In this episode, I go over 10 tips to help you succeed as a new freelance writer! I wish someone had told me these tips when I first started my career as an entrepreneur.
Going from a structured 9 to 5 to making your own schedule can be exciting but daunting at the same! These tips will help you find success. Implement them early in your writing career and you will make more as a freelance writer.
How to Be a Successful Freelance Writer
Freelance writing is the number one way to make money online. As a content writer, the opportunities are endless but you must hone in on a few key skills to go from good to great and watch your income grow. Here are 10 tips to become a successful freelance writer.
1. Create a Routine.
I know this sounds cliché, but creating structure is important. Otherwise you fall prone to ‘I will get it done later’ or the opposite of that is you work all the time!
2. Value Your Time
Calculate your hourly rate, if a task is below that, then outsource it!
3. Understand How Taxes Work as Freelancer
Talk with an accountant and determine how much you need to hold for taxes. This will save you a lot of time and headache at the end of the year!
4. Find a Specific Spot to Work
Having a clearly defined space to work creates boundaries of when and where you will get work done. When you create a specific spot, you will be amazed at how much efficient you are in getting things done!
5. Honor Your Calendar
The amount of integrity that you have usually has a direct relation into the ROI and the percentage work that you get done! If you say you will do something, write it down and do it.
Check out this Harvard paper on Integrity: Without it Nothing Works
Learn more about why you should ‘honor your word’ from the book The Four Agreements.
6. Find Like Minded People and Hang out with Them
Whether you are introvert or extrovert hanging out with likeminded people increases your network and can give you news which may lead to more income opportunities!
7. Keep Learning
To quote Warren Buffet “The More You Learn, the More You Earn”. Whatever writing niche you are in keep learning about that industry; this will make you more valuable to clients and they will pay you for your continued in depth knowledge.
8. Make an Effort to Get to Know Your Clients
This is relationship building 101! When you show genuine interested in not only their business but their life, you create a personal connection that leads to better partnership.
9. Level Up Your Writing Skills
Invest in yourself, get out of your comfort zone and be challenged! This allows you to accomplish your income goals and become a better freelance writer.
10. Remember: Have Fun!
Enjoy the process, document your wins and congratulate yourself! The more fun you have, the less you will worry and this will have an effect on everything you do, including attracting more clients!
Are You Ready to Start Your Freelance Writing Career?
If you are ready to take the next step and launch your freelance writing career, I would love to help you build momentum!
Schedule a 20 minute discovery call with me, because if I can do it, you can too.
Michael: 00:01 Welcome to inspire your success podcast. Episode number 51. This one is all about what it’s really like to get started as a freelancer and 10 things that I wish someone would have told me when I got started coming up. All right. Welcome back to inspire your success podcast. This is your host, Michael Leonard, and on Mondays, as you know, we go over everything that it really takes to become a freelancer and a work at home entrepreneur. So really excited to talk about some, some rookie tips that I think will really help you out. Because you know, going from working in a corporate nine to five to being a freelancer that works at home, it is a lot different than you probably can imagine. And just to take you back down and learn a little bit more about my story, if you don’t know, is that, uh, I had worked for basically I think about seven, seven and a half years, uh, before I started this whole online entrepreneurship thing.
Michael: 01:05 So got out of college, worked at PayPal for about six months, fielding a horrible calls in a customer service office where people just were so mad all the time. So I was doing about 60 to 80 calls a day. Um, naturally that wasn’t really what I wanted to do. Um, I was fortunate enough to get a [email protected] back in, I think that was 2011 then and uh, yeah, worked there until 2017 and it was at that time where I quit my job and started this whole blogging, freelancing, uh, professional golf dream that I’ve been on for about two and a half, three years now. And you know, when I first got started, uh, I thought that, you know, I was a really, I was a successful salesperson at yelp, I had, you know, really good work ethic. I thought, you know, this, this whole freelancing and online entrepreneurship, like it won’t be that much different.
