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How to Become a Freelancer and Succeed

How to Become a Freelancer and Succeed

We live in the era of freelancing and entrepreneurship. Anyone can take back control of his time by leaving the 9-5 lifestyle and working for himself instead.

But the mental shift seems to be the hardest part. Some people have the mindset of an employee long after they have become independent freelancers.

It’s absolutely possible to succeed, though, and the steps to getting there are easy. You need to have a service to offer, of course, but if you’re a writer, you don’t need to worry about that. With every new day the importance of written content online increases and every company, regardless of its industry and goals, realises it needs to have a website and a frequently updated blog to it. That’s when they decide to hire a team of writers, or even assign a single project every now and then. That’s when you come to help them improve their ranking and get new clients by doing what you do best.

The benefits of freelancing are huge. But those who are still working a regular job and feel comfortable and safe there aren’t aware of them. Here are the most important ones:

1. No fixed working hours

One of the worst things about a job is that you need to be there during the best part of the day, and you rarely have the chance to do something else.

But if you’re a freelancer, you decide when to work. Plus, you get to reject a client if you don’t like his requirements or if the communication isn’t smooth.

2. You work as much as you want

If you feel exhausted, take a break. Plan your work for your most productive time and get it done faster then.

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But freelancers become hustlers as the more projects they take up, the more money comes in. And they look forward to the next article they have to write, the next contract with a client, etc.

3. You do what you love and are good at

That’s a huge benefit. And it’s life-changing.

At a regular job, even if it’s in the field you enjoy, you have to do side stuff you hate all the time. And you may not even be good at it. Others may complete them better but they are assigned to you. That’s why you often procrastinate, feel bad, get bored at work, and eventually hate going to the office.

4. Location independence

You get to work from the comfort of your home. There you play by your rules. What’s more, there’s no more commuting or unfriendly working environment.

But that’s not all. If you’re an adventurer, you can move to any place you want as location isn’t an issue anymore. You’re working remotely and can even travel the world while making money and doing what you love.

So the only limits now are the ones you set yourself.

5. You can scale

A 9-5 job is a prison when it comes to leveling up too. You can’t really start working on new projects when you feel like it, you can’t show off your talents, and you can’t speak up when you have a brilliant idea.

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But when you’re working for yourself, you have the actual chance of turning your writing career into a business. It takes time, a solid strategy and many mistakes till you get there, of course, but most freelancers scale after doing it for a few years. And then there’s a new world of possibilities that you can’t enter when you’re working for someone else.

All this sounds great. And if you weren’t aware of how beautiful the world of freelancing is, you should be quite excited now. And the question that comes to mind is, ‘How do I become a freelance writer?’. And most importantly, ‘How do I become a successful one?’.

Here are the steps that are proven to work:

1. Do it on the side first

You can’t just leave your job and start working for yourself. You need to do it on the side first, to make connections, build your portfolio, do your research and start making some income. And when it gets big enough, you can turn that into your career and do it all the time.

But for now, do it on weekends and before and after work. But be serious about it.

Start by getting familiar with the things you can do and choosing what will work best for you. Read about how others have done it and learn from them. That will also help your mind get used to the idea and make the transition when the time comes.

2. Start building your personal brand today

For starters, create a website. It may be a blog where you’ll write frequently and which you’ll want to make popular, or it can just be a domain with your name to show who you are and what you do. But it’s important to have it as that will be your online home and you will present it to potential clients in the future.

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If you don’t want to tackle the design, optimisation and other things yourself, hire someone to do it for you.

But pay special attention to your About page. Tell your story, showcase your work, make it easy for people to contact you.

Then, be on every social media outlet and use it with a purpose. Take your time when creating the profiles. Use a nice profile picture, give a link to your website and contact details, write short descriptions saying what you do best and what you believe in. And start connecting with people.

Also, share the posts you write, interesting things you read online, or news related to your industry. Use the right keywords and hashtags so that others can find these too. And keep in mind that at any moment someone may offer you a job by simply finding something you’ve shared.

3. Work for free

Now that you’ve started your journey to becoming a successful freelance writer, find your first client and offer your service for free. Connect with companies who don’t update their blog regularly, or email influencers, or else.

Your goal here is to see what freelancing is all about, to have an actual client to use as a proof on your site and thus have experience.

