When you are a freelancer, there never seems to be enough time in the day. From pitching and writing to revising and invoicing — your responsibilities never seem to end. Even with the stress and the uncertainties, though, many wouldn’t trade their freedom for a standard 9-5 job. However, setting goals for yourself and continuously challenging yourself to dig deeper into your industry will set you apart from the competition in your field or niche.
At ClearVoice, our blog aims to be a resource for independent wordsmiths who are proactive and hoping to grow their business. We provide helpful resources, fascinating — yet effective — advice and more than anything, are a reputable destination for questions, job opportunities and inspiration. We also make the process of staying on top of news easier for you by providing need-to-know monthly updates on the latest trends and research within content marketing and development. Check back here each month for a encouraging trends, thoughtful wisdom — and actionable how-to’s. We have you covered.Freelancers, catch up on info to help you improve your craft and business. | #Freelancing | #WritersLife | #ContentRadar Click To Tweet
Recent tips and news for freelancers from across the web:
1. More than half of brands don’t believe they’re delivering the right content.
More than ever, companies, entrepreneurs, executives and brands are concerned with the message they’re sending. Not only to their current customers but to perspective ones. However, most don’t believe they are delivering the right type of content, according to recent data from Vennli and the Content Marketing Institute. Instead of focusing on a holistic view of their content, 51% feel as if they are project based — and lacking strategy. This is a huge opportunity for talented content marketers to pitch themselves as a resource who can answer questions, make a plan — and move numbers.
2. Here’s how to actually make money blogging.
Since the age of mommy bloggers in the early 90s, writers have been trying their luck at producing native content that results in dollars. While some are successful, others lack the expertise or the consistency to break through the competition and build an income. A recent article from ProBlogger has provided a 7-step process to not just write away — but to develop a business plan. From picking your topic to attracting your first sponsorships, this is a must-read for any blogger.
3. The difference between quality and quantity in content.
In every freelancer’s career, there are ebbs and flows. Some months and quarters, you can barely see straight with the vast amount of deadlines. And others? Well, as the saying goes, it’s crickets. Though the busy times are definitely exciting — it also provides a challenge to writers to slow down and ensure they are producing quality content. That is easier said than done — but perhaps, a little smoother when you read these tips from the Content Marketing Institute. Simple to digest, provoking to consider and challenging for all wordsmiths, grab a cup of Joe and see how many of these your writing checks off.
4. Expert tips for managing your income
You dreamt of being a writer because you love words. You became a journalist to report the truth. You decided to shift into a marketer role because you want a long-term career. But finances? And um, accounting? They may not be your sweet spot. But since you’re not only the captain of your pen but of your bank account, understanding the smartest ways to invest, save, track expenses and file invoices is essential to your success. AndCo provides essential tips for staying on top of what’s coming and going out, giving you more time to focus on the creative part of your gig that you love.
5. The A-to-Z guide for writing headlines
Writing a stellar headline could be the key to attracting more readers to your content, but do you know what makes a great headline? There is no single magic bullet, so Barry Feldman from Feldman Creative developed a list of 26 items (one for every letter of the alphabet) to help you when writing headlines. Check out the article for the full list, which includes items such as:
- Ask — Posing questions is one of the best ways to engage a reader.
- Benefits — Rather than bore readers with features, put the benefits for readers to see in the headline.
- Colons — Begin your headline with a topical keyword phrase, then use a colon to follow it with a question or statement.
6. Five secrets of great storytellers
It may seem that great storytellers have an innate gift to capture an audience, but while some storytellers are blessed with a natural talent, other storytellers have finely honed their craft through practice and study over an extended period of time. Kim Moutsos provides great detail about each of these five secrets in an article for Content Marketing Institute. For those who want a sneak peek, the five secrets include:
- Tell unique stories or give old ones a new twist.
- Use questions to keep people hooked.
- Lead readers to make a conclusion; don’t tell them what to believe.
- Focus on action, but make it add up to something.
- Don’t leave them hanging.
See this piece from Britt Skrabanek to get some ideas on how to infuse better storytelling into your professional social media work.
7. Take ‘imperfect action’ to get going again when you’re stuck.
Listen, sometimes you get “stuck.” There’s no shame in admitting this fact. It happens to all of us. However, the period of being “stuck” doesn’t necessarily need to last for a long time. Darren Rowse recently provided some advice to all of us who need a little extra help to get over our creative obstacles. Rowse suggests that the best thing we can do when we get stuck is to take “imperfect action.” By taking imperfect action, you get things done and move yourself closer toward an optimal solution. Read or listen to more from Rowse about how and why imperfect actions can get you out of a creative rut.
8. Achieve more while doing less.
The concept of achieving more while doing less sounds like a false promise, but author Michael Hyatt told host Amy Porterfield on the Online Marketing Made Easy Podcast that achieving more while doing less is a true principle. During the podcast, Hyatt speaks about how it is focus — not busy-ness — that should drive our personal and business lives. He also discusses how focus brings with it freedom for individuals to be able to accomplish that which is most important. Hyatt claims you should formulate a vision of what a more productive future looks like, then evaluate the work you are doing. Additionally, you should always find time to rejuvenate to stay fresh.
