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5 Essential Tips for Aspiring Freelance Writers

5 Essential Tips for Aspiring Freelance Writers

The world is awash with aspiring freelance writers. This is a great thing, but it is also the one that makes life hard for all of the said freelance writers. The world of freelance writing is not one that comes easy, and anybody who wants to make a success of it will need to put in many hours to pull it off.

The fact that it is a difficult world to get a foothold in should not make it any less appealing for those who truly want to write for a living. There are just a few things you need to be clear on before you take a real leap and become a fully paid up member of the freelance writers’ fraternity.

1. Leave Your Principles at The Door

This may sound like a horrible thing to say, but the truth hurts. If you want to become one of the very few successful freelance writers who make a decent living from their work, you will have to take on assignments that you really don’t want to do. Now i’m not saying that this needs to be anything too sketchy, but at the outset you will find yourself doing work that seems pretty bizarre.

All freelance writers have to take on unusual, or just downright soul destroying work when they are looking to get on their feet. I’ve done tens of thousands of words on things that have literally melted my brain, but I was getting paid. Every time you get paid, it is another job complete. Every time you complete a job, your profile gets that little bit more credibility.

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When you do end up doing this kind of dredge work at the beginning, try to take the positives out of it. Really do your research and take it as an opportunity to learn about a topic you previously didn’t even know existed.

2. Choose Your Freelance Platform Wisely

If you want to get good work, you are going to need to find the best freelance writers’ platform that best suits your skill set. You also need to focus on those platforms where there is so much work being offered that the little gems of jobs are still able to be seen amongst so much of the rubbish that is out there.

Personally I believe Upwork to be the platform that best works for me, but there are many high quality places where you can find fairly paid work. Everybody has to work for low-money at the beginning, but if you build your profile on a good site whilst doing that, eventually you will start getting interest when you go for the better paid jobs.

3. Know Your SEO Basics

In today’s market, it is not enough for freelance writers to simply be writers. In many ways you also become digital marketers for your clients. Whether this is through inserting so many keywords into a blog or website content, you will very quickly need to make yourself familiar with the basics.

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You won’t need to become an SEO expert, unless you want to be, but terminology like domain authority, anchor text, back-links, white-hat, and a whole host of others are all going to be things you will need to get a general grasp of.

The most important thing with SEO is that you should never let it compromise your writing. Even if you feel like you are forcing words into sentences, you will still be able to give it your own personal touch, and that’s why we want to write in the first place.

4. Don’t Give Up Your Day Job

Ideally you will not just turn your back on your old career and decide to join the ranks of freelance writers on a whim. I cannot emphasise enough how difficult it is to get by, especially at the beginning. If you want to make it last, you will need to be patient.

For this reason you should not give up your old job before you decide to go all in. Do whatever work you can on the side. Working like this will put less pressure on you to take the really bad jobs out of desperation. Taking your time will also let you slowly grow through the learning process you need to master in order to not waste your time chasing jobs you will never get.

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Having a secure pay packet to fall back on will also make it less frustrating when you realise that a person you thought was going to be a great client, turns out to be nothing more than a horrible time-waster or scam artist.

5. Believe That You Are A Writer

Most freelance writers come from a writing background. It is often our passion, yet paradoxically becoming a freelance writer can sometimes turn this passion into something we start to feel a lot of resentment towards. Everybody will go through this stage at some point, but you must continue to believe in yourself and your abilities as a writer.

In my own experience, I have found that it is often when i’ve almost got to the point of giving up that a brilliant new client will just fall into my lap. Maybe I’ve been lucky on these occasions, but I think these moments also coincided with me taking some of the pressure of myself and applying for jobs with a little bit more heart and sincerity.

Good clients really do want to work with good writers. Never let yourself fall into the trap of becoming some kind of factory hen who simply churns out proposal after proposal without having properly thought whether or not that job is a fit for them. It’s true that at the beginning you may have to make compromises, but you must also always know your own worth and never forget that you are truly a writer and that this is what you were born to do.

