4 Things That Help Me Succeed as a Freelancer

by Maurie Backman | Published on Oct. 24, 2021

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Here are some tactics that help me do better at my job.

When I first became a freelance writer, I had no idea how it would go. I'd heard horror stories from fellow writers about how difficult the freelance lifestyle can be -- always chasing clients down for money, not having employer health insurance, and wondering when your next assignment will come down the pike.

But despite the potential drawbacks of working freelance, it's a lifestyle I really appreciate. Being self-employed gives me the flexibility to earn an income while caring for my kids and tending to household responsibilities.

Of course, that juggling act isn't always so easy to pull off, and it's taken time to get into a decent groove. But here are a few tactics that have helped me do better professionally and financially as a freelancer.

1. I set a schedule

One of the trickiest things about working freelance is that it's hard to know when to plug away at work and when to stop and tackle other obligations. Oh yeah -- and there's the whole work-life balance thing that's important.

One thing that helps me is setting a schedule. That schedule might vary from week to week based on child-related or personal obligations and my workload. But I generally aim to map out a schedule every Sunday so I know when I'm supposed to be at my desk during the next five days.

2. I don't let myself get distracted

When you're a freelance writer who gets paid by the article, you can't afford to goof off during the workday. That's why I set myself up in a distraction-free workspace.

Not only do I have a dedicated office, but I generally turn my phone off during working hours so I'm not sidetracked by incoming text messages or alerts. Staying focused on work helps me put out more content -- which, in turn, boosts my paycheck.

3. I establish specific income goals

Between my house, my car, my kids, and my dog, I have my share of bills. (Don't we all?) That's why I find it important to set income goals. Those goals might change from month to month or year to year, depending on my circumstances.

Some months, I set a higher goal if I've recently had to withdraw from my emergency fund and want to replenish my savings. Other months, I push myself to work more to save up for a vacation. But knowing how much I want to earn helps me push toward those goals.

4. I listen to my clients

Securing a steady stream of work is a freelancer's dream, and one good way to do that is to be receptive to clients' feedback. A few years back, a client told me some of my writing came off as more formal than he wanted. I had to really work on adjusting my tone, but that effort paid off, because that client continued to throw a lot of work my way.

I also ask clients for feedback if it's been a while since they've offered some. I want to make sure I serve their needs so they'll be inclined to keep me on board.

Being a freelancer can be challenging, so if you're thinking of going freelance, it helps to strategize before diving in. And hopefully, these tips will help you succeed, and reap the benefits of self-employment.

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