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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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Last Updated on March 30, 2020

How to Tap into Your Right Brain’s Potential

How to Tap into Your Right Brain’s Potential

You may have heard someone say they are “totally right brained” or that they’re “a left brained person.”

There is a pervasive myth that’s been making its rounds for over a century: people have two hemispheres of their brains, and if they have a dominant left brain, they’re more analytical; and if they have a dominant right brain, they are more creative.

Before we go debunking this theory and then giving some tips for how people can access their creative brain centers, let’s first take a look at where the left brain/right brain lateralization theory comes from.

The Left Brain/Right Brain Lateralization Theory

In the 1800s, scientists discovered that when patients injured one side of their brains, certain skills were lost.[1] Scientists linked those different skills to one side of the brain or the other. Thus began the left brain/right brain myth that continues to this day.

Then, in the 1960s and 70s, Roger W. Sperry led 16 operations that cut the corpus callosum (the largest region that connects both brain hemispheres together) in order to try to treat patients’ epilepsy. Sperry wrote about the differences in the two hemispheres as a result of those surgeries.[2]

Sperry’s work was popularized in 1973 with a New York Times article about his lateralization theory—that people were either right brained (read: logical) or left brained (read: creative). From here, Sperry won the Nobel Prize for his work and numerous other publications spread the right brain/left brain myth.

Debunking the Right Brain/Left Brain Myth

If anything, the lateralization theory of the brain is a gross exaggeration. It is true that people have two hemispheres of their brains. It is also true that there are differences in the composition of those two hemispheres.

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However, the hemispheres are actually much more interconnected than Sperry’s work initially made it seem.

In a 2013 study,[3] scientists scanned over 1000 people’s brains, checking for lateralization. They confirmed that certain brain functions occur predominately in one hemisphere or the other but that, in reality, the brain is actually much more interconnected and complex than the right brain/left brain lateralization theory makes it seem.[4][5]

A New Metaphor for Right Brain/Left Brain

How do we get past this right brain/left brain myth?

First, let’s look at what contemporary cognitive science says about brain regions, and creative and logical modes of thinking.

My background is as an improviser and improv researcher. I wrote Theatrical Improvisation, Consciousness, and Cognition and think looking at improvisation and the brain can shed light on a new model for talking about unlocking the brain’s creative potential.

Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) brain scans have shown that while trained improvisers improvise (musically on a keyboard, rapping, and comedic improvisation) an interesting shift happens in their brain activity. [6]

A region called the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex decreases in activity and creative language centers such as the medial prefrontal cortex increase in activity. The dorsolateral prefrontal cortex is linked with conscious thoughts—that inner voice that tells you not to say something or criticizes you when you do.

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The medial prefrontal cortex is among the brain regions linked with creativity. So, instead of thinking about right brain and left brain, perhaps it’s more current and correct to think about more specific brain regions instead of hemispheres. Perhaps, it’s more useful to think about which activities and strategies will allow us to inhibit our dorsolateral prefrontal cortexes and allow our medial prefrontal cortexes to flourish.

How to Enhance Your “Right Brain” — Creativity

Whether we’re talking about right brain versus left brain, creative versus logical, or medial prefrontal cortex versus dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, we still know enough to talk about strategies to tap into your creative brain’s full potential.

So, now that we’ve dispelled the right brain/left brain myth and looked at a more contemporary, cognitive neuroscience theory of brain regions and creativity centers, let’s look at how to tap into the potential of your creative brain.

1. Performing Arts

One way to tap into your creative brain centers is to participate in the performing arts. Whether you improvise, act, or dance, the performing arts allow you an embodied experience that will help you snap out of your habitual, logical thoughts.

Another benefit of the performing arts is that it changes your attention. Attention and creativity are inextricably linked. When we improvise, act, or dance, we have to focus intently on our fellow performers. This means we are forced to focus less on our conscious, logical thoughts. This frees us up for more creative thinking and expression.[7]

One of the conclusions of my research on improvisation is that focusing intensely on fellow improvisers and the task at hand makes it more likely that we experience a flow state. Dr. Csikszentmihalyi,[8] a Professor of Psychology and Management defines flow as an optimal psychological state when our skills match the difficulty of the task at hand. Our perception of time is altered as we get into the zone and become more present and in the moment during our chosen activity.[9]

A flow state is a creative state. It’s the opposite of crunching numbers and forcing ourselves to work out a problem with the conscious regions of our brain. So, get up, improvise, act, or dance to access your creativity.

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2. Visual Art

Art teacher Betty Edwards[10] wrote a book called Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain. Here again, we see that a shift in our attention can lead us to an increase in our creative thinking.

Edwards’ book gives art students tricks to shift the way they see the world. For example, one exercise encourages students to literally flip whatever it is they’re drawing upside down before they draw it. This forces budding artists to literally see the object in a new way. This shift allows them to focus more on the individual components and patterns of the object, which allows them to draw it better.

Shifting how we see things is another way we can access our creative brain centers. Take an art class to shut off your conscious, critical thoughts and start seeing things from a new, more creative perspective.

3. Zone Out

If there’s one thing creativity doesn’t like, it’s being coerced.

I think we’ve all felt that awful feeling of trying to force ourselves to be creative. When we force it, we’re really trying to force our logical brain regions to be creative. It’s like asking your gardener to perform your appendix surgery. It’s just not what she does.

Instead, stop forcing it. Take a break. Take a long walk or a relaxing bath or shower. Let your mind wander.

Whatever you do, stop forcing it. This break lets your creative centers rise to the surface of your attention and get heard.

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4. Practice Mindfulness

The final trick to start accessing your so-called right brain is to practice mindfulness.

Now, there’s a lot of different ways to go about mindfulness. You can take a more physical approach with a yoga class. Or you can try meditating to become more aware and in tune with your thoughts and feelings: Meditation for Beginners: How to Meditate Deeply and Quickly

You could also try to incorporate fun mindfulness exercises[11] into your everyday routine like forcing yourself to go on detours or pretending you’re a detective who needs to examine people and places closely.

Any way you do it, mindfulness exercises and training can help you become better versed in how your brain works and what your normal thought process is like on a day-to-day basis. If we’re ever going to reach our optimal creativity, we have to become an expert in how our individual brain functions. Mindfulness is one way to become your very own brain expert.

Mindfulness also has added benefits like calming us, slowing our breathing, and helping us become more observant, which are also great ways to start tapping into our creative potential.

Final Thoughts

So, it may not be correct to say that our right brain is our creative brain, but it is still a valid pursuit to try to optimize our creative brain centers.

The key to do so is to relax, become observant, shift your perspective, move your body, try something new, and, whatever you do, don’t force it.

Creativity can feel slippery. It can abandon us when we need it most, but by slowing down and looking at things from a new perspective, we can give ourselves a better chance of tapping into our ultimate creativity, even if that doesn’t exactly mean our “right brain.”

More Tips on Boosting Creativity

Featured photo credit: Kelly Sikkema via unsplash.com

Reference

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