Information Overload

The Freelance Writer’s Journey Chapter 2: Information Overload

It’s now been full week since I fully began this crazy experiment. This was week 1 of the new normal, my new career as a full-time freelance writer and editor.

I think I am going to use this space as a sort of weekly reflection, to identify my experiences, the lessons learned, and principles I draw from them. Maybe you can draw a lesson from it too, or at least be entertained!

The first thing I learned this week is that there is a ton of information out there about beginning your own online business, even a writing service. There are countless websites, blogs, videos, social media accounts, and articles who tell me that they have unlocked the secret to becoming a successful, wealthy entrepreneur. Most of them want to sell me an online course. Some want to sell me individualized coaching sessions.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m grateful for the help. I would rather find way too much information, and need to apply critical thinking and research to figure out what’s true, than search for hours and find nothing helpful. I probably spent half my time this week simply learning and reflecting. I listened to 15 podcast episodes about freelance writing and online business. I probably read twice as many blogs and articles on getting started. I’m just beginning to get to a place where I can develop opinions of my own instead of just regurgitating what others are telling me.

This had led me to the conclusion that the internal work is just as important as the external work.

Here’s what I mean: It is important for a freelancer to generate leads, acquire clients, do a great job for them, follow up, rinse, and repeat. It’s also good to hit the books and get information and training. However, all of this leads to nothing if a freelancer doesn’t actually believe they can succeed.

It seems like many startup ventures fail not because of practical reasons, but because the people behind them stop believing they can make it. Then, that belief starts affecting the way they behave, in a weird form of self-sabotage.

And man, I feel it. I feel the temptation to get afraid that I’m going to fail. I also get the temptation to feel overwhelmed and not know how to invest my time and energy properly. Every time I read a new article that tells me something I’m doing wrong, or something that I’m not doing that I should incorporate, the temptation begins again. It’s a mental battle just as much as a battle to bring results.

This overwhelm has shown me the importance of setting goals. During my first couple of days on the job, I was directionless. This led to me not really knowing whether I had accomplished much by the end of the day. As somebody who doesn’t have any coworkers yet, that’s a really lonely feeling.

So, I started setting some specific and measurable goals to accomplish by the end of September. Some of the goals were outcomes (like getting a certain number of clients), but most of the goals were inputs (like reaching out to a certain number of people for work, or putting in a certain number of Upwork proposals). This way, if I don’t reach all of the outcomes that I want, I can take a look at my inputs and adjust them accordingly.

From that list, I broke it down into goals I can accomplish on a weekly basis. Finally, I broke that down into daily goals. Now, when I hit my daily goals, I know it is feeding all the way into my overarching goals for the month.

It’s quite a few lessons in such a short amount of time. That’s why I labelled it an information overload. It’s a new normal, with a ton of new concepts and ideas to explore. I feel both overwhelmed, and excited.

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