Michael: 01:58 Right. Well, I will say that that is wrong and there’s a lot of differences, um, because working for someone else versus working for yourself is a, it’s quite a journey. And again, I don’t have all the answers. I’m always evolving and learning my lessons. But I want to help you out because if you’re new to freelancing, these 10 tips are definitely going to help you out. So, uh, again, that’s really my goal is I want to help more people make money online as a writer or as a freelancer. And a, to me freelance writing is the number one way that you can do that fast. So again, if you’re new to this whole thing and maybe you’re working part time now or you’re, you’re doing this part time, or maybe you’re working full time, but then trying to start a side hustle, or maybe you’re, you know, in college and you’re just trying to figure out how to make money, like all of these tips are relevant to you.
Michael: 02:49 So the first thing I would say is to learn how to create routines. Because it’s tough when you go from working someone else where someone tells you, Hey, you need to be here at eight. You leave at five, you get 30 minutes or an hour for lunch. You can take a few breaks. Like everything’s kind of mapped out for you, right? You go from that to you wake up and you control your day. And I never forgot the a the first Monday. So I quit my job on a Thursday, golfed on a Friday, Saturday, Sunday. I was just, you know, doing the weekend thing wasn’t really working. And then Monday, like my girlfriend went to work and all of a sudden I realized as I’m sitting at my house by myself with my dog, I’m like, wait a second, what do I do now? And uh, it took me months, probably almost a year before I really even feel like I had a good routine.
Michael: 03:41 And so that’s one thing that I think if you’re new to freelancing and you’re going to work at home, or even if you work at coffee shops or coworking spaces, wherever you choose to go, I really recommend that you create routines. And that to me is one of the biggest things is that you need some structure for your day. Because look, like the main reason I didn’t want to work for anyone ever again is because I hated someone telling me what to do. Like that is the worst thing in the world to me. Probably have an authority complex or problem. But for me, I just, I couldn’t stand it. So then I go to work for myself and it’s just like, wait a second, what do I do? Like it’s all up on you. And so for some people that’s exciting. Other people that’s terrifying.
Michael: 04:22 But at the end of the day, if you have a routine and you have some structure that will really help you and be kind of your guide. So for me, I, I recommend, you know, just having some sort of plan. So for me, like each Sunday I map out my days, uh, coming up for the next week, what my goals are or what kind of projects I have coming up for myself and for clients and for my coaching students. Like I go over any calls that I have scheduled on my mastermind calls to my one on one students. Like, I just try and map everything out. So I really recommend you do the same. So do that on Sunday, you know, and just spend some time. It doesn’t need to take more than 10, 15 minutes. You know, you can buy a $5 journal on, on Amazon or planner and just have some sort of structure because that can really help you not waste time and just stay focused because it is really easy to just turn on Netflix or go in the other room or go run errands or do all this other stuff when you know you should be freelancing, getting clients, writing and all that.
Michael: 05:18 So it’s really, really important to create routines so that way you can set yourself up for success every single day. Um, the second thing is to value your time. And I think this is a tough one, uh, for a lot of you when you’re just starting out. I know it was for me, uh, and cause I’ve been there. So like for me, you know, I didn’t have any clients, like when I quit I was just trying to figure out blogging and all that. But once I really started like being a freelance writer in 2018 is that I realized that like I wasn’t valuing my time, I was just letting people control me. I would get random calls and I would, I’d pick them up from clients or I would, you know, go and try and put out email fires in my inbox and then I would jump over here and I jump over there and I just, I wasn’t valuing my time. And one of the biggest things I did in 2019 was I actually calculated my hourly rate. And then
Michael: 06:11 basically if it wasn’t up to the hourly rate, then I didn’t do it. Or I would outsource it or I’d hire someone and I’d grow my team or I just wouldn’t do it. I would just, you know, eliminate some task. So I challenge you to think like that as well. And even if you’re just getting started, that might seem a little bit overwhelming, but think about like what your goal is. Let’s say that, you know, you want to make $5,000 a month as a writer. So that’s about what a 1250 a week. So think about then how many hours per week you want to work and then divide that by 1250 so you know, for example, let’s just say that you want to make 1250 so I’ll just do that. Say you want to work 25 hours a week, making me do math on my own podcast.
