This week, I was featured as a success story on the amazing Karen Marston’s Untamed Writing blog.
I was really fucking stoked because: 1) I never thought I’d one day be featured on a popular blog as a success story; and 2) Who am I kidding? It feels good to have my efforts acknowledged in this manner.
Now I’m not going to get all self-indulgent and use this post to paraphrase the entire interview. You can read it for yourself if you want to. But doing the interview did get me thinking.
Maverick Words isn’t my first foray into freelancing. It’s probably my third or fourth one. However, it’s the only one that’s been successful (at least so far). My other ventures didn’t really work out for me.
So, having done the interview and all, I found myself soul searching to find out what I did differently this time round.
I’d like to share what I found out with you, in the hope that you can get something out of it.
1. I Took Away My Safety Net
I started most of my business ventures on the side, while I was working full-time. Looking back, I think this is one of the main reasons why they weren’t successful.
Even though I was miserable at my full-time job, it still paid very well. At the end of the month, I’d get a sweet pay check that paid all my bills with a lot left over to splurge on whatever I wanted – whether my business did well or not.
I think this took out a lot of the urgency and hunger from the equation, which in turn hurt my chances of success.
This time round, I had no other sustainable sources of income, so failure wasn’t an option. It was do or die.
Some people say you can grow a successful full-time business whilst working full-time.
Frankly, I disagree.
As long as you have that safety net beneath you, you just won’t be hungry enough. The way I see it, you need to own it, and go for it balls to the wall. There’s just no other way.
Besides, why spend a day more doing something you hate when you can start doing something you love right now?
2. I Rolled Up My Sleeves
If you want your business to succeed, you need to work your ass off, especially in the beginning.
I never used to understand this before, but now I really do. In fact, it’s only now, almost a year later, that I’m relaxing my foot off the gas pedal for a bit (and only for a short breather).
Life as a freelance writer comes with many perks. You get the freedom to work from wherever you want, you’re paid to be creative and, eventually, you can pick and choose which projects you want to be involved in. You also set your own schedule; and you don’t have to contend with commutes, office politics, pettiness, demanding or unreasonable bosses and all that other bullshit working for someone else entails.
Unfortunately, no-one talks about the other side of freelancing, probably because it’s not as sexy and fancy. But that doesn’t make it any less important.
Building a business and growing your reputation are active, not passive pursuits. You need to hustle, and you need to stick with it even when the going gets tough. And once you start getting busy, you need to make time to keep hustling, because the entire burden of responsibility for your career and financial well-being lies squarely in your own two hands.
Scary, yes. But also pretty fucking liberating if you ask me.
3. I Stopped Waiting And Started Doing
Anything you’ll ever do in life is a work in progress. The sooner you understand this, the better off you’ll be.
A lot of people never take action on their dreams because they keep telling themselves they need to “just get this bit right”, or “wait for this to happen “, or “get better samples for their portfolio”, and then they can get started.
At face value, these sound like reasonable things to say, which is why this kind of thinking is such a dangerous trap.
The truth is, there’s never going to be a right time, and you’re never going to have the perfect writing sample. And the longer you wait the harder it will become to get going.
Honestly, I cringe at some of the writing samples I had when I first started out.
But you know what? They served me well, because they got me work. More importantly, the more I worked, the better I got.
You really need to stop focusing on what you need to do, and start actually doing it. You’ll learn and get better as you go along.
4. I Looked At My Mistakes As Lessons, Rather Than Failures
I’ll be the first to admit I can be pretty hard on myself. I have very high standards. In fact, if I’m to be honest, sometimes my standards are damn near too high.
But I’m also only human. And, yes, I make mistakes. Lots of them.
When I started working as a freelance writer, I made a conscious decision to deal with mistakes differently. Normally, I’d bring myself down for doing something wrong. But when I started Maverick Words, from day 1, I decided that every time I fucked up I’d ask myself: “What have I learned from this?”
This constructive state of mind has been great, both for my business and also on a personal level. And if you try it out, I’m sure it will help you too.
5. I Had Support
Most important of all, this time round I had a great mentor and a support system around me.
No matter what anyone says, no one can succeed alone. Most especially if you’re just starting out and know fuck all about the business side of freelance writing.
Of course, I’ll be the first to admit I often fall victim to the “I can do this all by myself” mindset. It happens to the best of us, doesn’t it?
Thankfully, I finally realised I needed help if I was serious about making this happen, so I signed up for the Untamed Writing guided Start Content Writing class.
The course is much more than just a primer on starting a freelance writing business. I got Karen’s unbiased advice, help. encouragement, and a swift kick in the ass when necessary.
I also got to join the Untamed Writing Facebook Group, where I met and befriended like-minded people and regularly share successes, failures and in general just get really helpful advice and encouragement when needed. It’s like having office buddies without the annoyance of having to deal with real-life office buddies.
What was your freelance journey like? How did you manage to make a success of it?
Let me know in the comments