Improve Your Freelance Writing Business Now…

by John Soares on January 9, 2012

Post author Linda Formichelli is a top freelance writer and also a den mother alongside Carol Tice at the Freelance Writers Den.

Take It Away Linda…

People always ask me how I get so much done: I’m a highly diversified writer who is the main breadwinner for her family, I teach online courses, and I’m the mom of an active 3-year-old.

My secret? ADHD.

Let me back up. I do have ADHD, and as a consequence I have trouble focusing on any one project for more than a couple of minutes at a time. So I’ve adapted by finding tiny tasks that I can fit into the multiple tiny spaces I have throughout my day as I jump from project to project. So even when I’m not working on the project at hand, I’m making progress towards my goals.

You can do the same, and you don’t even need to have ADHD. Here are quick actions you can take whenever you have a few minutes that will help you get more writing work.

25 Ways to Improve Your Freelance Writing Business in Under 5 Minutes

1. Send a letter of introduction to a trade magazine or custom publication.

You do have a template you can tweak, right?

2. Send a thank-you note to an editor, client, interview source, or another writer.

These not only show your gratitude, but they also keep you top-of-mind when someone is looking for a writer to assign work to.

3. Update your LinkedIn profile.

Whenever I update my LinkedIn profile, it seems to garner more attention than usual. So add a few samples or change up your CV.

4. Find and follow five editors on Twitter.

Check out MuckRack for editors (and journalists) to follow by publication.

5. Post your latest writing assignment (with a link) on Twitter.

If any of those editors you followed are following you back, they may see a good example of your work.

6. Read a blog post or article to build new writing or marketing skills.

I’ve been writing full-time since 1997, and I still learn from other writers and marketers.

7. Post a helpful comment on a blog or forum in your industry…

to help build your credentials as an expert.

8. See who’s visited your LinkedIn profile…

and send them a note asking of they need a writer.

9. When you’re followed on Twitter by a local business, ask if they need a writer.

I did this last year and landed a local hospital client — and a few thousand dollars worth of work.

10. Find and download a book on marketing or writing to your Kindle, iPad, Nook, or other e-reader.

I love marketing books and I also love having the ability to zap a book onto my iPad in about five seconds.

11. Clean your workspace.

Getting your freelance writing workspace clean and organized — even only 2 minutes worth — can give you a boost of energy and inspiration. Some quick ideas: Clean your keyboard with a can of air, clear the unneeded books from your bookshelves, or test your pens and throw out the non-working ones.

12. Change your computer desktop wallpaper…

to a photo or saying that inspires your writing.

13. E-mail a local writer you admire and…

ask if you can take her out to coffee.

14. Post to a writers’ forum…

like the Freelance Writers Den looking for a goal buddy to help support you and ease the loneliness of writing solo.

15. Look through your records and follow up via e-mail on…

queries and letters of introduction you haven’t received responses to.

16. Add your recent clips to your writer website.

My Freelance Writers Den partner, Carol Tice, is all about having as many clips as possible on your site because you never know which one will turn on an editor.

17. Sign up for an e-course on writing or marketing.

If you don’t want to shell out the cash, there are plenty of free ones.

18. Have an article assignment?

Quick: Post to Help a Reporter asking for sources to interview. Nailing down sources for interviews is one of the most time-consuming parts of freelance writing, so it’s good to get a head start.

19. I’ll bet you have a list of blog post ideas you plan to write up…

You can’t do that in two minutes, but how about scouring your favorite photo source (mine is iStockPhoto) for images you can post with them?

20. Check your income records and follow up on late payments.

Dash off a quick note asking your editor or client to “check the check.”

21. Brainstorm a title for an article or blog post you have in the works.

Sometimes it helps to think up titles outside of the actual writing process so you don’t feel too pressured.

22. Search for groups in your area related to the industry you write in and…

shoot a note to the organizer asking if you can give a talk on a writing topic.

23. Retweet a helpful industry post on Twitter.

This helps cement your reputation as an expert.

24. Lie down on the floor and meditate.

Seriously. Even a quick om-session will help refresh you and renew your inspiration and energy for the writing work ahead.

25. See how many e-mails you can answer in five minutes.

Get right to the point and type as fast as you can. Think of how great it will feel when you’re down to “In-box Zero”!

About the Freelance Writers Den

Post author Linda Formichelli and her business partner Carol Tice run the highly recommended Freelance Writers Den, where I’m a moderator. For my take, read my review of the Freelance Writers Den.

Your Take

What do YOU do when you have a few minutes in between projects, or when you can’t focus and want to jump from task to task? Please share your ideas in the Comments below.

Make More Money for Less Work Freelance writers who specialize make much more money than those who don't. My short and focused course Find Your Freelance Writing Niches: Make More Money for Less Work guides you through all the key steps you need to take to discover the specialties that will take your freelance writing income to a much higher level. Click here for all the details.

{ 35 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Wade Finnegan January 9, 2012 at 9:06 AM

I completed one of the first blast-off courses last summer. I would highly recommend it to anyone wanting to get started freelance writing. Linda and Carol are top notch pros who give their students great content. Just like this post by Linda.


