What’s Your Freelance Writing Manifesto?

What’s important to your freelance writing life?

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 a 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?

4 replies
  1. Amy C. Teeple says:

    Great points Heather.

    I think it’s time that I reexamine (OK create) my manifesto. As a freelancer or solopreneur, it is easy too get “lost” in your business. It is also too simple to lose your focus.

    Time to regroup. Figure out where you want to go and then remember to plan how you are going to get there. Stating, “I want to make a lot of money writing,” isn’t enough. Dream. Plan. Implement. Tweak. Dream some more. Lather. Rinse. Repeat. (Hmm, a couple of those might have more to do with shampooing.)

    Thanks for the post!

    • Heather says:

      Oh, I have gotten lost in my business soooo many times. Fortunately, I (usually) recognize the signs a little faster now. :)

      A great book to read (I may have mentioned it before – and I’ll probably write a blog post about it) is Found Money. It’s a very user-friendly way to look at your business income and plan for the future. I highly recommend it.

      Thanks! :)

  2. faye rivkin says:

    heather these are spot on. I think every one of them resonates with me. And actually, these apply to those other freelancers I know, not just writers! thanks for reminding me how to stay focused and in tune with my life and why i do what i do.


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