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How to Become a Freelancer and Succeed

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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 23, 2020

How to Develop Big Picture Thinking And Think More Clearly

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How to Develop Big Picture Thinking And Think More Clearly

Your neighbors downstairs are playing loud music. Again. How do they not get tired of partying? And why do they choose songs with such a heavy downbeat that the glass in your cupboard is vibrating every two seconds? What can you do to get some peace that you deserve? What should you?

Human mind tends to go in circles whenever faced with a problem without a clear solution. It becomes easy to forget the big picture and get lost in anger and self-pity, wasting our precious time, energy and enthusiasm.

Would it not be nice if we always remembered to put things in perspective?

Would it not be more efficient to face all kinds of problems, from tiny annoyances to life-changing emergencies, with a calm demeanor, sharp focus and fearless determination to promptly take the most efficient action possible?

Alas, humans are not like that. All too often we let anxiety or greed get the best of us and make a rushed or shortsighted decision that we quickly come to regret. Other times, we spend weeks or months at an impasse, rehashing the exact same arguments, unable to accept the compromise required to move forward with any of the available options.

Buddhists talk about getting lost in the “small self.” In this state of mind, we literally forget the big picture and focus on the small one. We start taking our daily problems too personally and, paradoxically, becomes less capable of solving them in an efficient manner. And this is the opposite of big picture thinking.

Let me share with you a story related to big picture thinking…

In 1812, the French army of Napoleon Bonaparte invaded Russia.[1] After a decisive Battle of Borodino, the capture of Moscow and therefore Napoleon’s victory in the war seemed inevitable.

Unexpectedly, the Russian Commander-in-Chief Mikhail Kutuzov made a highly controversial decision of retreating and allowing the French to capture Moscow. Much of the population had been evacuated taking supplies with them. The city itself was set on fire and large parts of it burned into the ground.

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After waiting in vain for Russia to capitulate, Napoleon had to retreat in the middle of a bitterly cold winter. He won the battle but lost the war. The campaign ended in a disaster and the near destruction of the French army.

What can we learn from this historical lesson?

1. Focus on the Consequences

Napoleon focused on the important part: capturing Moscow. Nobody could accuse him of thinking small. Yet he overlooked that the Russian army could still fight even after giving up the country’s most important city.

So was Moscow not an important target after all?

Success expert Brian Tracy has a litmus test: things are important to the extent that they have important consequences. Things are unimportant to the extent that they have no important consequences.[2]

When faced with a choice, ask yourself, what would be the consequences of each option?

  • Want to spend an hour studying or watching the new series on Netflix? What would be the consequences of each option? Netflix can sometimes be a better choice, but it helps to put things in perspective.
  • Want to maintain your apartment by yourself or to pay a cleaning service? Would would be the consequences of each option?
  • Want to meet up for coffee with this acquaintance of yours or catch up on your work instead? What would be the consequences of each option?

The choice can be different for different people. An aspiring filmmaker may have a legitimate reason for choosing Netflix. Personally, cleaning your own apartment can be relaxing and nourishing even if the economics of hiring a cleaner looks compelling because you are earning a high hourly rate.

This is where you will need a basic idea of who you are — what are your goals, values and aspirations.

2. Flip Defeat Into Victory

Kutuzov managed to turn Russia’s defeat into a historic victory by recasting the problem in a wider context: losing Moscow need not mean losing the war.

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Despite the symbolic meaning attached to the Kremlin, the churches, the priceless treasures that had been stored in the city for centuries, the outcome of the campaign was ultimately determined by the strength of the remaining armies.

If you can adopt this result-oriented perspective, many of your personal defeats may be flipped into victories as well. Few events in a human life are absolutely good or absolutely bad, and it usually takes many years to recognize in retrospect, what role a particular encounter did play in your story.

Therefore we have every reason to look for the good in the things that happen to us.

This is a very practical attitude, far from baseless “positive thinking.” After all, if something unfortunate has happened to you and you find good sides in this circumstance, you will then be better positioned to take advantage of those good sides.

