Writing is tough. Most jobs are. The problem with freelance writing is that many people don’t treat it like a job; they treat it like a hobby. Removing that idea and organizing yourself as a writer can immensely improving your writing abilities and accomplishments, but that can be difficult to do if you are just starting out on this organization thing.
Take it from someone who is struggling through these things herself. What I’ve learned in my short time as a freelance writer seems applicable to any stage of my freelancing.
Number One: Organize Your Time
This is crucial to treating it like work and not a time-killer. Set yourself a schedule and then set yourself a goal. For instance, one week (I started on a Tuesday, but that’s the joy of freelancing – your schedule can be absolutely whenever) I decided I was going to write thirty articles by the following week. Did I do it? Absolutely not. But what did happen is that I wrote ten articles in the space of one week, more than I ever had before.
It can make a world of difference when you have a direction and a goal to meet. Some writers say that you should break down your organization into specific times for writing, researching, proofing, etc. I don’t go that far, but you might want to try if it will keep you on track.
Number Two: Organize Your Workspace
This is another vital aspect of writing. Find a place you can work comfortably. I use a laptop, though a desktop works just as well. Clean off your desk. Clean the room in which the desk happens to be. And then organize your desk to your needs. Keep whatever you need to write with at a handy distance and in its place, whether that be pens and paper or ten cups of coffee and your computer. Whatever it is, keep it close, keep it in its place and keep it within reaching distance.
Number Three: Keep Track of Your Articles
This is a two-pronged idea: keep track of your articles in the sense of when they are due (if they have a due date), when they are published, how much you earned, and if you have been paid; and keep track of your page views.
The first idea is to keep track of your earnings. That’s simply good business practice. I keep a ledger myself and separate it into sections for the different companies I write for and keep it up-to-date. Don’t slack off on it; you’ll find it much harder to keep track of things and that kind of defeats the purpose.
The second idea is to keep track of your page views to see which of your articles are gaining page views and which ones aren’t. Some will only gain a few here and there, but they will constantly earn; some will earn huge page views overnight and then hardly anything. I like to do a little of both, but really, the idea here is to learn which of your articles are tagged and written properly with keywords to get views. (By the way, generally only hot news items with good search tags and SEO get huge hits overnight.)
Number Four: Take a Break
You shouldn’t sit at your computer all day. Get up every forty-five minutes or hour and stretch yourself out by doing – well, anything. Walk the dog, make a cup of coffee, call a friend, do a chore, fix lunch – anything. Sitting in a chair staring at a screen is not only a bad idea but its detrimental to your overall health. Even as a writer, you still need exercise and you still need to keep your limbs and muscles limber and stretched. Plus, your mind needs a break to sort of reboot and start thinking properly again.
Number Five: Write Every Day
Yes, this is cliché. But it’s one-hundred percent true. The more often you write, the sooner it will be habit and the easier it will be to just keep writing. Also, your writing will improve this way. After all, as the old adage goes, practice makes perfect.
But equally important in freelance writing, it trains you to treat writing like a job. It’s something that you must spend time on every day. Don’t get me wrong. You should love writing, as you should love any job you do, but you still must do it.
Number Six: Write for Different Venues
One place won’t bring in all the income you could be earning. Ask around, and you’ll find out the opinions of all the various writing sites that you might not even know exist. You might even get very high-paying jobs that you land with contractors who aren’t freelance websites like Associated Content.
I found it best to settle in at one place, and then move on to another. I currently write for five different freelancing sites on a regular basis. Did I start all of those all at once? Absolutely not. That’s borderline insanity.
But do breach out in time. Don’t just dabble your toes in ten places. Jump into one place completely and then try to start new projects.
Number Seven: Talk to Other Writers
Other writers are your competition, I guess, but in reality, they are your best friends, your biggest supporters, and your source for all things wise. They have been through what you are doing. They know which companies are a waste of time and which ones are successful and worth the time. They know all the tips, tricks and pointers – and they’ll read your articles when no one else cares. (Especially ones about grammar and literature and all sorts of things that no one cares about unless they write – like this very article.)
They will support you, help you, read your material, and do everything in between. Talk to them. Listen. Learn.
Number Eight: Write What You Know
I know I said number five was cliché, but this one gets said a lot more often. But it is absolutely, one-hundred and ten percent true. If you know information about something, you can write more easily about it. It cuts out research time and having existing knowledge on a subject makes it easier to put into words. It also probably means you are interested in whatever you are writing about, and that is key.
Number Nine: Write About Things You Want to Learn About
Contrasting to what I just said, you will want (and maybe will have to) write about things you don’t know much about, and article writing is perfectly designed for this. When writing about something you don’t know much about, choose something you are interested in, because that will make it fun and not a chore (and a bore) doing the research and constructing your article.
Number Ten: Spell-Check – 8,000 Times
It can never be said enough. Yes, everyone makes mistakes and typos but try your hardest to catch them. Write your entire piece and then read it over. And then re-read it. And then re-read it yet again. Try reading it out loud to make sure it makes sense, and if possible have someone else read it before you submit it to your editor. This will reduce rejections, making you more confident, and possibly earn you more in the long run.
And some miscellaneous things that are worthy of noting: keep track of your article ideas by writing them down either in your phone or in a notebook you keep with you; try making outlines for articles before you write them (do a few before you start writing for the day and see if things don’t go faster); and turn off things like Facebook and other distractions.
To learn more about writing specifically for Associated Content, see here.
Happy writing, friends.