The Secret to Success for Every Freelance Online Copywriter is to Stay Focused

Sidebar:  We all want to experience measurable progress with our freelance business.  Few things provide momentum as progress.  The problem is we might not be consistent in applying best success practices to our personal and business lives.  Well, the following article is just the reminder we need.

Nick Usborne, has been a copywriter for 30 years now, eleven of which he’s dedicated solely to online copy.  He is the author of many business books, including Copywriting 2.0: Your Complete Guide to Writing Web Copy that Converts.  I can personally attest to the fact that Nick is also an excellent business coach.  I hope his insight gets you back on track and fires up your dedication to grow your business.

Here’s Nick —-

Freelancers are notoriously vulnerable to distraction.

Instead of remaining focused on a single goal, with a clear plan, we leave ourselves open to anything that suggests the grass might be greener elsewhere.

Does this apply to you?

Before you say no, answer these questions …

During the course of the last week, have you …

 

  • Had a day when you were furiously busy, but at the end of the day had achieved very little?
  • Clicked a link in an email just to check out some other course, program, or copywriting “system”?
  • Thought about trying some other copywriting niche that is not directly related to the one you are working in now?
  • Accepted, or thought about accepting, a freelance project that really doesn’t align with your niche or your goals?
  • Worked 40 hours but were able to bill for only about 20?

If you answered “no” to all of those questions, good for you.  That means you have a clear goal and plan for your freelance copywriting business, and you stick with it.

If you answered “yes”, or even acknowledged that maybe you do get distracted from time to time, you need to pause and think.

Remember, as a freelancer you are alone.  It matters how you spend your time each day.  And every hour you spend on a distraction is an hour you can’t bill for.

And that, perhaps, is the clearest distinction between freelancers who are driving in a straight line towards achieving a clear goal, and freelancers who are weaving around without any clear idea of where they are going.

The freelancer with a clear goal gets to invoice a lot more hours.

He or she doesn’t waste any time wondering if the grass might be greener elsewhere.  She doesn’t get distracted.  She knows where she is going, and has figured out how to get there.

If you want to be focused, and bill for more of the hours you work, follow these steps:

1. Decide on your niche.

Decide on what you want to do.  Become a B2B online copywriter.  Or a specialist in writing e-newsletters.  Or a page optimization expert.  Or a landing page expert.  Just pick a specialization.

Do not just hang up a shingle and announce something like, “I am a freelance online copywriter and accept all work”.

It’s tough to market yourself as a Jack-of-all-trades.  Besides which, companies don’t want to hire a Jack-of-all-trades.  They outsource work because they need a specialist.  They can probably find a Jack-of-all-trades in-house.

Be that specialist.

2. Establish a clear goal.

Decide on where you want your business to be three years from now.  Visualize it.  Imagine the kind of work you will be doing, the clients you will have, the income you will make.

You need a goal.  If you don’t have one, you’ll be weaving around in a constant state of distraction.

3. Stick with the plan.

Everything you do, each day, should be aligned with achieving your goal.

If the time you spend on the phone isn’t aligned with your goal, put down the phone.  If the time you spend on Twitter or Facebook isn’t aligned with your goal, log off.  If the new course you are thinking about taking isn’t aligned with your goal, don’t buy it.

4. Keep learning, but keep it focused.

Self-education is essential for freelancers.  You have to keep learning, so you can offer greater value to your clients.  BUT, make sure that everything you do to upgrade your knowledge and skills is precisely aligned with your specialty and your goals.

If a learning opportunity is not aligned with your goals, it is simply a distraction and a time-sink.

 

To summarize …

Think about the most successful freelancers you know.  The big names.  The big earners.

They all have one thing in common.

They are focused.

They know where they are going, and they know they can’t afford to waste time on distractions.

Follow their lead.

End Note:  This article appears courtesy of American Writers & Artists Inc.’s (AWAI) Wealthy Web Writer, a free newsletter for learning how to effectively write online copy and market products on the Web.  For a complimentary subscription, visit http://www.awaionline.com/signup/wealthy-web-writer.

© Copyright Rachel Agheyisi and Report Content Writer’s Blog, 2009-2010.

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If I Only Knew Then What I Know Now

Sidebar:  We all know about nurturing – the benefits of caring for and educating one’s self or another person or entity.  The problem is we might not be consistent in applying that knowledge to our personal and business lives.  Well, the following article might just help change all that!

Heather Lloyd-Martin, author of SEO Copywriting Success: How to Profit from Writing for Search Engines, has put together a list of timely reminders.  I hope her insights spark your nurturing vibes and move you to great accomplishments.  While you’re at it, don’t forget to be gentle with yourself!

Here’s Heather —-

You want to know my favorite thing about “living the writer’s life?”

It’s freedom.

I’m the kind of gal who jokes that she could never have a “real job.”  Being a self-employed SEO copywriter has allowed me to travel the world (often on someone else’s dime), work the hours I want, and make some pretty good cash.  For a self-described “highly stubborn” woman who requires total flexibility, I can’t imagine doing anything else.

