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Run Your Freelance Writing or Editing Business Like a Boss — Tips From Pros

By Bianca Mendez and Shaye DiPasquale

There are so many reasons why freelance writing sounds like a dream. You are your own boss, you set your own hours and you decide where to work — whether it be at a coffee shop in Italy or in bed with your PJs on.

But ask any freelance writer or editor, and you’ll soon learn that it’s less glamorous than it sounds. It can get challenging at times, what with the hustle of always pitching and seeking paychecks, and not to mention figuring out your own health insurance and taxes. We asked freelance pros what work hacks made their personal businesses, better.

Use Organization Tools

Asana! I cannot stress enough how much this tool has helped me organizing my workload. I have a separate projects for each element of my business (pitching, marketing, clients etc), and create tasks within each of them.” — Stephanie Simpson, freelance copywriter and blogger

“I use an actual physical planner to write down my deadlines. The act of actually writing them down helps me remember!” — Nicole Slaughter-Graham, freelance writer

“I use Trello and have a column each for early-stage story ideas; ideas I’ve pitched; assigned stories; and stories sitting with an editor. Then I can just move story cards between columns as they move forward in the process.” — Rachel Cernansky, freelance environment, social justice and nutrition journalist based in Denver.

“I keep spread sheets of pitches and assigned stories,”  — Jaimie Seaton, freelance journalist for Washington Post, Newsweek, and numerous other publications

Stay Focused

“I set alarms every 90 minutes so that I can focus and not get sucked into the vortex of editing and writing. It’s the Pomodoro technique, modified.” — Stepfanie Romin, freelance writer

“I’ve recently incorporated some apps to help my tracking: Toggl, for time-tracking (can see breakdowns per client and project) and MileIQ for mileage.” — Katy Schamberger, freelance writer and digital marketer based in Kansas City

“I use the Completo App because it lets me set sub-tasks (for a story I might input specific interviews, research I need to do, outline, first draft, etc), and reminders that notify me a week, two days, etc. in advance so I don’t just get a reminder the day something is due.” — Amy Westervelt, writer and editor

“I’m constantly thinking ahead, in terms of days, weeks, and months. I keep a detailed spreadsheet that lays out everything I have due and when so I can see it all at a glance and know exactly what I need to be working on each day.” – Katie Gustafson, freelance writer and editor

Join Online Support Groups

“Freelancing can get super lonely, leaving all up to you to gain the stamina to work. Joining support groups online can help you connect with other freelance writers, share tips, brag about your work, and even hear about other freelance jobs.” — Bianca Mendez, writer/editor (and author of this article)

“My private Facebook Group, After Magazines, is an amazing resource for me as a freelance editor and consultant. If I have a question about what interviewing recording software people use, or a need a contact at a company, there’s always someone with an answer. I also recommend The Binders Facebook groups to my coaching clients who are freelance writers for connecting with other writers and editors.” — Chandra Turner, CEO, Ed2010 and Talent Fairy.

Freelancing Females and Ladies Get Paid are great online communities for freelancers to join. Whether you are seeking new job opportunities or need to ask questions about what to charge clients, the women in these groups are always more than happy to help you and support your freelance career.” – Shaye DiPasquale, freelance writer (also of this article!).

This post originally ran in 2017 and has been updated.

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