It’s one thing to enjoy the freedom freelance writing offers. But sometimes we still get overwhelmed. Deadlines loom, payments might seem to take forever, and our to-do lists could occupy a mile-long scroll. Fortunately there are some things you can do to make yourself more productive than ever, and even happier in your freelance writing work.
Here are five tips to help you become a happier and more productive freelance writer:
1. Make a plan.
If you don’t already have a business plan and marketing plan, create one. If you have one but you created it a while back, update it. Your business plan and marketing plan act as road maps to help guide you through the day to day aspects of managing your freelance career. It’s a whole lot easier to reach your destination when you know where you’re going.
2. Get organized.
Some people claim to work better when surrounded by clutter. I used to be one of those people. Then I truly got things organized and I realized what BS that was. As much as I might have known where things were in my mess on my desk, the simple truth is that clutter can mentally weigh you down whether you realize it or not.
Give yourself a cleaner, more organized work place. Give yourself some time to get used to the change. And see if you feel better and can get even more done in a day after a week or two goes by.
And remember, that doesn’t only mean cleaning your desk — bookcases, storage areas, and even your computer files count too. Still hate it after a few weeks? Well, it’s not that difficult to clutter things up again. So have at it.
3. Find your most productive work time.
Just because you’ve always called yourself a night owl, it doesn’t make it so. If you have flexibility in your schedule (as in you’re not already committed to another full-time job or family obligations that set your work hours for you), try a few different work schedules. And give them each a week or two so you can adapt.
Try working in the evenings. Try working early in the mornings (there’s no way around the fact that your mind will always be freshest before you’ve gone through the rest of your day, so if your schedule allows for this, I highly recommend it). Try a mid-day schedule too. Figure out when you truly work best — when you can get the most done in as little time as possible while maintaining whatever level of creativity you need for your freelance career.
4. Get paid up front.
Even if you’re not comfortable having clients pay you in full up front, at least collect 50% of your project fee before starting. When you have a significant portion of that money on-hand, you don’t have to worry as much about deadbeat clients stiffing you on payments for work you’ve already done and for time you can never get back.
Not comfortable changing payment terms with existing clients? Then make that your new term going forward for new clients instead.
5. Re-evaluate your rates.
One of the biggest downers is to work hard and feel like you’re not being fairly compensated for your work. You can get that working for an employer in a 9-5 job. You don’t need it as a freelance writer. If you’re not earning enough, raise your rates.
Yes, that might mean completely changing your target market. But if you made a mistake and targeted the wrong market to begin with, it’s better to change things up now than remain unsatisfied and have to do it down the road anyway. Not sure what you need to charge? Our freelance hourly rate calculator can help you figure out the minimum you need to charge for your freelance work. (Just click the link near the top to use the advanced mode.)
Remember that there are many little things you can do throughout the course of your work day to get more done and be happier in the process. The above ideas are a just a few of the bigger tasks that can make a long term difference.
You could also create daily to-do lists and schedules to keep you on track, surround yourself with things that make you happy (plants, fuzzy slippers while you work, a nice candle, motivational calendar, or whatever works for you), or even allow yourself a nap or walk or some other kind of break mid-day if it brings you back to work feeling refreshed.
The point is that if you can be happier or more productive in your freelance work, you should take the time to figure out what’s going to work for you and then do it. There is absolutely no reason any freelance writer shouldn’t thoroughly enjoy their work.
How are you going to increase your productivity and happiness as a freelancer? If you have other tips or ideas, feel free to share them with our other readers in the comments below.
Note: This post was originally published on October 26, 2010 and was updated and re-released on the currently-noted publication date.