Stop for a second and ask yourself this question:
What makes freelancing so appealing to me? WHY do I want to make a living this way?
If you’re anything like me, it’s because you want things like:
- The ability to grow and scale your income
- The freedom to work from anywhere at any time
- Freedom from shitty 9-to-5 gigs and asshole bosses
But here’s the thing (brace yourself, my friend – it’s about to get REAL up in this thangggg):
If you don’t treat freelance writing like a business, you probably won’t get any of that stuff out of it.
For example, if you don’t have a strategy and growth plan for your freelance writing business, you probably won’t grow and scale your income.
If you keep an “employee mindset,” you’ll probably let clients treat you like a doormat and end up working 24/7 to keep them happy.
If you act like an employee instead of a business owner, that’s exactly how clients will treat you. And suddenly, you’ll feel like your right back at your 9-to-5.
And that’s just gross.
I don’t want you to suffer any of those negative consequences, which is why I put together this blog post detailing exactly how to treat freelance writing like a business.
It ain’t gonna happen if you keep bidding for “penny per word” gigs and shooting off tons of copied-and-pasted emails in response to job ads.
But maybe you already know that – you just aren’t sure how to ditch the employee mindset and set yourself up for long-term success as a freelance writing business owner.
Keep reading, because this post is PACKED with advice to help you take your freelance writing business to the next level.
Let’s start with one of the most important things you’ll do to grow your business.
1. Make smart investments in yourself.
The other day, I saw a freelance writer say something like this online:
“I don’t want to spend money on anything for my freelance writing business until I’m making money freelance writing.”
And that, my friend, is about as ass-backwards as it gets.
The whole “you’ve got to spend money to make money” is something I’ve found to be true – for sure.
Don’t get me wrong here – I completely understand that when you’re broke, you’re probably not going to buy a shiny new computer, a $1000 writing course, or whatever.
I’ve been there.
But not being willing to invest in basic stuff, like a domain or a website?
That’s going to kill your career before it even starts.
You’re running a business here, so you have to focus on the return you’re going to get on your investment.
For example, when I started out freelance writing, I had just been fired.
My husband didn’t have a job either – his contract ended the same day.
And I had just been diagnosed with a Stage I melanoma, so I knew the medical bills were about to get a little cray cray.
But you know what?
I bought a custom domain anyway, and I bought LimeLeads so I’d be able to cold email my target clients.
I knew that stuff was going to help me grow my business faster.
Sure, it cost me some cash I really didn’t want to spend at the time.
But without it, I seriously doubt I’d have been able to land the high-paying clients I got as a newbie freelance writer.
Those clients may not have taken me seriously as a businessperson.
I was confident that I’d be able to make the money back fast – and I did. All because I took that initial leap (with a clear strategy in mind, of course!).
And any time I’ve wanted to invest in something else for my business, I’ve made it happen.
One month, I hustled to find extra work (even if it meant working longer days) because I knew I needed a new laptop.
(And I do mean “needed” here – I was workin’ with a shitty $300 Toshiba laptop that constantly crashed and wouldn’t even load a web page without me waiting around. Huge time-waster and productivity killer!)
So I worked my ass off for a little while.
And then I bought the laptop and scaled back.
See what I’m getting at here?
If you need something for your business, go after that shit. Don’t let anything stop you.
When I started freelance writing, I remember telling my husband that I would literally go take any shitty part-time job I could find so I’d be able to pay for a website and the stuff I needed to start my freelance writing business.
It never came to that, but my attitude probably had a lot to do with why I was able to scale my income so quickly.
I wasn’t going to make excuses or let anything stop me from getting what I wanted.
It was do or die in my mind.
2. Always improve and evolve.
Don’t let yourself stagnate.
You should always strive to level up, even if you feel like you’re doing just fine.
I’m not just talking about writing skills here – you should improve your business too.
For example, you could study web design best practices and learn what websites that sell have in common. Then, you could start implementing those strategies and improving your freelance writer website.
Or, you could study SEO best practices and learn what you need to do to get your freelance writer website to rank in Google.
Because let’s face it – when you start freelance writing, you probably can’t drop thousands of dollars on a web designer or an SEO consultant for your site.
But you CAN learn more about how to win more business with your website and DIY the shit out of it.
