You wake up, and it hits you.
It’s going to be one of THOSE days.
One that’s filled with headaches, fatigue, joint pain, brain fog and a whole host of other symptoms associated with your illness.
Maybe you have a chronic illness or maybe you just woke up with a tummy bug.
If you are chronically ill, freelancing is the perfect job.
Either way, you feel terrible and you have no idea how you’re going to manage your writing business. As freelancers, we don’t have built-in “sick days,” but freelancing certainly has its perks in this area.
Why Freelance Writing Is Perfect for Those with Chronic Illness
I started my writing business in 2016 after taking Elna Cain’s Write Your Way to $1k course.
By early 2017, I’d built it to $3k/month, but then I was diagnosed with Chronic Lyme (a tick-borne disease) in June.
And everything changed.
The way I managed clients, the time I spent marketing, my writing schedule – it all had to be reworked.
Before I dig into management tips, I want to encourage you in this:
If you are chronically ill, freelancing is the perfect job.
It can be hard being sick so often, and more than once you may feel like giving up.
Hang in there because this gig you’ve got going on is just the thing to get you through those hard times.
- You can work from your bed: Invest in a laptop if you’re able. And did you know they make folding desks you can use in bed or on the couch? Yep, awesome.
- You can stay in your PJs: Getting dressed for the day is a good productivity tip, but you can totally just stay in your pajamas if you want.
- You can set your own deadlines: Space out your client projects to accommodate for downtime. I give myself 2 weeks per project but almost always deliver before then. It’s just nice to leave some wiggle room for flare-ups.
So you see? Freelancing is the ideal job if you have a chronic illness – or even if you have a special needs child or are a caregiver of some sort.
Now that you’re encouraged to continue your business venture, here are some tips to help you thrive.
Tips for Managing Your Writing Business When You’re Sick
1. Find Support Networks
This tip is more about staying motivated than management, but motivation plays a huge role in business success, so it’s worth mentioning.
Do you know how many freelancers run successful businesses while having a chronic illness? A ton!
Connecting with those people can give you the encouragement you need (plus ongoing, targeted advice and tips) to power through those tough days.
Here are some great Facebook groups for entrepreneurs with chronic illness:
2. Increase Your Rates with Current Clients
Being sick often means you don’t have time to market yourself like you should because all your free time is spent on client work.
One way to grow your writing income during times like this is to increase your rates.
Here’s a super quick, mini case study:
I’ve been working with one client for over a year now, writing 2 blog posts a month. Our relationship has been picture perfect, but the rate we started at was now too low.
I recently proposed a 100% rate increase, and they gladly accepted. They didn’t even try to negotiate!
Try sending a polite email, emphasizing the length of your relationship, quality of work, timeliness of delivery and more. If you feel comfortable, briefly mention the growing costs of running your business, then propose a 25-50% increase.
(P.S. January-February is the perfect time to raise your rates. Most businesses are already accustomed to increases this time of year, so it doesn’t come as quite a shock.)
3. Pitch to Medical Publications, Chronic Illness Niche Sites and Wellness Businesses
You don’t have to be a health writer to write for health-related companies. As someone with a chronic illness, you have built-in experience that plenty of companies would love to tap into.
Businesses like these like to interview or accept paid guest posts from people working through their illness and pursuing entrepreneurial success.
Who knows – If they like your work, they may hire you for their blog!
Shoot for the moon, ya know?
4. Space Out Your Deadlines
You never know when a flare-up will happen or a couch day will strike, but you can set longer deadlines in order to compensate for them.
Two weeks is a good rule of thumb to follow.
That way, even if you’re out an entire week, you still have another one to finish the project.
If you have a client with weekly work (like with blogging), ask if you can deliver 2 posts every 2 weeks. It just gives you room to rest when you need to and hustle when you can.
5. Take a 5-Minute Moving Break
Freelance writing involves lots of sitting and staring at a computer. Prolonged sitting can result in stiff joints, back pain and more, which you don’t want to add to your already large list of symptoms.
Once an hour, take a quick 5-minute break. Walk around, grab a snack, wash your face, etc.
Just be sure to do something that involves a little activity.
As an added bonus, movement sparks your thinking process. It wakes up your brain, allowing you write better, faster.
6. Focus on Non-Writing Tasks During Downtime
It’s important to listen to your body. I know, I know – so cliché.
But seriously. Don’t overdo it.
Whether you have a chronic illness or you’re dealing with the flu, you need rest when you’re sick.
Some days are just better spent on the couch.
When that happens, you can do other things to manage your business besides writing tasks.
While laying down, hop on your phone and do some social media marketing, promote your page on Facebook, comment on blogs where your ideal client hangs out and other simple tasks.
Elna has a very effective tip for blog commenting:
Instead of just entering your name, put:
- Name | Site Name
So if your name is Sarah and your digital marketing portfolio is located at sarahwritesdigital.com, then you would enter:
- Sarah | Sarah Writes Digital
On days when you’re stuck in bed, use that time to write insightful comments on the top 5-10 blogs in your niche that your ideal client reads.
You’d be surprised how little work can go a long way!
Do you have a chronic illness? How do you manage your writing business? Let me know in the comments!