I was thinking about all the “rules” I live by as a freelance writer – most of them learned the hard way. I started surfing around, and I found this post by Carol Tice outlining her freelance writing manifesto.
“Great idea,” I thought. “I need to do that too.”
So, here you go – my 15-point freelance writer manifesto. How many of these points resonate with you?
- Self-employment means that I can embrace freedom – not tie myself to my laptop. Scooting out in the middle of the day to take a walk – or see a friend for lunch – used to make me feel guilty. VERY guilty. I still deal with some guilt, but I’m learning. Slowly.
- I work with people who energize – not drain – me. If a client or colleague continues to zap my energies, I will lovingly pull away and find other options.
- Every day, I take time to sit (or take a walk) and do nothing important – knowing that “doing nothing important” is often when I get my best creative ideas. Yes, this one is still hard for me. Doing “nothing” is not in my DNA. But it does make me feel better.
- I exercise – hard – at least five times a week. When my body is feeling strong, my mind is clear – and creativity is much easier
- I watch everything I put into my mouth. This was a hard one for me – once upon a time, I was the queen of organic frozen meals and quad-shot lattes. Now, I take time each day to cook super-healthy food. It’s made a huge difference.
- I can say “no” without feeling like I’ve made a horrible career or client mistake. No, I don’t have to fly to every conference. No, I’m not going to start a new gig when I know that I won’t have time to recover from the last one. No, I will not accept a bad business deal just because I’m feeling vulnerable and scared. This is the first year that I’ve really put this into practice. It was scary at first – but wow, do I feel so much calmer.
- Money is important, but other things are even more important. Sure, I love money. I’m happy to roll around in big piles of it. But if it’s between having a lot of money – or having a lot of personal freedom – I’ll choose freedom every time. That’s why I never sold my company back in the day – and why I’m still self-employed today.
- There is a life outside of work. I can be a little…um…intense about work. If someone asks me “what do you want to do today,” my brain turns to “what work do I need to finish.” Now, I’m trying to focus more on having fun. That could be lunch with a friend. Or planning for a conference like SMX East. Or even taking vacations…which reminds me…
- Non-laptop vacations are crucial. I never used to take them. Heck, I’m ashamed to admit that I brought my laptop on my honeymoon (I didn’t check email much…really.) This year, I’ve taken two mini-vacations already – and I have another one planned for later this year. Did they cost me much money? Nope (thank you, Groupon.) Do I feel much saner as a result? Heck yeah!
- Gratitude is the name of the game. I list all the things that I’m grateful for every evening before I go to bed. It’s a long list. And that makes me happy.
- I’m straight with people, and expect them to be straight with me. I may be fairly politic when I’m making a point, but I don’t pull punches. Love me or hate me, you know exactly what I’m thinking and where I stand. I love it when people act the same with me.
- Giving back is part of why we’re all here. I sincerely believe that power and status (even minor SEO world power and fame) means great responsibility. It’s my job to help other writers and emerging SEO folks – even if that means that I’m not getting paid for it, or won’t see a ROI. Many people helped me along the way. It’s the least that I can do.
- I choose gigs that I think will be fun and that compensate me well. Once upon a time, I would take every gig I could land (sound familiar?) That may have meant taking a cut on my per-page rate – but money is money, right? Now, I listen to my instincts and determine in advance if this will be a fun gig that I’ll enjoy – or one that will stress me out and make me hate what I do.
- I’ve learned how to recognize overwhelm and a marketing midlife and deal with them accordingly. OK, so I may not recognize the signs immediately – but I do notice them. Eventually. If I don’t notice, I have a fantastic acupuncturist who does notice – and gently corrects me when I insist that I’m not stressed.
- Taking risks helps me grow. No, this doesn’t mean that I’m skydiving and propelling myself off huge waterfalls. But I do believe that a little bit of calculated risk pushes my boundaries and expands my comfort zone. That could mean working with a challenging new client. Or, trying something where failure is a (gulp) possibility. If something initially scares me, I tend to really pay attention. After all, a life not lived is a life not worth living.
What about you? What’s your freelance writing manifesto?