The Habit That Will Transform Your Freelance Writing Income

Carol Tice

Change THIS to Boost Your Writing Income. Want to know the secret to boosting your freelance writing income? I learned this a long time ago, and it’s still true. Change this one thing, and you’re on your way. Enjoy! —Carol.

Would you like to create a drastic shift in your freelance writing income?

There’s really only one way.

The good news is, this is something you can do no matter where you live, or how the economy is doing.

I was reminded of this when I ran into a mom I know casually — she’s the mother of one of my son’s longtime friends.

I hadn’t seen her in a while, and I about fell over when I ran into her at a local bike race I did with my family recently.

She has lost probably 80 pounds or more, and looks 15 years younger!

Between slimming down and growing her formerly very short hair out to ponytail length, she looked almost like a teenager. Even the shape of her face had changed.

And you know what? Her approach to losing weight was so smart, it can even help you boost your writing income. Here’s how:

Curious minds want to know

Like me, I knew Jenny has a pretty sedentary line of work, so I was fascinated.

I came over to chat and told her she looked amazing.

What had happened to create this transformation? She was like a new person.

The change

It wasn’t a coincidence that I ran into her at a bike race, it turns out. Jenny had always liked bicycling, and finally decided to get serious about it.

She started biking a lot instead of a little. Gradually, she built up her muscles and her stamina, and tackled longer rides.

Instead of watching TV, she’d bike. Instead of sleeping in, she’d get up early and bike before work.

Even in the rain…which we get a lot of around here.

Until today, she bikes roughly 500 miles a month.

She changed her habit of being sedentary and replaced it with a habit of long-distance bike riding.

Simple as that.

She created one new, positive habit that was the catalyst for changing her whole life.

Getting over the hump

You can imagine how grueling this was in the beginning. It probably didn’t look very graceful at first, being a 200+ pound woman atop a bicycle, huffing up a big hill.

Or — oh the shame! — sometimes having to get off and walk the bike up to the top.

I’ve no doubt she had to deal with a lot of snickering.

But that negative feedback didn’t affect her. She had decided to change a habit, and to become a competitive bicyclist. She stayed focused on what she wanted to achieve.

As she got into cycling, she found she wanted to change how she ate to nourish her body better for bicycling.

She cut the junk food. She ate smaller portions.

More and more weight came off, until today she is a svelte woman glowing with health.

Changing one habit started a cycle of change that moved into other parts of her life.

The payoffs were many — more energy and stamina, greater self-confidence, a better health outlook, and the satisfaction of a goal accomplished.

Change one habit to boost writing income

As writers, one habit can change everything for our careers, too.

  • What is that one habit? It’s the habit of changing what you do until you get the results you want.

When we keep doing the same thing, we tend to get the same result, right?

So to get a new result — to earn more — requires us to change a habit.

The way we spend our time in our writing business needs rethinking.

There are many factors in the writing world we can’t control, but there’s one we can: ourselves.

There are two main ways writers can change:

1. Marketing

Not marketing your business? Here are some ways to change that:

  • Resolve to make 500 cold calls, and see what happens.
  • Send out 300 letters of introduction.
  • Go to a networking event five nights a week.
  • Commit yourself to big marketing numbers, and you know you are going to get clients.

Maybe it’s a bit harder in a tough economy. But work is out there, and if you market, you will find it.

It might be a slog.

You will deal with rejection.

You won’t always do it all perfectly and gracefully — you’ll make mistakes.

But if you are willing to change your habit of not marketing, your writing career will move forward in new directions.

I spoke to one Freelance Writers Den member recently who took her income from zero to $6,000 a month in a year, just by implementing a few new strategies for marketing her business that she picked up in the Den. I was blown away.

We’re talking big differences in writing income that are possible when you resolve to change your habits.

2. Skills

If you feel your writing skills aren’t up to snuff, you can identify where you feel you need to improve. Then, you can:

  • Read a book on freelance writing, marketing, productivity, etc.
  • Take a class from the Freelance Writers Den, or another experienced writer, to acquire new writing skills.
  • Or just commit to doing more writing, on your own. You can learn a lot by doing.

