Writing means freedom to many people, especially individuals transitioning from the corporate environment to freelance writing.
It’s freedom from all the corporate policies that come with an organization—don’t forget customer complaints and pressure from top executives.
That is what I thought after I was given the ax by my former employer and jumped into freelance writing full-time. Instead of feeling anger and disillusionment, I felt a sigh of relief.
Finally, I would be away from all the corporate impositions that governed my day-to-day activities, such as hard-to-hit targets, several admin tools to use, and even training days that required me to be away from home.
So the first thing I did when I got laid off was to exit chat rooms and work-related messaging apps and flew into freelance writing.
But as I got deeper into writing and freelancing, I came to realize that the organizational practices that I despised and trampled weren’t all that bad. In fact, they help maintain sanity in the workplace and in an individual.
This realization came when I looked deeper into the profiles of most professional writers. They embraced some form of managerial practices in their work, most of which I had vowed not to embrace.
Many of us, possibly because of the coronavirus outbreak, are transitioning from the business world and looking for opportunities in writing or freelancing. While doing so, we tend to neglect the habits and practices that we embraced in our corporate life.
Yet these habits and practices are part of our job description and businesses. They are meant to give us some sense of direction and remind us how to conduct ourselves while at work.
If you are getting into freelance writing from the corporate environment, here are a few habits and practices that you shouldn’t neglect, as they can offer many benefits.
Setting Clear Goals and Targets
As a writer, your goal should be the objective that you want to achieve. Most often, our goal would include wanting to write a book or poem or breaking into a publication or a particular niche.
Targets, on the other hand, refer to the level at which you want to achieve your goal. It can be to write two or three books by the end of the year or secure three clients.
Whatever your goals and targets are, the most important thing is to align the goals to an outcome and determine the steps to achieve that outcome.
Here are a few benefits you will get when you set clear goals and targets:
- Goals and targets help you identify your path and move you in the right direction.
- Goals and targets help you gain self-discipline by giving you a sense of direction, freedom of thought, and decision-making.
- With clear goals and targets, you can quickly establish a routine and stick to it.
- Goals help you lead a better life. By establishing a routine, you will be able to determine when to work and when to take breaks.
Unfortunately, setting goals and targets is easier said than done, especially when you are the boss, unlike in a big company where you find the goals and targets already in place. All you have to do is align your purpose to the company’s objectives.
When you are a writer and the boss, there might be that attitude of procrastination and feeling that goals and targets aren’t necessary.
Before I could settle into being a full-time freelance writer, I was a night owl. The worst part was that I didn’t listen to my limits.
I had gotten into the race full of excitement, and there was no stopping. Soon, I overstretched, which resulted in burnouts, and I couldn’t look forward to a new day.
I had entered something I didn’t plan for. It took a while before I had to set limits, some form of boundary to ensure I enjoy my experience working from home as well as my time off. Similarly, I had to retest my schedule, plan out a few details, and do some pre- and post-goal creation and preparation. That is what brought some sanity and a healthy work life.
Now that you are a writer, I am sure you do not confine your dreams within the boundaries of 9-5. That means you have to set some goals outside the workplace.
The goals might not necessarily be geared toward money. Rather, they may include overlooked matters like signing up for a writing class or finding support from a community of writers.
But if you are struggling to set your own targets, you can use the WOOP method, go with the SMART method organizations love to use, or opt for the New Year Resolution plan to set your goals and targets.
Embracing Tech Advancement and Changes
Technology is revolutionizing many industries, including writing and publishing, and generally the way we work. The major drive for this tech advancement comes from businesses aiming to position themselves as tech-friendly.
That means being digitally knowledgeable can be a great selling point.
As a writer, embracing tech advancement requires you to take every chance to invest in training and the use of new software or apps not just to make your writing work more comfortable but also for establishing, building, and nurturing relationships with clients or customers.
Personally—and likely for many other writers—embracing tech advancement meant going the extra mile to learn how to use blogging tools like WordPress, SEO tools like SEO PowerSuite, and even social media marketing tools like Hootsuite.
Many writing and freelance clients would want you to have some knowledge of project management tools like Slack, Trello, and the Google family of apps. It would be more like a bonus if you got experience with these products.
There are also tools for cold email outreach and marketing, that give you data on the action taken by a prospect or recipient to your email.
Having direct experience with the most used communication, writing, and marketing tools can ensure you stay on top of the game.
Conducting an Audit, Evaluation, and Performance of Work
Audits and performance reviews are among the many things I detested in my corporate life. It is not like I dreaded them, but in the retail industry, they are more like a formality, often conducted severally and on short notice without any tangible results. Hence, I did not see how they really helped my work.
But the best advantage is that organizations use indicators that are pre-set and proven to work when carrying out an audit or performance of work.
However, when you are a writer, it is hard to set performance reviews because you have no indicator to use nor anyone to remind you of it. But this is what you can do: Set certain times to audit your work, creating your own self-review to help you stay on track with your goals.
