The Groove

The Freelance Writer’s Journey Chapter 6

I’m not a very good bass player.

It’s something that I picked up back in the Summer of 2014, because I was playing a videogame called The Beatles Rock Band with my cousin. In this game, you “play” simplified simulated instruments in famous Beatles songs. Only one person gets to play electric guitar in the career mode.

Everyone wants to play electric guitar. 

Since it was his game and his house, I decided I would play bass guitar and let him have the glory. So I picked up my plastic controller, and we clicked and clacked our way through the entire career of the Beatles in one day. By the end of it, I had fallen in love with the instrument. A couple of weeks later, I bought a real bass guitar of my own, the exact same model that Paul McCartney uses. We’re even both left handed.

I learned how to play over the course of a few weeks by looking up Youtube videos and trying to copy all of the cool stuff. I never got that good. This instrument is easy to get the hang of, but it takes years to master.

That’s where I feel I am with freelance writing, now six weeks in. I understand the basics of building up a portfolio, attracting clients, and performing various writing services, hoping it turns into repeat work. Most of it has. However, there are specifics about this business where I’m still way out of my depth. I imagine that it will take months or even years until I feel like a Paul McCartney of freelance writing. But I have started to find a groove.

Wins In Week 6:

When you’re in a groove, things start to come to you rather than require you to try really hard to attract them. The grooving bassist intuitively knows the next note to play and when to play it.

I’ve been getting more invites for work, which means the “prospects” side of my clientele is expanding. I’ve also gotten used to a few forms of writing, making my work easier and higher quality.

I’m hitting a groove with my personal scheduling as well. I’m finding that it’s best to frontend my day with administrative things and save the deep work for the afternoon. I’ve found an ideal start time, and times during the week which are better for meetings. Schoolwork feels challenging but not impossible. Sometimes I even complete assignments ahead of time.

Speaking of groovy, I finally received my ‘Job Satisfaction Score (JSS)’ on Upwork, and my score is 100%. This score replaces my ‘Rising Talent’ badge, which is awarded to the freelancers who show promise but don’t have a long enough job history yet. A 100% score means that everyone who has worked with me loves the work I did and would recommend me to others. So, that feels pretty good.

Challenges In Week 6: 

Some of my original clients have cooled off. What I mean is, I still work for them, but the flow of work has gotten smaller, for a number of reasons. Because of that, I didn’t make as much as I wanted to this week. I’m still on track, but I thought I would be ahead of where I am now. I also see this as an opportunity to spend the free time trying to get even higher paying jobs.

Speaking of which, I decided to start pitching a much higher rate to see if people were willing to hire me. I had a fair amount of success at a certain rate, so I almost doubled it. These high pitches predictably have a much lower response rate. I went almost two weeks without getting a new job on Upwork at all, which felt massively discouraging. The bright spot is that one person did say “yes” to the higher rate, and a few people are close.

Preoccupation In Week 6:

I’ve been thinking about money. Probably too much. Sometimes I spend more time trying to add up all of the dollars and cents than I do actually working. I am trying to work first and ask questions later, but it’s so easy for my mind to drift toward my financial goals and situation.

This is partly why I’ve shifted administrative tasks to the start of the day, to get some of the finer details out of the way before beginning paid work. I have to remind myself that I’m on track, and that starting a new business is a slow process.

Until I am where I want to be, it’s time to ride the groove.

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