Starting an online writing business has never been simpler — but that doesn’t mean it’s easy.
Being your own boss will test you 100x more than any 9–5 job ever will.
If you want a safe, secure paycheck with minimal worries and risks, stay in a job. But if you’re a thrill-seeker and want the freedom to control your life, take the route less traveled.
Even if you’re ambitious and goal-oriented, you’re bound to hit roadblocks along the way. In 2018, I pivoted from broke blogger to freelance writer and kept my writing dreams alive. I finally started making consistent money writing, but I grew to hate my days.
I didn’t like a lot of my clients and I grew to hate writing in general. I had to force myself to write every day. A few months later, I finally realized it was time to change.
Here are the 10 steps I used to pivot, fall back in love with writing, and earn more money than ever before.
Slowed Down and Asked Questions
Thanks to some advice from a mentor, the first thing I did was slow down. While I was unhappy with my results, I kept doing the same thing over and over again, somehow magically thinking they would change.
Specifically, I started getting clear about the questions I was asking myself. As Richard Bandler said, “The quality of your life is the quality of the questions you ask yourself.”
But if you ask yourself the wrong questions, you’re going to make things even harder on yourself. I found that I was asking myself a lot of bad questions (these usually start with “Why”).
Here are some examples of bad questions I was asking myself:
- Why is my business not growing?
- Why can’t I ever get clients to pay my rate?
- Why can’t I get featured in big publications?
Once I started asking good questions, everything changed. Good questions tend to start with “How” or “What.”
Here are a few of the better questions I started asking myself:
- How can I work less and earn more?
- How am I showing up every day in business?
- What can I do to start making progress today?
- Who was I being for the last 3–6 months to create these results?
Sometimes you need to remove yourself from your business so you can look at everything objectively. The key is to ask yourself the right type of empowering questions because whenever you ask yourself a question, your mind will answer.
Also, I’ve since found out that another good way to ask these questions is before taking a nap or going to sleep. Because as you drift off and your conscious mind turns off, your subconscious mind is wide awake.
Since your mind always wants to answer a question and your subconscious never sleeps, it’s likely you can get the answer in dream time.
Don’t be surprised to wake up with an answer, get a hunch, or have a new idea pop out of thin air in the coming days.
“Sometimes you have to slow down so that you can speed up.” — James Wedmore
As hard it might feel, sometimes you need to clean out your book of business — some clients just aren’t worth it. For me, I dropped three personal finance clients, so I could have more time back in my day to attract people I wanted to work with.
These clients weren’t necessarily bad, I just grew to loathe the content itself which made me a bad freelancer. I wasn’t showing up to team meetings, did the bare minimum, and it wasn’t right for my clients. So I dropped them and trusted myself to attract new ones into my business.
Ultimately, if you don’t fire a client, you are doing both them and yourself a disservice.
Raised My Rates
At this time, I was in that weird area of my business that I didn’t know when to raise my rates. So I had some clients paying half of what new clients were paying.
Because when you land clients, you usually negotiate a set rate. But after six months or a year, you might still be at the same rate because you got too comfortable which is exactly what happened to me.
So I let my clients know that I changed my rate and gave them an ultimatum — give me a raise or part ways.
Pitched More Clients
After raising my rates and dropping a few clients, I started to pitch more clients in a different niche. I started actively seeking out golf writing gigs, as it was my secondary niche and helped me fall back in love with writing. Plus, I landed a few recurring gigs writing about stuff I love which also helped my monthly income.
Once you get rid of the clients that steal your sanity, you need to get in front of more potential clients. Remember, pitching is just a numbers game.
The more people you pitch, the higher the chance of landing a new client.
But you can’t expect them to magically find you. While that can happen with an SEO optimized writing website and social media, don’t rely on it. Instead, seek out your ideal clients, build relationships, and show them how you can help their business!
Quit Feeling Sorry for Myself
I know you want to make money writing, have millions of people read your work, and live the laptop lifestyle.
I get it, trust me.
What you focus on expands.
So if you spend all of your time whining about clients to your friends and family, you are only going to attract more of that into your life.
Instead, choose your words carefully.
Consumed More Content
Anytime I’m not feeling very creative or feeling stuck, it’s almost always because I’m not learning anything new. To become a great writer (and stay one), I’m convinced that you need to keep learning like your life depends on it.
So I started listening to daily podcasts in the car, reading books, and watching documentaries. I found that the more information I put in, the better content I could create.
If you’re feeling like your fingers can’t produce any magic on the keyboard, take a step back and consume. Read other stories, watch some videos on YouTube, and mix it up.
Started Working Less
When I’ve wanted to throw in the towel and quit writing, it’s usually because I’m exhausted and burnt out. But once I dropped needy clients and raised my rates, I could start working fewer hours and gain back some sanity in my life.
