We all have goals for our freelance writing careers. And many of us are probably gearing up to make changes in the New Year. But what happens when you feel stuck -- like there's no time left in the day to actually work on growing our businesses? No matter how busy or even overwhelmed you might feel there's always one option open. Change your current work habits.
If you're already using all of the time and resources you have available and you're not completely happy with where your career is going, just use those resources in different ways. Here are a few examples of habits you might consider changing in order to free yourself up to improve your writing career.
1. Try a different work schedule.
If you work in the evenings now, try getting up to work early instead -- or vice versa. You might be surprised at what times you work most productively.
2. Cut back on social media.
It's easy to get addicted to quick social media check-ins. They can become serious time-wasters that ultimately hold you back. Try cutting back overall. Focus on the tools and tactics that are best for your business instead of trying to do too much. And keep personal social networking for after hours. Don't mix it with your business networking, taking time away from other important things during the work day.
3. Track your schedule.
You might have time-wasting habits you don't even realize. Track your work days for a week to find out how you're really spending your time. See where you can cut back or re-prioritize things. Find out if you have a typical slow period and look for ways to get your energy up during those times. For example, a 20 minute walk to rev you back up might waste much less time than your typical 45 minute break to hang out on Facebook and Twitter.
4. Lump similar tasks together.
So what if you currently like to finish one project before moving on to the next? If it's not working for you, change the habit. Try something new. For example, if you have to write three articles you could work on research for all three around the same time, then draft them all together, then tackle editing for each later. This way your brain isn't bouncing from one type of work to another constantly, and you won't need time to re-adjust. Even small breaks in between can add up to a lot of time lost.
5. Try something new.
You might have your favorite marketing tasks, but if your career isn't where you want it to be then something isn't working. You need to maximize the return on every minute you spend promoting your freelance writing services. If you're not attracting enough clients, or not the right kind of clients, lose the old habits and give something new a try. But take the time to research it first of course. You shouldn't take on anything without having a reasonable expectation of results first. Going in blind often wastes more time.
You don't have to settle for low paying gigs because you don't think you have the time to market to a better group of prospects. You don't have to settle for your current income level being "okay" if what you really want is something much more. You don't have to settle for a career without benefits, retirement savings, or any other perks you want. You don't have settle. Period.
No matter where you are right now, you can grow your freelance writing business into exactly the kind of career you want. But sticking to the same old habits won't likely make it happen. Don't be afraid to try something new. It takes a bit of courage to make changes, but then again nothing good comes out of being complacent in business. Find areas where you can improve your freelance writing career, and see how you can optimize how you spend your time and other resources.
What habits would you like to change as a freelance writer? Are there little changes in the works, like scheduling each day or creating to-do lists when you used to work without them? Or are you considering more drastic changes? If you have other ideas for habits writers can change to improve their careers, leave a comment below to tell us about them.
Note: This post was originally published on December 7, 2010.
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Jennifer Mattern is a professional blogger, freelance business writer, and indie author. She began writing for clients in 1999 and started her first blog in 2004.
She owns 3 Beat Media -- a publishing and client services company which operates All Indie Writers as well as several other websites and blogs including The Busy Author's Guide and BizAmmo. Jenn comes from a background in online PR and social media consulting, having owned a small PR firm for several years before choosing to pursue a full-time writing and publishing career.
Jenn also writes fiction under multiple pen names in the areas of children's fiction, mysteries, and horror fiction. Jenn is an active member of the Horror Writers Association (HWA) and currently serves as the organization's Assistant Coordinator of Promotions and Social Media.
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