So You Want To Be A Freelancer, Part Two

Happy man businessman, freelancer, student working at computer at home and office

If you’ve recently started freelancing and you’re struggling to get repeat business, there are a number of things you can do to improve your odds and better your relationships with the clients you’re working with.  The first thing you’ll want to do, if you haven’t done so already, is read part one of our series on becoming a successful freelancer and honing the three skills we talk about in that article.

If you’ve already done that and you’re still struggling, it pays to sit down and do some thinking about exactly how you’re structuring your day.  Here are some of the more common mistakes new freelancers make:

Too Many Distractions

This can take a thousand different forms.  Maybe you start researching a topic for a client and wind up watching six straight hours of cute kitten videos.  Or documentaries.  Or episodes of Critical Role.  Whatever your obsession is, before you know it, the better part of a day is gone and you haven’t actually gotten anything accomplished.

Willpower is the key here.  Just don’t give into the temptation.  Save the cute kitten videos for after the work is done.

Not Enough Discipline

This is an incredibly common problem for new writers.  Consistency is key.  Every morning when you get up, get dressed, grab a cup of coffee, and sit down at your computer and write.  Every morning.  Without fail.  Just do it.

Here’s the bottom line:  If you’re not writing every day, it’s a hobby, not a calling or a career.  If you’re fine with having a hobby, that’s okay, but if you want to turn it into a full-time career, discipline is key.

Lack Of Understanding Of Your Own Capabilities

Most people who are new to freelancing get themselves into trouble by promising more than they can reliably deliver because they don’t understand what they’re capable of.

For instance, I know that on any given day, I can write about five thousand words.  If I double down on the coffee and stay up late, I can push that to about 7500.  Those are my numbers and understanding them is key.

Given the above, when I give estimates to my clients, I assume 3750 words a day, or 75% of what I know I’m capable of.  Here’s why that matters:  If I get a new job to ghost write a 15,000 word ebook, I’m going to estimate 4 days to complete that job.  Note that I used my 75% figure, and not the 5,000 words a day I know it’s possible for me to write.

There are lots of reasons for this, but the main ones are that by using the 3750 figure, I allow myself time to research the topic and since I already know I can write more than that, I increase my odds of turning the work in on time or ahead of schedule, which is vastly preferable to turning the work in late.  One of those gets you repeat business, the other does not.

Finally, the simple truth is that I don’t like pulling all-nighters unless I have to.  Using the 75% figure means I can keep that to a minimum.

Take those lessons to heart and you will succeed as a freelancer.

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