Writing is a challenging profession, no matter what domain you’re writing in or about. How are writers like Bob Bly and Ann Handley able to crank out multiple books a year — while also running freelance writing businesses at the same time?
They use a secret tactic that’s not really a secret. But it’s something that’s helped them become sought-after writers and offer premium services.
That secret? Time management.
If you’re looking to level up your freelance writing business, keep reading. Here are four tips that’ll take you from being an “okay” freelancer to a well-paid one.
The Secret Is Time Management
We’ve all read the productivity hack posts and read books on how to manage our time better. And to really power up your earning potential, you have to take it seriously. You have to learn how you work, when’s your best time to write, and figure out how to balance client work with your own marketing work.
Time management is a critical part of your freelance writing business because how you spend it directly affects the:
- Types of clients you attract
- Health of your business
- Value you have to offer your clients
When you’re able to manage your time efficiently, you’ll grow as a writer and expand your business. Use these four tips to avoid the pitfalls of wasted time and become a well-paid B2B writer.
1. Manage Your Time Like a Business Owner
Successful freelance writers know that they must establish healthy boundaries for their writing business. They know when to write, when to market, when to schedule calls, and, most importantly, when they need a break.
Working long hours without downtime might seem exciting, as you emulate your favorite entrepreneur. Yet that’s a path to burnout, which leaves you with minimal energy to work with new clients or market your writing business. You may even forget to invoice clients for work you’ve already delivered, straining your cash flow.
Instead, schedule your work and leisure time as appropriate. For example, I write better in the morning and use my afternoons for calls and research. Ann Handley tries to keep all her meetings to 30 minutes or less and writes when she’s freshest.
2. Make Time for Marketing
It’s part of the freelance experience that you get so busy you forget to market yourself, leading to the classic feast-or-famine rollercoaster. We forget to book time for our own marketing and concentrate on delivering client work at all times.
Ilise Benun solves this with “Marketing Monday,” which she does and advises her coaching students to follow. Every Monday, Ilise works on a marketing activity for her business, whether it’s writing a blog post, reaching out to her network, or scheduling her social media.
Pick a day of the week to market your freelance writing business and stick to it. This keeps your marketing flywheel moving while you’re busy with client work, and builds a long-term healthy writing business.
3. Always Be Learning
Another part of your work schedule should be dedicated to your continuing education. To stand out as a high-quality writer in the sea of freelancers, you’ve got to offer something special and of significant value.
Continuing education helps you stay on top of the expertise and skills your clients need and the trends they might be asking about. By upgrading your knowledge and skills, you’ll be able to present your writing services as the only choice for prospects and clients. (And charge well for them too.)
4. Use Systems and Processes to Eliminate Wasted Time
A friend of mine explained recently how he’s been using a series of automation tools to link the various parts of his freelance coaching business. I was impressed at how he was able to tie in so many tools and free up his time to work on the activities that bring his business and clients the most value.
For example, he’s linked:
- His online store to his email marketing program to send out an onboarding email series when someone completes a purchase.
- His online badging system to his membership site and email marketing software. When a student earns a badge, a congratulatory email series is kicked off, and the student’s membership profile is automatically updated with the new badge.
- His proposal software to his CRM and online accounting software. When a client signs a proposal, it creates a draft invoice in the accounting software and a client record in the CRM software.
While linking your tech systems through automation software like Zapier can be useful, you don’t even have to get that fancy. You can be like Bob Bly, who writes out three to-do lists every day to keep his business on track: To-Do Today, To-Do Bob Projects, and To-Come. With these lists, Bob knows precisely what to do today, what he needs to do to market his business (books, speaking engagements, etc.), and people he needs to follow up with.
No matter how you do it, create your own systems and processes to better manage your time and level up your freelance writing business. They’ll enable you to work on all areas of your business, even if you’re busy.
All freelancers want to find the silver bullet that’ll level up their business. And learning how to manage your time better might just be the secret to going from an “okay” writer to a well-paid, successful one. But only if you learn how to apply it to your particular freelance writing business.
We’re all different and have unique rhythms and clients, so there’s no one-size-fits-all technique that’ll work for everyone. But when you start thinking about how you can manage your time better, you’ll come up with the ideas that work best for you. Use these four tips as a guideline of areas to work on and then dive deep into each one.