It’s your year to start freelance writing.
Yes, you’ve mulled it over and finally have taken the first step to becoming a freelance writer.
But, there’s one that that can hurt your chances at ever making a living as a freelance writer. It’s the distraction.
Distraction from people and social media.
Even after three years as a freelance writer, I still have to stop myself from diving into Facebook or spending a few minutes on Pinterest. I know that if I allow myself that time, an hour will be wasted.
So, how do you increase your productivity as a freelance writer?
Let’s look at 31 ways freelance writers can be more productive and earn more money.
1. Have a Workspace
This might seem like a silly thing, but there are a whole bunch of freelancers out there trying to have a business on their couches!
Please don’t do that.
Create a dedicated workspace to do your client work. My husband works downstairs in his office during the day, and I work upstairs in our bedroom.
Nowadays you can pick up a desk and computer chair second hand or – if you are bootstrapping it – work in your kitchen.
Be careful though. The height of your table when you’re typing can ruin your hands and cause pain. Standing may be a better option.
2. Have Your Necessities Near By
Distractions will creep up when you have to leave your workspace to get a drink of water or grab a snack or get your phone.
Instead, decide beforehand what necessities you need to have a productive workday. For me, they are:
- Water bottle
- Hair tie
Whenever I take a quick break, I have everything I need nearby.
3. Listen to Music
Music improves your mood and gets you focussed.
People’s minds tend to wander, “and we know that a wandering mind is unhappy,” Dr. Sood said. “Most of that time, we are focusing on the imperfections of life.” Music can bring us back to the present moment.
Listening to music helps you write faster and come up with more content ideas.
I still listen to the same album whenever I write for my clients. I have conditioned my brain to associate this music with writing, and as soon as I hear it, I am in my writing zone.
And what’s more important, the type of music you listen to – Baroque music – improves concentration and productivity.
4. Use a Productivity App
If classical music isn’t your thing, try an app instead:
5. Create a Habit
The best thing you can do for your freelance writing is to make it a habit of writing every day!
When you write every day, you become a better writer, learn to optimize your time better and be more efficient with your learning. But, how can you write every day if you work 40+ hours a week that sucks the creativity out of you by the time you come home?
First, decompress with whatever you need to do – spend time with the kiddos outside, bike ride, shower, TV, music, books, etc..
Then, read a blog post or two to ease yourself into the writing mode.
From there, get your necessities and write anything like:
- A Tweet
- A LinkedIn post
- A Facebook post
- Your to-do list on Trello
- An outline of a sample piece
- A blog post (don’t have a blog? Start one here!)
- Respond to an email you received
- Your freelance writing pitch
- A guest post
6. Get Dressed
This is for the stay-at-home moms like me 🙂
I tend to lounge around in my classic yoga pants and sweatshirt. But, you know what? When I “look” frumpy, I feel frumpy. And this zaps my creativity.
So, I found that if I just do a little better with my dressing – you know, nicer yoga pants and a nicer fleece or wrap depending on the weather and a touch of makeup – that my creativity shoots through the roof!
And even though I promote writing in your pj’s (because that’s really the best!), only do that occasionally 🙂
7. Remove Distractions
To be more productive as a freelance writer, try removing the most distracting parts of your day. For example, social media is a HUGE distraction for me.
As a way to limit that distraction I can remove my Facebook news feed.
And that’s another reason why I listen to music – so I don’t hear the doorbell ring or my husband in the kitchen cooking his lunch.
8. Have a Work Schedule and Stick to It
Working for yourself will feel very liberating. Taking that break in the middle of the day will be exhilarating. It was for me! But, I learned I wasn’t as productive as I could be if I had a schedule to follow.
Now I do.
My schedule has changed over the years, but for now, it’s:
- 8-9 am – chores + get twins ready and off to school
- 9 am- 12 pm – Email, client work, blog posts, Pinterest graphics
- 12-1 pm – lunch + chores
- 1-3 pm – Client work, learning time, blog post writing, social media
- 3-8 pm – chores + family and kid time, supper, bath, bed for twins
- 8-11 pm – Blog post writing, course lessons
9. Plan Out Your Projects
One of the things freelance writers need to know is how to structure a blog post. I go into this in Write Your Way to Your First $1k, but for right now, what I can mention is to work on the core parts of a blog post or whatever your project is.
For example, if a client wants a blog post, I would make sure to work on:
- Hook (introduction)
- Subheading points
- Screenshots of what I’m talking about
- Source links
When you have a system of how you handle your projects, you’ll work faster overall.
10. Write When the Kids Nap
For the moms out there, no house cleaning during nap time! This is the time you need to work on your freelance writing business. I know, it’s tough when you’re staring at a sink full of dishes or a bucket full of clean laundry.
When my twins napped, I did as much as I could with them awake.
My twins enjoyed spending time with me – helping me sort the laundry and playing with the pots and pans while I put the dishes away!