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It will not be easy, but you will get there.

Featured photo credit: Brook Johnston via thoughtcatalog.com

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Last Updated on January 21, 2020

How to Increase Work Productivity: 9 Ground Rules

How to Increase Work Productivity: 9 Ground Rules

We all have those days when completing our assigned tasks seems beyond reach. With the temptation of social media, mobile games, and the internet in general—not to mention the constant bustle of people in the office—it’s easy to fall prey to disruptions and distractions at work.

So, what can we do about it? How to be productive at work?

While we don’t have a foolproof system that can completely eliminate disturbances and diversions, we do have 9 ground rules that can be applied to help give your productivity levels a boost.

Keep reading to find out our tips on work productivity.

What Does It Mean to Be Productive?

How to be productive at work?” is the age-old question plaguing employees and employers alike around the world. Regardless of where you work and what you do, everyone is always looking for new ways to be more efficient and effective.

But what does being productive actually entail?

Completing more tasks on your list or working longer hours doesn’t necessarily mean you’re being more productive. It just means you’re more busy, and productivity shouldn’t be confused with busyness.

Productivity means achieving effective results in as short amount of time as possible, leaving you with more time to enjoy freely.

It involves working smarter, not harder. It means refining processes, speeding up workflows, and reducing the chances of interruptions.

Productivity is best achieved when looking at your current way of working, identifying the bottlenecks, flaws, and hindrances, and then finding ways to improve.

9 Ground Rules on How to Be Productive at Work

1. Avoid Multitasking

Multitasking can give the impression that more tasks can be accomplished as you’re doing multiple things at once. However, the opposite is true.

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Research has shown that attempting to do several things at the same time takes a toll on productivity and that shifting between tasks can cost up to 40 percent of someone’s time.[1] That’s because your focus and concentration is constantly hindered due to having to switch between tasks.

If you have a lot of tasks on your plate, determine your priorities and allocate enough time for each task. That way you can work on what’s urgent first and have enough time to complete the rest of your tasks.

2. Turn off Notifications

According to a Gallup poll, more than 50 percent of US smartphone owners admit to checking their phones a few times an hour.[2]

Switching off your phone—or at least your notifications—during work hours is a good way to prevent you from checking your phone all the time.

The same applies to your computer. If you have the privilege of accessing social media on your work desktop, switch off the notifications on there.

Another good tip is to logout from your social media accounts. Therefore when you feel the urge to check it, you might be swayed because your page isn’t so easily accessible.

3. Manage Interruptions

There are certain disruptions in the office that are unavoidable such as your manager requesting a quick meeting or your colleague asking for assistance. In order to deal with this, your best approach is to know how to handle interruptions like a pro.

Be proactive and inform the people around you of your need to focus. Turn your status on as “busy/unavailable” on your work chat app.

If you’re on a deadline, let your colleagues know that you need to concentrate and would really appreciate not being interrupted for the moment, or even work from home if that’s a feasible option for you.

By anticipating and having a plan in place to manage them, this will minimize your chances of being affected by interruptions.

4. Eat the Frog

Mark Twain once famously said that:

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“if it’s your job to eat a frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning. And if it’s your job to eat two frogs, it’s best to eat the biggest one first.”

What this basically means is that you should get your biggest, most urgent task out of the way first.

We all have that big, important task that we don’t want to do but know we have to do because it holds the biggest consequence if we don’t complete it.

Eat the frog is a productivity technique that encourages you to do your most important, most undesirable task first. Completing this particular task before anything else will give you a huge sense of accomplishment. It will set the ball rolling for the rest of the day and motivate you to eagerly complete your other tasks.

5. Cut Down on Meetings

Meetings can use up a lot of time, which is time that can be used to do something useful.

You have to wait for everyone to arrive, then after the pleasantries are out of the way, you can finally get stuck into it. And sometimes, it may take a whole hour to iron out one single issue.