2 Linda Formichelli January 9, 2012 at 9:17 AM

Thanks, for having me, John! And thanks, Wade, for the kind words. I’m so glad you liked the Blast Off.
Linda Formichelli recently posted…Earn More as a Writer Fast With This Proven Shortcut


3 John Soares January 9, 2012 at 12:33 PM

Linda, I love this post! My brain keeps giving more important tasks that I can do quickly and that make a good break from freelance writing.

For instance, taking a very short walk (with the dog, if you have one) is an excellent way to clear your mind with some fresh air and some fresh inspiration.
John Soares recently posted…Why Freelance Writers Must Be On LinkedIn


4 Linda Formichelli January 9, 2012 at 2:59 PM

Thank you! And I love the way you formatted the post…looks really sharp. It was a pleasure to write for you!
Linda Formichelli recently posted…Get your e-mail under control in 2012


5 John Soares January 9, 2012 at 3:27 PM

Mutual admiration…!

I used H4 heads for each tip. I had my Wordpress guy format those so that there’s no extra space between it and the text that follows.
John Soares recently posted…The Power of a Small Website


6 Linda Formichelli January 9, 2012 at 4:21 PM

Wait, you have a Wordpress guy? Color me impressed!
Linda Formichelli recently posted…Get your e-mail under control in 2012


7 John Soares January 9, 2012 at 4:30 PM

Actually, he’s not really “mine.” He’s the very talented guy who designed this blog and two of my other blogs, and he makes the changes I can’t figure out myself — like how to change the spacing after an H4 head.
John Soares recently posted…The Best Way For Freelance Writers to Hold Themselves Accountable


8 Ken January 9, 2012 at 2:01 PM

Great list of action steps to stay productive and gain more clients. It is amazing the amount we can achieve in the smallest actions in between the workday. Thanks for the inspiration and ideas.
Ken recently posted…3 Greeting Card Sites Paying For Accepted Submissions


9 Linda Formichelli January 9, 2012 at 2:59 PM

Thank YOU for your kind words, Ken!
Linda Formichelli recently posted…Get your e-mail under control in 2012


10 John Soares January 9, 2012 at 3:24 PM

There are actually many small things we need to do in order to increase our success as freelancers, and many of these only take a few minutes. It can be as simple as sending invoices promptly, or sending a quick e-mail to remind a past client that you’re interested in new projects.
John Soares recently posted…Should You Edit As You Write?


11 Kat Tate January 9, 2012 at 4:39 PM

Thanks for this invaluable post, Linda! So many freelancers rattle off the same tips, so it’s fab to finally read some unique and useful ones.

In Australia, we have a site called SourceBottle, which allows writers to post requests for sources and case studies (similar to Help a Reporter). I’ve just discovered it and agree it’s a great way to get the word out for interviewees.
Kat Tate recently posted…The night I danced under the stars


12 John Soares January 9, 2012 at 4:58 PM

Kat, SourceBottle does look like quite a useful site. I wonder if other Aussie writers are also using it.
John Soares recently posted…Writer, Unleash Your Inner Honey Badger!


13 Linda Formichelli January 10, 2012 at 8:04 AM

Kate, thanks for sharing that resource!
Linda Formichelli recently posted…How Can Two Pro Mentors Help You Skyrocket Your Writing Income in 2012?


14 Danielle McGaw January 9, 2012 at 4:41 PM

Loved this Linda. The ability to have multiple projects going on is one of the reason I love being a freelance writer. I often find myself getting bored if I have to spend too much time on one thing. I always have many tabs open and my husband laughs about it but it works for me. :)
Danielle McGaw recently posted…Are You Using These 7 Important Tools to Promote Yourself as a Writer?


15 John Soares January 9, 2012 at 4:54 PM

Danielle, I always have multiple projects going on, including my own. When I really can’t get motivated to work on one, I’ll switch to another that jazzes me at that moment.
John Soares recently posted…Why Freelance Writers Must Be On LinkedIn


16 Linda Formichelli January 10, 2012 at 8:05 AM

Too funny, Danielle! Whenever I have just one or two projects going on, I feel so unmotivated. I need the fire under my butt of several things going on at once!
Linda Formichelli recently posted…How to Get the Most Out of Writers’ Forums


17 Melissa January 15, 2012 at 10:02 AM

My husband also teases me about how many tabs I have open. Anytime I complain about a computer problem, his response is “try closing all those tabs.” Glad to hear I’m not alone!


18 Matt Kinsella January 9, 2012 at 6:10 PM

Absolutely loads of brilliant tips, just gone straight to to find some journos to follow. Thanks.
Matt Kinsella recently posted…How To Be Lucky In Life


19 Linda Formichelli January 10, 2012 at 8:05 AM

Thanks, Matt, I’m glad it was helpful!
Linda Formichelli recently posted…How to Get the Most Out of Writers’ Forums


20 Literary Wonderland January 9, 2012 at 7:06 PM

It’s kind of funny how the simplest ideas can escape us until someone else points them out. Change your desktop wallpaper! Brilliant! I have grown somewhat tired of my Guiness drinking squirrel image. Adorable and carefree as he is, it may be time for an inspiring change. Thanks for the tips!


