I’ve been a freelancer since 1993; I have been working full time since 2007. Over the years I have answered many aspiring freelance writers’ questions about how to successfully make the leap. In doing so, I realized that I kept coming back to the same suggestion over and over again.
What is it? In short, time limit.
When trying to transition from a full-time job to a freelance job, the reason the time limit is so important is that your days as a freelancer can be disorganized. After all, you’re in charge now, and if you’ve never worked as a freelancer before, you can be distracted, especially when you’re working from home.
There is laundry to do, kids have to pick them up from school, run errands, etc.
However, you must, must, must view your new career as a successful one.
Time-bound timetable for new freelance writers
Below is your schedule for the first transition.
9:00-1:00: Find 25-50 businesses online; put it in the database
1:00-4:00: Compose marketing emails and send them to potential customers who have been found; refer the link to the writing example
4:00-6:00: Create marketing materials for my niche audience (e.g., free, downloadable marketing brochures highlighting the benefits I offer; articles distributed through article catalogs; target blog guest posts; etc.)
6:00-7:00: Update social media accounts
Note: This timed schedule assumes you already have a website listing your services and writing samples.
You will find that most of your time is spent on marketing. In the beginning you don’t have any projects to do. Of course, as your work begins, your schedule will change, but in the beginning, almost all of your time should be devoted to some form of marketing.
The biggest mistake many new freelance writers make when moving from 9 to 5
When writing work starts pouring in, many people will quit marketing because they have a job. But no, you shouldn’t, as this is what causes the feast and famine experienced by many freelance writers.
What you need to do is reschedule your schedule to allow for the completion of existing work and continue marketing. So, for example, if you have two new clients and it takes an average of 3 hours a day to complete the work, your new time limit plan would look like this:
9:00-12:00: Find 15-25 businesses online; put in the database
1:00-3:00: Compose marketing emails and send them to potential customers who have been found; refer the link to the writing example
3:00-6:00: Process customer projects
6:00-7:00: Create marketing materials for my niche audience (e.g., free, downloadable marketing brochures highlighting the benefits I offer; articles distributed through article catalogs; target blog guest posts; etc.)
7:00-8:00: Update social media accounts
What did you notice here? Your day is only an hour longer, isn’t it?
It should be like this in the beginning, because you can’t completely pull marketing back. You can reduce the number of contacts per day, but you still need to have a certain number of contacts to keep your work going.
How long should you keep it?
A lot depends on your niche, free writing speed, conversion rate, income target, etc. But I want to say that at least the first six months you really need to do marketing, marketing and marketing. This should allow you to find some stable clients and give you a breather without worrying about where your next job will come from.
When you move from a full-time job to a full-time freelancer, you have to be very picky about how you use your time. Time limits let you see exactly what you need to do every hour, every day — and increase your chances of success as a freelance writer.