"Master Dayton" might be humorous, (I mean if Ph.Ds are called "Doctors," shouldn't MFAs be called "Masters?") but in all seriousness I have made a living freelance writing and after several years I have tons of information I want to share to help out my fellow writers, regardless of age, experience, goals, situation, or background. This blog isn't pretty-but it will help if real freelance writing information is what you want.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

How Are You Going to Bust Through?: A Freelance Writing Rant

Freelance Writing isn't for Sissies. Do you know how you're going to make it?

And after a month away working feverishly on my passive writing income and setting up my business ventures for this year, we're back! This post might be a little different than some of the other recent ones, as the past couple months have also been a time of major reflection and some pretty painful and brutally honest self-evaluation. Classic 80/20, if you're familiar with the Pareto Principle that has been pushed into the spotlight by Tim Ferriss's The 4 Hour Work Week (which I highly recommend, btw), and while I have plenty of legitimate excuses about life getting in the way, have done an amazing amount of work, and have been pulled in eight directions, it was still a stark revelation to see where I really was versus where I thought I was. Unless you're really focusing on it, most people probably don't realize how much time falls between the cracks. To paraphrase something I've heard over and over: "I thought I was working really hard, but I really wasn't."

Even for those of us who do work a lot, is it really on the projects that are most important for our long term growth? Do we really accomplish what we should, or do you find after a year that somehow, some way, when you look at the numbers honestly that you haven't done anything remotely close to what you wanted? Did you really write 350 hubs at HubPages in one year at an incredibly modest 1 a day, or after a hard working year do you find yourself hovering around 70? Oops. I'm not bringing this up to preach or condemn - I'm finding myself in the same boat.

Have I done a great amount of useful work the past two years in particular? Absolutely. But what if my goals (especially for passive income) had met even some very modest goals? I'm nowhere close to 700 hubs on HubPages, which is where I'd be if I did 300 a year for every year since signing up - a modest less than one a day. How many niche sites have I actually set up? One a month? How many actual links have I built to every article, every hub, every niche site?

The funny thing is, despite all the work I've done, my actual numbers fall short of the extremely modest "one hub a day" or "one blog post a day" or "three backlink articles a day." I think most people reading this blog who are trying to balance freelance writing and passive income building with a real world job understand. Even balancing freelance writing to pay the monthly bills versus building passive income is a very difficult proposition, even if writing is your full time profession. I can look back and point out the many potential true reasons why I didn't write 700 hubs over two years and get plenty of backlinks to all of them, or I can accept that:
  • There is always enough time if you're willing to make it
  • It's all about prioritizing
  • Daily consistent work is important
  • There is ALWAYS time for one a day
When you look at your freelance writing goals or residual income goals over the past year, what do you see? Is 300 hubs in a year really too ambitious, or could you find the time for one a day (not even)? I think if most of us are honest, the problem isn't having too little time, it's not prioritizing and not staying consistent. After all, how can writing 300 hubs a year, less than one a day, be a deal breaker?

This is just one example. Did you want to set up 12 niche sets over a year and only set up 3 or 4? Ask yourself: if you sat down for one week and treated residual income as your only concern, could you knock out the basic articles and set up to 12 sites in one week? Of course you could. I absolutely suck at anything technical. I even consider using WordPress annoyingly technical. That tells you how not a techie I really am. All that "programming WordPress is easy" did not apply to me - it was hard. So if I can set up 12 niche sites in a week, including the About & Privacy pages, insert AdSense, and get 5-10 basic articles up on each and linking to one another, then what's the excuse for anyone else?

Breaking through means not doing the same-old, same-old. One of the easiest things to do is fall into habits of "studying" and "researching," or losing minutes and hours at a time sitting at the computer, making lists, making notes, or doing any and everything other than the actual work to advance your business. Breaking through means narrowing a big goal down to smaller ones, and then attacking those small daily goals over and over - even on days when you don't feel like it because you're far more likely to go on a 10 day skid than "make it up the next day."

Recently I've made a very conscious effort to only do the absolute minimum for freelance writing and spend a lot more time on passive income and my other growing business. This is a difficult decision because I have tons of student loan debt, a lot of medical bills, and several thousand dollars more in medical procedures I need to undergo. Then there are the weddings, reunions, and badly need travel vacations that I need for personal sanity and preventing the severe stress attacks that put me in terrible shape last fall. Nothing like a doctor telling you "Take a long vacation or you'll have a heart attack," to make you learn not to stress the small things.

This led to another revelation while I went on my seven weeks of travel and vacation (although I do always have to work at least 4 hours on Fridays). The revelation was that I really didn't fall behind on anything because when I looked at the bottom line numbers, I just didn't write nearly as much as I thought I was. In other words, it was easy for me to do more work in January than in October through December combined, and I take more time off for myself.

So these question are for ALL of us writers and Internet Marketers: How are we going to break through? How much more can you fit in each day if you commit only one or two solid hours to passive income? Is that hour of doing nothing really worth delaying the day when you have enough passive income to live off of?

Unfortunately, dreaming and planning don't pay. Work does. This is something I've harped on frequently in recent freelance writing blog posts, and I'll continue to do so. Look at the work you've done. Even if you don't set up your own sites at all and only did HubPages, did you do the equivalent of one hub a day? If not, how much would it change your income if you did write one hub a day for two to three years? Can you spare one more hour a day for backlink articles? This combination really is a tiny amount of work when you look at it, but most of us fail when we look back a year or two later to accomplish even that much.

So at the end of the day, it's time to man or woman up and make our large goals tangible, daily or weekly, and to dedicate ourselves to making them. If you're part of the Keyword Academy and have seen the forum reports, it's amazing how many people are hitting the $1,000 a month passive income mark and how they are taking many different strategies to get there. If you aren't a KWA member, I highly recommend it if and ONLY if you meet one or more of the following requirements:
  • You make over $50 a month passively and are prepared to reinvest to make that number take off.
  • If you know for a fact you are completely dedicated to earning passive income and won't quit.
  • If you are dedicated to spending enough time every month on your page or sites to make the $33 a month expense worth it.
  • You're already experienced and want to take the next step.
Some people recommend KWA for beginners, and I admit that I am torn on this. The issue is not with the program. The starting videos and core videos are absolutely exceptional, and if you know even the basics, you know how valuable the advanced tools are and how to properly use them. If a beginner is gung-ho and knows for a fact that they will stay with it (and the problem is everyone thinks this until they see the work that is involved), then starting with KWA will save them months, if not years, and make the process much faster. So yeah, for anyone who can afford the investment, it's worth it. The first month is free, but after that it is $33 a month.

So whether your goal is freelance writing, residual income, or a little bit of both - it's time to really be honest and look back over what you actually did versus what you thought you were doing. You might be surprised how little writing or marketing you actually did, and that might be all the motivation you need to really kick off your breakthrough for 2011.