Corporate training and work taught me that reviews, evaluations, and audits are a sure way to help you stay on track. Audits help you identify what went into plan and what didn’t.
Evaluation helps you open the door to critique. When it comes to writing, this will help you bridge any gap that may exist in your past writing work, improve your knowledge of the business, and understand how your work connects with your strategy and goals.
Performance reviews can tell you whether your goals and targets are still relevant. A good example of self-review is reading your older works to open your eyes to your strengths and faults
Therefore, it makes sense to welcome evaluation and self-review of your work to find out if you are still in line with your goals and future targets, and even know your craft.
Using Automatic Replies and the Schedule Send Feature
Freelance writing has one significant benefit. You get to choose when and where to work. Moreover, you get to work with clients from any time zone.
However, this means that your relationship is mostly through emails and, if possible, a few phone calls. Consequently, you have to keep your clients’ time zone in mind—an activity that may require you to stay late in the night to address clients’ demands or work-related issues.
When I began freelancing, I had to wait till my client was awake to submit work or reply to an email, which usually meant waiting till late in the evenings in my time zone.
Yet by evening, I should have been done with work, taking on other tasks. I had forgotten the habit I embraced in the corporate environment of automating my replies and submissions.
Some time ago, I brought back the practice of scheduling or automating emails, submissions, and replies, slipping off to other tasks. I may only respond to critical and time-sensitive questions.
Automatic replies and the schedule send feature are convenient when traveling, in different time zones, holidaying, or when you are swamped with work and you’re not available to respond to emails immediately.
The most important part is that such automated messages make you look professional and allow you to dedicate your entire time to a task at hand.
The Uniform Effect
One big mistake that most individuals who leave the corporate world and dive into writing make is treating the career as a vacation.
Well, it may sound like one, especially to friends and family members who do not know what freelance writing or professional writing is, but it isn’t.
The problem with treating any kind of writing as a vacation is you are more likely to build on bad habits like slacking away in undergarments with endless snacks and sleep. Eventually, this will make your work ethics tank.
A possible clue for developing bad habits and lack of motivation is our clothing: pajamas, sweatshirts, and underpants, all calls for relaxation.
Personally, I hate ties, shirts, or suits. In fact, it was a relief when I knew I would not put them on anymore. I am a casual person with dressing.
However, your wardrobe can have a positive or negative effect on you, which ultimately affects your work. Some writers need to dress up for work to get the motivation and creativity flowing.
If you are settling into writing from a career in business, you don’t have to abandon the suit thing altogether. You can still get smartly dressed like a business person when starting your writing day.
Successful organizations cannot operate without some form of emergency preparedness. In fact, the Department of Labor and policy makers recommend that organizations have some emergency preparedness policy in place.
These policies are usually meant to protect the business and the lives of employees in case of an unfortunate incident occurring.
Right now, there is panic among writers and workers globally because of the coronavirus outbreak. Many are seeing the number of jobs and opportunities take a nosedive. Unfortunately, that is life, always full of trials.
But it is a shred of evidence that most writers and workers globally weren’t prepared for this scenario. On the flip side, most organizations and some governments were. Many are already engaging their contingency measures to mitigate the current state of affairs.
The coronavirus pandemic has exposed us and our weakness and calls for writers to be on the lookout for unfortunate scenarios that can affect us.
It does not have to be necessarily against viruses or disease outbreaks. There are other possible scenarios like your client closing shop, government policies, a change in the working environment, or a slow writing season.
As we have to deal with our current situation, the writing is on the wall: As a writer, you need to have an emergency preparedness formula in place.
Here are things you can do to safeguard your freelance and writing business during a crisis:
- Make a plan, and tailor it to your daily living responsibilities. You can discuss your plan with your network, family, or children. If you are having challenges on how to make a plan, Ready has a great resource on how to create your own emergency preparedness plan whether it is on a family level or a business level.
- Diversify your clients or create a nonwriting sustenance. Personally, in the last few months, I ventured into Forex as a side hustle to ensure my income is constant when the low writing seasons set in in quarter four.
- Go back to your goals, and rework them to fit your current situation. It will ensure you do not abandon them when overwhelmed by the crisis.
- Know your insurance (both health and life insurance) provider better. A significant thing you can do is inspect the fine print in your insurance plans that can be significant.
Take Advantage of Corporate Practices and Habits
Like most people transitioning to writing from corporate life, I looked at organizational practices and habits as a challenge to getting work done.
Most often, we develop such attitude and thinking while still in the corporate environment. We even go the extra mile and convince ourselves that if and only if the business were ours, we would tear down corporate impositions and probably relax the rules.
Rather than take organizational practices and habits as a means to make it difficult for people to get work done, we should see them as an opportunity to bring some order to our writing.
When you introduce organizational practices to your writing business, it makes it easier to create impactful change, since you are the only buy-in person implementing the methods.
The changes you create will go a long way in holding you accountable, achieving your goals, and transforming your thinking of work and the work environment.