Currently, I work 6 hours a day as a freelancer writer and I am able to earn more money than I did when I was putting in 14 hours a day.
How am I able to do that? By using my time more efficiently and being more productive. I automate or assign repetitive admin tasks and make sure I am focusing on my writing instead of anything else.
Here are the top productivity secrets for successful freelance writers that will allow you to earn more in less time:
1- Organise your work and deadlines
Whether you are writing your own blogs or for a client, organise your work well. After all, you don’t want to wake up one day and realise you are only hours away from a deadline.
Organising everything also ensures that you don’t have too many deadlines marked for a single day and you have enough time to write and research properly. There are many tools that can help you with keeping your deadlines on track, including Trello and Todoist, though nothing works better than Google Calendar. It’s colour coded and it syncs with your phone to make sure you are always on track and none of your deadlines clash.
2- Separate sprints for writing and editing
Writing and editing articles one after the other isn’t efficient at all. Also, editing just after writing can make it difficult for you to notice your own mistakes. Instead, write 2-3 posts back to back. If possible, edit them all on the next day.
Once you get into the flow, it’s easier to write content, as opposed to coming back to it a day later. I often keep my writing and editing days separate. Not only does it lead to higher productivity, but I am also able to edit the content in a better way.
3- Take down important notes whenever you can
The best ideas only come to you when you are busy with something else — Trust me, it happens to everyone. That is why, always keep a notepad open to scribble all of your random ideas. I use the SimpleNote app for note taking. The interface is pretty neat and it syncs seamlessly with my phone.
I also use it to take down notes that I discuss with clients over the phone to make sure I don’t forget them later.
4- Research and create an outline before writing
This is one of the best tips I can give to new freelance writers — Always and always create an outline before you start writing an article. Create subheadings and bullet points for the article and decide how you will hit the word limit.
When you already know what you want to write under each subheading, it’s much easier to finish the article. Creating an outline also ensures that your article is well segmented and the flow of information is correct.
5- Write a spit draft
First drafts are a struggle. No matter how many articles I have written in the past, starting a new one still feels scary to me. There is always a feeling of self-doubt because you are venturing into uncharted territories.
But here’s the thing — First drafts are supposed to be sh*t. So, set a timer and write the article any way that you want. Skip the places you aren’t confident about and don’t worry too much about how you are writing. This is just a first draft, you can always come back to it to review and polish the content.
Bonus Tip – Limit your email time
Communicating with existing clients and connecting with new ones is important for business, but your work will always be more important than replying to emails. That is why, you should limit your email time to maintain productivity.
You can give 30 minutes in the morning and 30 minutes in the evening to emails. I like to use a couple of Gmail extensions to decrease my email time and focus more on writing.
One of my favourite extensions is Streak which allows me to keep canned (pre-written) responses for quickly sharing my pricing or payment terms with clients. Streak also helps in scheduling, organising and tracking emails.
What is your favourite productivity tip?