Michael: 06:55 Let’s see. So if you work 20 hours, that’d be $62 an hour rate. So you need to think if you’re spending, you only want to work 20 hours, but you want to make $1,250 a week. You need to think about, okay, well how, what tasks can I do to actually create that $62 per hour rate? And then just kind of reverse engineer it. And again, it’s not going to be like a perfect process. You’re going to keep getting better. You’ll get new jobs, new clients, raise your rates, all those things, but value your time. Because if you’re just doing, you know, $5 an hour task all day, you’re really, it’s going to be really, really hard to reach your goals. So I challenge you to do that and understand that if you value your time, then you will find that clients will as well and you’ll probably start making more money than ever.
Michael: 07:41 All right? Tip number three is to understand the tax situation. So I’m definitely not a financial adviser. I’m not a tax representative, I’m not a lawyer, so I’m not going to tell you what to do in any sense. But I will say to understand how it all works, research it, you know, speak with somebody you trust. Maybe just hire someone for an hour of consulting. Um, whether you’re in a nine to five and it’s just a side income or this your full time business, it’s going to be different state by state. It’s going to be different if you have kids, if you have a house, if you have a spouse, you know, all those things factor into taxes and understanding stuff like that. But just remember, again, you’re not paying taxes until you actually go out and do it. So someone gives you $1,000 for a gig.
Michael: 08:21 You don’t have that tax money that’s going out like you would in a nine to five. So it’s again up to you to pay your own taxes. So again, no one’s going to do it for you. And the last thing I want is you to have some huge bill at the end of the year because you didn’t understand how that worked. So again, just understand that the tax situation is going to be different as a freelancer. So do your research, save some money, and uh, that way you’re not setting yourself up for failure down the road. All right? Number four is to create a specific spot to work. Now, like maybe that’s like a home office for you. Maybe it’s a coworking space, maybe it’s a coffee shop that you go to four or five days a week. Whatever it is, I highly recommend that you find a specific spot.
Michael: 09:05 So for me, I have a second bedroom that I’ve just turned into my office, my, um, you know, podcast studio. It’s my writing desk. It’s got everything I need in here, but I pretty much only come in here to work. Um, you know, for the most part I might do a little random things here and there on the couch in the living room, but I never work in my bedroom. Um, and I really just pretty much doing it here. Or maybe sometimes we’ll go to a coffee shop or something like that. But having those clearly defined spaces will help your brain because it’s really easy when you work for yourself to never feel like you’re going to turn off. And I didn’t for a while. Like the first year guys of my freelancing journey was a disaster. I mean I worked so much and I just never shut down.
Michael: 09:47 I didn’t sleep. I’d wake up in the middle of the night and I’d work. I would get up, you know, at 3:00 AM cause I just had all these things. Think I was thinking about, I had no separation. So that’s obviously the last thing I want for you. So please learn from me. Separate yourself from, from your work. Like for me, when I’m done working, I actually closed my door, I shut it, I turned my computer off. So that way it just like signals to my mind, okay, we’re done for the day, we’ll get back at it tomorrow. So I know you want to hustle and do all those things like, but again, if you work too much, it’s really just going to be counterproductive. So I challenge you to work less and make more by really being intentional with your time. And again, just finding a specific spot to work.
Michael: 10:29 So that way when you actually sit there, you know that, okay, it’s time to write or if you stand at your desk or whatever. Like that’s why I have a specific spot where I’m recording these podcasts at where I only do podcasting, I don’t do anything else at. So this to me, when I sit down, it’s a trigger. My mind knows, okay, it’s game time. So do the same thing for your writing. All right. Uh, let’s see. Number five is to honor your calendar. And you know, there was a study done that uh, one of my mentors shared with me, I think it was at Harvard based on integrity and the amount of integrity that you have usually has a direct relation into the ROI and the percentage of, you know, work that you get done. And actually in this study it was, I think how much more productivity was just by honoring your calendar and doing what you say you’re going to do.
