As a freelance writer, you’ll undoubtedly be faced with many of the biggest productivity issues. This is especially true if you work from home like I do. The trick to being successful is making sure these problems don’t interfere with your work. Otherwise, you’ll find it difficult to make enough money to sustain yourself.
Avoiding the Biggest Productivity Issues
Since 2012, I’ve had my fair share of ups and downs when it comes to workload. Over the years, I’ve learned quite a few things that may be of help.
When writing for clients, productivity is vastly important. Most of you will be paid per word, which means you need to be fast and accurate if you want to make a good living. Because the open market is so competitive, you need to give the client a reason to keep using your services.
Here are 12 of the biggest productivity issues you’ll face and what you can do to avoid them.
1. Keeping Motivated to Work
Perhaps one of the more problematic issues for freelance writers is being motivated to work. There will be days when you don’t want to face the grind of creating content for someone else. At some point, you may even suffer a burn-out when it comes to your craft.
When working for yourself, there is no one over your shoulder cracking the whip. You are completely responsible for your own productivity in many instances. This means you need to keep your head in the game if you want to keep the bills paid.
I set personal goals for myself each day. Sometimes these center around a certain number of words written. Other days, I may focus on spending “X” amount of time typing on any project. This is because surpassing personal records keeps me engaged and something more to keep my focus.
2. A Lack of Skill
Not everyone can type 70 words per minute with a 99% accuracy rate. Being too slow will definitely become one of your biggest productivity issues if you haven’t spent much time typing in general. The “hunt and peck” ideology of typing isn’t going to help you bring in the cash.
I’m not saying those who can’t type will be unsuccessful. However, having control of the keyboard is going to make a difference. Luckily, this is a skill that you can acquire over time.
Keep practicing typing. I am lucky as most of my job experience before freelance ghostwriting involved a keyboard in some fashion. Take courses, manage a daily blog or simply write some stories for yourself to hone your skill.
3. A Lack of Knowledge
Not knowing the subject matter is going to be damaging to production levels. People often type slower in regards to content they’re not comfortable writing. This is aside from spending time researching the topic.
You never want to “fake” it when dealing with clients. The person paying you is expecting high-quality work while using current information. The last thing you want to do is hand over something that is clearly obsolete.
Spend time studying an industry, even if it’s something you already know. Personally, I use Netvibes to supply me with the latest articles and videos concerning several topics I write about. Keep your thumb on the pulse of your preferred niche.
4. Getting Sidetracked with Random Elements
One of the biggest productivity issues for me today is being easily sidetracked. YouTube, Netflix and sometimes gaming take a bit longer than I realize. Before I know it, the day is gone and I lost out on making a serious amount of money.
Remember, most freelance writing jobs are based on keeping productive. Every moment you’re not actually writing is one you’re not getting paid. This means you need to stay focused on your objectives and jump into the fun things after working.
To avoid these kinds of time-sinks, I schedule the day like I was working for a company. In a sense, I am. During my scheduled writing times, I try to stay away from diversions and focus on getting my work done. Would I watch YouTube while sitting at my desk if I worked for another business?
5. A Lack of Professionalism
Believe it or not, a lack of being professional is easily one of the biggest productivity issues many people face. It’s the mentality you can work in your pajamas that can cause the wrong opinion of your freelance writing.
I know on days I wear business-casual clothes and focus on professionalism I am far more productive. You’ve probably heard the saying, “Dress for success.” This has much to do with how you view yourself as it does with how others view you.
If you want to be viewed as a professional, you need to act like one. Now, you won’t need to dress in a suit and tie or an office-appropriate skirt. However, there is something to be said about getting the day started with a shower and dressing the part of a freelance writer.
And this goes beyond simple clothing. Your attitude, client interaction and more all have to center around being professional. Otherwise, you’ll find it more difficult to land those lucrative opportunities.
6. Interference from the Family
At one point, I was getting frustrated with my family’s view of my freelancing from home. I was always the one who had to do most of the running around and chores because I was home. This often meant I was unable to get some of the better jobs in systems like Textbroker.
It’s OK to do some of the day-to-day things your family needs. However, they need to realize your pay is based on productivity. If you spend too much time going to the store, paying the water bill, picking the kids up from school and other chores, you’ll make far less money.
Set boundaries. This is where a schedule comes in handy. Let your family know the schedule you have needs to be respected for writing. The occasional diversion is OK, but not when you spend more time running around than you do actually working for a client. Your freelance writing career needs to be as important as the other careers in the family.
