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The Top 5 Lies That Keep You From Freelance Writing {And How to Destroy Them}

freelance writer mindset

 

 

You’ve thought about freelance writing before, but you quickly drop the notion because it seems silly or insensible. You have a ton of reasons in your mind why it wouldn’t work:

  • You don’t know anything about business.
  • You’re not even a quote-unquote “writer.”
  • You have no English degree or certifications.
  • Your job is fine, you don’t want to ruin that.
  • Etc

 

I had those too, my dear!

So did every other freelance writer at the start of their career!

 

But the more I looked into freelance writing, the more I saw that I actually could become a freelance writer, the more people I saw doing it “right,” the more times I noticed that it wasn’t actually a pipe dream, the more real the notion became in my mind!

That’s what I hope this article does for you: Change your entire mindset so you see how accessible freelance writing really is!

 

Let me see if I can hear what you’re thinking:

 

Lie #1: I don’t even know where to start!

Okay, this one isn’t so much a lie as an obstacle that’s easily solvable.

Just start!

Ready-fire-aim

That’s how you make it work.

Okay, I know some of you aren’t wired that way, but let me just say, you can start today. I have a few practical steps to help you get started.

What you need to do to start a freelance writing business:

  1. Set up a business website in 5 minutes
  2. Then, design it for free without any design skills
  3. Start creating some writing samples. Go big right away with the Huff Post
  4. Create a portfolio, on your website, Pinterest, or Contently
  5. Start marketing your freelance business, so people know it exists
  6. Start pitching! {More on this subject to come!}

Written out like that, it seems pretty simple now, doesn’t it?

Now, of course, there are many more details that go into these steps, but this big-picture strategy helps clear up the “where to start” bit for you.

You can also sign up for my free 7-day Freelance Getting Started series, which goes more into depth about starting your journey as a freelance writer, even if you’re still at your day job.

Now you can’t say you don’t know where to start anymore;)

 

Lie #2: I don’t have the credentials to be a freelance writer

*Looks around, covers her mouth, and whispers in your ear* “Guess what? You don’t need any credentials!”

Wait, what?!?

Hold the phones!

Ya, really. It’s the biggest lie we tell ourselves.

Your clients don’t really give a flying eagle whether or not you were summa cum laude of your graduating class. They probably won’t even ask a single question about your educational background.

They just want to see samples of your writing to know whether or not you can do the job.

If you have decent writing skills, you’re in the club. Welcome!

You just need some writing talent, but not special initials behind your name.

I know plenty of lucrative freelance writers that don’t even have a college degree, let alone an English one. I know IT writers that don’t have backgrounds in IT.

However, if you’re trying to be a fitness writer and you do have an English degree and a personal training certificate, market the heck out of that!

Please know that there’s no accrediting agency that’s going to tap a sword over your shoulders and assign you an official freelance writer.

You assign yourself one.

Repeat after me: “I’m a freelance writer.” Now, by my decree, you are one.

Now you can no longer use the “I don’t have the right credentials” as an excuse either;)

 

Lie #3: When I think of “freelance writer,” I think of a starving artist, not a lucrative career!

When I was in college, prematurely trying to decide on a career path, I desperately wanted to try freelance writing. At the time, that meant living paycheck to paycheck with little more than a few boring local newspaper assignments or something. That’s not the version of freelance writing I was hoping for.

So, I decided to go the traditional route and look for a lucrative career to support myself.

As an English major, you’re either supposed to be a teacher or a poet forever relegated to your parent’s basement. I wasn’t satisfied with either one.

So, I kept my eye out for a different option. And I found it!

And I want to open up a whole new world for you. There’s a world out there of successful six-figure freelance writers. A world of writers that are far from starving or living in their parent’s basements.

Freelance writing is lucrative, as long as maintain a certain level of standards.

You don’t work for low-baller Upwork clients. You work for clients with real marketing budgets.

You don’t work for $15 per hour. You work for a minimum of $50.

You don’t start at the bottom and work your way up. You start high and work your way higher.

Now you don’t have an excuse to hold onto this limiting belief!

 

Lie #4: I’m too much of a rule-follower to break the mold.

*Yawn!*

I’m sorry, was it rude of me to yawn while you were listing out the reasons why you can’t make the leap from corporate to self-employed?

Rule following is boring.

Rule following is what we’re conditioned to do.

But we don’t have to.

I’m your typical goody-two-shoes, do-gooder, straight-A girl. There is not a more straight-laced rule follower than me.

And I did it.

If I did it, there’s no reason why you can’t.

And let me tell you. Once you do? You’ll wonder why you were such a mold follower in the first place! And you’ll join me in synchronized yawning at anyone else who brings it up.