9. The top reasons workers choose to freelance.
If you are teetering between a full-time job and a freelance career, you may be considering if you should make the jump to becoming a full-time freelancer. An article published this month by Flex Jobs details recent survey results that shed some light on why people choose to freelance rather than work full-time jobs for a single employer.
- A full 70 percent of survey respondents answered that they choose to freelance in an effort to attain a better work-life balance.
- Nearly 2/3 of respondents answered that they choose to freelance because they can choose when they work. This flexibility in work schedules was the second-most popular response.
- More than half of respondents (55 percent) said they choose to freelance because it affords them the opportunity to choose where they work and gives them the freedom to move without changing jobs. Read here if you want to learn more about the ups and downs in the lives of digital nomads.
10. Four essential mental health tips for freelancers
A recent survey of freelancers found that nearly half of those surveyed found freelancing to be sometimes lonely. Likewise, more than 45 percent claimed freelancing can be an isolating experience. For sure, there are advantages to working as a freelancer—but that doesn’t mean you should ignore the pitfalls. A Forbes article this month explored 4 mental health tips for freelancers.
- Learn how to negotiate with yourself. Celebrate your accomplishments and don’t be overly critical when you fail.
- Socialize beyond your niche. Socializing only with fellow freelancers may not allow you to see ways to overcome problems and obstacles. Keep in contact with those in other careers for a fresh perspective.
- Budget for more expensive forms of self-care. Splurge every once in a while on a comfortable chair, a new desk, comfy socks, etc. Investing in yourself is investing in your business.
- Learn how to handle rejection. Make a daily list of things you have done well.
11. Writing lessons from Dr. Seuss
March marks the 115th anniversary of the birth of one of the world’s best-known freelancers — Dr. Seuss. Content strategist Lisa Shomo shared a few lessons content creators can learn from Dr. Seuss’ tactics and creative works.
- Rhyming helps solidify memory. It is appropriate to toil over your text — but a main goal should always be to produce content that is memorable. A rhyme here or there in your text can help you accomplish this.
- Repeat sounds to create rhythm. You may not be able to repeat words or phrases over and over in the copy you create, but even repeating a key line once or twice could make an impact.
- Infuse your copy with life. Dr. Seuss kept his word selection simple. In fact, ‘Green Eggs and Ham’ only includes 50 different words. However, his copy was anything but dull. Use concrete nouns and vivid verbs to show — not tell.
12. Writing a blog post: a step-by-step process
Nothing can be as daunting for a freelancer as a blank screen and a cursor menacingly blinking, daring you to type something — anything. Sure, writing will always be a mentally strenuous activity, but it doesn’t have to be intimidating. If you establish a process similar to what is suggested in this article by blogger Darren Rowse, writing can quickly become a more pleasant experience.
- Think of the reader. Imagine the reader’s situation. What do you want his or her experience to be while reading the blog? Having a reader persona can be helpful.
- Brainstorm and outline the post. Outlining a post can be especially helpful as it allows you to map out what you want to say and determine how much attention you want to give to different sections.
13. Tips for eyeball-worthy content
For a freelancer, there is no greater feeling than watching a piece of content you created drive engagement and fill the needs of your client. However, your content may not do this as much as you might like. A recent article published by Content Marketing Institute gives some advice on how you can meet your goals of getting eyes on your content more often.
- Give your readers something valuable. The article explains that the content readers find valuable provides a level of depth that often is found most prominently in long-form content. Content that resonates, inspires, and engages is also valuable.
- Reflect your readers. Sure, there is value in challenging ideas from time to time, but endorsing your audience’s existing opinions helps them feel validated.
- Make readers feel connected. Posing questions to your audience is an effective way to build connection with your readers. Capitalizing on trending and controversial topics also helps your readers feel a vested interest in engaging with your content.
14. Signs you’re not cut out for freelance work — and what to do about it
This Entrepreneur article title is a little misleading, since anybody with initiative can be “cut out” for freelance work. If you read on, the article is mostly focused on giving freelancers ideas about what they can do if they are struggling in their endeavors.
• What to do if you crave job security: Find an anchor client from whom you get most of your work. This allows you to have a level of security, but retain flexibility.
• What to do if you feel disorganized and unproductive: Do your best to establish a regular daily schedule.
• What to do if you feel isolated: Communicating with a client via video chat rather than by text or email could be the social interaction you need.
• What to do if you don’t feel comfortable selling your skills: Remember that you aren’t trying to sell some sort of gimmick product — you have actual skills and abilities that clients want. You provide value. If you still need some help, consider using the “Lazy User Model” for preparing to approach potential clients.
15. How to file your taxes if you’re a freelancer
Tax season seems to be especially difficult for freelancers. Not only do you pay taxes like everybody else, but you also are required to pay a self-employment tax — making tax season for a freelancer a potentially painful experience. A recent article on Bustle details a few things you need to know to make tax time a little less uncomfortable (sorry, that’s as good as it gets) so you can get back to writing.
- Make sure to take tax deductions: We know this sounds obvious, but freelancers sometimes don’t realize all of the potential deductions available. The list of potential deductions includes business expenses such as meals, travel, and home office costs.
- Decide if you should pay quarterly or annual taxes. Quarterly payments can help decrease your burden when tax season comes around.
- Talk to a tax pro. Even the best software can’t advise the same way an actual tax professional can. A brief conversation could yield significant benefits.