Don’t Bounce Around
When you are building something new (like a freelance writing career), especially when you don’t have a completely clear vision for what that ‘something new’ will look like, it’s easy to bounce around.
Like, SCARY easy.
You are researching and reading articles (like this one), and you get new ideas daily. Lots of new ideas. Like…
…maybe you should also be publishing on Substack, or wait… maybe Adsterra, or Hubpages, or Patreon
…and you should definitely be writing an ebook – about something – and selling it on Gumroad, and maybe Amazon
…and then you will definitely need to start building a newsletter subscription list
…which means you will need to create some kind of freebies to generate sign ups
…and you really should be doing client research on LinkedIn
…and you need to learn more about writing strong headlines and incorporating keywords
New ideas are great… as long as they don’t pull you away from your game plan.
Some of those ideas above might belong in your game plan. But allowing yourself to flit from idea to idea is HIGHLY unproductive.
Don’t be a flitting butterfly.
No one makes progress bouncing.
To grow a business (and not just a hobby), your budding freelance writing career needs to be treated like a business.
That starts with having a plan – a plan that defines your goals and the steps you need to take to get there. You need a plan that you stick to.
That doesn’t mean you don’t allow time for research and exploration into new ideas. Especially when you are building something new, research and exploration are going to be important. After all, you don’t know what you don’t know.
But, exploration time should be built into your plan. I recommend incorporating 1-3 hours of time each week to bounce around, following leads and links down that endless tunnel of rabbit holes that is the world wide web.
Have a system for bookmarking ideas
Have a system for bookmarking ideas you want to come back to. And outside of those 1-3 hours you’ve got to stop yourself from chasing ideas wherever they take you.
And this can be hard to do – because we are homo-sapiens – we were BORN curious.
So, you will need some system for noting and bookmarking ideas and webpages you want to come back to… when it’s exploration time. It’ll be a lot easier to walk away from a tempting idea if you know you’ve saved it somewhere to pull out and mull over later.
And there are about a million tools to help you do this (just don’t get sidetracked researching tools now).
In your explorations, you may gather new information that you feel confident needs to become a part of your plan. That’s great! That also doesn’t mean that you stop everything you are doing right that second to pivot in this new direction.
Build time to evaluate your plan into your plan.
Especially when a business – yes, you are business (I know that sounds weird) – is new, you need to make adjustments to your plan, frequently.
In the beginning, you may even want to set aside time every couple weeks to re-evaluate your plan, to determine if and when new ideas should be incorporated.
Just be careful. It’s easy to tell yourself you are acting professionally and following a plan, but if your plan keeps changing…
One strategy for helping to ensure that you aren’t flitting, is to create milestones and meet them.
Milestones make it possible to measure your progress
Meeting milestones is how you will know you are making progress. It is also how you will know if you are NOT making progress.
For example, perhaps your goal is to grow your newsletter subscription list. “Grow my newsletter subscription list” might be an excellent goal, but it is also extremely vague. What is growth? Adding a single subscription is growth. Will you have met your goal if you add one new subscriber? What do you mean by grow?
Set some clear milestones to help you get there.
Like you might decide you are going to work to get 15 new sign ups to your newsletter every week for the next month. 15 sign ups is tangible. 15 is 15. And, assuming 15 is not the amount that your sign ups would grow organically if you did nothing, then you are going to need to think about what actions you can take to drive sign ups.
Is there some resource you can provide? Should you push some articles out to social media? Are there groups on similar topics you could tap into?
And, if you are finding that you can’t hit your milestones, that’s an indicator that you need to stop and figure out why.
Is your milestone too ambitious?
Did you take the time to identify actions to meet this milestone?
Did you DO the actions you identified?
Understand your goals. Have a plan to get there. Mark your progress with milestones.
But, whatever you do… DON’T BOUNCE!!