The alternative? Don’t arrange a meeting at all. You’ll be surprised at how many things can be resolved through an email or a quick phone call.

But that doesn’t mean you should eliminate meetings altogether. There are certain circumstances where face-to-face discussions and negotiations are still necessary. Just make sure you weigh up the options prior.

If it’s just information sharing, you’re probably better off sending an email; but if brainstorming or in-depth discussion is required, then an in-person meeting would be best.

6. Utilize Tools

Having the right tools to work with is crucial as you’re only really as good as the resources you have at your disposal. Not only will you be able to complete tasks as efficiently as possible, but they can streamline processes. Said processes are essential to a business as they manage tasks, keep employees connected, and hold important data.

If you’re the manager or business owner, ensure your team has the right tools in place.

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And if you’re an employee and think the tools you currently have to work with aren’t quite up to par, let your manager know. A good team leader understands the significance of having the right tools and how it can impact employee productivity.

Some examples of tools that could be used:

Communication
  • Slack for team chat and collaboration.
  • Samepage for video conference software.
  • Zendesk for customer service engagement.
Task Management
  • Zenkit for task and project collaboration.
  • Wunderlist for listing your to-do’s.
  • Wekan for an open source option.
Database Management
Time Tracking
  • Clockify for a free tracker.
  • TMetric for workspace integrations.
  • TimeCamp for attendance and productivity monitoring.

You can also take a look at these Top 10 Productivity Tools to Help You Achieve 10x More in Less Time.

7. Declutter and Organize

Having a disorganized and cluttered workspace can limit your ability to focus. According to researchers, physical clutter can negatively impact your ability to concentrate and take in information.[3] Which is why keeping your work environment well ordered and clutter-free is important.

Ensure you have your own system of organization so you know what to do when the paperwork starts to pile up.

Being organized will also ensure that you know where to find the appropriate stationery, tools, or documents when you need it. A US study reveals that the average worker can waste up to one week a year looking for misplaced items.[4]

Here’s a useful guide to help you declutter and organize: How to Declutter Your Life and Reduce Stress (The Ultimate Guide)

8. Take Breaks

Taking regular breaks is essential for maintaining productivity at work. Working in front of a computer can lead to a sedentary lifestyle which can place you at a higher risk of heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. Even a 30 second microbreak can increase your productivity levels up to 30 percent.

As well as your physical health, breaks are also crucial for your mental and emotional wellbeing. That’s because your brain is like a muscle, the more it works without a break, the easier it is for it to get worn out.

Ensuring you actually take your breaks can prevent you from suffering from decision fatigue. It can also help boost creativity.

Take a look at this article and learn why you should start scheduling time for breaks: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

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9. Drink Water

Although we know we should, it’s easy to forget to drink enough water during the working day.

Many of us turn to tea or coffee for the caffeine hit to keep us going. However, like taking breaks, drinking water is essential for maintaining productivity levels at work. It’s simple and effective.

Not drinking enough water can lead to dehydration and also headaches, tiredness, and weight gain.

A good tip to avoid dehydration is to keep a water bottle at your desk as it can serve as a reminder to constantly drink water.

If you find the taste of water a little bland, add some fruit such as cucumber or lemon to give it a better taste.

You can also get more ideas on how to drink more water here: How to Drink More Water (and Why You Should)

The Bottom Line

The preceding 9 ground rules on work productivity aren’t the be-all, end-all. You and the company you work for may have other tips on how productivity is best increased and maintained.

After all, it’s something that can be perceived differently depending on the exact job and work environment.

In saying that, however, the 9 ground rules serve as a good foundation for anyone finding themselves succumbing to disruption and distraction, and are looking for ways to overcome them.

A good tip to keep in mind is that change doesn’t happen overnight. Start small and be consistent. If you slip up, just dust yourself off and try again.

Developing habits happens gradually, so as long as you keep up with it, you’ll soon start to notice the changes you’ve been making and eventually enjoy the fruits of your labor.

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Featured photo credit: Cathryn Lavery via unsplash.com

Reference

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