This week’s post comes courtesy of Yuwanda Black. Yuwanda is the publisher of InkwellEditorial.com, home of “the hybrid freelance writer.” She’s self-published over 90 ebooks (fiction and non-fiction). The Ultimate Freelancer’s Guidebook is her first traditionally published title. She can be found on Twitter @InkwellEditor.
Hello, my name is Yuwanda Black, and I’m a hybrid freelance writer. What is that you ask? Well, my self-defined meaning is a freelancer who makes a living writing – for herself and for clients. More on this in a bit.
So Much More Than Writing
I’ve self-published more than 90 ebooks – fiction and non-fiction. Last December, I got my first contract from a traditional (trade) publisher. Today (September 2nd), my book, The Ultimate Freelancer’s Guidebook (Adams Media), will be published.
In addition to writing and publishing books, I also:
Have two blogs I update regularly;
Founded and run an online writing company;
Do internet marketing and am currently setting up a new site for that;
Regularly contribute guest posts to other blogs; and
Handle almost all of the back-end responsibilities for my businesses, eg, creating ebook covers, doing social media outreach, invoicing clients, sourcing freelancers, etc.
I say all of this not to brag, but to underscore just how jammed pack my days are. How I do it all is a question I’m asked frequently. So when Tamara sent me the following email in response to my request to do a post for her blog, I wasn’t surprised. She wrote:
I would be honored to have you contribute a guest post! I think a fun topic would be how you manage your time between your many different projects – client work, blogging, writing fiction, and now having a published book. How you juggle it all, if there are any tools you use to help you keep track of everything, how you schedule your day/week to fit it all in, etc.
Congratulations on your first hard-copy book!
5 Tips for Making It as a Hybrid Freelancer
Because I do so much, I call myself a “hybrid freelancer.” Following is some insight into how I keep so many freelance balls in the air – and still manage to have a life.
- Set Life Goals: What I do on a daily basis trickles down from goals I set in my life plan. I’ve been doing this for years.
I actually have a document on my computer entitled, “Life Plan.” In it, I write out what I want from life a year from now, three years from now and 10 years from now, eg, I want to be living here; have this much in a retirement account; be earning this much in a month; be working this number of days per week, etc.
To me, this is as essential as mapping out a destination on your phone’s GPS system before leaving home. This away, I know exactly where I’m going and what it’s going to take to get there at any given time.
Not to mention, research has proven that you’re more likely to achieve a goal if you write it down; this study showed 42% more likely to do so.
So set some life goals, then write them down and refer back to them often – at least a couple of times per week. This will keep you on track and motivated.
- Prioritize Projects Annually: Because I’m a writer, I usually plan my projects out a year at a time by setting annual goals.
I just started doing this the last couple of years since I knew that being a writer was my final career choice. As an aside, I’ve had quite a few “careers” in my professional life – LOL!
Note: What goes on this list flows from what my life goals are. Everything goes back to ensuring that I’m where I want to be a year, three years, five years, etc., down the line.
- Time Block Days: To achieve what’s on my yearly project list, I’m a big believer in time-blocking my days. If not, I tend to stray off track.
Things That Can Throw Off Your Time-Blocked Schedule (But That’s Ok)
And even with a time-blocked day, things still interfere, eg:
**Computer/internet problems: I live in Jamaica and sometimes there’s just no way to avoid this); although, I have to say, for the most part, wi-fi is great here on this little island;
**An urgent content request from a client;
**Answering email: I get a lot of questions from freelancers and sometimes I can spend a few hours just answering them in order to keep my inbox clean;
**Web surfing: Although I’m pretty good about this;
**Social Media: My downfall is Facebook! I’ve actually quit logging on daily because I log on to post something to my account or a client’s account, and before I know it, three hours have elapsed! Ugghhhh!!! Facebook, without a doubt, is my weak spot when it comes to wasting time.
It’s okay to get thrown off track. Just dive back in as soon as you can and keep plugging away at what’s on your list.
- Rest/Take Time Off: You will burn out, so you must take time off. Taking time off actually increases your productivity. How? As you explain so beautifully in the post on your site about how to get more time in your day Tamara:
Get More Sleep
Now this may sound counter intuitive — more time spent sleeping actually gives you less time in your day, right? Wrong. You are more efficient when well rested, so make sure you get your seven to eight hours in each night.
I’m a classic Type-A personality – always going a million miles a minute, and always taking on more than I should. I’ve been freelancing since 1993. And I can tell you without a doubt, you lose productivity when you work yourself to the bone.
Sure, you may be able to keep it up for a few days, or a week or more. But eventually, you will crash and burn – and you will spend time recuperating. So while you think you’re getting ahead when you’re pulling all-nighters or going on minimal sleep, trust me, you will pay for it at some point.
Arianna Huffington – yeah that one, of The Huffington Post – wrote a New York Times best-selling book about this, The Sleep Revolution. It’s described in the following manner on Penguin Random House’s website:
In The Sleep Revolution, Arianna shows how our cultural dismissal of sleep as time wasted compromises our health and our decision-making and undermines our work lives, our personal lives – and even our sex lives. She explores all the latest science on what exactly is going on while we sleep and dream. …
In today’s fast-paced, always-connected, perpetually-harried and sleep-deprived world, our need for a good night’s sleep is more important – and elusive — than ever. The Sleep Revolution both sounds the alarm on our worldwide sleep crisis and provides a detailed road map to the great sleep awakening that can help transform our lives, our communities, and our world.
Rest … it’s as important to success as “doing.”
- Practice Gratitude
I moved to Jamaica in 2013. The first couple of years I was here, I didn’t work nearly as hard as I could have. I worked a lot, but goofed off a lot more than is usual for me. I was hanging out with friends, going to the beach, going to bars – just having a blast. And you know what? My freelance writing income suffered.
Not only that, I lost a large chunk – over 90% over an eight-month span — of my fiction self-publishing income in 2015. This was a by-product of Amazon introducing its Kindle Unlimited subscription service in the summer of 2014. Thank goodness I still had my non-fiction income (the vast majority from my own website), and a good chunk in savings.
This made me realize I was taking my career and the cheap rent I have here in Jamaica for granted. I wasn’t properly appreciating the lifestyle I’m able to lead.
My mama used to say, “God don’t like ugly, and when you take what He’s given you for granted, it just might be taken away.” I was raised in the south (southern Baptist, thank you very much).
Even on my worst day as a freelance writer and independent publisher, I wouldn’t trade what I do for anything in the world – which means getting up, plopping my butt in a chair, and getting to work.
I no longer take what I do for granted because I realize how easy it can be snatched away. And when I try to picture what I’d enjoy doing for a living – that paid the bills — even 10 percent as much as I enjoy what I do now, I come up with zero, zilch, nada.
That’s inspiration enough for me to stay focused.
Do I falter? Yes, a lot. Most days, I don’t get through my to-do list. Yes, most days. But I keep overloading it because it forces me to do much more than my wanna-be lazy self would (yeah, I really am a wanna-be lazy person. I’m gonna enjoy retirement like nobody’s business when I get there!).
And when I look back over what I accomplish in a week, a month and a year, I KNOW without a doubt that my goals are always within reach. That’s what pushes me to keep wearing so many freelance hats – and enjoying the journey along the way.
Thank you for allowing me to share your space Tamara, and continued success to you.