New in town? 5 Best Practices for Fresh Freelancers
First, congratulations are in order. You’ve made the choice to put yourself and your writing out there, and you want to get paid for it. That takes courage, and the journey to success as a writer requires that very brand of gumption.
Starting out as a freelancer is a lot like moving to a new city: Excitement, infinite possibility and adventure are waiting around every corner. But being the new kid in town has a flip side: It can be scary, overwhelming, and unpredictable.
Every writer, no matter what their level of experience or success, experiences spells of uncertainty, self-doubt, overwhelm, fear, and discouragement. The trick is maintaining practices that strengthen our ability to deal with them when they darken our doorstep.
Here are five key practices that will help you stay the course as a new freelancer while you’re on your way to the top.
Turns out Buddha had the right idea. Fighting the current of reality is exhausting and interferes with our ability to do great work. Going with the flow is a lot easier and frees us to perform the magic we are meant to.
Crappy things happen: Work slows down, a client pays late, and we don’t (always) get the gig. Punch some pillows, kickbox, or call a friend and vent.
But when you’re done, be done. Take a break, find a new gig, make an industry connection, or throw yourself back into researching the taxonomy of nudibranchs for that marine life article you’ve always wanted to write. Bouncing back via a new goal or inspiration will get you back on the ass-kicking track.
Rejection. It will happen. And all it means is you’re putting yourself out there, a very good thing.
Don’t believe me? Just ask David Remnick, editor of the New Yorker, who says, “Constant disappointment is a very good spur to doing something halfway decent. If you’re really self-satisfied all the time, you probably are a lousy writer.”
Consider rejection part of the job description and get on with your glory.
We’ve all heard the phrase ‘trust your gut’ more than a few times. That’s because, if we listen closely, our gut will guide us to the right people at the right time, guard against low-paying soul-sucking projects, and steer us toward blogs like this one that offer writers a realistic and practical way to pursue our passion and get paid!
Whether it’s a client, a writing product or service, or a new project — if something doesn’t feel right for you, it probably isn’t. Use your gut wisely, and never underestimate its powers.
4. Knowing yourself.
Know what you want to write, who you want to write for, how much and how little you’re willing to work for, where you want to be as a writer in 6 months, one year, 5 years and so on. Do the research and be an expert on YOU.
Knowing what you want helps set personal standards so you can easily say yes to work that fits and no to what doesn’t. Take the time to figure out what you want and pay attention to it, so you can make room for the good stuff!
5. Ignoring everyone.
This is a highly recommended creativity tip from artist and author Hugh MacLeod. The blathering inner critic in you will no doubt periodically appear to heckle your efforts, hinder productivity, and rob precious inspiration. And your parents, friends, neighbor, and even Aunt Midge may be telling you you’re better off working at Starbucks than pursuing a writing career.
On a bad day, it’s easy to feel discouraged, and we can find all kinds of evidence (read: excuses) to support a decision not to do the work we long to.
But no one says we have to listen. Find people who believe in you and support your dream of writing through Twitter, Facebook, freelance forums, or people you already know.
Above all, choose to believe in your ability to make it happen, and then turn up the inner cheerleader and GO!
Elana Baxter is a freelance writer and copy editor in Vancouver, BC. She has written hundreds of web articles on topics ranging from real estate and urban gardening to nude nuptials in shark infested waters. Follow her on Twitter @elanalancer.