Life Hacks for the Aspiring Self-Employed Writer Motivate / Startups

Guest post by Catherine Heath

As Forj Marketing founder, Sharni-Marie, has already explained in another amazing blog post, many people are already aware that the key to successful self-employment is to develop a habit of healthy self-discipline.

This is true, but since many people associate self-discipline with self-denial, I want to explore what this actually means. While self-discipline and self-denial are linked, they’re not the same thing.

Having self-discipline means you need to put positive systems in place in your life that will give you the best chances of success. You can still have fun and indulge yourself, but the systems will be there to pull you back into productivity when you need it.

I focused on developing myself before I went out there as a freelance writer, because you need to feel strong and confident when you become self-employed. How you feel inside will be reflected in the work you do on the outside.

I want to share some practical strategies that I use to help you improve your chances of success in becoming self-employed.

1. Put helpful systems in place

Don’t underestimate the power of the system for multiplying your chances of success. Systems do what the human mind cannot accomplish alone, because they repeat themselves automatically, even when you get busy.

For example, have a system where you always input a new job into your work schedule spreadsheet. This is basically a rule that you never break, and it is part of the client workflow system so you will never forget a job. The discipline comes in sticking to this system.

Or, even have dedicated time each evening or week that you use to exercise. By treating certain times as sacred for yourself, rather than giving in to the impulses of each moment, you will be teaching your mind to become disciplined.

2. Have role models

There will always be people out there who seem far better than you, and you can use them as role models aspire to. Remember, everyone had to start somewhere.

If there’s someone you already admire, make sure you follow their blog or even reach out to them in person. People are often more than happy to lend their expertise. Otherwise, just keep an eye out for role models to follow.

If you have role models to whom you speak regularly, they can also hold you accountable, and encourage you during tough times.

3. Set boundaries

You’ll be more successful as a self-employed writer if you have strong personal boundaries. This means not taking it personally if you think someone has treated you badly, or knowing yourself well enough to be able to tell when you should say no to a job.

The way to develop stronger boundaries is by thinking about scenarios in advance and deciding how you would choose to act.

Of course, we can’t prepare for all possibilities and if something bad happens, try to use it as a lesson for what to do next time.

4. Plan for the conscious mind, flow for the unconscious mind

The reason there’s so much conflicting advice out there about how to foster your creativity is because you have two levels to your mind.

One the one hand, you’ve got your conscious mind, which we use to make decisions and follow processes we have set for ourselves. This is healthy, and ensures we can work towards long-term goals. Use your conscious mind to plan, set goals and review your progress.

On the other hand, your unconscious mind is what you’re using when you’re in that state of flow, when everything is coming naturally and you feel super productive.

Use your conscious mind to purposefully engineer those states where you feel in flow – rather than trying to force things all the time – and your results will vastly improve.

Being in flow will be different for everyone, but some activities that inspire this state for me are: having really hot baths, walking outside in nature, or attending female-focused networking events.

5. Build your community

Self-employed writers can often be the shy type, and I’m no different. But you will be a lot happier and flourish much more quickly if you build a supportive community around you.

This can be anyone from beginners in your field whom you could mentor, to experienced professionals who can give you their advice when you need it.

When you connect with people in the real world, it brings your dream to life much more than if you were to stay hidden in your room with your laptop.

Attend as many business events as you can, or join online business groups if you prefer. Don’t limit yourself to people who are similar professionally to you, because you never know where your next opportunity could come from.

Now what?

Going out to work on your own is not for the faint-hearted. It’s liberating and exciting, but requires relentless hard work to get going.

I’ve shared these tips in the hope that you can use them to help structure your self-employment and improve your chances of success.

Catherine has a thing for psychology, diversity, tech and startups​, and is learning to code. She gives valuable insight into the women in tech scene on her website, Away With Words, and shares tips for success and self-development. Connect with Catherine on Twitter or LinkedIn.


  1. It’s definitely a tie for me between Systems and Community. The process to develop yourself before stepping into the freelance life takes time and preparation to get into the right mindset.

  2. Great post and I like what you mentioned about systems, I would go one step further and look towards having “order”. What I mean by this is having various things in place in an ordered way (even down to where you place your cup of coffee), this helps you not think about the mundane (or rethink about these tasks) and rather your mind can focus on the profound and important stuff.

  3. This is a really timely post for me! Thanks for sharing 🙂

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