No, but to be completely serious…

Why not you? Why not now?

It’s really amazing on the other side when you get to make the rules for once.

You get to be a more authentic version of yourself than the appearance you keep up for your coworkers.

You get to work on meaningful projects.

You get to walk around in leggings and grab coffee from your own kitchen. Take a nap on your lunch break if you need one. Work from your back porch or the library.

This is so cliche, but cliche for a reason (because it’s so stinkin’ true): When you get to the end of your life, you’re more likely to regret NOT breaking the rules than breaking them.

And I’m not talking about breaking the law. I’m talking about breaking the “work 9-to-5 until you retire or die” rule.

You know deep down inside of you, in a place you don’t allow yourself to rifle around, that you were made for more than this paint-by-numbers life.

Plus, to be honest, it’s not even as rule-breaking as you think it is. As traditional full-time jobs are becoming less and less favorable to the incoming generations, jobs are becoming more agile, as in more location-flexible. It’s becoming more normal to be a “freelancer” than not to anymore.

Okay, I hear this excuse fading into the background with my yawn…

 

Lie #5: I’m not good enough for high-paying clients

You see a prestigious brand you’d love to work for, but immediately think, “ah, they’ll never want me. I’m not good enough for that brand.”

Oh but my dear, you are! You are!

As long as you’re professional and you know how to write, you’re good enough for high-paying clients.

You do not need to start at the bottom, making pennies. You do not need to shy away from the big-names.

In fact, I encourage you to start at the top! And work your way up!

My very first pitch went to a well-known business coach, and I nailed it!

My second went to a well-known fitness personality, and there was adamant interest!

I dare you to start higher than you think you’re capable.

I want you to turn this mindset completely around and think about three places you don’t think you’re qualified to pitch, and pitch them!

Deal?

Okay, so, now you’ve awakened to the idea that you’re good enough to pitch the top names!

 

And just like that…we’ve completely ambushed your top five concerns. Or to be perfectly blunt, the top 5 LIES you tell yourself.

 

Would you like to do more work around mindset?

I put together an in-depth mini-course all about mindset practice. It’s a much more in-depth look at mindset than this article along with a corresponding journaling guide to help you completely rewire your mindset. If you need more guidance with mindset, check it out!

 

Mindset work for freelance writers

 

Before you launch your freelance writing career, you have to cultivate the correct mindset. You need to start with your thoughts for everything else to fall into place. Otherwise you’re going to continue ending up where you started.

 

Cheers to you!

What other pesky thoughts roll through your mind that stop you from launching your freelance career?

Is Freelance A Dirty Word?

what does freelance mean

 

Quick…

What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the word “freelance?”

.

.

.

.

Side job

Something people do to make a little extra cash.

Starving artist.

The people companies use when they need to save money and can’t do it themselves.

******

Is that about right?

When you tell people you’re a freelance writer, they feel sorry for you. Then, they try to offer you ” real jobs.” Even though they’re coming from a helpful place, you can’t help but feel insulted.

The word “freelance” even has the word “free” right in it! People oftentimes don’t take it as a real, serious business.

******

What they don’t know is that you’re making more money than any corporate job has ever paid you.

What they don’t know is that you have to be one of the most Type-A driven, organized humans to create your own success.

What they don’t know is that you have a rare and valuable talent that other business owners find invaluable.

What they don’t know is that this job revolves around more than just writing pleasant sentences. You have to be adept at psychology, persuasion techniques, branding, emotion, audience awareness, research, SEO, social media, story and so many other aspects.

What they don’t know is that you had to hustle your a$$ off to get to where you are.

What they don’t know is that content is absolutely paramount in business right now and good writers are actually? Everyone business’s secret weapon.

******

What to call yourself instead

I don’t want anyone associating any of the things listed at the top of this post to what I’m doing for a living. So, I’ve decided to change the language around what I do and hope you consider doing the same.

I’ll still probably use the term freelance for this site for search purposes and sometimes in conversation for clarity purposes.

But for actual clients?

I am a professional fitness copywriter. I own my own copywriting business.

That language is much stronger and more important, right?

Even in my own head, that seems more legit. It makes me feel more confident about what I do.

More importantly, it more accurately describes what I do.

******

So, my fellow freelancers, here’s your homework…

1. Decide on your one-liner.

The one line you’ll use to describe your business the next time someone asks you what you do for a living…

  • I own my own content marketing business.
  • I am a professional finance writer.

 

2. Improve your mindset

It took awhile for you to admit to yourself that you were a real writer.

Then, it took awhile for you to get out of the “employee” mindset and into a business mindset.