Michael: 11:18 And this is one that I’ve been working through. I’m far from perfect. I would love to say I am 100% every day. If I say I’m going to do it, I do it. You know, I’m human being, I make mistakes. But I have found that if I’m integral and I say I’m going to record four podcasts and I record those for then I feel a lot better about myself and I feel like I get more done. And that usually leads to more wins in my business and in my life. So if you say you’re gonna pitch 10 clients today, pitch 10 clients, if you say you’re going to create three samples, create three samples, like follow through, honor what you put on your calendar from tip number one. Because if you don’t, you get in the habit of just not doing those things and you’re not going to do the things that it takes to build your business.
Michael: 11:59 And then a year from now you’re going to say, why am I not making enough money? Or what happened? You know, that’s one of the biggest things that you know, people hire me for coaching for is because I hold them accountable and I say, Hey, you said you were going to do 10 pitches week, how many did you do? And then sometimes they’ll say, Whoa, I forgot or I got busy. And that’s the thing. Like we can always keep making excuses. But if you really want to make more money and grow your business and quit your job, you need to have integrity. So I invite you to just Google Harvard research integrity, I think. And the article will come up and also see if I can find it and put it in the show notes. But that will have a dramatic impact on how much you get done in your business.
Michael: 12:38 And again, you need to always like a, I think it was in the four agreements, a great book he talks about the number one agreement is to honor your word. And again, I’m not perfect, I’m still getting better at it, but I’m trying to be more intentional. So if you say you’re going to do something, do it, and I bet you will find a lot of success there. All right, so number six is to find like minded people and hang out with them. Because like I said, when you’re working for yourself, when you’re working in your house and maybe a coffee shop, things like that, like it’s easy to just isolate yourself. And a lot of writers are introverts, so it’s, you know, that’s okay. But you know, I’m actually more of an extrovert. So for awhile though, I wasn’t really surrounded myself with anyone. I was just kind of doing my thing, you know, trying to do it all myself, hustling, all that stuff.
Michael:: 13:25 But I found that once I started hanging out with likeminded people, it really helped my, uh, income and help my network, just help my ideas and really just gave me a better work balance like with my life. And I felt it really just improved a lot. So I challenge you to do the same thing, whether it’s a Facebook group, an in person group, a, whether it’s a mastermind or just, you know, hanging out with people that are, you know, trying to do side hustles, whatever it is, try to get around them as much as you can. Uh, for me that meant, you know, spending 10 plus thousand dollars on a 12 month group coaching mastermind program. And I’m excited about it. Like I get to surround myself with people that are doing way more financially than I am and making way more impact than I am.
Michael:: 14:08 And it is very, very addicting and it helps me a lot. So that’s like one of those things that I found is just been super helpful is to surround yourself with likeminded people. Because if you’re like most people, you probably just know others that are in the nine to five and so it can be hard to tell people like your family and friends what you’re doing and have them actually understand it. So try and find people that are doing it and I promise it will really, really help you out. All right. Tip number seven is to keep learning. Like Warren buffet said, the more you learn, the more you earn. And you know, I found a direct relation into learning more about SEO and sales and things like that. Just bettering my writing has drastically increased my freelance writing income. So you know, keep learning whatever niche you’re in, you know, whether it’s reading a book, a book a month, or getting on webinars and learning or watching YouTube videos or buying courses, whatever it is, keep learning because it will directly usually relate to how much you’re earning a just because again, you’re going to be more valuable to clients and they’re going to want to pay you more.
Michael:: 15:13 So make sure that you focus on, you know, never stop learning, especially in your niche. Become that expert and that specialist and people will definitely pay you more money. All right? Tip number eight is to make a concentrated effort to get to know your clients. Now I’m not saying you have to be best friends with them, but at the end of the day, people want to work with people they know, like, and trust. And I talk about this and all my masterclass webinars that you guys have been on and talk about it with all my coaching students, everyone in my courses like get to know your clients because people want to know that you’re invested in them and their business. And again, it’s not to say you need to like send them a gift card every week or something like that, but you want to get to know them and you know, ask about what their goals are for their business and you know, what kind of ways can you help them or are they hiring anyone else or do they need help with, you know, social media or emails or copywriting or whatever they’re doing.
