The American workforce is changing. Many jobs are disappearing in sectors that are not going to rebound (eg, manufacturing, newspapers). Those jobs are gone forever. While it may be a hard pill to swallow, it’s forcing many to rethink what job stability is.
I’ve been a freelance writer/editor since 1993. And while I’ve had some lean years, one of the things I’m always grateful for is that I know how to make money under my own steam. My income does not depend on any one client (one paycheck); it depends on me, my marketing savvy and my willingness to work hard.
If freelance writing intrigues you as a “recession-proof” career choice, and you find yourself looking to make the transition, following is some first-hand advice on how to do just that.
Tip #1 for Transitioning to a Freelance Writing Career: Rethink What Job Stability Means
If you find yourself laid off from a job that you thought was secure, and you haven’t been able to land another job, maybe it’s time to rethink what job stability means.
Accept the fact that gone are the days when you get with a company and retire with them. While a company can be sound financially one day, as we’ve seen over the last decade or so, things can change in a nanosecond. I mean, who thought GM would go bankrupt and have to accept government help to stay afloat.
While they seem to be bouncing back, they are doing it with a streamlined workforce. And, who knows what’s going to happen in 5, 10 or 15 years.
So tip number one for transitioning to a freelance writing career is accepting that the only job stability is the stability you give yourself.
Tip #2 for Transitioning to a Freelance Writing Career: Create Self Discipline
Many new to freelance writing – or any work from home job – say that they find it hard because there are too many distractions when working from home.
But, if you’re going to succeed in this career, you must develop self discipline. And the easiest way to do this is to create a routine — much like you would if you had to report to a job.
Get up at the same time every day, create a list of tasks to accomplish every day (in the beginning this will be marketing for freelance writing jobs), and sign off at the same time every day.
Some of the tasks you should be doing initially are getting a website up and running, creating writing samples and developing a marketing plan.
A routine will create the consistency you need to get these things done – which will lead to desired results (ie, freelance writing jobs).
Tip #3 for Transitioning to a Freelance Writing Career: Set Up a Home Office
It doesn’t have to be fancy. It can literally be a corner of your dining room table. But, having an “office” to go to goes hand in hand with creating a routine and being disciplined about work.
Tip #4 for Transitioning to a Freelance Writing Career: Set Income Goals
How much do you want/need to make? This will be different for every person. But, do set a goal; have a concrete number in mind. This is important because it’s like driving without a map. You must have an end goal in mind in order to motivate yourself to do what you need to do – day in and day out – to get work flowing in.
Without a number to reach, it’s much easier to be lackadaisical in your work habits.
Tip #5 for Transitioning to a Freelance Writing Career: Find a Mentor
This doesn’t have to be an actual person. It can be someone – or a few people — you follow online. There are going to be times you get discouraged. You’ll need some reassuring words (blog posts, articles, videos) to keep you pumped about your new career as a freelance writer.
Remember, if others can make a living doing this, you can too! It’s not rocket science, but it does require discipline.
Finding a Mentor Tip: The SBA (http://SBA.gov) has a program called SCORE (the Service Corp of Retired Executives). They mentor new business owners – at no charge. Go to the SBA’s main site and drill down to your city/state. Then, contact them to see if they have such a program in your jurisdiction and ask what you have to do to participate in it.
How Long Does It Take to Transition to a Career as a Freelance Writer?
Of course, there are many more steps to take to transition to a career as a freelance writer. But, these are the broad ones that get you on the right road.
How long it takes really depends on you. You can start landing clients in the first week, or it may take a month or more. It all depends on your desire, how adept you are at marketing and which niche(s) you target.
Freelancing Writing: Priceless “Job” Stability
But one thing I can tell you, once you start making money “under your own steam,” it’s a liberating feeling. Why? Because you’ll realize that you’ll never be at the mercy of a job (one paycheck) again.
Even through lean times, I never worry about how I’m going to make ends meet because I know that my income depends on only one factor – me and my brain. And that’s a kind of peace no job — no matter how stable — can compete with.
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