You knew you were born to be a writer.
So, you leaped into freelancing. But it’s been harder than you thought it would be.
Being a good writer isn’t enough; you’re an entrepreneur now.
You looked at all the right freelancing forums and job boards.
You’ve niched down. You follow Neil Patel religiously.
And you pitch. And you pitch. And you pitch.
But you’re still struggling.
And seeing other new writers out there killing it isn’t helping your confidence.
You find yourself thinking, “What the heck am I doing wrong? What do they have that I don’t?”
Chances are, you aren’t thinking like a BOSS.
It might be time for some tough love.
Being a good writer isn’t enough; you’re an entrepreneur now. You own your own business. Let that sink in for a minute.
You aren’t just a writer you are a business owner.
Because that’s what this is, even if you only devote a few hours a week to it. It’s a business.
And if you aren’t treating your freelancing as a serious business, you can’t expect potential clients to either.
So, in the words of my girl, Lizzo, it’s time for you to “Boss up and change your life.”
There are plenty of resources out there to help you with the administrative aspects of running a business; this post is all about making the mental shift necessary to succeed when you are in business for yourself.
It’s hard work and demanding of your time and energy, but let me tell you, it feels so damn good when you start to see YOUR business grow.
You’re the Boss Now – Ditch the Employee Mindset
It’s up to you to make the decisions.
And I mean ALL the decisions, big and small. Working at a full-time job, you have a time that you are expected to show up, eat your lunch, and go home for the day.
You may not have a heavy-handed manager, but your boss generally dictates what you do at work and when.
Not so anymore, my friend.
It’s all on you now, and it’s up to you to make decisions that will move you forward on your entrepreneurial journey! It’s time to get used to wearing all the hats. (They look good on you anyway.)
Time management is going to be critical here. Again, as an employee, someone else is managing your time.
As a freelancer, time management is on you.
And working from home often means you are dealing with more distractions than just the lure of Facebook and your coworker telling you what they did at the bar last Saturday night. There’s housework that needs to be done, a friend that wants you to go out for drinks later, and the kids still aren’t in bed.
The distractions are non-stop.
Some ways that I have found to manage my time and avoid distractions:
- Prioritize what’s important to you. Get crystal clear on areas of your life where you can stop doing things and use that time to work on your business. For example, at my full-time job, I have a one-hour lunch break. Guess what I do on my lunch break these days? I turn down social events more often now too, and binge-watching TV is a thing of the past.
- Find and use a good time-management system. I like the Pomodoro (tomato) method: working for 25 minutes and then taking a small or long break. I use this timer. When you take a break always, always, always use the break timer and always, always, always jump back into your next 25-minute segment when your break is up.
- Put your phone on Do Not Disturb while you are working, even better, put it in Airplane Mode.
- Block distractions. If you live in a noisy household, pick up a pair of earbuds and download the Relaxio White Noise Generator It’s got excellent white and brown noise that helps drown out background noise.
Perfectionists take note! “Progress not Perfection” and “Done is better than perfect” are your new mantras.
You don’t have time to spend the entire day on one project anymore, getting it just right.
At a job, it’s easy to devote large portions of your day to one or two projects. However, you wear all the hats now remember? And that means you need time for each hat.
If you are concerned about seeing your writing improve, the best way to do it is through volume.
The more pieces you write, the better you’re going to be at it.
When you work for someone else, it’s their job to be concerned about the future goals of the company.
As an entrepreneur, you have to have both short-term and long-term goals for your business. And you have to be aware of them at all times, tweaking them as you go.
If you blindly focus on the short-term, you may find yourself going in circles with no real direction and growth. Whereas if you only focus on the long-term you probably aren’t putting in the necessary daily work to get you there.
Fake it ‘Til You Make it
Are you uncomfortable with all of this yet?
Guess what? Only you and your friends and mentors need to know that.
When you are pitching to clients or dealing with clients, remember YOU ARE THE BOSS! The buck stops with you, so adopt that sense of professionalism.
Businesses are used to doing business with other businesses. (Heh, that was fun to write.) So, step up to the plate.
Do they need to know that you are a tiny freelancer just starting out and that you’ve only written a few things for your husband’s uncle’s t-shirt printing business?
No, and most likely they don’t care, all they care about is whether you can give them what they need. Don’t be wishy-washy in your communications. Be firm, be professional.
Value Your Time and Experience, Even Especially if You Are New.
I know it’s tempting to take those jobs on the job boards that pay pennies for hundreds of words. Don’t do it!
Even if you don’t have the experience, your time is worth so much more.
As a business owner, now more than ever, YOUR time is YOUR money.
Your time would be much better spent writing an unpaid guest post on a blog with a good readership that will get your name out there, rather than for some website that no one’s ever heard of that’s going to pay you a pittance.
In her Write Your Way to Your First $1K course Elna says that she wouldn’t recommend charging less than $.10 cents a word even if you are starting out, and I couldn’t agree more!
If You Think Small, You’re Going to Stay Small.
I’m going to let you in on a little secret about being in business for yourself.
