When you tell people you’re a freelancer writer, they immediately make a few assumptions:
- You spend the whole day in your pajamas, and
- “Freelance writing” is really code for “unemployed.”
I say, fine: Let them think this. Who needs the competition? The truth is, if you’re smart about it, you can make a lot more money working for yourself than working for someone else, and you don’t have to punch a time clock.
Yeah! Now, here are five tips for actually getting some work done.
Tip 1: Create a division between work and home. It’s helpful to have a designated work space — ideally, an office or studio space outside of your home. If this isn’t possible, a home office with a door you can close is your next best option. Don’t have a room to set aside for an office? Go to your local Pier 1, buy a Chinese screen and section off a corner of a room. Voilà: instant office.
Tip 2: Take off your pajamas. No, I’m not saying you should work naked, but dress like you’re going to the office. Because, guess what? You are. Even if your “office” is your kitchen table, putting on regular work clothes gets you into the right mind-set. It also makes it less embarrassing when the UPS man shows up in the middle of the afternoon.
Tip 3: Get to work on time. You’ve cut out the commute, which means you’ve bought yourself a little time. So go ahead and have that extra cup of coffee; but it’s nice for your family, friends, clients and personal sanity if you keep at least relatively normal business hours.
Tip 4: Don’t watch TV in the middle of the day. Or go to the movies or do your laundry. You’re working, so work. However, occasional naps are perfectly acceptable and a great way to remind yourself that while you might not have technical support or a supply closet, your life is still pretty awesome.
Tip 5: But do go out to lunch. The writing life, especially the freelance writing life, can be isolating. And isolation leads to one thing: insanity. So set times for human contact helps, like lunch dates with clients or your fellow independently employed cohorts. For extra points — and probably extra business, too — join a business networking group.
There are a lot of other things you can do to be successful, like actually being a good writer, meeting deadlines and not annoying your clients. But I’ll leave those for you to figure out. In the meantime, put down that remote and get to work.
Anna Goldsmith is a partner at The Hired Pens, a Boston-based copywriting firm. You can reach her by email or 617-359-8133.