Working for money on your own initiative as a freelance writer, for as long as you need to, requires a lot of discipline. Choosing not to work for money for a day in the middle of your workweek takes even more discipline—and is a smart move financially if you use your time wisely.
Choosing not to work for money for a day means that you could make money. It means you have assignments (that aren’t due today) and/or you could be claiming assignments, asking current clients for assignments, or phoning sources that could lead to stories you can work on today.
Choosing not to work for money for a day means that you have decided that you will make more money in the long term if you step away from your work routine and plan your future.
My tips on what do on your no- money workday could help freelance writers in many fields, including copywriters for hire. My tips include:
- Be Energetic: Make sure that you’re energetic enough to have a very productive day. If you’re exhausted, you’re not really choosing to not work for money for a day.
- Devise a New List: Start a new Things To Do For Work list. You should have two lists. The old one should list things that need to be accomplished as soon as possible. The new one should list long-term objectives and should be regularly updated.
- List Potential Clients: If you’re a journalist, you might have a wish list of publications that you think you can write for. When I free-lanced for a mediocre entrepreneurial magazine, I had a list of better entrepreneurial magazines I wanted to write for. Content writers should list several potential content writing clients. Business writers should list companies that could be clients.
- List Story Ideas: Journalists should read publications they want to write for to spur story ideas and give them a better idea of what appeals to the publications’ audiences. Content writers and business writers should do the same thing with prospective clients’ websites, newsletters, etc. More research spurs more specific ideas. An abundance of ideas might lead to more no-money workdays.
- Contact Past Clients: Friendly messages to clients you haven’t worked for recently might spur assignments. This has worked for me with WriterAccess clients. The message shouldn’t include an assignment request, but should include something specific such as a comment about something the client did recently — something you learned about while researching its website or publication.
- Prep for Future Contacts: When I was a Chicago Tribune reporter, I covered several cities and schools. On no-money workdays, I listed possible story ideas for each city and school I covered. Consequently, I was way………….more prepared when I phoned my news sources on regular workdays. I had far more questions.
- Devise a Schedule: You might have so many story ideas that you couldn’t possibly convert all of them into story pitches in one day. Thus, you should write down deadlines for when you will submit your story ideas. These tasks should be incorporated into your regular work schedule.
Many years ago, I worked 23 consecutive days when I was a full-time employee and phoned the office when I took a day off. One of the advantages of freelance writing is that I can take a day off from current work without telling anyone.
Martin Z is a freelance writer available on WriterAccess, a marketplace where clients and expert writers connect for assignments.