10 Old and New Success Tips for the Self-Employed

The beauty of anniversary is the beauty of renewal. At the time of anniversary, things once taken for granted such as relationships, interests and goals are given a second look. They are reminders of experiences and promises once made. I woke up this morning and realized that one month ago, I started my freelance writing business. Since then, I have fought with my laptop more times than one, made new connections and endured unbearable downward spirals, but through this process I have also found peace and rediscovered my insane passion for entrepreneurship, marketing, reading and writing. In the spirit of anniversary, I am passing on the gift of reflection. These are the tips that have brought me success in the past month! I hope that they bring you assurance in your ability to create great work.


Find your Niche

The word “niche” pops up in every freelance/entrepreneurship publication at least five times, and this is because it is ESSENTIAL to your success. When organizations seek a freelancer, for instance, they will never type in “freelancer” and hope for the best. They will reach into their network to find potential freelancers who specialize in their field. If that doesn’t work they will do a Google search for something specific like “freelance women’s charity publicist” or “freelance fashion writer.” Find your interests and/or something you have expertise in and infuse your brand with it.

Become Marketing Savvy

As a freelancer, it is imperative that you become marketing savvy, and by this I mean, learn how to publicize and optimize your brand! If you are just a writer or a consultant or a publicist and you really hate the idea of branding and business, that’s okay. Here are two ways you can still market your brand.

  1. Outsource- Freelancers are the masters of outsourcing, primarily because we are the people that organizations usually outsource to. That being said, find a marketing guru to save some of your precious time.

  2. Take Easy Steps- Marketing doesn’t have to be a grueling process. Take small steps today to publicize your brand. Create an email signature, get your website professionally edited, get social media manager programs that allow you to plan posts and tweets more efficiently. These small steps can lead to more opportunities and more success!


Reach into Your Network + Create Connections

When seeking out work prospects and other opportunities, remember to reach into your network. This works wonders and often leads to a higher success rate than cold calling and cold pitching. Keep in mind that this network doesn’t just mean your work friends. Tap into your personal networks as well. Your close friends and family will often advocate for you harder than anyone else (I hope!). The importance of having a support system is crucial, especially in the freelancer life. Find freelancer friends that can support you when times get hard. These people will give advice and lead you to possible job prospects!

Work with Social Media

I received my first three clients from social media. One was in my network, one read an article that I wrote and the last I met through a Direct Message on Twitter. It’s true. We now live in a world where there are seminars on “How to Receive a Job Through Instagram” and I don’t know about you…but I love it! Social media is giving professionals the opportunity to reach more people in a shorter period of time. It is also giving us the ability to make connections with people that we could have never met in person. My advice is to work with social media, rather than running away from it. If you don’t use it, you are missing out on loads of promising interactions that can lead to jobs, ideas and awesome content!


Avoid Unhealthy Habits…

In all it’s forms. This includes bad habits like not drinking enough water, not working during break time and not taking advice from the friend who people have nicknamed “Debbie Downer.” The days where I had to tie myself to the chair to write over the last month were the same days that I got less than 8 hours of sleep. Working an eight hour shift after a 5 hour sleep leads to messy work and a bad attitude. Doing this regularly leads to a culture of unproductive workdays. Though it may not seem like a big deal, health effects work. Take an oath with me today to produce great work in a healthy manner.

Find Your Ritual

No, I’m not asking you to wake up at six and run a mile before you begin working every morning (though if that’s your thing, please feel free!). I am asking you to make a personal ritual that will create consistency within your work. One thing that I find helpful is to create a “Before Bed Ritual” and a “Before Work Ritual.” Here’s how to implement these tools within your schedule:

  1. Before Bed Ritual- Every night before bed, the night before a work day, I set out my clothes, clean my room, clean my work desk, drink a glass of water, review my task of things to do for tomorrow, take out my contacts and then go to sleep. I do this, in part, because it gives me the ability to create a morning schedule that is based around things I love rather than running around, pulling out possible outfits while trying to make breakfast while trying to remember all the tasks for the day. What are things that you can switch from your Before Work Ritual to your Before Bed Ritual? What is important for you to get done before you go to bed each night?

  2. Before Work Ritual- I want you to think back: have you ever stubbed your toe or got a stain on your shirt just before work? How was the rest of your day after that? Probably not too good. The reason for this is because how we wake up influences how we work, play and interact with others for the rest of the day. I try to make it a habit to read, drink water and stretch every morning since those things not only keep me healthy, they also make me feel happy and ready for the day. What are things that take less than 20 minutes that you love? Try to fit them into your Before Work Ritual.

Create a Habit of Reading Regularly

In a world of podcasts, radio shows, television, movies and Netflix, reading may not seem so relevant anymore. However, that cannot be farther from the truth. Reading is not only a stress buster, it is an idea harvester. Reading (both nonfiction and fiction) has the power to inform our thinking and keep us updated about current events. As a freelance entrepreneur, it is vital to read books about our niche as well as our clients interests. You never know what solutions to success lie in the pages of a new book.


Say No

One way to success is by actively saying no to things that you know will not benefit you in the long run. Just recently, I was offered a position doing the social media for an awesome company. Although, I respect the organization, I turned down the position because it has nothing to do with my current goals. It was hard to say no, of course. I’m a part time freelance writer that is trying to build up a brand and a fan base while also being a full time student. What I know I received by saying no is the time to spend on other projects that have more to do with my ultimate goals and the respect of the company team that now knows I will never take on a project I am not passionate about (and who knows? Perhaps a future opportunity will come up where I can serve them in a greater way!). When making the decision to say no, I often try to keep these three R’s in mind.

  1. Research– Before you say no, what does the company stand for? What are they asking of you? How much time are they asking of you? How much are they willing to pay you for your services?

  2. Remembrance– Hopefully by now, you have a list of goals for yourself and your business. What are they? Do they coincide with what the company wants of you? Will this fit into your schedule? Are you actually passionate about the project or considering saying yes for another reason? (Money, publicity, big name, etc.)

  3. Resolve- Say a firm yes or no and be fine with that answer. Trust your gut and reward yourself with a little something for making the right decision.


Often, people will use the “dog eat dog” analogy in the business world. Luckily, modern entrepreneurs are rewriting this belief. Recently, I started reading the books “Give and Take” and “Start Something that Matters.” The first book refutes the common belief that takers have a better chance of surviving in the workplace compared to givers. The latter book is written by TOMS founder Blake Mycoskie, who tells the story of his company and preaches on conscious capitalism. The new rules of business have been written, and they say that giving is not only cool, it also leads to economic and professional success. Serve your clients and serve others by contributing your talent to causes that matter.

It’s been a long ride, but we are finally here. Doesn’t success feel great? Follow the steps and create a habit of excellence that will lead to a fulfilling life and career.


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