I was less guilty, then, when they did finally nap, that I could get the time to find freelance writing jobs.
Figure out what works for you. If that means only working during nap times 3x a week, that’s better than working during the fringe hours of the day.
11. Use the Pomodoro Technique
The Pomodoro technique is a lifesaver for work at home moms with little ones!
Children have a short attention span, so if you can work when they are playing and then take a break when your children lose focus, it’s a win-win in the house.
The Pomodoro technique goes like this:
- Work uninterrupted for 25 minutes (I did it for 20 minutes as my twins were little at the time)
- Take a 5-minute break ( I took a 10-minute break to do an activity with my twins)
- Work uninterrupted for 25 minutes
Do a few chunks of this and then take a longer break – 25 minutes to 1 hour – depending on your needs.
This is a flexible schedule that you can adapt and it works!
It keeps you focused on what you need to do during that time.
12. Hide Your Phone
I’m going to age myself here, but after my twins were born and I started freelance writing, I lost interest in my phone.
Before twins, I used my phone constantly because I worked outside the home and my husband and I would venture out around the town.
But, with twins, I stayed home more and now that I freelance write, I don’t venture out as much (although now that the twins are older, we are going out more).
So, if you live by the phone, try moving it to another room while you do your work. It will be hard I know, but trust me, you won’t implode without your phone!
13. Drink Copious Amounts of Coffee
Coffee is my vice. On bad days I can drink up to three cups. It’s not good for the nerves, but coffee can help you be more productive.
You are more alert, and you can act on your actions easier. So, if you can, start your writing with a cup of coffee.
14. Automate Parts of Your Business
They help me streamline my business, increase my work production and decrease my stress. I feel that part of the investment in your business should go to tools and services.
My top three are:
- Tailwind for automating my pinning strategy
- ConvertKit to grow my email list
- Contena to help me find freelance writing jobs quickly (as this mama has NO time to search countless job boards)
15. Create Templates
When I write my content pieces, I generally follow a template. This just makes writing easier and faster. You can also create templates for your pitches.
As a new freelance writer, you’re going to be hustling hard and pitching many times a day. As a way to maximize your time, you can create a standard template for your pitch emails.
I don’t suggest you send the same pitch to multiple job offers. Instead, use it as a framework to write a personalized pitch.
You can draft one up in Evernote or Google Doc or your notepad. Just have it handy when it’s time to pitch.
16. Create a Swipe File
A swipe file is a place where you store:
- Reference sites
- Landing pages
- Sales pages
- Blog posts
- Screenshots of social media posts
- Business blogs
You can save whatever you like as long as it’s a way to help your freelance writing (and save you time). For example, I have a swipe file of sales page copy. I like to view other sales page and their copy techniques to help me with my sales page copy.
Similarly, you can swipe blog posts that you find well written or have good sources.
17. Bulk Your Blog Post Content
When I have a large chunk of time, I like to bulk up my content. This means I pre-write several blog posts for my blog.
If you have a blog as a way to help you land clients, you can spend a day or two writing blog content and drip this content out over several months.
In my first year as a freelance writer, I had a full plate of client work. But, I wanted to continue to grow this blog, Elna Cain.
So, I asked other freelance writers if they would like to contribute to a blog post. I interviewed several freelance writers, and this helped me get content on this blog for a whole month or more.
18. Track Your Time
Do you know that if you simply track your time when you work, you can effectively double your productivity?
Alexa of Single Mom’s Income, tried this method out –
When I decided to start tracking my work from home time I made a rough list of things that I had to get done for the week and began working. I would write down the exact time I started, what I was working on and when I finished that particular task, I’d write the exact time again.
I wanted to be thorough so I could report back accurately.Only, writing down what I had actually accomplished made me want to keep adding to the list.
The first day I tried this method I had my entire weeks’ worth of freelance articles done in one day with time to spare. (I normally space these out from Monday through Wednesday!)
I haven’t tried this tip, but am interested in trying it out this year.
19. Wake Up at the Same Time
If you do this full-time, you might be inclined to wake up whenever you want. While this is fine for the short-term, it won’t help take your business to the next level.
Waking up at the same time conditions your body to be ready for work. It also helps divide your day into your work tasks and personal tasks.
When I started freelance writing, I made sure to wake up around the same time each day. And while my twins usually dictated when we woke up, I relied on my internal clock to wake me up.
20. Go to Sleep at the Same Time
I know many bloggers that stay up until 2 or 3 am to write that blog post or email. Again, this is fine in the short run, but the best time to work and be productive is in the morning or mid-morning.
And if you were up late last night, you’re going to be groggy in the morning and probably not feel like writing.
So, try to go to bed at the same time. For hubby and me, we try to be asleep by midnight.
21. Batch Your Tasks
Batching refers doing one task at a time. You can batch your days out or hours out, or whatever metric is suitable for you.
