8 Steps to A Healthy (and Long-Lasting) Freelance Writing Career

Profitable freelance writing careers come in two shapes:

The first is circular. Like a hamster on one of those plastic exercise wheels, this type of freelance writer’s life revolves around marketing, writing, and billing … over and over and over again. It’s not a bad deal — and you can even make an impressive income, from $50K and up.

The second profitable freelance writing career is linear. It stretches out before the writers who are always forging ahead and constantly sampling new territory. This approach is the more profitable of the two. Freelancers on this track are well-poised to make above $100K.

Both approaches make for a decent career, but the linear one is a lot more satisfying.

It’s like staying healthy. You can follow the same eating and exercise regimen for years. It’s bound to keep you healthy. But, it’ll also bore you over time. You might someday give it up altogether.

A better approach is to eat healthy, but constantly sample new dishes. Exercise regularly, but challenge your body by trying different routines.

Not only will you be healthy, but you’re also more likely to stay that way over time.

The same is true for a healthy freelance writing career. You need to master a rewarding pattern of daily habits, but you also need to readily push yourself to try new things with your business.

Here are eight ways to do that.

8 Steps to a Healthy Freelancing Career

  1. Focus on a few core skills, especially if you’re just getting started. Like the saying goes, “Specialists make more than generalists.” Master one specialty at a time and do it in a specific niche. For example, write autoresponders for the insurance industry. As you learn more and expand your business reach, you can gradually master other areas that interest you.
  2. Chuck your excuses once and for all. We’ve all thought these things once or twice: “I don’t have enough time … I don’t know enough to get started.” Or, “Nobody appreciates my talent. They don’t value copywriting skills like they should.” Instead, carve out time in your day by throwing out TV watching, aimless web surfing, or other time-wasting activities — to build your skills.

    Then, accept the fact that you know more about writing copy than 99% of the world. Present yourself as a confident professional, and you’ll eventually link up with clients willing to pay.

  3. Stop being content with a small-time copywriting career. This lifestyle isn’t about having to worry and hustle over each job, with a paycheck as your only end goal. There are folks out there earning several hundred thousand dollars a year doing what you already know how to do. Consistently aim for bigger goals, and you’ll be on your way to following their footsteps. What may have begun as a small-time copywriting career for you will gradually unfold into a profitable business.
  4. Acknowledge that your writing skills create a viable, monetizable business. It’s easy to question your worth when you come across people who don’t know the real value of good copy. They think, “I can write a sentence … I know something about grammar … why should I hire someone else to do it?” Move away from those people. It’s not worth your time to convince them that quality copy requires structure and skill.
  5. Approach self-marketing like you approach brushing your teeth and do it a little bit every day. If you brushed for five hours straight at the end of each month, it wouldn’t do you any good. That’s the same approach a lot of freelancers take with self-marketing.

    They work hard at it — when they’re not busy with projects. But once they get busy, self-marketing falls to the wayside. They work on the project at hand, and don’t look down the road to see what’s in store. Instead, make self-marketing a regular part of your success routine.

  6. Think of yourself as a strategist rather than a do-as-you’re-told worker. This means looking for opportunities within every project and readily sharing new ideas with clients. They’ll appreciate your initiative. Maximize every opportunity. Never just accept a job as it is.
  7. Frequently revisit your reasons for being a freelance writer. Take care not to get caught up in the wealth and respect that come with this career. Focus on the reason you chose this path in the first place and make sure you’re really savoring whatever it was that tempted you. For example, if you wanted freedom from a schedule, make sure you travel to take advantage of your flexibility. If you wanted more time with your family, make sure you plan dedicated family outings.
  8. Even as you grow more successful, be sure to take time off to have fun and celebrate the quality of your life. You’ll get to the point where more time in front of your computer will always mean more money. That’s when you need to make sure you stop and grant yourself time to enjoy how far you’ve come.

Squeeze Satisfaction From Every Aspect of The Writer’s Life

After his presentation at last year’s Bootcamp, millionaire copywriter Ted Nicholas told me he lives his life based on a 90/10 principle: 90% healthy and wise choices, 10% indulgence.

Given his great wealth and numerous accomplishments in the industry, he must know what he’s talking about.

There are a lot of things to love about this lifestyle. But, I think one of the most important things is the level of empowerment you gain when you have total control over your time, income, and activities.

This linear approach to the freelance writer’s life is definitely the road less traveled. But, it’s also the best way to squeeze the most satisfaction out of every day you live. I encourage you to follow these eight practices regularly … and watch your career balloon as a result.

The Professional Writers’ Alliance

The Professional Writers’ Alliance

At last, a professional organization that caters to the needs of direct-response industry writers. Find out how membership can change the course of your career. Learn More »


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Published: November 29, 2011

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