You can pretty much do whatever you want.
No, I’m serious!
Do you want to write for a big magazine? Then do the research and pitch to them!
Most freelancers get stuck in that hunting-for-gigs-on-the-job-boards mentality because they don’t realize they don’t need permission to go for something bigger.
Did you hear what I said? You don’t need someone’s permission!
If you’re still waiting for a ‘boss’ to tell you it’s okay to apply for that writing job that you might be slightly under qualified for, or to cold-pitch to a larger company or magazine, then you are never going to make it.
Give yourself permission to GO BIG and then do it!
Network, Network, Network!
Nothing drives home the fact that you are a business owner more than introducing yourself in a networking setting. “Hi, I’m Tracey. I’m a copywriter.” (firm handshake)
Man, that feels great!
Try to attend live networking events, even if they aren’t in your niche. You never know where a good connection is going to pop-up.
Plus, you are more likely to get jobs where you aren’t drowning in other writers. There’s a lot to be said for being the only freelance writer in the room.
And just as important, meeting new people as a business owner, rather than as So-and-So’s mom, or Lindsey from HR, is such a massive boost to your entrepreneurial self-confidence.
Being around others who are successful will build you up! If you don’t have access to networking events near you, then sign up for live webinars or email lists.
Dig around the internet and get on the email lists of people that inspire you and pay attention to what they are doing.
Ask the Experts
Look, it’s necessary to be a part of a network of writers lifting each other up and encouraging each other on our journey.
But when it comes time for solid advice, ask an expert. Ask someone who’s been at this for a few years, AND who’s successful. Especially if it’s business-related and not necessarily writing-related.
It’s simple: When you need to know what to do about that weird rash on your butt, you see a licensed physician, not the med student in his second semester of classes.
Learn to Love the Hustle
Because let’s face it, you may have gotten into this to write, but nearly 50% of your time is going to be finding and managing clients and administrative duties.
Sit down and think about what excites you about the chase.
Get yourself hyped up about pitching. Come on! It’s exciting! It’s like digging for buried treasure! And it feels fantastic when you get a hit. Boom! New client. Validation!
Be Completely Honest with Yourself
- Are you willing to get out of your comfort zone to do this? Like your card was declined repeatedly at the grocery store with eight other people behind you in line and you don’t have any cash uncomfortable? Because this is where real growth happens.
- Are you willing to make sacrifices to see your business grow? Are you ready to get up earlier or stay up later, give up your lunch break, skip drinks with the gang, not binge-watch the new series on Netflix everyone at work is talking about, etc.?
- Are you willing to reinvest the money you make to learn new things via courses, upgrade software, attend conferences, etc. so your business can grow?
- Can you handle rejection? You’re going to be told no, or even nothing at all A LOT.
- Does your dream of freelancing have more to do with being in a job you hate, rather than a desire to be an entrepreneur? Because this is a much easier fix than starting a new business.
Take some time to think over these questions and be brutally honest with your answers.
If your answer is no to most of these then maybe you need to find a different outlet for your writing. AND THAT’S OKAY! Really, it is.
Sometimes I feel like it’s easier to figure out what we aren’t supposed to be doing with our lives, rather than what we are supposed to be doing!
If you said yes to most of these questions, but you’re still unsure of your Boss Powers, or you need a little confidence boost, keep reading!
But I Don’t Feel Like a Business Owner
Well then, it’s time to get excited about your product – YOU!
At the end of the day, that’s what you’re selling. You, your talents, your experience, the whole package. Here are a few things I do to help me feel more like a boss.
- Get dressed, damn it. Getting dressed helps your mind realize there is work to be done. Our brains like habit and repetition, so if you’re wearing clothes that you usually lounge or sleep in, guess what your mind is going to think it’s time to do? You don’t have to dress up, but if it makes you feel more productive, go for it. Ladies – an extra tip: put on your power lipstick. You know, the one that makes you feel like a rockstar every time you wear it? Yeah, put that one on. You mean business, girl!
- Make a playlist of your favorite power tunes. Pick songs that make you feel energized, powerful, like you could take over the world. Rock your playlist in your earbuds before you settle into work.
- Pick an energizing message or mantra and write it on your bathroom mirror with an erasable marker. Read it out loud every morning and evening before you go to bed. I have “Boss up and change your life” written on mine. Change your message up from time to time.
- Read something you’ve published, wherever it is – LinkedIn, a guest blog post, a client’s webpage. Look! YOU wrote that! And it’s published! Go you!
- Start a Kudos File and save all of the emails, texts, messages, whatever of the great things people have said about your writing or your business and reread them. Often.
- Do something by yourself. And no getting groceries doesn’t count. Yeah, I know it sounds weird, but it makes you feel strong and independent – like a boss. Go out to lunch by yourself. Go for a hike. Take a car ride that’s longer than an hour and grab a coffee somewhere new.
Look at you all independent, and conquering the world.
Feeling better? Good.
Feeling more like you got this? (Because you do.) Good.
Now get back out there and start kicking butt and taking names, Boss!