I have struggled to consider myself a legitimate entrepreneur. I don’t have a traditional job with 9-5 hours in a physical office space. I’m a freelance writer who works remotely and designs her own work schedule. But, as I’ve built a client list and my abilities — three years in the making — as if a call and response with the world, I have begun to see my professional reflection in the mirror.
I decided to start a freelance writing business after connecting some of the dots of my life to realize that I had a skill for writing. I do actually consider myself to be a polymath, but writing is a great fit for the flexibility it provides to work full-time and pursue other artistic goals I have. The impact that I am having on people and their businesses is also quite gratifying. Writing essays helped me to earn a full scholarship to college, where I ended my studies as a French major. I loved translation and interpretation and I completed an internship with an international French organization, and a short stint at the consulate, where I wrote documents in English and translated from French to English for American and French delegates.
Compliments from others also helped me to see my reflection, whether a professor or employer. Writing is also a form of self-expression that heals me through journaling, poetry and, even, my personal manifesto.
So now that you know a little bit about my story, I’d like to share six things I’ve learned since starting a freelance writing business.
Start. I didn’t know everything, but I did know enough to start. So for the first six months, I called places —publications to see if they needed writers, people to interview to write mock articles to use for my portfolio. I visited a local chamber of commerce and reached out to businesses listed in a chamber publication, some of whom became my first clients. I took a leap into the unknown and started.
- Temper optimism with realism. I have worked a few different side jobs as I’ve built my business. I have been a hostess and a tutor. I have worked odd jobs that don’t reflect my abilities but have been simply a consistent stream of income. When I shared this at a networking event I attended, the host said, “Entrepreneurship is living a few years of your life like most people won’t, so that you can spend your life like most people can’t.” I find this quote affirming. It has kept me level-headed as I have tempered my optimism of finding clients with the reality of having cash flow for life expenses.
- Learn what you don’t know. I knew enough to start, but once I did, I realized that I had only begun to scratch the surface. So I am constantly learning. I’ve taken a magazine writing course and read books about copywriting, PR, online writing, journalism. I am currently listening to a podcast about copywriting and content marketing. I have an Editorial Calendar of books to read. Now that the floodgates are open, I will always have something new to learn.
- Celebrate your wins. Doing so helps me to stay motivated. I think of it as a form of gratitude to myself in recognizing what I have been working toward. She deserves to be recognized for her efforts and her wins. So I look at guest posts I’ve secured, or people who have signed a Letter of Agreement with me, for example, as markers to show that I am on my way.
- Level up. After I did small, one-off projects for a while, I moved to the next phase and leveled up. I worked with a coach, who had been one of my first clients, to develop packages based on complementary types of writing. I also drafted a contract based off of a meeting I had with her lawyer. So now I ask everyone I work with to sign a Letter of Agreement, and I look for clients who need longer-term services. I have leveled up from the first iteration.
- Practice self-care. This path can take a toll on you emotionally. So I have started to practice self-care. I now place higher priority on getting sleep, meditating, staying hydrated, maintaining my schedule, and repeating and visualizing my manifesto. Practicing self-care helps me stay centered, and keeps me productive.
These are my lessons. I am still learning, and will never stop as I continue to write my story. I hope there is something here that can assist you on your journey as you write yours.
Obinna Morton is the Owner of Turns of Phrase LLC. She is a Content Writer, Copywriter and Journalist who works with people and businesses to tell their stories. She’s written for Foundr, Lifestyle Business and Women On Business. She has also appeared on SheLeads Podcast.