7. Slow Work Days
As a freelance writer, especially if you’re new to freelancing, you will undoubtedly have slow days. This is when jobs seem to dry up and you don’t have opportunities available to write. The result is a drastically decreased amount of pay for the week.
I’ve seen a lot of good writers quit because the workload was less than ideal for them. However, it was their lack to be flexible that wound up causing the most damage to their writing careers.
Diversify yourself beyond a single platform. When I started writing full-time, I used Textbroker, WriterAccess and Fiverr simultaneously. If the workload was slow on one, I would jump on the other. Nowadays, I spend downtime building my own blogs as they are starting to pull in a bit of cash.
The point is, you need to keep yourself working whether it’s for a client or yourself. Don’t sit idle.
8. Being Sick
Being sick is especially bad for your business. Because your pay will most likely center around productivity, you can’t expect to receive sick leave from a client. If you’re down with the flu, you’re not pulling in a paycheck…it’s that simple.
Illnesses, injuries and other physical ailments can easily be one of the biggest productivity issues for writers. The worst part is many of these things can happen without much notice. For instance, you normally don’t wake up in the morning knowing a car accident is going to bust your arm later.
Plan for the worse-case scenario. Put some money away in savings or investment accounts to compensate for those days when you’re sick. In a way, you kind of set your own “sick leave” fund for the days when a cold prevents you from doing your job. Savings systems like Smarty Pig are exceptionally useful for this kind of savings.
I also like using systems like Stash to put away freelancing expenses.
9. Going on Vacation
Like being sick, freelance writers don’t often get a paid vacation. This means you need to remain productive while on vacation if you don’t want the experience to put you in financial dire straits when you get home.
Who likes working while visiting a nice tropical resort? In the past, I often took my laptop with me during Christmas trips just so I could still pay the bills the next week.
Setting money aside for the vacation is one thing. But you also need to set aside what you would make during the time you’re away. This way, you don’t have to stress about affording living expenses when you get home from a week-long excursion. Again, Smarty Pig, Stash, Acorns and other investments are ideal in this case.
10. Computer Breakdown
One of the most devastating and biggest productivity issues that could possibly happen is when the computer breaks down. If you’re like myself and start off with just a single desktop, downtime can be incredibly expensive in the long run.
The bottom line is you need the right equipment functional if you want to stay productive. I’ve experienced my share of broken keyboards, burned-out monitors, broken mice and even fried motherboards. Each time it had cost more than just repairs as I lost time in writing for clients.
Set aside a savings account to quickly replace broken hardware. Think of it like an insurance fund. Getting a cheap laptop is also an incredibly good investment as it could keep you working while the desktop was being fixed. I’ve had to boot mine up a few times to meet demands of clients while repairing my main computer.
11. A Lack of Confidence
In my opinion, a lack of confidence has got to be the biggest productivity issue anyone can face. If you don’t believe in yourself, it’s difficult to believe in the work and grow as a professional. I’ve witnessed many potentially good writers fall away because of confidence issues.
This is also a problem I am facing in my own work. I know I am an exceptional freelance ghostwriter. However, I lack confidence when it comes to my own creative novels. Sadly, I know this kind of issue has only delayed the chance to be successful.
Unfortunately, confidence is one of those things you have to build on your own. Personally, I set personal records and goals – which made me feel good about freelance writing in general. Most of my confidence came from being professional and accepting multiple praises from clients.
Even a kind word or a “good job” can be greatly influential. But this has more to do with you providing a good service to clients.
12. A Lack of Personal Marketing
Marketing yourself as a professional freelance writer isn’t just some theory you can play with. It’s a fact of life if you want to land more lucrative contracts or attract clients who retain your abilities for a nice monthly fee.
Essentially, marketing is used to convince clients why they need your services and not those of someone else. Keep in mind the pool for writers is incredibly extensive on the Internet, and you need to get your name out there if you want to be ahead of them.
In many ways, marketing can even help you avoid the biggest productivity issues such as a lack of work and a lack of professionalism.
The Internet is full of ways to market yourself as a writer. Social pages, blogs and even a descriptive profile on systems like Textbroker can attract clients quite easily. Don’t assume clients will come to you without putting in the effort to get their attention.
Keep Your Mind Focused on Work
In many ways, being a freelance writer is far more difficult compared to working a traditional 9-to-5 job. The biggest productivity issues can easily prevent a livable wage as opposed to a “guaranteed” bi-weekly paycheck. Go into the career path on the premise of being professional. Not all opportunities should center around wearing your pajamas while you work.