4. Join sites for freelancers.

Now join websites for beginner freelancers like UpWork, Freelancer and similar ones. Again, carefully think through everything you include in your profile.

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There’s way too much competition there, but that shouldn’t stop you from pitching clients. Browse the job offers and submit proposals (which are written with attention to detail).

Finding your first client and doing a good job for him will let others see you’ve got experience in the site. Soon, you’ll start collecting positive feedback and it will be easier to get accepted for new jobs.

Some of these will be one-time gigs. But others may turn into long-term business relationships.

These steps don’t need to take long. It’s up to you and it’s all about making it a priority and taking action daily to reaching your goal.

And soon, you’ll be able to leave your current job. You may start publishing books of your own and selling them after that. Or make money from your blog. And you can also start building the foundation of your business, which may include marketing your service, outsourcing some of your work or even gathering a whole team.

Now you’ve got your beginner’s guide to becoming a successful freelance writer. How you’ll use that information is up to you. What steps can you take today to turn that dream into reality?

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Published on November 2, 2020

How to Use Your Unconscious Mind to Get What You Want

How to Use Your Unconscious Mind to Get What You Want

I get my best ideas when I’m not trying—when I’m zoning out in the shower or taking my dog for a walk. Suddenly, something I’ve been racking my brain to figure out seems to just come to me. It may seem like magic, but it’s actually just my unconscious mind coming through for the win.

What Is Conscious Thought?

Let’s start by explaining what the unconscious mind is not. I want you to think about what your dream house would look like if money were no object. Then, think about where you were the first time you can remember feeling joy.

That voice in your head that was talking you through those two tasks is your conscious mind. Simply put, any thought process that you are aware of (conscious of) is part of your conscious mind. I’m using my conscious mind as I sit here and write this article.

One of the major brain centers for conscious thought is in your prefrontal cortex. This is on the outside of your brain behind your forehead. Some of the downsides of conscious thought are that it’s energetically taxing and finite. What I mean is, your conscious mind can only think one thing at a time, and it burns through a lot of glucose to do so.

Try to figure out the square root of 2400 while creating a grocery list. You can skip back and forth between those two tasks, but your conscious mind can’t wrestle with both simultaneously.

Also, think of a time when you were utilizing your conscious mind for an extended period. Maybe you were in classes all day or busy with a tough work task late into the night. You were probably exhausted after such intensive and extended conscious thought.

What Is the Unconscious Mind?

That’s why the unconscious mind is such a valuable resource. It isn’t energy taxing, and it is virtually limitless. Your unconscious mind could be trying to figure out thousands of problems right now.

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The downside is that you aren’t conscious of any of it until you are—until your unconscious thoughts make it into your consciousness.

That’s why it behooves us to figure out how to create the right environment for our unconscious minds to flourish.

System 1 and System 2 Thinking

Daniel Kahneman’s seminal book Thinking, Fast and Slow gives us another way to think about the difference between the unconscious and conscious minds. Kahneman describes two different modes of thought called System 1 and System 2.

System 1 is quick, emotional, and intuitive, while System 2 is slow, methodical, and logical. System 1 works in tandem with System 2.

For example, if you see someone looking at you, your System 1 might assume they are upset with you. Then, your System 2 takes over to process information and discern what might actually be going on at that moment.

Kahneman warns us that System 1 and System 2 are metaphors for how the mind works.[1] It would be an oversimplification to try to explain specific regions where System 1 and System 2 thinking takes place. However, System 1 and 2 is a powerful way of thinking about different modes of thinking. Kahneman calls System 1 automatic thinking and System 2 effortful.

The idea of focus is key here. In a famous experiment, participants were told to watch a video and count how many times people in the video passed a ball to each other. This required their System 2 thinking. However, the intense focus required for this experiment caused most people to miss the fact that while the people in the video were passing the ball, a person in a gorilla suit slowly made his way through the shot.

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How to Make Your Unconscious Mind Work For You

Focusing too intensely can cause us to miss details and solutions better suited to our unconscious mind. That’s why we sometimes have to stop and chill out, instead of forcing solutions.

Here are five ways to make your unconscious mind work for you.

1. Manage Stress

Your unconscious mind is not a big fan of you being stressed out, overworked, or overwhelmed. Managing stress is important if you want to be able to come up with those effortless “aha!” ideas.

