Being a freelance writer for hire comes with the kind of freedom 9-to-5’ers only dream of. We make our own hours, pick and choose our projects, wear whatever we feel like, and the world is our office. Still, there are potholes a-plenty along Freedom Road, and it’s easy to fall into them if you’re not careful. In the spirit of friendship and in memory of missed deadlines the world over, we offer up these 5 bad habits every freelancer should always aim to avoid.
1. Losing Track of Time – Every time I find myself gearing up for Grey’s Anatomy, someone has to remind me that it is not, in fact, actually Thursday. Losing track of time is a job hazard when you don’t work a typical Monday through Friday schedule, especially when you’ve trained yourself to think in terms of “hours til deadline” instead of actual days of the week. Get a calendar and make an effort to actually look at it.
2. Giving Up on Regular Clothes – Leggings and oversized novelty T-shirts are super comfortable, but not having to put on a power suit shouldn’t mean a lifetime spent in clothes most people only wear on laundry day or to whack at weeds out in the yard. Put on some super adult clothes with zippers and stuff; you’ll feel better about yourself and changing out of your PJs will put you immediately in a work-worthy state of mind.
3. Not Having a Schedule – Being able to work when and where you want is absolutely amazing, but the ability to put things off until you “feel like it” often means a future riddled with sobs and incessant hair pulling as you race against a deadline that snuck up on you while you were check Twitter for the thousandth time that day. Just because you have three days to write it doesn’t mean you should use them.
4. Saying Yes – As freelancers, we rely on work that often comes in trickles, so it’s easy to want to say yes to every single project that hits our inboxes. Whether it’s in our niche or not, whether the pay is decent or just enough to get by, too often the standard we judge a potential job by is something like “available” rather than “awesome.” At some point writing should be like dating: stop going out with the guy just because he asked, and wait until you get the tingles you deserve. Whether those tingles come from a dreamy spec sheet or a fat paycheck is up to you.
5. Making Like a Hermit – If your butt is becoming one with your couch, it’s time to get up, take off the track pants (please put on something else before proceeding to the next step) and go outside. We applaud your risky choice to leave the traditional workplace in pursuit of a freelance career, but you need to replace the traditional office interaction with something equally social. Join a dodge ball team, get a gym buddy or go harass the perfume girls at the nearest department store – I don’t care how you do it, just make some friends, meet up with them regularly, and understand that imaginary ones almost never count.
Alana M is 5′ 5″ of trouble. When she isn’t hard at work writing all kinds of witty and engaging content, she enjoys long walks on the beach, lion taming, nuclear physics and lying about her hobbies.