Baby Steps

The Freelance Writer’s Journey, Prologue Part 2

One of the people who I respect and admire the most is a college professor I had, who I will call Dr. A for the purposes of this post. This Dr. A is the kind of professor who cares about their class not just as students, but as human beings. Rather than simply making sure we did our assignments, she legitimately wanted all of us to succeed and thrive in the next stages of our lives. Dr. A is a huge reason that I am currently going after a doctorate of my own, and applying myself as a professional writer. One interesting fact about her is that she completed her doctorate while working full time and having two school-aged children! The fact that she managed to make it work inspires me.

The motto she told me early on in my undergraduate studies was “Every inch makes it a cinch.” In other words, when someone fixates on the project or problem as a whole, it is easy to get intimidated, and then procrastinate. However, if one’s mindset is to push the project forward by one inch, every day, then they will eventually reach the target. So, she often found herself reading just another page or two of assigned reading during her kid’s soccer practice, or staying up just a half hour later so she could write another page of an essay. Soon enough, she was done.

The other way I’ve heard it said is this: Humans tend to overestimate what they can accomplish in the short run, and underestimate what they can accomplish in the long run. That’s why, since the middle of July, I’ve been doing just a little bit every day to make freelance writing and editing a legitimate income source. Some days, I read a chapter or two in a book about writing or marketing. Other days I drafted a page for this website, or reached out to a couple of potential leads. It has culminated to where I sit now, less than a week before my day job ends and school starts, with just enough infrastructure and knowledge to begin paid work. And man, it’s terrifying.

I am not sure what the future holds in terms of my income or job, though I am hopeful that the right projects and assignments will come soon. For the past few months, I have had an easy time falling asleep, but the past few nights it has been much more difficult. I’ve been running the what-ifs and possible scenarios in my head, again and again, until I finally manage to drift off. It’s a daunting position to be in, until I remember that every inch makes it a cinch. Let me tell you about some of the “inches” I have gained in order to get this thing off of the ground.

  • Had a zoom call with an established content writer and marketer and asked him a billion questions about how to get started. Fun fact: Most people who are currently doing what you want to be doing next will be willing to offer you tips and advice, because chances are high that when they were starting out, someone else did the same thing for them.
  • Made myself a profile on LinkedIn to begin building a network and establish more legitimacy.
  • Made a profile on Upwork, which is a site that matches freelancers with people who want to hire freelancers. I am not too experienced with it yet, but I can see myself finding extra projects through that platform. Some people make it their primary stream of income.
  • Built a website using WordPress, after learning the basics. I used WordPress instead of something else like Squarespace because it was a bit more familiar to me, and it was what a mentor of mine recommended.
  • Put out feelers on social media to see if anyone needed some immediate help with writing and editing, which got me a couple of leads.
  • Found some writing work that I could do for free, in order to build my portfolio, develop relationships, and improve my skill.
  • Finally, read two books about marketing. One was How To Write Copy That Sells by Ray Edwards, and the other was Building A Story Brand by Donald Miller, both recommended by a friend. Both were fantastic reads and instantly made me better at what I do.

There are some gaps and details amidst all of that, but those are the main tools and baby steps that I went with. I’m sure that other people have used a slightly or totally different path, but the key was that I found someone with experience who could point me in a good direction, and then I set about doing a little bit every day. Every day except the sabbath, but that’s a different post.

On Monday, my job ends and my Psy.D. begins, which means that it’s time for the prologue to end and chapter 1 to begin.

One thought on “Baby Steps

  1. I totally agree with taking baby steps instead of drastic ones in the beginning, as highlighted in James Clear’s book Atomic Habits. I got much further in my novels through a 250-word-a-day diet than the times when I’d binge or wait for inspiration. Wishing you all the best with your WIPs!

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