seriously, I can’t even begin to tell you how important organization is when you’re starting a freelance career. There’s a lot of information to keep track of. As a freelance writer, I need to account for my current assignments, my client’s contact information, deadlines, invoicing procedures, income, expenses, amount that needs to be saved for taxes, and that just involves the day-to-day stuff. I also have to manage pending article pitches, potential markets to pitch, and any recurring gigs I want to apply for.
And note, none of what I described above really involves the actual act of writing! Or research! Or coming up with new ideas! Being a freelancer means wearing many hats all at once (add working from home with two kids and it means those hats double, btw) and being all things to all people. It might not sound fair, but if you want to succeed, you have to put yourself out there and be on top of everything. At least in the beginning. Once you have a steady stable of clients, you aren’t going to need to do so much research on new clients or markets, at least not all the time.
So yes, organization is super important. And unless you want to have Post-It notes for your Post-It notes, you’re going to need to equip some reliable tools to keep every aspect of your business on track. I plan on writing an ultimate guide to tools for freelancers soon but for now, here are some of the essentials that have helped me build my business and keep it running, even in times of chaos.
- WordPress: I’ve kind of become a go-to person for WordPress content these days (and I’m totally okay with that!), so it would be silly if i didn’t actually use the platform myself. WordPress is the awesome. End of story.
- Trello: There’s no way I’d be able to keep track of my assignments, due dates, client info, and research without it.
- FreshBooks: A must-have, IMHO, FreshBooks makes it easy to keep track of invoices and accounting, all from the cloud.
- Buffer: I don’t think it’s possible for me to rave too much about Buffer. I’ve loved it since it first launched and I still use it daily. Makes curating other people’s content and scheduling your own a snap. The app and browser extension are time savers to the max.
- Evernote: Perfect for on-the-fly note-taking, the Evernote mobile and desktop apps ensure all my pertinent information travels with me wherever I go.
- iCloud: Because when you have two kids at home (one that cries and the other that constantly asks “why?!?”) you can be a little distracted and need to be able to sync documents between devices so you can finish writing an article while the toddler is transfixed by Finding Nemo. Not that that’s actually happened or anything.
- Google Drive: For sharing with and collaborating on documents with clients. Makes emailing docs back and forth a thing of the past.
- Feedly: I load it up with all the websites I want/need to keep track of and scan through them while the kids eat breakfast. The cleanest RSS reader around.
- LeadIn: This is the coolest plugin EVAR! When a visitor inputs their email address on my site, LeadIn collects all the info it can about the lead and stores it in the cloud for me to go over later. Streamlines the lead capture process and elevates it by providing additional information.
- Aweber: I just recently signed up for this one, but it’s already promising to be a great investment. A straightforward email marketing service. Embed simple signup forms, manage subscribers, and send out messages quickly and efficiently.
- PayPal: Hey, it’s how I get paid for most of my freelance work, and dollars to donuts it’s how you’ll be paid too.
- TinyPNG: Drag and drop your images to the Panda and watch as they’re compressed. The result? Lossless “tiny” PNGs and JPGs. Image compression FTW!
Why Determination Matters
When you first set out to launch a freelance writing business, I can guarantee you that you’re going to hit a moment where you want to give up. It’s hard work and the return on that work can be minimal at first. Which, let’s face it, sucks. We all want an immediate return on our investments and immediate results. And while a few lucky freelancers land the best client in the world on their first try, that isn’t the story for everyone. Most have to send out a ton of applications and article pitches before landing that dream gig.
A lot of people give up before they ever get there. That’s why determination is everything when you want to make it as a freelancer writer. You have to really want this as a career, or else it’s unlikely you’ll stick with it long enough to see success.
And that’s precisely why technical writing skill isn’t as important as determination. Someone with loads of natural talent might land a great gig on their first attempt but that’s the exception, not the rule. Most have to work hard to land good clients. That requires determination. A great writer without an inherent level of stick-to-it-tiveness isn’t likely to succeed. But someone with mediocre writing abilities and a lot of drive might just get a freelance gig with a Fortune 500 company.
What I’m trying to say is superb writing skills can be acquired to some degree through hard work. And the hardest working among us aren’t necessarily the most talented. But all that doesn’t matter so much if you take a “if there’s a will, there’s a way” approach to launching your freelance writing business. Make sense?
Some Food For Thought
To close out this post, I want to point you to a really cool infographic that caught my eye recently. It was made by the folks behind FreshBooks, (which I mentioned above) and by referencing space and The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, earns a rightful mention on this here nerdtastic blog. Be sure to click it to enlarge the image:
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