Let’s DO This: My 4 Video Tips for Fed-Up Freelance Writers

Carol Tice

Fed Up? Tips for Freelance Writers. Makealivingwriting.comAs the New Year dawns, are you getting super-serious about living your dream life? Freelance writers, I’m hearing a lot of this lately:

“I’m fed up with earning peanuts… and with being afraid of rejection. Fed up with listening to naysayers who say I can’t make a living as a freelance writer.”

“This is the year I go all-in on freelance writing, and earn a living at it. I’ve got to make it happen!”

Is this you? Or maybe you’re more in this boat:

“The world seems to be falling apart — and so does my personal life. Meanwhile, how can I make a career out of this, despite all the uncertainty? Writing is my dream…”

If you’re serious about claiming the freelance life of your dreams — in the coming year, not someday-maybe — I’ve got help for you.

In my traditional year-end message to my blog readers, I’ve got four big tips that should help you avoid wasted time and achieve your freelance goals.


Scroll down to view the video or take in my ‘show notes’:

4 Tips for freelance writers in 2020:

Show notes:

Not a video fan? Funnily enough, I tend to skim transcripts myself! Not a visual learner, so much.

I think hearing from me is more inspiring and motivating, but just in case you’re not into that, here are my show notes:

Tip 1: Commit to doing less of this

Don’t let the endless tweeting and 24/7 media hysteria derail you. Take time away from social media!

Whether you use apps that block Facebook or take at least 1 whole day per week offline (like I do), make sure you block out quiet time to reflect, get clarity, and pursue your writing. Stay on your own agenda and don’t get sucked down the social drain.

Tip 2: Prepare for the only sure thing

The only constant in the freelance marketplace is change. All freelance client relationships end. Job boards, bidding sites, content mills — they all come and go. And could ban you or give you a crummy ‘rating’ tomorrow.

With the economy looking more wobbly, it’s ever more important that you market independently, find your own direct clients, and stay diversified. That’s your hedge against the chaos of #recession2020.

Tip 3: Know your past, your path, and your guru

I know — this one has three parts, but they’re closely related. The first step is to reflect on where you’ve been, and the freelance habits that got you there. Assess where you are now, then do the following:

  • Set goals for the coming year. Not resolutions you’ll forget 2 weeks into the year… instead, define what really matters, and post it where you can see those big-picture goals daily.
  • Break down the big goals into weekly actions, and find an accountability buddy to keep you on track.
  • Be careful who you take advice from. There’s been an online explosion in recent years of ‘instant’ faux experts with little actual freelance-writing experience or success.
    • Read About pages closely, and unsubscribe when you find a self-proclaimed ‘influencer’ who was never very successful, or freelanced for only a short time before proclaiming themselves an expert. Stick with long-time pros who have freelanced through at least one economic downturn — they know how to get you through what’s coming.

Many writers I know are taking in way too much information, much of it from dubious sources. They’re overwhelmed, overloaded, and taking no action.

Simplify in 2020 by finding a leader you trust. Then, follow their advice and avoid shiny objects.

Tip 4: End the self-sabotage

A lot of freelance writers seem to be their own worst enemy.

I mean, take the negative self-talk (please! just stop!).

Or it’s buying into urban legends like ‘nobody makes a living as a freelance writer.’

It’s talking yourself out of sending that pitch letter, because you think you might possibly annoy someone, or imagining that one rejection (or non-response) means the end of your career.

If this is your year to shine, it’s time to kill the negativity and believe in yourself. Your gifts are unique, and they’re needed in the marketplace.

Be bold and start telling the world you’re a writer. When you start believing in your talent, others will, too.

And I’ll kick it off — I believe in you already.

What’s your top career challenge in 2020, freelance writers? Let me know in the comments, and I’ll give you some quick coaching on it.

Learn how to earn more from your writing, ad banner for freelancewritersden.com


  1. Justin

    Hi Carol,
    Being a freelancer you have to stay positive and not let your negativity or the negativity of others control your outcome.

    Happy New Year!

    • Carol Tice

      You better believe it, Justin. 😉 Here’s to 2020!

  2. Jaques Cilliers

    I am keen to create mini niche websites, optimize these with killer content, and put these up for sale once they generate enough traffic and sales are made. I plan to promote my own brand to small business owners all over the world. In other words, I will be taking a direct approach.

    • Carol Tice

      Jacques… I think that was a doable strategy in about 2009… not so much now. Microniche sites with a lot of content quickly stuffed on them tend to be ignored by Google these days. It’s awfully competitive out there — how will you stand out and attract an audience? I wouldn’t be wanting to try that! Most websites never develop enough value to be sold.

      Why not skip all that and just build a freelance business, as a website developer or copywriter? If you have a few samples, you could build income quickly, and then maybe pick a single passion topic to develop into a brand? I mean, otherwise you could have years of waiting to earn your first dollar, if you see what I mean.

  3. Glenn D Eidson

    If I wake up everyday, it will be a great day. It can only go up from there. So I am going to have a great day and year thanks to the motivation provided by you.

  4. Jordon

    Hi there, this is inspiring! Especially being a 20 something I’m constantly hearing unsolicited advice from people who have “been there”… when they’re actually working a 9-5. On top of college and my weight loss… it’s all so much. Thanks for the inspiring words!