21 John Soares January 9, 2012 at 7:27 PM

I change my desktop photo every couple of months or so. Some are pics I take on my hiking trips, while others are royalty-free pics I get elsewhere, usually beautiful deep-space shots of galaxies and star clusters courtesy of NASA.
John Soares recently posted…8 Ways to Back Up Your Computer Files


22 Linda Formichelli January 10, 2012 at 8:06 AM

I just changed the background on my iPad, which I use as an e-reader. It’s amazing what a difference it makes in your motivation!
Linda Formichelli recently posted…How to Get the Most Out of Writers’ Forums


23 Bethany January 10, 2012 at 5:35 AM

Hi Linda, great tips! I especially liked tip number 11 about having a clean workspace to give you a boost in energy and inspiration, I’ve just spent an hour tidying up my office so I know how good it makes you feel. At this time of the year after all the festivities and the dark days we need all the energy boosting we can get, I might even try tip 12 and change my desktop wallpaper.
Bethany recently posted…How to Make a Guy Miss You


24 Linda Formichelli January 10, 2012 at 8:08 AM

Thanks, Bethany! Isn’t it amazing how much more motivated you feel when you clear out your workspace, even a bit? That’s on my agenda for today…since I have a 3-year-old, right now I’m working while surrounded by Cars figures and puzzle pieces. :)


25 Ruth - The Freelance Writing Blog January 10, 2012 at 12:58 PM

These are all great Linda! Though I’m afraid that for me, number 11 often serves as a procrastination tactic. It’s a way to defer the work at hand (though I do always feel better once my space is tidy!)
Ruth – The Freelance Writing Blog recently posted…I’m Engaged! My Interview With Danny Iny


26 John Soares January 10, 2012 at 3:45 PM

Although it doesn’t strictly help my freelance writing business, I’ll often take five minutes to do some dishes, fold the laundry, or fill the bird feeders outside. It’s something that needs to be done, and it allows me to get away from my work for a bit.
John Soares recently posted…The Best Way For Freelance Writers to Hold Themselves Accountable


27 Linda Formichelli January 10, 2012 at 4:14 PM

Hey, I keep my house really clean even when I’m busy — I consider it constructive procrastination!
Linda Formichelli recently posted…Get your e-mail under control in 2012


28 Melissa January 15, 2012 at 10:05 AM

I like these tips and implement many of them already, but I too often wonder if I’m just finding a way to procrastinate. Then again, if you’re going to procrastinate, you might as well do it in a way that’s productive and motivating!


29 Denise Gabbard January 19, 2012 at 9:27 PM

Hi Linda– I am so glad you confessed to ADHD; I have the same problem! Focusing can be a huge problem for me– for instance, right now I have 14 tabs open on my computer…and several Word docs:( I love your suggestions for “quick and dirty” things to do while taking a quick break. I have found that using a timer when I am writing helps me stay on task…so I use Strict Pomodoro– 25 minutes working, 5 minute break— and these small tasks will fit perfectly.
Denise Gabbard recently posted…Thoughtful Thursday: Put Money in the Bank this Week!


30 Linda Formichelli January 20, 2012 at 5:28 PM

Thanks, Denise, I’m glad you liked the post! I try to make the most of my problems. :)
Linda Formichelli recently posted…Are You Making This Writing Mistake That Costs You Valuable Time?


31 Shelly March 12, 2012 at 4:00 PM

Ummm, if you are blog posting all day long, when do you actually have time to do the “earning” part? Or full-time mom to a 3-year old? I’m just really, really curious, not meaning to be offensive at all.


32 Linda Formichelli March 12, 2012 at 4:08 PM

I’m not sure why it comes across that I blog post all day. I write two posts per week and it takes me about half an hour each time. I work three days per week when I have childcare and am with my son the other four days, though I do work if I have to. My husband is a freelancer, and his schedule is the same as mine.

Most of my work is of the money-making variety. For example, right now I have four articles due in the next week or so.


33 Dawn-Renee May 18, 2012 at 8:23 AM

I have ADHD too and find that I have to break tasks up throughout the day. I already follow many of your tips, so for me, it was nice to have validation that I’m not weird or alone! lol! I would go crazy if I didn’t have a ton of stuff to jump back and forth on. It’s really no different than the way most people (especially men) channel surf while watching TV…they get bored or there’s a commercial, so they jump around to something else and then back again.
Dawn-Renee recently posted…Creative & Self-Employed? 10 Essential Business Tips


34 Nickie Y. June 15, 2012 at 10:35 AM

“Read a blog post or article to build new writing or marketing skills.” I think it’s important to always keep up to date on the latest writing and marketing strategies because what you learned a year ago may not count today. Love this, thanks for sharing!


35 Stephen Fielder September 29, 2012 at 9:05 AM

First, it’s very cool to see a positive spin on ADHD.

I thought you had a lot of very useful information and ideas in that post, and I’m grateful to you for sharing them.



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