At the same time, living “the writer’s life” has its own challenges.  You will realize your greatest strengths and discover your greatest weaknesses.  You will hit incredible, exhilarating highs as the clients and cash flow grow.  And, you will hit incredible, devastating lows – many of which can be minimized.  After 15 self-employed years (12 of them in SEO copywriting), here’s what I’ve learned …

  1. Find a mentor.  I used to be a “go it alone” kind of gal.  Now I know that having a business mentor is an incredible experience.  Not only can you ask them administrative-type questions like, “How do I set up my books,” and “How should I plan next quarter’s goals”, but you can also crawl to them when you’re insecure, frustrated, and need someone to give you a fast boost of self-esteem.  If I could do it all over again, I’d find a mentor much sooner than I did.
  2. Know that failure is, actually, okay.  It doesn’t feel good.  And it’s not fun.  But, if you’re not failing, you’re not trying new things.  Heck, I’ve failed (sometimes, in a very public way) and survived.  At the same time, I think I would have launched more products and done more things had I been less afraid of failure.  Having said that …
  3. Keep looking forward, not back.  So you lost a bid that you “should” have gotten.  Or you made a mistake with a client.  Big deal.  We all make mistakes.  Ruminating on them, wondering, “what if” and rewriting history won’t do anything but spin your wheels and drain your energy.  Besides, you’ll need that energy for …
  4. Exercise.  Seriously.  Do it often – every day if you can.  I wish someone had told me 10 years ago that my writing would be sharper, better, and faster after just 60 minutes of Pilates and cardio.  Instead of the time-suck I thought it was, I actually have more time in the day – and my brain doesn’t have that “foggy feeling” at 5 p.m. Plus, my back doesn’t tighten up after eight hours of typing anymore.
  5. Plan your vacation time – and actually take it.  Doing what you love can be highly addictive … and that addiction isn’t always healthy.  A huge trap as a self-employed copywriter is thinking, “I can work from anywhere – so I can mix business and pleasure.”  That’s nice for most vacations, but know that you’ll need time (gasp) AWAY FROM THE COMPUTER.  Why?  Because your revenue depends on your ability to stay creative, mentally alert, and calm.  If you fall into the trap of “working all the time”, you will start resenting what you do.  Getting away from the office gets harder.  And, the work becomes much less fun.  Schedule your vacation three (or more) months out and take it.  Don’t let anything stand in your way (especially clients with last-minute deadline requests).  I still don’t take vacation time as much as I should, but I’m getting better.
  6. Take supreme, selfish care of you.  About five years ago, my doctor said, “You can take a week vacation, or you can go into the hospital.  Pick one.”  Prior to that, I had no idea that my go-go-go lifestyle was as harmful as it was.  If a client needed me, I was there.  If there was a new speaking opportunity, I was on a plane and crossing multiple time zones.  No matter what, it catches up with you.  Remember, YOU are your business, so taking care of yourself is crucial.  Eat well.  See friends.  Work when the Muse strikes you and your energy levels are good.  If you burn out, your writing will suffer – and so will your mental state.  Remember that no one can take better care of you than you can.
  7. Take care of your finances.  It’s easy at the beginning of your copywriting career to leave financial planning on your “to-do” list.  Wrong!  I wish someone (like a business mentor) would have sat me down 12 years ago and prepared me for some harsh financial realities.  In any business, there are months when you’re making money hand-over-fist … and months when the phone barely rings.  It’s natural and normal and predictable – but for goodness sake, make sure that your financial rear is covered.  Set aside money for taxes.  Open a savings account.  Plan for your retirement.  Getting a firm grip on your finances now will help prevent (expensive) mistakes later – and you can start acquiring wealth rather than accumulating debt.
  8. Listen to your gut.  Ever think, “Hmm, this client seems flaky.  Maybe I should pass on the gig?”  Yeah, so have I.  And I lost about $7,000 when the client didn’t pay me.  Sometimes you won’t have any idea why an idea seems “wrong” or a client “just isn’t right.”  Know that you have an intelligent inner voice guiding you – and all you need to do is listen.
  9. Get (legal) help.  I skipped this step for years figuring I could “evaluate my own contracts.”  Yeah, right.  That worked really well until a client cancelled a gig and I was stuck with no recourse.  Just know that clients will throw the darnedest things in their contracts.  I’ve seen a bad contract cost someone tens of thousands in legal fees – almost bankrupting them.  I’ve seen writers get stuck in an endless revision loop because the client wants “just a few more changes” – and nothing in the contract specified how many revisions the client could ask for.  It may seem “too expensive” to hire an attorney.  At the same time, I don’t know what I’d do without mine.  It took me five years to find him, and he’s worth every penny.
  10. Form a network of people who “get you.”  Ever have friends with “real jobs” say”, It must be nice to stay home all day and watch television.”  Being a self-employed SEO copywriter means that you’re doing “stuff” every day that most people don’t “get” (and yes, that unfortunately includes our spouses and partners).  Make friends (either online or in-person) with copywriters, designers, and other creative folks.  During the times you need to blow off some steam – or share your successes – your professional posse will be there for you.
  11. Experience extreme gratitude.  I used to think that “anyone” could do this.  Now I know that those of us living the writer’s life are a special breed.  We can work from home and enjoy our families.  We can decide to work a little harder for extra vacation money.  And, we can live the life we really want to live.  This has been an amazing journey and I’m grateful for it every single day.

 

End Note:  This article appears courtesy of American Writers & Artists Inc.’s (AWAI) The Writer’s Life, a free newsletter for learning how to effectively write online copy and market products on the Web.  For a complimentary subscription, visit http://www.awaionline.com/signup/the-writers-life.

© Copyright Rachel Agheyisi and Report Content Writer’s Blog, 2009-2010.

Be Present

Awake to

     Jasmine

     Lavender

     Frankincense and myrrh —

     Incense to Spirit

    Fragrances for the soul.

 

Let go of

    Anxieties

    Doubts

    Worries and fears —

    Things that weigh you down

    Thieves of faith and inspiration.

Embrace

    Hope

    Wisdom

    Joy and gratitude —

    The abundance of Spirit

    The wonder of life.

 

© Copyright Rachel Agheyisi and Report Content Writer’s Blog, 2009-2010.