This is just one example.
Make a list of the ways you can level your business up, and create an action plan so you can get started soon.
Here are a few more ideas:
- Take a better headshot for your website/social profiles.
- Land X amount of guest blog posts in your niche by a specific date.
- Update all of your social media profiles with your niche and results you’ve driven for your previous clients.
Don’t wait around for the “right time” to make positive changes to your freelance writing business – just take action!
3. Give yourself permission to fail (and fail FAST).
[clickToTweet tweet=”Freelance writer? Give yourself permission to fail. And fail FAST. Here’s why >>>> https://wp.me/p7ctRR-QIl” quote=”Give yourself permission to fail. And fail FAST.”]
Perfectionism only slows you down in business.
Now, I’m not saying everything you create should be a piece of shit that you aren’t confident in.
But at the same time, you can’t sit at your computer and pick apart every aspect of your business before you get started.
Because you know what?
It’s never going to be perfect.
Business owners understand that, and they start before they feel “ready.”
Sure, they prepare a bit and go into what they’re doing with a clear strategy in mind.
But they also know that the best way to learn is by doing – not thinking about doing.
Don’t let a fear of failure hold you back from achieving your goals.
[clickToTweet tweet=”Don’t let a fear of failure hold you back from reaching your freelance writing goals. >>> https://wp.me/p7ctRR-QIl” quote=”Don’t let a fear of failure hold you back from reaching your freelance writing goals.”]
Every freelance writer out there, including me, has failed at some point, and you will too.
You just have to accept it and keep going anyway!
Fail fast too – if you have an idea, get it out there as quickly as possible.
And if it fails?
…Who fucking cares?
Adjust, and toss that idea in the “this didn’t work” pile.
You’ll just be one step closer to figuring out what DOES work.
4. Set a schedule and stick to it.
I know what you might be thinking:
Um, the whole reason I started freelance writing was to gain freedom and NOT have to stick to a strict schedule. PASS.
I totally felt that way when I started out.
Let’s be honest with ourselves here, though.
Most people don’t get shit done without a clear schedule and plan in mind.
You can’t just approach freelance writing thinking that you’ll just work “whenever.”
Especially during that first “growth” phase of your business when you’re really trying to build a presence and land enough clients to get by.
You need to know exactly what you’re going to do and when you’re going to do it.
For example, when I first started my business, I spent lots of days working from around 8AM to 8PM.
I knew when I was going to cold email potential clients, when I was going to work on improving my website, etc.
Attacking every day with a clear plan in mind and frontloading that hard work allowed me to scale my business pretty damn fast.
So, create some kind of project management system for yourself, even if you have to use a free Google Calendar for now.
(I use Basecamp + love it. I’m not even an affiliate for them or anything – just crazy about how easy Basecamp makes it to track everything!)
And yes – even if you don’t have any clients, you need to do this.
Decide when you’re going to start working, and give yourself a specific time frame for what you plan to accomplish each day.
Then, stick to your plans, just as if it were client work with a strict deadline.
On a related note…
5. Care about your clients.
I’m not just saying this from the perspective of someone who freelances.
I’ve hired freelancers in the past.
Editors, writers, designers. You name it.
And it’s always obvious who cares about my business and who really couldn’t care less.
I shit you not.
I’ve had freelancers argue with me about how I run my business (about personal choices that had nothing to do with their area of expertise), turn in work that I wouldn’t even expect from a 5th grader, and all kinds of stuff that made me go “WTF?”
And I’ve also worked with freelancers who were communicative, professional, friendly, and consistently did amazing work.
You’d be surprised how much just genuinely caring about your clients will set you apart from the hordes of freelancers who are just trying to make a quick buck.
(Ouch, right?! But it’s true.)
I’m talking about stuff like:
- REALLY thinking about your client’s business and how you can help them reach their goals with your mad writing skillz
- Keeping clients in the loop about the work you’re doing
- Hitting deadlines
- Putting your best effort into your work (and charging accordingly, of course J)
- Thanking clients when they give you positive feedback
It really comes down to running your freelance writing business like, well… a business. And caring about the impact your work has.
Not just thinking of it as “this is how I’m going to scramble to make money today.”
6. Build a badass brand presence online.
Make no mistake – the way your potential clients perceive you matters.
