Easy Habits That Keep Your Freelance-Writing Business Healthy

4 minute read

I’ve found that the bane and boon of running a freelance business are the same — it’s all on you. Some days this is motivating. You get to do whatever you want in your business, which means you can focus on what’s important to you.

On those other days, this can be paralyzing. “What am I supposed to do next?” you wonder. When faced with uncertainty, it’s hard to do anything at all.

I’ve learned that smart habits practiced consistently over time can help you have more of the days where you’re motivated and excited… and to be productive on the days where you’re feeling less sure of yourself.

Best of all, you can start building these habits today.

5 Habits for a Healthy Freelance-Writing Business

Strong habits formed early in your freelance-writing business come in handy when you experience the lows of business or life in general. We all have those times when we doubt ourselves, second guess everything, and feel stuck.

So, let’s dig into some of best habits to start cultivating now.

1. Create and maintain an emergency fund.

It’s wild how important securing yourself financially is when you’re running a freelance business. I’ve met freelance writers who feel stuck taking on low-paying gigs to make ends meet. And I’ve met freelancers who have a safety net that gives them room to be more selective about their clients and projects.

People live in diverse financial realities, and it looks different for each of us. That being said, creating an emergency fund as soon as possible, even if you have to grow it gradually over time, can be life-changing.

Without an emergency fund, you have no safety net to fall back on during lulls in your project flow. It takes time to build a steady income from freelancing, and an emergency fund can help you navigate the ebb and flow of revenue.

An emergency fund gave me choices. It’s why I never worked for a content mill, said no to projects that weren’t a good fit, and intentionally took on clients who aligned well with my values and goals. I took on work because I wanted to, not because I had to.

Set a goal of building up six months of living expenses in your emergency fund. Then, you can increase or decrease it if your living expenses fluctuate.

Even if you’re able to set aside only a little bit each month, that can still work as a buffer well before you reach your six-month goal. Ask yourself, how much can you put aside every month toward an emergency fund starting now? Will you pay yourself once a month or a percentage out of each project payment? Will you open a separate account for your emergency fund?

2. Ask, “So, what?” to tackle mindset challenges.

My mind plays tricks on me all the time. And from my conversations with other freelance writers, I know I’m not alone. One of the things I do when I catch myself second guessing decisions or balking at opportunities is to ask myself, “So, what?”

When that little voice in my head panics at the possibility of a new project that’s a bit out of my comfort zone, saying, “You’ll disappoint them!!”… I ask, “So, what?”

So, what if I disappoint the client? So, what if I put myself out there and get rejected? So, what if I send 100 cold emails this month and hear back from only three? So, what if a family member sees my LinkedIn content and makes fun of me? So, what?

Most of these situations never actually arise. I’m just talking myself out of moving forward because change is hard, and rejection is unpleasant. But, when I ask, “So, what?” I realize I’ll find a way to navigate them if they do come up. So, the next time you’re about to take a step forward in your business, and a voice in your head pulls you back, ask yourself, “So, what?”

3. Take breaks often.

There are different kinds of rest we need as humans — physical, mental, sensory, creative, emotional, social, and spiritual.

Recently, my body forced me to slow down.  

Having been through that period of burnout, I’ve taken steps to ensure my body never needs to compel me to rest. The key is to take breaks often and to make them diverse.

I work using the Pomodoro technique. So, I work for 25 minutes, then rest for five, and repeat. During my five-minute break, I give myself many options to rest. I can close my eyes and be still, journal, breathe deeply from my belly, dance, splash cold water on my face, lie on the ground, listen to waves or soft music, color in a book, or catnap.

By taking breaks often and doing different things to reset, I stay fresh creatively, and I avoid burnout. Try it for yourself and see the wonders it does for you.

4. Balance consumption with creation.

I confess that I underestimated the harm of excessive social media consumption. About a year ago, I realized I was losing at least two hours a day scrolling through social platforms.

I was losing time, energy, and precious brain space. I would come out of a social media dive feeling groggy and confused. After I read Deep Work, I decided to implement its advice to test the need for tools or platforms I assumed were important for my business.

I uninstalled a few apps from my phone that were draining me. A year later my business has survived, and my mental well-being is higher.

Even though I’ve recently started using the apps again, I don’t get sucked into them the same way. I check in, engage with a few things, and check out.

Because of breaking my social media habit, I have more space to wonder, wander, and be curious about my business and life. So, when I create things for my clients or myself, I bring in new perspectives and don’t operate from a space of overwhelm, which was my reality.

5. Take a 10-minute walk.

Trust me on this one. For 10 minutes a day, take a walk, alone, without anything plugged in your ears. It will clear out your brain like nothing else. The absence of distractions will let your mind wander, and that lets you make unusual connections, birth ideas, and get more creative.

Plus, being aware of your body and surroundings will calm your nervous system, leading to a feeling of relaxation and peace.

While most of my suggestions for you today aren’t related to business, developing these habits will elevate your business. Try them out for a month and see what happens. I’m sure you’ll be positively surprised.