It will take a little bit of time to get used to the idea that you own a copywriting business. But you do! And you will!

So, just start saying it and owning it. Don’t roll your eyes and follow it up with “that’s just a fancy way of saying I’m a freelance writer.”

Ditch your employee mindset and remember that you are a fellow business owner, not your clients’ employee. You work together, not one for the other.

You have a real business. Don’t let anyone–yourself included–deflate your ownership of that. No one would walk into Walmart and say they’ll trade a few hours at the cash register in exchange for a TV.

That’s ludicrous!

Almost as ludicrous as anyone believing your work is available in exchange for a few kisses on the cheek.

Unless it’s your daughter.

You can write for your daughter for a few kisses on the cheek. That’s acceptable.

 

So, tell me…

Is “freelance” a dirty word? Fellow freelancers, how do you describe what you do? Do you get the same patronizing feels when people hear you’re a freelancer?

How to Send Your First Freelance Invoice

freelance invoice paypal

 

So, I had no idea how to send a freelance invoice before I took my first writing job. I figured I would just have to figure it out once it was necessary. And that’s what I did.

I know myself, and if I get too caught up in details like this, then I know I’ll just not do them. So my advice: Never let these silly things stop you from going after the freelance life.

Because really…it’s so simple.

So, in this tutorial, I’m going to show you exactly what it looks like to invoice a client using Paypal.

Why Paypal? I’ve found Paypal to be the universal tool for all of my clients so far, and it’s the platform that I’ve used for all of my own invoices. You could make your own generic document in Microsoft Word or Excel, if you wanted. Just try not to overthink this.

You probably already have a Paypal account. If you don’t, it takes seconds to start one. Just do it. You’ll need a bank account to link it to, so have your routing number and account numbers available.

Don’t worry, I’ll wait…

 

K, so now you’re in Paypal.

See that little button that says Send and Request? Click that.

 

 

Freelance Invoicing Step One

 

Then, you’re going to end up on a page that looks like this: Click on “Create Invoice.”

 

Paypal Invoicing Step Two

 

From there, you’ll click on “Create New Invoice.” Pretty self-explanatory so far, eh?

Easy Paypal Invoicing

 

 

Now, you’re going to have a completely empty invoice to fill in as you see fit. It’s very straightforward, but just in case you’re wondering about it, I’ll walk you through all the parts anyway.

 

Paypal Invoice for Freelancers

  1. Insert logo here. If you have a logo, you can add one. If you don’t yet, you can send it without. No one cares.
  2. Your business information. I only add my name and Paypal email address here. You can add whatever you feel comfortable adding. I’m not comfortable putting my address here, but if you have a physical biz address, then you might be ok with it.
  3. Bill to: Ask your client what email address they use for Paypal. Add that email address here.
  4. Invoice number: Paypal automatically populates this field for you, but you can manually add whatever number you want. Like, if you’re embarrassed by numero uno. But really, I don’t think anyone cares about this either, so don’t sweat it. Plus, it’s easier to keep track of your work if you start at 1. And think about how one day, three years down the road, you want to look back at where you started. Invoice #1. That’s the start of your story.
  5. Reference/PO number: I don’t use this field. You might choose to, but invoice number is good enough for me.
  6. Due date: there’s a drop down menu that allows you to choose when your client must pay, whether that is immediately, within 7 days, within 30 days, whenever. You’ve likely already discussed this in some capacity with your client.
  7. Item name and description: Paypal instructs you to make a detailed description, and I agree with Paypal. This is especially important if you’re having your client pay for your services up front. You need to spell out exactly what services you’re providing so it’s completely clear. For something like product descriptions, you might say “300 stationery product descriptions, each unique, with a catchy headline, 3-5 lines of description, and order details. Expected completion date: 1/1/17.” Explain each line item in detail.
  8. Price: Take a deep breath. Paypal does the math for you. Just enter the price, the quantity and the tax percentage, if applicable, and the math is done like magic. Thank goodness! (We’re writers, not mathematicians).

 

Now, on to the second half of the freelance invoice.

 

freelance client invoice process

 

9. Total: Again, Paypal is your best friend and calculates everything for you.

10. Note to recipient: Say “thank you,” add a funny little tagline, send a knock knock joke (that’s a fun branding idea, isn’t it?). Or, on the serious side, you can send a note about when you’ll be in contact, what the next steps are, etc. I usually just say “thank you.” Plain and simple.

11. Terms and conditions: if you have any policies (i.e. refund policy), put them here. If you request payment before you begin a project (I recommend at least half upfront, in many cases), then you can paste your terms and condition here, instead of having your clients sign an additional contract. By sending payment, they’re agreeing to the terms. This is a touchy subject, so I’d advise speaking with your own attorney. But don’t let all the legal stuff stop you either! In all honesty, I’ve only done this once or twice so far.