Imagine that you’re under a strict work deadline. Your anxiety is compounded by the fact that you’re worried about losing your job and that your entire family relies on your income. This is an incredible amount of pressure that makes it tough for your unconscious mind to break through with that effortless creativity.

Think back to the video where the person in the gorilla suit sneaks through all the people passing the ball around. Most people are so focused on the task at hand that they don’t see the most interesting part of the video. Stress and pressure can lead to a kind of tunnel vision that works the same way. Our attention becomes so narrowly focused that we aren’t able to zoom out and connect the dots between broader patterns and ideas.

That’s why it’s crucial to find ways to manage stress. I recently spoke with humor engineer Drew Tarvin who explained the 4 R’s of managing stress.[2]

First, try to reduce stress by eliminating stressors from your life. This might mean finding a less stressful job or leaving earlier for work.

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Next, reframe the stresses that you can’t eliminate. Reframing isn’t pretending that your stress doesn’t exist; it’s trying to think differently and change your perspective about stressors that do exist. This might mean looking at the bright side or trying to see the bigger picture. If I don’t want to quit my stressful job, I can try to reframe by thinking more about the money I make or the times I feel fulfilled at work.

The third step is to relieve stress. This means finding ways to relax throughout the day. You might try meditating or watching funny cat videos on YouTube to clear your head and relieve your stress.

Finally, refresh. Find ways to take more extensive breaks where you completely de-stress. Pre-COVID, this might have meant taking a vacation to a beach somewhere. But now, you’ll have to get more creative as you find ways to put your phone down, forget about work, and come back completely refreshed.

2. Take Breaks

Part of stress management is taking breaks. But taking breaks is also an important part of tapping into your unconscious mind.

When I’m trying to figure out how to structure an article or put together ideas for a larger project, I schedule in time to completely put the project down. This allows my unconscious mind the freedom to come up with some truly novel solutions, and unlike conscious thought, it feels effortless.

This is that experience of the light bulb suddenly going on while you’re showering or driving to work. When you aren’t focused on anything in particular, your unconscious mind has the quiet it needs to bubble up to become conscious thought.

So, take breaks. One strategy is what’s called the Pomodoro Technique, which is when you stop to take a five-minute break after every 25 minutes of work. This allows you to recharge. Plus, by systematically easing your intense focus, you are giving your unconscious mind opportunities to come up with some truly novel ideas.

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3. Get Creative

The unconscious mind is great at effortlessly seeing patterns and finding interesting solutions, but for this to happen, it needs some inspiration. That means creating and consuming as much creativity as you can.

Pick up an artistic or creative hobby. Paint, write, build, or dance. It’s also helpful to consume creativity. Go to museums, read poetry, and walk in nature. Taking in creativity with your conscious mind will give your unconscious mind all the inspiration it needs to be able to do its thing.

4. Don’t Force It

The most crucial takeaway about the unconscious mind is that you can’t force it. You can struggle and strain all you want when you’re using your conscious mind, but the unconscious mind can only bubble to the surface when you aren’t trying so hard.

Think back to that phenomenon of having an aha moment while you’re showering or walking your dog. The unconscious mind is better able to break through when you aren’t focused so intensely on whatever it is you’re trying to solve.

So, relax and give yourself some time and space. That’s when your unconscious mind is most likely to breakthrough.

5. Play

Finally, don’t forget about the power of play. Play is inherently fun, and a playful mode of thinking allows your unconscious mind more of a chance to innovate. If you turn your task into a game, you’ll be more relaxed, have more fun, and collaborate better with your colleagues. That means you’ll be more likely to riff and get to a more creative “unconscious mind” solution.

You can also add play throughout your day to tap into this freer, less constrained kind of thinking. Turn your commute into a game, play hide and seek with your children, or join a local bowling league. This will help you get reacquainted with your childlike sense of joy, wonder, and curiosity—all key ingredients to nurturing and fostering your unconscious mind.

Final Thoughts

Dealing with and utilizing your unconscious mind is very different from doing so with your conscious mind. Tapping your unconscious mind is a technique that, when done right, can help you get what you want by untapping your potential.

Featured photo credit: Katerina Jerabkova via unsplash.com

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