How do I get more freelance work? Well, every time I put my head down and get to work, more work comes my way.
Yet… I have these urges pulling me in other directions…Let me throw in a load of laundry…Now I’ll make a pot of coffee…Gee, the kitchen sink could use a good cleaning…Hey, there is a new magazine on the dining room table...On and on and on.
When you work from home, it is essential to stay productive. Why? Because our incomes are directly linked to the amount of writing, researching, and pitching we do on a daily basis. Yet, if you are anything like me, you’ll find it is easy to get distracted by day-to-day life. That’s why I use timers.
I know about the Pomodoro Technique but my approach is a bit less structured. I simply set a timer for 20 minutes and get started.
Somedays, if I happen to catch a flow, I’ll keep going and forgo using a timer for the rest of the day. Because, really, if you are on a roll you are on a roll! I love being in the zone of productivity.
Of course, there are also days when my mind is racing. Then, the timer is helpful to get smaller bits of work done. Nuggets that have to get checked off my master list. Those days, I’ll set the timer for 20 minutes again and again, completing smaller tasks.
Benefits of using a timer:
Do you set timers to get work done? How does it help you?
Lately, I've been focusing on writing more, building my business. And I’m pleased to say, it’s working. I posted about pitching last week, and I’m here to tell you…It works. Got to be in it to win it!!
That said, this post isn’t about that, at least not specifically (I’ll get around to what I mean by that in a minute).
A few months ago, I wrote about my stair stepping routine. How during the summer months, I was taking the stairs but forgoing the gym. Now, here we are, rolling into autumn, and my jeans don’t fit how I’d like them to. Or how I remember them fitting. Or how I remember hoping they’d fit.
The truth is I’m out of shape and I’ve gained some weight. So, I’m now spending some time each morning at the gym.
This week, I was on the treadmill for a half hour each morning, except for today. Today I managed to carve out enough time for a 45-minute cycle class. I realize for the truly sporty, this is not a lot. But for me, it’s a change. It feels good. Like I’m moving toward a workout routine feeling routine. Because right now, it still feels new. I want to wear off that new feeling because I don’t want stop. I don't want to fall back into feeling good enough, but not great.
Because here’s the thing: I need to make my health a priority.
If I want to grow my freelance business, it is essential I’m fit and feeling good. (Here’s the part I said I’d get around to later, how my going to the gym impacts my freelancing.) It isn’t possible for me to be creative, productive, and proactive if I’m not strong and confident.
So, I’m saying it here. Publicly. Those jeans are going to fit soon. By fit, I mean I’ll be able to put them on, sit down, and eat a meal. Because right now, if I'm going to be honest, I can get them on but the sitting and eating is pretty much out of reach.
Are you like me, spending hours/days sitting in front of a laptop? How do you stay fit?
Answer: Keep pitching anyway!
I’ve turned my attitude around when it comes to pitching. I used to dread it. Pitching would sit at the bottom of my to-do list (and we all know that no one ever finishes everything on their to-do list). But lately something has changed and I’ve been pitching with a new-found passion.
Putting myself on a schedule, with pitches going out on a particular day each week, I’ve landed new writing gigs. Now, since I’ve gotten myself in a bit of a rhythm, the query process is beginning to feel smooth (yes, still beginning, I have a long way to go).
I also think it helps I’m having more fun with my pitches. I’m writing about topics that interest me and I'm contacting blogs and publications I already read. I can read an article, think of it from another angle, pitch it, and…voilà! New project.
Plus, editors want to work with people who want the work. If you put time into your query, and make it clear you are familiar with their publication or organization, it makes it clear you are ambitious. You are the kind of writer who, when given an assignment, will provide the copy they need.
How did I get myself to do this? I’ll be honest, I wanted to increase my writing revenue. My income from freelance gigs has been pretty stagnant the last couple of years. I’m grateful for the work I have, but I knew filling up my schedule was up to me.
Here’s my process:
How about you? How have you increased your writing revenue?
Ok, I'll admit it, I got sucked in. The drama of Riverdale pulled me back nightly until I had gobbled up the whole season. There I was, bereft with a bowl of popcorn. Stranded, with no more saturated colors of the fictional town to consume. Although binge watching shows on Netflix could be considered a waste of time (I rationalize that it is storytelling, so as a writer I’m still learning something), Riverdale taught me three important lessons I’m now applying to my business.
It’s Okay to Double Dip
Reboots get a bad rap. I understand why, there are so many stories to tell, why do we have the same characters popping up over and over again? Well, here's the reason: a good story is a good story. If you have a solid story—or two, or three—why not use them more than once? Tell it from another angle, switch the timeframe, take them from past to present. It’s a fun exercise for the creator and the consumer.
Keep the Bills Covered (In This Case by Cover Girl)
The product placement of Cover Girl in Riverdale is a bit over the top. But maybe that’s the point. The whole show surfs on the extreme wave of a soap opera world, so why would viewers care about product placement? Maybe they do, maybe they don't. But it was comical to watch it appear so brazenly. A reminder, that as a creative, it can be ok to take the sponsorship if it feels natural.
Explore Different Formats
Truth be told, Archie was not on my mind until Free Comic Book Day. That’s when a comic version of Riverdale appeared in my house. It was a short, teaser version, but it introduced me to the contemporary Riverdale world and soon enough I was streaming the shows. I often think of my work as separate entities—print articles, blog posts, and marketing copy. This is helpful, as each type of writing utilizes its own format, but they can inform each other, woo. I can (and should) be talking about my work with other organizations. Who knows what new gigs might cross my desk?
Mali Anderson is a Chicago-based content creator. She creates blog posts, web copy, original photography, and feature articles.