12. Attach files: if you’re providing a document in exchange for money, you can easily attach it here. I find it easier to send my clients a link to my writing via Google docs, but this is just another option for you.

13. Preview and Send: You can “preview” your invoice before sending it. It just gives you more of a bird’s eye view of the document. And then, just hit “send” when you’re ready.

That’s it! See, that wasn’t too scary, was it?

 

Try not to overthink this. I flew by the seat of my pants on my first several jobs, so I didn’t let that stop me and I didn’t act clueless either. I just figured it out on my own and got on with it.

But I’m sharing this with you so you can save a few steps and really see for yourself how easy and doable it is if you had any hesitations before reading this.

Now, go get ’em!

Any other questions about invoicing your freelance clients? Or do you have a fun story about your first invoicing experience?

Published on MakeALivingWriting.com

Hey there #flashers,

I am so excited, I can now say I’ve been published on the renowned writer’s website, Make A Living Writing!!!! Head on over to see:

How I Landed a 3K Freelance Writing Job on Twitter.

 

If you like that article, you might also like this one from Jorden Roper, the girl who convinced me to give it another shot:

Twitter for Freelance Writers: Exactly How I Use Twitter to Attract and Land Clients (+Case Study)

Freelance Income Report October 2016

freelance income report

I always love when freelancers or bloggers share their income reports. The transparency and raw insight is so refreshing.

And although it’s a little nerve-racking to put it out there, I figured I would be transparent about my very own freelance writing income for this month since Oct was my first official month of freelance writing.

As of yesterday, I made…

drumroll please…

$1,385 on my freelance side hustle

This is in addition to my corporate job and the product of working after the kids go to bed, on weekends and on my days “off.” (If you want it bad enough, you’ll find the time!)

So, now that you have the numbers,

 

Let me show you how I got there:

  1. I hustled my butt off in September. The efforts that you put in the month before show up in dividends the month after. You can get the exact pitch tracker I use for keeping track of all of them here.
  2. I sent cold pitches and I applied for Problogger and  projects.
  3. I tended to my social media profiles, optimizing them for my freelance writing business. Just by updating my Twitter profile alone, I landed one of my sweetest gigs in which the client found me (and I have a full article about how I did it coming out soon, keep watch!)
  4. I stayed active in my entrepreneur Facebook groups and did a little bit of free work there to get some lucrative testimonials.
  5. I was firm on pricing. I was offered many more jobs than I actually took because I refused $0.04/word offers and $20 blog post offers. With my credentials and experience, I wouldn’t settle for those “content mill” prices.

So, that’s sort of an overview of all the work that went into getting the income streams going this month. There is soooo much more I could say about pitching and pricing and networking, but for the purposes of this article, I’ll leave it at that. Feel free to comment with questions if there’s more you want to know.

So, what have I been working on?

  • Exercise copy for a new major fitness app
  • Coffee table book about New Mexico
  • Copy about snowboard equipment
  • Small business blogs for a website design business

I love the work I’ve been commissioned with. I’ve been learning so much and writing about my passions, so things are aligning just the way I believe they were meant to.

I can’t wait to delve more and more into my health and fitness, travel and mental health niches.

 

The fun part?

To reward myself for all the hard work, I went on a little bit of a shopping spree on Amazon. I found the pineapple chamomile tea I can’t find anywhere anymore. I bought some more writing books, one about writing white papers and the best freelance writing resource ever. I bought two barre workout videos to improve my teaching craft. And I bought a new journaling Bible that was soooo “me” that I can’t wait to dig in to. There might have been a few other things, but they escape me right now;)

 

What’s next?

I put in quite a few pitches in October alongside the work I did. I’ve already turned a few offers down, but I hope that a few more amazing opportunities come out of the work I put into October.

I’m also working on a swap offer for writing in return for some web design, so there could be some website changes coming. It’s exciting to think about where this all leads.

Not bad for my first month, eh?

If you’d like, I’ll keep you posted! Let me know in the comments.

 

Do you like seeing freelance income reports like this? What parts of the freelance journey would you like to know more about?

Free Client Pitch Tracker for Freelance Writers



 

 

This has been the season of up-leveling my freelance writing game.

I’ve been reading every book I can get my hands on about content marketing, contracts, pitches, SEO and anything else pertaining to the world of freelance. (Want me to share some of my favorite resources? Tell me in the comments below).

I’ve been sending out pitches like crazy.

I’ve been guest posting as much as possible.

