Today we have a guest post from JL (that’s her pen name). JL was part of the beta group for 30 Days or Less to Freelance Writing Success and she’s been hugely helpful in providing feedback to make the course its best.
She recently took the plunge to become a full-time freelance writer and is here to share what she’s learned so far!
My first month of freelancing full-time did not go the way I had envisioned. I had this amazing fantasy where I would launch my website, nail a handful of first clips in under 30 days, and have time in between to clean and organize my house, train my dog and lose 30 lbs.
What can I say? I’ve always been a dreamer.”
In actuality, I spent my first month nursing a sick toddler back to health (twice), attending a family funeral and catching up on sleep (on the couch), while the dishes and laundry piled up on every surface.
I didn’t get any writing work done at all.
Clearly, Murphy and his law were working overtime for me, but as I reflect back on it, there was time to get some work done, I just wasn’t using it. Here’s what I’ve learned about myself in that first month.
1. I Still Need a Schedule
I was very resistant to this, at first. Part of the reason that I chose to freelance, as opposed to returning to full-time employment, was so that I could be there for my family. I wanted the freedom to choose my own hours. Then I had an aha! moment.
Choose my own hours. As a little girl, my father would tell me that, in life, if you don’t make the choices, the choices make themselves. At 33, I realized he’s still right. I hadn’t picked any specific hours to work, so all my hours were being filled up by life things, big and small. So I looked over my calendar, and set specific days and times to be at my desk.
Now this doesn’t mean that I don’t adjust those hours as needed. They are not written in ink.This just empowers me to choose wisely, when it comes time to reallocating work hours for life stuff. Are the dishes more important? No. Major car repair? Yes. I still have flexibility, only now I’m prioritizing my time rather than just wasting it.
2. I Should Only Take One Path at a Time
Starting out as a freelance writer can feel like climbing a mountain. There is a lot of work to do just to get established. The internet is full of differing advice on where to begin, and I was completely overwhelmed with all the different paths there were to take.
Then I realized that every path probably worked. All of these people had, in fact, built a successful career doing this. The only thing that was holding me back was my failure to choose one, then walk it. So I picked Gina’s course, and started back at day one. I have several other courses and ebooks too, and I’ll get to them, but not until I finish the path I’m on.
3. There are Better Ways to Focus
We live in a world of multitasking, and I’ve always been an early adopter. I can remember at 16, reading my homework while walking on a treadmill, and painting my nails. You know what? I fell off. Twice.
Today, I spend more time single tasking, especially since I’m still learning about freelancing. When working, I do my best not to answer my phone, check email or get on social media. I also group similar tasks together, so my brain isn’t switching gears as much. My day looks like this: I do all my writing for the day, then I do all my edits and after that, I complete admin tasks.
4. Thinking Outside the Office Helps
In my corporate job, which I actually did from my home, I only ever worked at my desk. That kept me tied there for 40 hours a week, and it was one of the things I wanted to let go of most.
When I sit down to write, the desk works great. However, there is a lot more to freelance writing than actually writing, and I can maximize my time by completing my tasks in various locations. I’d love to tell you about all the beach time I’m getting, with a laptop perched on a chair, but I live in Indiana. So that isn’t my life.
Instead, I do my brainstorming in the laundry room, while – you guessed it – doing laundry. I do my edits in doctor’s office waiting rooms or during soccer practice, since I like pen and paper for that sort of thing. I listen to podcasts about writing while doing the dishes and cleaning my kitchen.
It’s not sexy, but it allows me to devote my office time for actually writing, and gives me more non-work filled hours with my family.”
Now, We’re on to Month Two
With my new lessons in the forefront of my brain, I dived into my second month of freelancing full-time. Month two has been considerably more productive than month one, and I feel like I’m finally gaining distance up this mountain.
I’ve completed a few different projects, as well as Gina’s course, and I’m working through another now. My skills are improving, and I even have some samples. I’ve let go of the fantasy of my immaculate house, well behaved pup and thin body – for now.
Focusing on building my business and learning my craft is enough.”
JL Nichols is a freelance writer, Sensory Mama and iphone game enthusiast. She has a background in information technology, and dreams of travelling the world.
PS: Looking for some crazy, but legitimate ways to make extra money from home? Check out this post from The Penny Hoarder!