    I’m currently trying to land my first client. In the hole money wise and the stakes are up. I will pull something soon!

    • Carol Tice

      Glad you bring your b.s. meter to the Internnet, Jordon! That’ll save you a lot of wasted effort. If you’ve lost weight, congrats to you! So hard.

      To get your first client — you need samples. See if you can offer a few local businesses a pro bono project to get your portfolio together. Then, it gets easier. Once you have $25, you might want to check out my Freelance Writers Dnn community – we even have a ‘Get Your First Freelance Writing Jobs’ bootcamp!

      • Lisa H

        This is very helpful for me, too! Thank you, Carol. : )

  5. Linda Hamilton

    Thanks Carol. You reminded me of how years ago I wanted to be published in three publications and I got published in all three. Later I wanted to write an article and got it published in the tabloid I targeted. Im excited for 2020. It’s going to be my stellar year.

  6. Angela Dowdy

    As a very old school and independent freelance travel writer, I am vowing to learn more new “technology” which will hopefully include an affordable website and the ability to make the most of it.
    Also, I’ve had three articles published for NO pay, so now I need to figure out how to actually find paying sources.
    Thanks and all the best to you this 2020.

  7. Lisa Hewitt

    I’m just dipping my toe back in the writing pool after a career of doing something else, and uncertainty is killing me. So thank you for this encouraging message! You give me hope.

    • Carol Tice

      Glad I could help, Lisa! After I had my birth son, I though my brain had melted and I’d never write anything coherent again. Of course ALL my best work came AFTER that, as it turned out. 😉 You can do this!

  8. Steve

    Hey Carol, I’ve been writing radio copy for years and want to expand into other areas and of course gain more clients… where do I start??

    • Carol Tice

      Hi Steve — Wow, that’s a great background for writing video scripts (Google ‘video sales letters’ and enjoy), podcasts, or TedX speeches. Or speechwriting in general. TON of opportunity there! Not so many writers have experience writing for speaking. Believe we have a Freelance Writers Den training on that — check out the ‘community’ link up top.

      I got my start doing Feminist Analysis of the News on KPFK Los Angeles — terrific experience for writing for a living. 😉

  9. Annemarie Musawale

    my top career challenge for 2020 is to submit more short stories to magazines and get an acceptance.

    • Carol Tice

      Well, good luck with that! Getting short fiction published, especially for pay, is so challenging that I don’t really consider it part of the world of freelance writing. More like a moonshot…

  10. Diane Young

    Hey Carol, I’m dragging and in a daze…thanks for the great pep-talk. I’ve got too many irons in the fire and got overwhelmed. I see a light up ahead now. I needed to see a sign that says, “We help perfectionists make a decision.” I hate it when I can’t decide what’s the best thing to do next. It’s always complicated. Especially when it involves four articles in varying stages of creation. My perceived avenue of escape from making a wrong decision was to start a fifth article. I know, I know. I think I learned the morale of the story is to finish one thing before I start another. Happy New Year, Carol. Rock on.

    • Carol Tice

      I think this is why my coaching program has such a track record — we eliminate distractions. Each month, all students are working on ONE thing. Together. We’re not becoming Instagram influencers this week, or monetizing our blog, or reading 20 newsletters about freelancing and wondering what our top action item should be… we’re just doing one thing that’s proven effective, over my 9 years helping 14,000 writers in the De, to help one aspect of our freelance biz. And then, those building blocks add up fast.

      I personally try to finish one assignment before starting another! Hope 2020 brings you more focus, Diane.

  11. Mark Elmo Ellis

    I have a new year’s goal. To finally get through all of your Content Marketing Mastery course with Josh Boswell. I got halfway through it and started implementing it before completing it. It’s a pretty big course and I’ve been reading and taking notes using your transcripts. Man, is that a big help.

    Sometimes I like watching the video or the podcast because you guys are so positive and upbeat. And when you’re trying to build a writing business you need all the help you can get.

    Oh, while I’m on the subject of “Positive and Upbeat”…

    I used to be a news and radio talk show junkie. Several years ago I turned all that crap off. It’s so toxic, I can’t see how it would help anyone. I only watch the news when the weather reports are on…that’s it. Since I’ve done cut all that off food tastes better, the air smells sweeter, I get up and am excited to get things done. I’m serious, and not kidding about this.

    Anyway, Happy New Year and God Bless!

    • Carol Tice

      Joshua’s bootcamp is great — definitely get to the end, Mark!

  12. Lisa Cunningham

    Great advice here, Carol.

    I haven’t heard anything about a recession coming this year. Perhaps that is wishful thinking from Democrats in an election year. Ha, ha. Happy New Year!

    • Carol Tice

      Follow that link for predictions… some put our chances at 50/50.

  13. Jordon

    Is there a link to it that you can post?

    • Carol Tice

      Just click on ‘community’ up at the top of the blog. 😉

  14. Tim McKnight

    I’m going to put off procrastinating. With a website and a LinkedIn profile up, there’s not much of an excuse to get things moving forward – only a fear of success.

    • Carol Tice

      Hey – did you see what you just said, you’re going to put off procrastinating? LOL! There is NEVER an excuse to not be marketing as a freelancer — do it before your website is ‘ready,’ do it ALL the time.


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