I’ve really found my stride, in a way that I didn’t even know was possible. (That’s another story.)

So, today, I just thought I’d give out a freebie for you all.

This is the exact tracker that I use for keeping track of the businesses and people that I have pitched for freelance writing opportunities:

 



 

Here’s a little breakdown of the Freelance Pitch Tracker:

I track all my freelance writing gigs using a simple Google Sheet document.

(Were you expecting something more complicated? Do not make this more complicated than it needs to be!)

The first thing I would suggest is breaking the spreadsheet into chunks based on your pitching goals. Whether your goal is to send out 100 pitches a month or 100 pitches per day, you can bold the outline under the row of your goal so you know exactly where to stop each day.

The columns are pretty self-explanatory. You’ll notice my color-code key at the side. Color-coding helps me see at a quick glance who I still need to follow up with (still in white white), which contacts have given me a “no,” who I am in conversation with, and who I am currently doing business with.

This color coding system is a huge time saver. First of all, I can completely overlook the contacts that have said no (although, some of these come back and surprise you). A quick glance through another color helps refresh my memory about which clients I am currently doing business with, so I don’t forget any upcoming projects. And the white lets me know I should schedule a follow up.

The date column and follow-up column are used for the purpose of follow-up as well. Let me just tell you a little secret: there is magic in the follow-up. People get emails all the time and if they don’t know who you are, will likely delete your emails too. If you follow-up to the first email though, suddenly they take notice. Mark my words! I’ve nabbed more than one client through the follow up. If you don’t hear back, follow up until you do–just not in a pushy weird way. I could probably do a whole other post about this (and I just might!).

The Notes and Conversations columns are where I put little snippets of our conversation so I remember who I was talking to about what. I once made the mistake of emailing a customer saying I fit all the job qualifications on his page and he didn’t have any job qualifications on his page! I was mixing people up! No-no-no!

The second sheet is my article pitch sheet. If you’re a freelance writer, you are likely pitching guest posts to online publications (if you aren’t, you should be–it’s an incredible credibility- and portfolio-building opportunity). But you definitely need to keep track of the people and places you’re in conversation with.

There’s also a column for submission guidelines. Keeping submission guidelines at your fingertips is a good idea too, so you can pitch to those publications multiple times. Never give up after the first try!

 

Now, let me tell you why you need a freelance pitch tracker:

If you’re serious about freelance writing, you need to be pitching like it’s your full-time job.

But when you have sent out over 100 pitches, you WILL NOT remember who they all are or where you found them, no matter how good you think your memory is. It just won’t happen. Write down every single pitch you send, even if you think you’ll remember. This tracker will help you free up that mind space!

That first little “name” column has some special magic behind it, if you pay close attention. Let’s say you apply to a job on Problogger. The name of the person doing the hiring is typically not listed. So, once you do find out that name, make sure you list it. Or do a little digging to find out the name of the person. If you can speak to someone directly by name in your pitch, your pitch will be exponentially more powerful. Do whatever you can to fill in that NAME column.

Keeping track of where you found a contact is crucial too. It’s so much easier to make a connection to someone this way rather than coming at them out of left field. Plus, it’s something you’ll add to your pitch letter: “Hey, I saw your request on the [fill in blank] job board for a content marketing specialist.”

Funny story, I found one particular fitness personality after perusing the #BettyWhite trending hashtag on the actress’s birthday (such a sneaky little tactic to get followers). It was an incredible attention getter in my pitch letter. And I can’t tell you how many times I go back to look at that column wondering, where did I find this person again?

This “how found” column also helps when I need to brainstorm where to find new leads. I can look back and see “oh hey, I found quite a few people in this entrepreneur group on Facebook, I’ll look there again.”

You also need a quick at-a-glance reference like this tracker to remember who you’re working with, who said “no,” and everyone in between. You might even want to refresh your memory to see if you’ve already pitched a place in the past (this happens!). You don’t want to look like a fool sending a business the same pitch multiple times. The freelance tracker spreadsheet is so much more searchable than the heap of content that lies buried in your email.

I also like to keep a list of guest post submissions I’ve sent out as well so I can cross-submit. What that means is, if I have a great idea for an article, I might want to pitch it to another media site after the first one rejected it instead of letting it die.

The last thing I’d like to say about why you need one of these trackers is the infinite possibilities that lie therein. It’s validating and satisfying to see the tracker fill up and change color and become more vast every day. And I want the same for you!

 

To Wrap Up

Well, that’s about it. If you have any questions about what the columns or for or how to use this tracker, just hit me up with a comment or an email. I filled in one example for you so you can see what it’s like. Happy pitching!

 

 

Cool, so if you haven’t already: