Friday, March 27, 2015

A Day in the Life: Mistakes Made, Lessons Learned and the Real Freelance Writer Arrives at Last

Part 4: A Present Day in the Life of a Freelance Writer

E.B. White the author of Charlotte’s Web said:“A writer who waits for ideal conditions under which to work will die without putting a word on paper.”

In this really, really late installment of "A Day in the Life", we join Mikey Freelancer at a time that parallels our present day. As our tiny dust mite bodies float on unnoticeable currents of air and dance in between streams of photons bursting into the modest house, our hero seems at ease, confident and totally in control for the first time in, well, forever. If looks are an indicator, he exudes far more success and confidence than when he first started a freelance writing business. 

Mikey's new demeanor is strange compared to the past. His back is straight and his eyes are unwavering. It's clear from where we sit that it's not the naive contentedness of an inexperienced writer we see in him. There's not the smallest hint of an ignorant grin left over from his rookie days as a freelance writer making money Online. Looks like the real Mikey Freelancer has finally stood up. Hope he can live up to the hype.

After grabbing a fresh cup of coffee, Mikey returns to his office chair, adjusts the monitor for straight viewing, clicks the mouse several times and then takes a probing sip from the steaming cup of coffee still held in his left hand. On the computer screen, two tabs launch as the browser expands to cover the entire window area. The tab our hero selects is labelled G-Mail and with it begins a new day in the life of a freelance writer making money online.

Freelance Writing Business: Organization, Time Management and Efficiency. Oh My!

Haruki Murakami is a world renowned Japanese author:
“When I’m in writing mode for a novel, I get up at four a.m. and work for five to six hours. In the afternoon, I run for ten kilometers or swim for fifteen hundred meters (or do both), then I read a bit and listen to some music. I go to bed at nine p.m.”

Freelance Writers Make Money Online
Slowly our heroes' eyes move down the inbox that contains 50 or more emails. He stops momentarily to open and read one or quickly delete another. 

Mikey allots 15 to 30 minutes per day to read, record and respond to his emails. This email time allotment does not include reading and reacting to social media notifications because the SMM section of the routine schedule allows time for those emails.

A daily routine schedule can really focus your efforts and streamline your workflow. It personally helped me tremendously. In fact, many famous writers and successful entrepreneurs have benefited by following a daily routine. Below, I layout my daily routine schedule and also include one from a dude you may have heard of, Ben Franklin.

Daily Routine Schedule for Michael J. Davis:

1.     4:30 AM – If the waves are pumping, I get up early and paddle out. If not, I sleep till 5:30.
2.     5:30 AM – Wake up and shower. Begin my habit-stacking routine: Make bed, drink one large glass of water, make coffee.
3.     6:00 AM – Wake my daughter for school. Get her ready to face the day in the best possible mood and with a full belly. (I don’t eat till lunch) During this time I study whatever topic area or new income avenue I have set for that week.
4.     7:00 AM – Walk daughter to bus stop. Move to office and start the workday.
5.     7:15 AM – Quick review of daily schedule. Create 1 to 2 important tasks for the day in addition to my scheduled appointments and duties.
6.     7:45 AM – Check and respond to emails.
7.     8:00 AM – SMM tasks such as following, responding, updating statuses, checking Buffer Queue and more. FWP blog maintenance or interaction.
8.     9:00 AM to Noon – Billable work for clients and freelance writing jobs and gigs.
9.     Noon – Eat lunch. Either jog, workout or play sport. Surf if waves are good.
10.  2:00 PM – Client acquisition hour. I spend this hour querying or finding new clients or negotiating new freelance writing jobs. Also, I sneak in self-education of my topic of the week and may even work on the FWP blog.
11. 3:00 PM to 6:00 PM – Billable work on paying projects. These two blocks almost never change. Writing from 9 to Noon and from 3 to 6 is the most important steps I follow religiously.
12. 6:30 PM to 8:30 PM – Dinner and family time.
13. 9:00 PM to 10:30 PM – Scheduling, invoicing, bill paying and other freelance writing business considerations and preparations for the next day.
14. 11:00 PM to ------ I try to go to bed by at least midnight but I have a hard time sleeping so sometimes I read or watch TV. Other times I catch up on research or self-education.

Below is an image of Benjamin Franklin's daily routine. Interestingly, he also grew to enjoy "air bathing" in the morning. Basically, he sat at his desk completely naked as he reviewed schedules and appointments set for later in the day.

Benjamin Franklin's Daily Routine

This routine our freelance writing hero came up with isn't complicated, it's not super involved or really tough to abide by. It is, however, very organized, specifically planned out and strictly adhered to down to the minute. For Mikey, creating and sticking to a daily routine was the only method capable of keeping him focused, on track and working as quickly as possible. 

Since he began following the routine schedule, his daily billable hour average has increased from 4.3 to 4.7. He's also been able to increase his social media presence by an incredible margin. For example, Twitter followers increased by nearly 550 in just under a week. Before that, Mikey had less than 100 followers gained over several years and even though he spent hours following and engaging, retweeting and direct messaging, he was never really able to get more.

There's a multitude of quantifiable benefits to following a daily routine, at least during the beginning of your work day. For Mikey, it helps him settle into a rhythm and sets up success for the rest of the day.

Social Media Marketing: Can't Be Ignored, Can't Be Mastered

Ernest Hemingway said:
“When I am working on a book or a story I write every morning as soon after first light as possible. There is no one to disturb you and it is cool or cold and you come to your work and warm as you write. You read what you have written and, as you always stop when you know what is going to happen next, you go on from there.”

Social Media Marketing TipsHere we are now morphed into some kind of whatchamacallit form that allows us to spy without intruding. Our tiny bodies weigh just a fraction more than the air in the room and we use that near weightlessness to flutter languidly like dust in a sunbeam above the shoulder of our freelance friend. A feather-light touch followed by a whisper-soft landing and we’re now sitting on the white starched collar of the human writer we are so keen on observing.

Completely unaware of us, Mikey goes about the daily business of a freelance writer.

He finishes up checking his e-mails, the first work related part of a daily routine he began several months ago, and moves on to his social networks. 

5 Quick and Easy SMM Tips Even Mikey Can Use

1.     Post Tweets and updates right before or right after the hour to catch people checking social media after a meeting.
2.     Use advanced Twitter search to find mentions of your name or company that aren’t directly targeted with the @MikeyFreelancer convention.
3.     Use lists, favorites and follows to build engagement and thank other users who have retweeted or favorite one of your tweets.
4.     Use Gmail to jazz up your email signatures with links that let recipients easily follow you on all your favorite social networks.

5.     Don’t get skimpy on images when posting to Twitter. Tweets with images get 150 percent more retweets than those with words only.

For as long as he has been following this daily routine, our hero has struggled with SMM. Hell, for as long as he's known about social media period, he's struggled with making it work as a marketing tool. 

That struggle has a lot to do with the time and effort required to post tweets, find cool things to retweet, locate that shareable gem of an article, answer direct messages, respond to private messages, update a status and reply to a tag, pin some pics here, follow some followers there, digg some sites over yonder and stumble upon blogs from New York to Bombay. 

It's damn near enough to drive a Mikey crazier than a politician telling the truth on opposite day.

Even after those tasks, the daily routine covering SMM is still only halfway complete. According to Mikey's social media theory, he must now find a perfect, viral article or video that will get people's attention. Once he's found something suitable, he spends time sharing it on every social media platform he belongs to. Time is not on his side, no it ain't. 

Our hero, forever the optimist, feels so certain each new article he finds or creates will instantly get hundreds of retweets, thousands of "Thumbs Up", pin after pin and share after share until the entire world has seen what Mikey posted. So far, Mikey has been pretty unlucky finding that instant viral hit and has only really succeeded in wasting a lot of time that could have been spent on billable projects. 

But Mikey has to do something if he wants to utilize the huge marketing potential of social media, right? He can't just ignore it. How, if he doesn't devote the seemingly requisite hours required to SMM will he ever build an audience, establish his niche expertise and find new clients? If he can't achieve those things, why should he even spend time on social networks to begin with?

So far the only thing that has changed is his average billable hours per day and they've gotten lower and lower. A freelance writer can't make money online if he/she never actually spends time working on paying projects. Somethings gotta give.

But we won't learn what changes Mikey will make until Part 5 in A Day in the Life. You can catch that article next Thursday. Hopefully our hero will figure these small issues out and start rocking and rolling. Until then, take care of yourselves and each other.

Community Question:

Do you have a certain routine that you follow? Tell us all about it in the comments or better yet jump over and join our freelance family forum and start a discussion!

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