Feast or famine is the motto for every successful freelancer. I got my first freelance job the same day I was offered a three-month contract. I debated taking it. How could I handle a day job and an evening/weekend freelance job? My editor/trainer wisely quoted that aphorism back at me. I decided to feast in case I didn’t get another job once my contract ended. Freelancing is rough. It’s certainly not for the faint of heart, which is why trait number one is listed right in the title.
To be successful you must be fearless. It takes guts to strike out on your own. The odds of failure are high, and success is not guaranteed. Knowing this in the beginning is better than finding out six months down the road when rent is due. A lot of freelancing is done through friends and co-workers, so networking is extremely important. Most of my jobs have arisen because someone knew someone else and gave them my name.
2. Write to get better.
I had never written web copy before, but next thing I knew I was writing content for travel, clothing, and home décor sites. I knew nothing about shoes, art, couches, or hotels, and yet I had to write compelling copy. My first attempts were not great, but the more I wrote, the easier it got. I don’t claim to be a great copywriter, and I would never describe my product copy as a gripping read, but my writing overall has improved with time and repetition. Writing copy consistently teaches you to be concise and to get to the point.
3. Keep to a schedule
This may be the hardest part. It’s very easy as a freelancer to slack off and fall into bad habits. Freelancers usually work from home, and staying focused and motivated in your home can be very difficult. There are lots of distractions. Successful freelancers create routines and stick to them. Set working hours and don’t work outside those hours, otherwise your day job becomes a 24/7 job.
4. Take breaks
You’re allowed to take breaks, even when you work from home. Just be sure that when you do take a break, you step away from the computer. There needs to be times when you aren’t connected to your computer. Walk around the block, run the vacuum, or grab a coffee. Just stand up and walk away for five to fifteen minutes every couple of hours.
Know why you are doing this. As with any job, it’s important to ask why you want it. Is there a long-term goal that freelancing will help you attain? Do you need a more flexible work schedule? What about it is interesting or challenging to you? Sometimes a job just falls in your lap and you take it without asking why or if you even want it. This has been my experience more often than not. But I firmly believe in having a long-term goal. As long as freelancing is helping you to reach your goals, keep at it and aim to be a better writer today than you were yesterday.