I also stopped writing every day. While I know a lot of writers tell you to write daily, I don’t think it’s necessary. For me, writing is extremely taxing on the mind and requires a lot of creativity. When I was writing every day, I fell out of love with it and felt like I had to push myself to get anything done.
So if you’re experiencing this right, start working less or take a few days off (or more). Doing more isn’t the answer — it just leads to burnout, resentment toward clients, and poorly written content.
Started Taking Care of Myself
Entrepreneurship hasn’t been easy for me.
I’ve ridden the entrepreneurial roller coaster through depression and anxiety more than I ever did in the 9–5 world. But I’ve also experienced more highs.
Make sure that you are taking care of yourself. Anytime I’ve hit burn out, it’s because I’ve quit taking care of myself.
Self-care is different for everyone. Don’t feel like you need to do what all the motivational speakers tell you to do.
Here are some of my personal favorite self-care rituals:
- Hot yoga
- Extra sleep
- Float tanks
- Hang out with friends
- Get outside and put my phone in airplane mode
Experiment with all kinds of rituals like these and figure out what recharges you. If you’re feeling stuck, a lot of times you’re just feeling burnt out!
Mixed Up My Environment
When I quit the corporate world in 2017, I couldn’t wait to work at home. It meant no more pointless meetings, not having to wear real clothes, deal with annoying coworkers or stupid water cooler small talk that I despised.
But after about a year into my entrepreneurial journey, I got lonely. It wasn’t until I revisited a few personality tests that I forgot how much of an extrovert I am. So I got intentional about getting out of the house and interacting with people more regularly.
So if you’re struggling right now, don’t forget to connect with real people. Reach out to someone you admire by sending them a DM on Instagram, leaving them a private note on Medium, or emailing. Don’t be afraid to connect with other writers either.
You can set up a calendar using Calendly and add in a “Virtual coffee” where you spend 15-minutes chatting with other writers or freelancers. Sometimes one conversation or one idea can give you more motivation than you would ever get sitting in your office.
Also, don’t forget to mix up your environment from time to time. Check out a coworking space, go to a coffee shop or work at a fancy hotel to mix up your routine.
I’ve found that a change in scenery is much needed from time to time.
Remembered My “Why”
Finally, I got back in touch with the main reason I quit my 9–5 in the first place. For me, I had two “why’s” — I wanted to build an online business that inspired the world, and pursue professional golf. When I looked back on two years of working for myself, I realized I was doing just that and appreciated how much I had accomplished in such a short time.
So don’t forget why you started this business in the first place. Sometimes, you can get so busy with your head down trying to build a thriving business that you forgot why you’re doing this to begin with.
If you’re like most people, you got into this to help others and share your words with the world. And maybe your goal was to add some extra income so you can spend more time with your family, travel, or pay off debt.
Whatever it is, never forget your reason for starting!
When you’re burnt out and want to give up, remember that you are only one article, one client, or one post away from changing your life forever.
Wherever you’re at in your journey, you aren’t alone but it’s up to you to figure out how to keep moving forward.
Use these 10 steps to fall back in love with writing and grow your business.
- Slow down: If you are unhappy with your results, stop what you’re doing immediately. Instead of doing more of what got you here, slow down and analyze the actions and behaviors that got you to this place.
- Fire clients: No client is worth your mental health. If you hate working with a client or the content that you have to write, drop them. Trust your gut and move on.
- Raise your rates: As your writing gets better and you learn more skills like SEO, you need to keep raising your rates. Even if some clients leave, it’s worth your sanity and you’ll get more time back to find clients who will pay your new rate.
- Quit feeling sorry for yourself: Remember feeling sorry for yourself and whining about your situation isn’t going to help things. In fact, it’s only going to make them worse.
- Consume more content: Writing takes a lot of creative juices so make sure you’re consuming new content to make it easier to write!
- Work fewer hours: Working more doesn’t guarantee success but it almost certainly guarantees burnout. Make sure you schedule downtime away from your laptop so you can recharge.
- Take self-care seriously: Don’t forget that the more you take care of yourself, the better you will show up in your life and business. Practice different types of self-care to rejuvenate yourself and stay focused on your goals.
- Mix up your environment: Your environment (both mental and physical) has a huge impact on your creativity and motivation. Sometimes you need to get out of your normal environment to change up the scenery!
- Remember your why: Finally, never forget why you started in the first place. Attach as many emotions to your why so it becomes a strong force within you to keep going.
There is no “one way” to do this whole thing. Keep pivoting and adapting so you can create the life and business that works for you — and no one else.
“Stop. Pause. Breathe. Cry if you must, but keep going.” — Unknown