Know what determines their perception of you and the quality of your work?
Your online presence.
I’m talking about your freelance writer website.
Your guest blog posts.
Your social media profiles.
With that in mind, it’s easy to understand why someone who has a 1990s-looking website and no social media presence is going to come across as sketchy.
On the other hand, a writer with a professional-looking website and social media profiles (with a clear niche defined in both places) is going to make clients think:
Whoa. This writer is a business owner who I respect the SHIT out of. I bet their rates are high, but the quality of their work is probably worth it!
Seriously – if you want clients to invest a lot of money in hiring YOU, you need to have an online presence that says:
“I’m worth that investment.”
Here are 3 ideas to help you boost your online presence in a way that’ll help you attract more (and BETTER) clients:
Brand your social media profiles.
Start by picking ONE profile image and ONE header image to use everywhere.
(You can use a tool like Canva to create a custom header for free. Or you can just use your logo – up to you!)
For example, here’s the Cutthroat Copy header image I use on my LinkedIn profile. And I have the same profile picture on all of my social media accounts.
Apparently, I have an “All-Star” LinkedIn profile. Please hold your applause until the end of the blog post.
When it comes to branding, consistency is KEY. It’s what helps you stand out and become more recognizable/memorable online!
Optimize your freelance writer website to convert.
You know what?
If this means you have to start over COMPLETELY with your website, do that shit.
But as far as making your website convert?
Here’s what you can do:
- Make your niche crystal. fucking. clear. Put it in your tagline or in big, bold text on your home page!
- Add a picture of your face to your website. This will help you build trust with potential clients.
- Talk about past results you’ve achieved for clients. Stuff like conversions, social shares, email open rates, etc.
What it really comes down to is letting your clients know how you can help their business specifically AND making them feel confident that you’re well-equipped to get the job done right!
Put your niche EVERYWHERE a client might see you online.
Seriously – I’ve had a LOT of writers email me to let me know that doing this resulted in new clients.
It’s as simple as changing your social media bios from this:
To something like this:
B2B Writer Specializing in Technology Whitepapers
Getting SUPER clear about your niche lets your target clients know that you’re the best fit for them – and that puts you one step closer to working together.
[clickToTweet tweet=”Marketing your freelance writing niche is what lets clients know you’re a great fit. >>> https://wp.me/p7ctRR-QIl” quote=”Getting super clear about your niche lets your target clients know you’re a great fit to work with them.”]
So don’t hesitate to do this.
I know you might think going too narrow with your niche will cause you to miss out on freelance writing opportunities because you won’t be able to write for anyone and everyone.
But here’s the thing:
You don’t need to write for anyone and everyone. You just need to be the BEST fit for a specific type of client – the target client for your freelance writing niche.
7. OWN the shit out of who you are and what you do.
Let me explain this with an example.
I recently started a YouTube channel.
I don’t have many videos – at all.
But I own the shit out of the fact that I’m on YouTube
I even call myself a “YouTuber” in my Twitter bio.
Even though I’m not some famous YouTuber with hundreds of videos and years of experience making video content.
How is this relevant to freelance writing?
Well, it means that you have to start owning the fact that you’re a freelance writer before you feel “ready.” BEFORE you feel like you’re actually worthy of being called a “writer.”
Honestly, it doesn’t matter how many clients you’ve had in the past.
Even if you’ve only worked on one writing gig before, you should still put your title, your niche, etc. in your social profiles.
Don’t be afraid to market yourself – even if you don’t feel like you have enough experience yet.
Because you know what?
If you’re not confident, clients aren’t going to be confident in you either.
I mean, shit. Obviously, you shouldn’t fake your experience level, but you can totally fake your confidence level.
Whatever it takes to get yourself in the right mindset.
Come across as a freelance writing business owner, and you’ll be able to attract clients who respect you and pay you well.
Come across as a freelance writer who is desperate for work, and you’ll attract clients who can’t wait to haggle on pricing and treat you like a doormat.
If you’re still feeling a little lost and don’t know where to start, I’ve got something for ya.
And if you DO enroll, feel free to hit reply to any of the course emails and ask a question if you need help.
See you there!
Will you use any of these strategies to treat freelance writing like a business? Let’s talk about it in the comments section!