When we talk about freelancing, often our focus is on the money we can make. Or, the scheduling freedom. Or, the portability — the ability to take your job with you anywhere.
These are all great advantages and part of what makes freelancing wonderful.
But, when you boil it down, you’re still working for a payday.
You may be happier with the way you earn money as a freelancer… and you may love that you don’t have to wake up to an alarm every morning… or, that you can work while traveling…
But, you still run the risk of getting into a rut… of feeling bored with what you do.
Do something long enough and that’s simply one of the risks.
But, there’s something you can do to prevent that.
You can build a freelance-writing business that does more than feed your bank account and set you free from punching a clock.
You can build a business that lights you up and sets you on fire. That leaves you, at the end of each day, without a doubt that you’re doing what you’re meant to do.
So, how do you do that? How do you build a business you love?
Well, there are certain things every person craves.
If you can weave one of these cravings into your business, you’ll have more than a business… you’ll have a mission. And, you’ll probably end up making even more money because of it.
Better yet, it will feel like less effort. And, instead of draining your energy stores, most days, the work you do will fill you up.
Imagine finishing the day feeling more full of energy than when you started. That’s what happens when you have a business you love.
So, what are these three human cravings that work like magic?
#1: A Sense of Belonging
People long to feel connected, particularly with people who share their values (not necessarily their worldview — you can have very similar values to a person who sees the world differently than you).
So, how do you bring that sense of connection to your business?
There are lots of ways you can do this, but let’s toss around a few ideas.
You can start a writer’s group. You might set up a Facebook group. Or, maybe you organize with some fellow writers and you all get together on Zoom once a month.
Make this different than an accountability group. Give everyone a chance to talk about their victories and celebrate together. Give everyone a chance to rant about their clients, their kids, the backyard chickens that won’t let them sleep in past 4 a.m.… whatever is making them crazy. Let each person have the floor to really dig into what’s making them excited or what’s getting under their skin.
You could also have discussions around a question that will make everyone think a bit. Keep the group small and think about the personality types and values that will drive it. This isn’t part of your business, but it is part of your industry, and it will deepen your connection with folks who are facing similar challenges to your own.
Another way to bring more sense of connection and belonging to your business is to drop your guard a little bit with your clients. If you have clients on retainer who you work with over and over again, make it a point to share some things that are not work-related.
This doesn’t have to be anything awkward or overly vulnerable… it can be as simple as mentioning a movie you enjoyed or a vacation you have planned. Pay attention to the non-work things your clients mention, too. Look for shared interests and then weave those into more of your conversations. As a result, you’ll feel a deeper connection with your clients.
You might also consider writing for yourself, in addition to the client work you do. This could be poetry, a journal, a work of fiction, or a blog. Do work you feel connected to. And, if you’re inclined to publish it, interact with your readers. The more you write for yourself, the more you’ll develop your voice. And, when that happens, you’ll be able to make faster connections with your own audience… and that creates a huge sense of belonging.
#2: A Well-Defined Purpose
You’ve heard before, I’m sure, the importance of defining your why. Knowing why you’re doing what you’re doing is key to staying motivated and resilient.
For many writers, their why is oriented around the people in their life. “I want to be able to be at home when my kids come home from school.” Or, “I want to support my parents in their retirement.” Or, “I want to travel more with my spouse.”
These are all excellent whys.
But, they’re not your purpose.
Think of your purpose as the why for your business.
While you’re almost definitely hoping your writing business will bring about a transformation in your life, it’s also useful to think about the transformation your writing business might bring into the world.
Are you helping small, alternative-health businesses to bring better health to seniors?
Are you crafting the very best success stories for your clients, because you know, in addition to being great sales tools, they’re also uplifting?
Are you, like me, helping clients to zero in on creating a better user experience, because it makes marketing work better for everyone — both client and customer?
And then, when you’re done, define the why for your business, too. What’s the positive change you want to make in the world through your writing skills? This is key to building a business you love.
#3: A Positive Story
You have a story you tell yourself about yourself… and what you tell yourself about your business is a part of that story.
So, what’s the story you’re telling yourself?
Is it one of hard work, perseverance, and triumph?
Or, is it one of self-doubt, setbacks, and fear of failure?
Think about the things you’ve accomplished in your business so far.
When you reflect on your business, tell yourself a positive story. Note the things you’ve learned. Be honest about your setbacks, but that means being honest about how you responded to them. If you get knocked down, then work hard to set things right, and grow personally and professionally… that’s a story to be proud of. And that can lead to a business you love.
Framing your business story in an honest, positive way can do wonders for how you feel about your business, for your marketing messaging, for your enthusiasm, and for your success.
If you want to build a business that does more than pay the bills, but has you waking up each day proud and excited to do what you do, then focus on these three things. Look for ways to deepen your connections within your industry… and with your writing, define your business’s why, and start telling yourself a better story. Those three things will create a business a business you love and that truly lights you up,