Making the transition from amateur writer to full-time freelancer is no walk in the park. Dealing with clients, setting rates, and learning how to work efficiently can be difficult, to say the least. Check out this article for a list of common challenges freelancers face and tips on how to overcome them.
Gone are the days of the traditional 9-to-5 schedule. Lately, more professionals are leaving their full-time jobs behind and starting to work for themselves. According to a recent study, 53 million Americans are freelancing and thoroughly enjoying the fact that they are in charge of their own schedules. That's about 34-percent of workers. This type of career is exciting, no doubt, but also potentially risky. Without a reliable source of income, working independently can quickly turn from lifelong dream to eerie nightmare.
If you're a writer, things can be particularly challenging. Not only do you have to deal with common problems associated with freelancing, you also have to learn how to overcome the dreaded writer's block and work productively regardless of how uninspired you might be at the moment. To help you out, we've gathered a few common challenges independent writers face, along with useful tips on how to deal with them.
This is the number one challenge most freelance writers will face, especially at the beginning of their careers. Convincing clients to trust and hire you can be tricky if you have no writing samples or projects to show them, so you'd better start building a solid portfolio ASAP. You can try your luck looking for clients on freelancing portals, but be aware – these usually get extremely competitive. So what is there to do?
Here's a crazy idea: become self-sufficient. Create your own professional blog and promote the heck out of it. Write smart and catchy articles, and you should build a following in no time. The more popular you get, the better the chance to reach potential clients. You can hire a digital marketing agency to help you design a smart marketing strategy. Remember: you need to invest money if you want to make money. Also, consider guest-posting for popular sites in your niche. More on that here.
If we had a nickel for every time we postponed writing to do something far less important, but more fun, we could easily have bought our own private island by now. Procrastination kills your productivity and confidence. Even worse, it can cause you to miss deadlines or hand in sloppy work, which can seriously affect your reputation. Stop indulging yourself and get to work.
You need to find a healthy balance between work and play, and the fastest way to do this is by establishing a routine. You might have picked the freelancing road to get away from having a schedule, but sometimes setting working hours can work in your favor. Let's say you decide to work eight hours per day, five in the morning and three in the afternoon. Do it day after day and you'll find that it will get easier to focus on your tasks during those hours.
They happen. They're unavoidable. They come out of nowhere. And they can take a serious toll on your finances, especially if you haven't been cautious.
When you're a freelancer, you live based on a variable income. Saving money and establishing an emergency fund is a must. Ideally, you should have enough money in your savings account to cover your living expenses for three months. You never know when clients will decide to leave you behind, so it's best to have a savings account to rely on when a dry spell happens. You can find more useful financial tips for freelancers here.
Lack of Inspiration
You write best when you're inspired, we get that. By waiting for inspiration to come, however, you'll waste time and lose clients. As Peter De Vries wisely stated, “I write when I'm inspired, and I see to it that I'm inspired at nine o'clock every morning.” You need to learn how to deal with writer's block early on, since the lack of ideas is one of those challenges you'll have to face over and over again during your career as a freelance writer.
Some advice? Read. A lot. Everything. Hang out with people who inspire you. Watch a movie. Change your working environment. Ask your friends for ideas. Go for a walk or meet someone for drinks. Give your mind a chance to unwind. You'll come back to your desk with a fresh perspective.
Life as a freelance writer can be extremely rewarding, though, despite the pesky struggles we've listed above. You get to set your own hours and rates. Also, you can accept only projects you're really passionate about. In the end, it's worth the hassle.