How to Break Out of Your Freelance Writing Comfort Zone
Everyone hits their comfort zone at one point or the other. Whether it’s a kid who won’t exert enough effort to get A’s instead of B’s, or a sales rep who’s contented with merely reaching his quota, those who are in their comfort zones operate at low-risk, neutral state.
Freelance writers usually find themselves in it when they’re earning a satisfactory amount of money and have collected a respectable number of works for their portfolio. And while there’s certainly nothing wrong with staying in your comfort zone for a short time (go ahead, bask in your achievements—you deserve it), lingering in it for too long can be dangerous.
Resting on your laurels for an extended period of time can lead to the atrophy of your talents and skills. This is why you should never allow yourself to become too complacent. Instead, strive to improve your craft and work to attain new heights every so often.
Snap Out of It
Getting out of the comfort zone can be especially difficult for freelancers mainly because there’s isn’t really anyone to push you out of it. No solid boss dangling a promotion, no professors urging you to get A’s, and no parents checking your report card.
That’s why it’s important to always keep an eye on your work and writing habits. If you find yourself in that “way too comfy” state in your freelance career, be sure to do something different in order to shake things up.
Consider the following ideas:
Fly Solo – A lot of freelance writers thrive on platforms such as Elance and oDesk—and for good reason. These websites offer convenient solutions for connecting freelancers with clients, and they can really take the pain out of project hunting. However if you’ve been at it for quite a bit, you may want to consider setting out on your own and finding work yourself.
Do the legwork. Go ahead and build a website and find ways to promote yourself. Look into other ways to find clients, such as cold-calling (or cold-emailing), SEO, or social media marketing. Doing so will not only improve your marketing skills, but it can also allow you to broaden your client base and find more challenging (and possibly more lucrative) projects. Not to mention, you’ll get to keep 100% of your earnings and you won’t have to go on low bidding wars with others.
Get out there—literally – Some writers (introverted ones, in particular) take comfort in the fact that their job doesn’t require a lot of face time. Thanks to the power of the web, acquiring clients and delivering the work can all be done remotely. And to top it all off, you don’t even have to leave the house and you don’t have to worry about making awkward small talk.
Yes, finding clients online can certainly be easier and the chances of you embarrassing yourself in front of prospects are relatively low. However, doing it and only it can limit your growth and potential.
Sure, the online route is effective, but you know what – so is having real world meetings. The former may be more convenient, but actually going out there and meeting people opens up potential for deeper relationships. Not to mention, you’ll get to hone your social and speaking skills in the process.
Instead of focusing all your efforts on online strategies, consider attending a real live event every once in a while. Check out your local Chamber of Commerce and see if there are any networking opportunities that you can grab. Any small biz gatherings in your neighborhood? Go for it. Or head to EventBrite.com and search for events in your industry.
Networking events can certainly help you connect with potential clients, but as a bonus, these things are also rich in opportunities for collaborations, partnerships, and even friends. So don’t just attend for the sake of reeling in clients; go out there with an open mind and have fun while you’re at it.
Deliberately go above and beyond – Starting today, make it a point to over deliver and go above and beyond in your projects. Is your client expecting the first draft in 3 days? Submit it tomorrow. Wake up earlier. Work a little harder this time. Deliberately exceed expectations and strive to deliver work that’s beyond your caliber. Will it be difficult? Yes. But doing these things will undoubtedly make you a better writer and service provider as well.
How about you – what do you do when you’re feeling too comfy in your career? Please share your tips in the Comments below!
Francesca is the founder of Credible Copywriting and specializes in writing blog posts, web content and press releases for startups, Internet companies, and mobile app developers. She’s currently developing Copywriting 2.0, an online course that teaches aspiring copywriters the ins and outs of the biz. Sign up here and get notified when course launches.
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