I typically batch my days out:
- Monday: blog post ideas for clients and my blog
- Tuesday: outline ideas + pin graphics
- Wednesday: email copy + social media + writing
- Thursday: writing, graphics, email questions
- Friday: course ideas, learning, email questions
Try batching your tasks to help you streamline your tasks and be more productive.
Here’s what Lois of Fox Glove Avenue says about batching:
OK, this one I borrowed -stole- from Elna.
And it’s gold.
For my blog-a-thon, I broke down the blog writing process into chunks and completed them in batches.
I wrote all the headlines and outlines. Then I found all the links I wanted to include. Then I made all the graphics. Then day by day, I wrote the posts.
Now that my blog-a-thon is over, I still batch all my posts for the month. Trust me, it’s a time saver. It does mean you have to have a basic content calendar in place. If the thought of this freaks you out, go and read the One Hour Content Plan by Meera Kothand. I’ll eat my tutu if you don’t love it.
There might be a time when you’ll get more inquiries for your content services than you have time for. This is a great time, and you should celebrate!
But, instead of turning down work, why not outsource?
This is what I did, and it helped grow my income.
You can outsource parts of your service to free up time for you. I outsource writing and research mostly. Everything is run past me before I submit to my clients ensuring that it’s in my voice.
23. Sign Up for a Paid Job Board
I don’t have time to hustle anymore.
Instead of checking many job boards, I just go to one.
I can look at all the jobs curated all over online, filter them for just my niche and price point (high-paying of course) and find leads in under 3 minutes.
24. Type Faster
An easy way to increase your income is to increase your typing speed. The faster you type, the more content you can pump out in a day, which can increase your daily income.
Go to Key Hero to practice your typing speed and accuracy.
25. Find Your Writing Rhythm
When you find your writing groove, you’ll type faster, make fewer mistakes and ideas will flow better. You are optimizing your writing skill when you find your writing rhythm.
For me, when I have my associated music and am in my dedicated workspace, I can get in my writing rhythm pretty quickly.
26. Write First, Proofread Later
This is a hard one for many writers. Their writing process may show that they self-edit too much, inhibiting the free flow of thoughts.
For me, this is the hardest part of freelance writing. I tend to mull over sentences, change things up as I write it and it slows my process down. I’m getting better though. The more writing I do, the better typer I become, helping me make fewer mistakes.
Also, once I’m in my groove, nothing can stop me!
So, write first and let it sit.
Have lunch, take a walk, cook dinner or whatever.
You can go back to it the next day or later that day. Usually, you’ll have a better picture of what you need to change.
27. Create Public Goals
Do you have a Facebook profile? Maybe a Twitter account?
Use those social media platforms to share your goals with friends, family, and followers. Others can hold you accountable, making you increase your chances of succeeding.
These goals can be writing goals, pitching goals, or client goals.
Give your goal a timeline too. For example, “For the next two weeks, I’m going to cold pitch 5 companies a day. Root for me!”
28. Give Yourself Deadlines
One of the things I do with my client work is have the client deadline and my deadline. My deadline is usually three days before the client’s deadline.
Why do I do this?
It motivates me to get the job done as fast as possible – without ruining quality – and when I can turn in my work early, I get big Brownie Points from my clients!
And wowing your clients can mean more money in the long run!
29. Be Excited to Work
This is for the old-timer freelance writers like me! I’ve been doing this for three years, and there are days when this is just a job.
I have no creativity to write, and it hurts to get those thoughts out.
I have to stop all of that and fill my cup up with creativity and joy before I can write.
This might be running, exercising, eating better, playing with my twins, going to the park, or having dinner with my hubby.
The biggest help, though, is starting a blog! I meet new people, write whatever I want and have fun doing it!
When I’m happy, and my life isn’t crazy, my work thrives. So get healthy inside and out before you write.
30. Use a Tool
Your writing should be error-proof for your clients. I suggest you invest in a tool like Grammarly to help you with your editing process.
I use the desktop version for my content pieces and what’s nice is that Grammarly follows you online too! So, as I’m writing this in WordPress, Grammarly is working, or when I write a message on Twitter, Grammarly follows!
31. Do the Scary Big Thing First
This is based on the book, Eat That Frog. What this means is that instead of waiting around for that one big scary thing, just get it over and done with in the morning or before lunch.
Yes, it’s scary, but once you do it, you’ll feel relieved and exhilarated. And when you’re happy, you’re more productive 🙂
Increase Productivity in Your Freelance Writing Biz Today
To make a living as a freelance writer, you need to handle the distractions that come into your life. If your home is too distracting, try going to the library or coffee house.
If you gravitate towards your phone, hide your phone while you work.
If Facebook calls you, kill the newsfeed.
There are ways to limit distractions and increase productivity as a freelance writer.
Now it’s your turn– tell me your biggest productivity killer and what you do to stop that. I’d love to hear it!
Please pin me!