In almost every freelancer’s career, there will come a point where they ask themselves “am I doing enough?”
Am I doing enough outreach and marketing?
Am I doing enough reading?
Am I doing enough for my clients?
We’re filled with questions on what else we need to do to make sure our business continues to thrive. In fact, many of us invest in new books, yearly seminars, online courses, and more, just so we can figure out what else we need to be doing.
But the (not so secret) secret to more clients, stronger writing, and better connections is a lot simpler than we think. It’s something that we do all the time, but we need to do more of it for ourselves, and it’s simply…
As we continue to scale our businesses and work with more clients, it’s understandable that we start to lose sight of just how fun and healthy writing for ourselves — personal writing — can be.
Some of us own diaries or journals, where we write down what was on our mind, ideas that we had, goals we wanted to achieve, etc. Others may have opted for a blog, using it as a platform to express themselves online. It’s this practice that helps with so many things in our lives — personally and professionally.
So, how exactly does personal writing help with your personal life? Well, therapists say that personal writing methods like journaling offer a variety of health benefits. Many notable leaders like Teddy Roosevelt and Barack Obama utilized journaling to help organize their thoughts, reduce stress, and map out solutions to problems they were experiencing.
Here are just a few ways personal writing can help your mental health:
- Track growth and improvements, as well as negative self-talk and behaviors
- Quells anxiety and stress around problems and fears
- Reduces reliance on memory, which is shown to be fickle
But along with the mental benefits, increasing your personal writing can also help with the skill of writing itself…if done properly.
It’s important as writers that we are actively thinking about how we practice writing. Thoughtful practice leads to more effective outcomes, and you’ll improve in less time compared to if you were just writing the first thing that comes to mind. So, how exactly can you improve your writing?
Studies from Princeton and UCLA have shown that handwriting helps with concept retention and improves writing. This same concept can be applied to writers and is a practice that many successful copywriters use to stay sharp.
During your next session of personal writing, find a piece of content that you enjoy from a writer that you envy in regards to their writing style. Then take time to read the piece and hand write it for 15 minutes. If you can fit the entire piece of content in 15 minutes, great! If not, even better, as you’ll be challenged to paraphrase the content to complete it within the time frame. Once you feel like you’ve become familiar with that style, move on to a different writer.
Over time, you’ll start to notice that many of the things you appreciated about the writer will be incorporated into your writing. It’s been a practice I’ve been doing almost every weekday for the last six months and I truly believe I’m a better writer because of it.
When it comes to being a freelance writer, I truly believe being part of a community is essential to finding success. A strong community can help you improve your writing, collaborate with other writers, and even find consistent work. But a problem that many writers run into when joining or creating a community is that they don’t share enough. Some writers join a community with the hopes of enjoying the benefits right away, but never contribute to it!
To fully enjoy a community, you need to contribute and connect with its members, and few things help you connect with people more than being vulnerable. Vulnerability is a word that leaves many people nervous, but it’s also one of the best things you can do for you and your business if done appropriately. That’s where your personal writing can come in handy.
If you’re looking to vent frustration or write a feel-good story based around your freelancing business, make sure to share that on LinkedIn, Twitter, or other social platforms you utilize for work, instead of keeping it in your journal.
Well, the benefits come in two parts:
You can relate to other writers
Although it’s easy for us to get sucked into our own little world, it’s important to remember that there are a lot of freelance writers out there. According to Forbes, there are over 57 million freelance writers in the US alone, and that poll was back in 2019, so the number has likely increased. This means that over 35% of the 2019 US workforce does exactly what you do, and they’ve likely experienced the same challenges you have. Sharing your experience gives you a chance to connect with writers who can relate to them. These connections could lead to opportunities that weren’t available, whether that be a new gig or a chance to learn more about your specific niche.
You build your brand
Many clients appreciate writers with a little personality. Don’t get me wrong, they still want to work with freelancers that maintain professional standards, but as a writer you need to show what makes you stand out. By sharing some of your personal work, you give clients a glimpse into who you are outside of the profession. You get to build your brand, and you’ll be able to attract clients that are interested in that type of writing. Sure, you may get a few nos because of your style, but you’ll also land more clients that have work more in-line with what you do. It’s why many freelance writers emphasize the importance of niching down, and this is just another way you get to do that.
Remember, it’s ok to share stories of frustration or success — as long as it’s appropriate.* You’ll be surprised by how many people — freelancers or not — will relate to your experience.
* I really emphasize the word “appropriate” here. Please make sure you take the time to ask yourself “would my clients like seeing this?” If the answer is no, your safest bet is to rephrase your content or avoid posting all together.
Although more personal writing is the general advice for improving your craft, understand that there’s so much you can do with that piece of content. Whether you’re looking to practice or just get some frustration out, take some time to read through your work again. You might be surprised by what comes out of it.