Yes, it’s not always easy admitting you feel ignorant about how to do something.

But if that insecurity is holding you back, the only way forward is to get more knowledge.

You might have to tighten your belt to pay for the training you need. Or it might come free.

Either way, you won’t have to stand out in the rain.

The cumulative effect of habit change for writers

A few months from now, you could be a whole new writer, in terms of writing income. Changing one habit will get the ball rolling, encourage you to cultivate other positive habits, and ultimately bring you new clients and higher earnings.

All from a small beginning. Just changing one habit.

What writing habit would you most like to change? Let’s discuss on Facebook and LinkedIn.

Get paid to blog: Get a free e-book (100+ Freelance Writing Questions Answered by Carol Tice) and free updates! Sign me up!


  1. Terri H

    This post hit the nail on the head. I too have recently inherited a new habit which I thought had absolutely nothing to do with writing. But it turned out that it had everything to do with writing.

    I am a dancer. I’ve danced my entire life. But in order to save some money and dedicate more time to my writing practice, I cut it out of my life. I soon stopped getting more clients, I wasn’t writing as much, got frustrated more easily, and simply wasn’t happy. Of course, once I started dancing again to bring back the happiness in my life did I realize that my writing improve and I got more effective.

  2. Sarah L. Webb

    What a great post to read. This mother’s story is really inspiring, especially the image of her continuing on when things were hard and people probably doubted her.

    The biggest change I need to make is in marketing. As you say, I definitely need larger numbers, more volume. I’ve set some goals recently pertaining to quantity, and this post is a great motivator to work diligently to reach them.

    Thanks so much,


    • Carol Tice

      Glad I can help! I think marketing is where most writers are weak. Whenever I ask writers who complain they’re not earning well what they’re doing now to market their business the answer is always the same: “Well, um…nothing.”

  3. Daniel

    I wrote an article in early August 2012 for a business publication. The article was published in August.

    As of now, early October 2012, I have not been paid.

    If anyone else has experenced this problem (which is very real and common in the freelance world), I’d like to know what they did or or doing about the situation.

    • Carol Tice

      Hi Daniel —

      Sounds like you need to establish the new habit of having a written contract before you write an assignment…I’m betting there wasn’t one.

      If there was, what were the payment terms? Many publications are slow payers — I used to have one where it was routinely a couple months after publication before they paid.

      If you’ve got a contract with terms and you have passed your date, send a past-due bill noting a 3% per month late fee. I find once clients discover you’ll expect MORE money from them if they drag their feet, the check comes promptly. They like to pretend they didn’t see the late bill and then pay the regular amount without the extra charge…but it gets them up and writing that check.

  4. Stef Gonzaga

    Timely post, Carol. Thanks!

    I’ve recently started changing some bad habits of mine that kept me from focusing and writing. I used to put my writing tasks off, make excuses for an unfinished to-do list, and would allow myself to dawdle online. It’s frustrating!

    Nowadays, I try to keep my desktop free of anything besides the tools I need to write—and I’ve seen some progress. I’ve just finished a 30-page PDF guide for my readers over at my freelancing blog and I can’t wait to finish editing and setting it up for download.

  5. Ronn Jerard

    I must admit that my marketing skills need an infusion, which I sense will help me greatly. I am learning how to use Social Media, but I feel the need to go beyond this endeavor. And, yes, I do need to take writing classes, which is high on my list of priorities. S thank you for this article; it hit all the right spots for me.

    • Carol Tice

      You’re welcome, Ronn!

      If you’re interested in learning business writing, check out our Break into Business Writing bootcamp that starts TOMORROW.

      Did I mention I’ve got the “original copywriter’s coach” Chris Marlow teaching our module on writing persuasive copy, which I personally want a front row seat for! That’s not my strong suit (since I’ve only ever written landing pages for this-here blog and my classes, not for clients), and I can’t wait.

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