Say your noisy neighbors are affecting your productivity. What if it is a blessing in disguise? How can you turn this defeat into a victory?

  • Perhaps you are too serious about life and could learn how to have more fun. Join your neighbors or go out for a walk instead of working;
  • Perhaps you only wanted to be productive while instead procrastinated on social media. Now that your procrastination has been interrupted, stop and acknowledge this much greater obstacle to your productivity;
  • Perhaps you are too sensitive to interference. Take this opportunity to practice ignoring the noise and doing your best anyway;
  • Perhaps you have a victim mentality and the feeling of unfairness drains you more than any actual nuisance your neighbors might have caused. Try accepting this lapse in your productivity the way you would accept bad weather.

Get used to finding opportunities in your problems. This is the quintessential big picture thinking.

3. Ask for Advice

Both Napoleon and Kutuzov had trusted advisers to discuss their affairs with. In general, getting a different perspective — or several — can only help inform your understanding and lead to better decisions. Just ensure that the people giving you advice are competent in the particular area where experience is needed.

Paying money for advice can also be a wise investment. Lawyers, tax accountants, medical doctors spend years learning how to assist people like yourself in living more successful, more fulfilling lives.

A quick legal consultation can save you a fortune down the line or even keep you out of big trouble. A medical check-up can uncover potential issues and help keep you healthy and active for years to come.

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Even big, complex dilemmas at your job or in your romantic relationship can be tackled more effectively by partnering up with a coach or a therapist or, of course, with the help of a wise friend.

4. Beware of Biased Advice

Many imperfect decisions occur in response to an imperfect piece of advice that you choose to act on. This advice often comes from a biased party.

For example, we are often encouraged to buy something that we supposedly need:

  • Protect your skin from harmful UV rays by using a special lotion.
  • Fortify your health by taking multivitamins.
  • Connect with your friends by sending them elaborate gifts.
  • Brighten your weekend by consuming a delicious pastry.
  • Become more productive by getting a faster computer.

However, most purchases are unnecessary.

Some, such as the sunscreen, do have legitimate benefits when used properly.[3] Others, such as multivitamins, only make a difference for a small group of people.[4]

Advertisers of those benefits inevitably want to narrow your focus in order to overstate the importance of their product. They frequently present it as the only solution to your problem, whether real or imaginary.

After all,

  • Skin can also be protected from the sun by wearing appropriate clothing.
  • Health can be better fortified by consuming a balanced diet and getting regular exercise.
  • Spending time or talking on the phone with your friends is the foremost way of connecting with them, and it is virtually free.
  • Your weekend can be brightened by doing something that you love.
  • You can become more productive by focusing on the tasks that have the most important consequences. A faster computer can, in fact, decrease productivity by making it easier to multitask and by enabling your favorite distractions.

There are other sources of imperfect advice. Politicians also frequently want us to focus on a particular “big picture,” to the exclusion of the alternatives.

Even loving parents can be guilty of the same. They can advise their children to pick a career path that is safe and respectable, based on their “big picture” that in life one has to make a living. A child may disagree, however, based on another “big picture” that one’s life has to have meaning and fulfillment.

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Bottom Line

It is human nature to make rushed, emotional decisions based on incomplete information, then regret those decisions later on.

You can protect yourself from poor judgment by striving to attain the big picture when careful consideration is called for.

Focus on the consequences of your decision before considering how you feel about it.

Play with the cards you’ve been dealt, but look for opportunities in each situation and you will find them.

Ask knowledgeable mentors for advice, but beware of biased people who have an opinion, but do not necessarily have your best interest in mind.

Yet remember, true big picture thinking comes from hard-won experience. Legendary military commanders Napoleon Bonaparte and Mikhail Kutuzov were both injured on the battlefield.

Clear thinking comes from putting your big picture to the test of reality.

More Tips on Thinking Clearly

Featured photo credit: Haneen Krimly via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Wikipedia: French invasion of Russia
[2] Brian Tracy: No Excuses!: The Power of Self-Discipline
[3] American Academy of Dermatology: Say Yes to Sun Protection
[4] Harvard Medical School: Do multivitamins make you healthier?

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