Michael: 16:11 See how you can help genuinely be interested, build a relationship, you know, ask them about their, their life outside of their business. You know, that if they have a job or if they have a family, um, you know, are they traveling, what are they doing for the holidays? All those little things I think make a huge difference. I personally feel like I know my clients very well and uh, you know, they’ll shoot me a message or a voice note or hit me up on Instagram and we just have a good rapport. It’s not like super fancy formal like, Hey, you work for me. Kind of a thing. It’s, it’s more of a collaboration and a partnership. And I feel that if you have that, you’ll enjoy your clients a lot more. You’ll, they’ll pay you faster, they’ll give you more work. So it’s a win win.
Michael: 16:52 So again, you can’t just be someone that’s just a pen for hire. Make sure that you’re actually investing in them and they will invest in you. All right. Number nine is kind of following up with number seven there, but is to level up your skills. And usually that means paying for something. So what I said to keep learning, and number seven in this one, I’m talking about investing in yourself. So whether it’s hiring a, you know, a course or a coach or getting in a new course that’s all about SEO or learning how to write on medium or you know, learning any new skill that you think will help you is to just, you know, know that it’s part of it. Not only is it a business write off for the most part, you know you’re going to get better and you’re going to be able to earn more money.
Michael: 17:34 And it’s one of those things where if you’re in a nine to five, you don’t really need to do this as much. You know, a lot of times it’s easy to get complacent. You know, you might have to wait a year to get a promotion or do these things, but usually the people that climb the ladder faster are the ones that are leveling up. And the same thing with your freelance writing income. But the cool thing is, as a freelancer, you don’t have to wait for, you know, the next position to open up or wait for someone else to hire you. You control your destiny, but you have to level up. You have to invest in yourself, get out of your comfort zone and understand that sometimes it’s gonna challenge you. It’ll be a little scary or you know, might cost some money. But at the end of the day, that is how you can really reshape your identity and become that writer that you need to be, that can hit your income goals and help you leave your nine to five or make 5K a month or 10K or whatever your goals are. But just understand that sometimes you have to level up and put some skin in the game to really see a big change.
Michael: 18:32 All right? And number 10 is to just have fun. Like, I, I can’t stress this enough. The fact that people pay you to write about anything online is still just crazy to me. I mean, 20 years ago this wouldn’t have existed. I mean, even 10 years ago it probably wouldn’t have been nearly as prevalent. So just remember that, you know, freelancing isn’t always easy. There’s going to be ups and downs, but you know, there’s always challenges in life and business and that’s part of it. So you can either try and resist it or you can learn from it. And so the thing for me is I just, I try and laugh more. I enjoy the process. I document my wins, you know, I congratulate myself a lot. Like do these things to trick your brain and just remember that it’s all fun. Like the more fun you have, the less you’re going to worry, the more money you’re going to attract the cooler clients you’re going to attract.
Michael: 19:16 And you know, probably just enjoy your life and your business more. So don’t forget, have some fun when you’re doing this whole freelance writing and freelancing life. So again guys, these are just 10 tips. If you’re new to freelancing, I’m really confident these are going to help you. Uh, I have a lot more episodes that are similar to this and are going to give you some more behind the scenes look of what it really takes to make it as a freelancer. Because like I mentioned, it is very, very different than working in a nine to five. Very different in a great way though. So hopefully that was helpful. Again, make sure to share this with family and friends. You can always screenshot it. Tag me on Instagram @IamMichaelLeonard. Um, and again, if you haven’t left a positive review, we’d love you to do that as well. If you could on iTunes. I really want to impact a lot more aspiring writers and beginning writers here in 2020. So thanks again for being here with me today. And as always, I hope you have an Epic day.
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