5 Easy Things All New Freelancers Should Do BEFORE They Start

By Sean Ogle •  Updated: 04/11/23 •  9 min read

January 1st is an arbitrary date. 

For some, it’s an easy time to start fresh with a clean slate to make massive changes in your life. But you can start at any time of year, especially for new freelancers. After all, you don’t start every new adventure on the first of the year, right?

Regardless of what time of year it is, I want to give you five actions to kick off your freelancing business to make it a success.

So whether it’s your first year freelancing, growing a blog, or trying to make passive income, you can succeed…

…if you do these five things.

Interested? Let’s check them out.

And if you prefer to watch the video, here you go:

Every year, I focus on a handful of things to help me start fresh. And, after the last few years, we all need that. 

1. Get Yourself a Second Brain

No, not in your head — there’s already enough going on there. 

We need to get a second brain to serve as our dumping ground where we can put everything so that we know it is all in one place. Over the years, I’ve had a couple of different ways of doing this. 

First, I used Asana, which is a great tool. 

But what tool you use doesn’t matter. It’s about having a place where you can easily open, drop ideas, and organize them. 

Lately, I’ve been more and more of a fan of Notion. Yes, it’s a little intimidating to start in there, but once you play around a bit, you can do a ton of stuff:

For example, I’ve got my cocktail recipes in a database in Notion. So when I want to write up a post for Slightly Pretentious, it’s there. 

Having a second brain frees up a lot of mental space and helps you get more organized and efficient.

If you want to become a better writer in 2023 and take action on everything you say you’re going to do, start with a second brain.

2. Ask Your Why

I don’t want to get too woo-woo on you, but it’s important. 

You need to know your why.

And do you know what people’s answer is most of the time?

“Oh, I never really thought about it. I’m not happy doing what I’m doing. So it seemed like the right thing to do.”

Sure, that’s a start. But knowing the why behind why you want to do something is the most crucial part. 

Here’s why: Things will feel great when you’re getting started (new freelancers know this feeling). But then you get past the honeymoon phase.

Suddenly, you’re in it. Things are going wrong, you’re unsure how to move forward, and you may want to give up.

Knowing your why will help you navigate this and get to the other side. 

But if you don’t have a strong enough why and don’t focus on what that is, you’re not going to have the motivation to get through the crappy parts. 

So between now and the end of the year, take 20 minutes and think about your why. Write it down and put it in big, bold letters on your desk or your screen background. 

It doesn’t matter what your why is. But knowing it helps you re-focus when things get rough.

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3. Create More Actionable Goals

Before we do our Anniversary and New Year’s sales for Location Rebel Academy, I’ll send out an email and ask what is the biggest thing you want to change in the next year. 

And most of the answers I get have something to do with things people don’t have any control over like I want to make $5k a month freelance writing.

That’s a great goal, but you don’t directly control that, so you need to create actionable goals you can control. 

I call this the Milestone Mindset.

Here’s how it works. 

You want to quit your job and make $5k a month. But, while you can leave your job tomorrow (not recommended), the odds of getting a client to pay you $5k tomorrow are small. 

So, what actionable goals do you need to take along the way to make that happen?

Now, we’re talking. 

All these smaller goals are super actionable. You can directly answer yes or no if you’ve done them. 

And they help you get some wins along the way.

If you’re only focusing on that $5k, you’ll spend a lot of time feeling frustrated and defeated because you’re failing at that goal.

But, if you create dozens of smaller milestones, you can get some wins, build momentum, and make progress. You can go far in a year. It’s all about taking many small steps along the way.

4. Practice Extreme Accountability

One of the biggest reasons so many people fail is that they don’t have anyone holding them accountable. 

More people are working remotely than ever, and more are making a living online. But making money online is still something that not many people understand. Your parents, friends, or significant others may not ‘get it.’

So, you need to find someone who does and partner up with them for accountability. Get a partner trying to do the same thing you are — starting freelance writing or building a blog — and lean on each other. Share your wins and fears. 

Then, create a system where you can stay in touch each week, update them on your progress and struggles, and bounce ideas off each other. 

A mastermind group where you get on weekly calls is one way to do it. Another simple but effective method is to get one or two other people and email each other.

That takes about 10 minutes a week. But, it helps you think, ‘I’ve got to do this. Otherwise, I’m going to let my accountability buddy down.’ For a lot of people, that’s great motivation.

If you don’t have that person in your life, there are plenty of ways to find those groups online. For instance, in LRA, our community has people looking for that type of relationship, but you don’t need to join to form your group.

5. Start a Daily Writing Habit

The last thing I would do as we move through the year is to build a writing habit. Writing every day is the best practice I’ve ever adopted.

I wouldn’t be where I am today if it weren’t for my daily writing habit.

When I write, the business thrives. And when things fall into a slump, or I get frustrated, I’m not writing very much.

Everything I do comes back to writing. 

Everything I’ve done over the last decade-plus to make a living has come back to writing. 

So if you haven’t been writing a lot, or if you don’t consider yourself a great writer, start writing now every single day. 

And don’t pick a huge number to start. Milestone Mindset, remember?

Start with a number you know you can do and build up. If that’s 50 or 200 words, it doesn’t matter. Or, try setting a timer instead. Write for two or five minutes, and then work your way up.

Once you start writing, it won’t be long before (most days, at least) you fly past that number you set and start writing more. 

The more you write, the better you’ll get at it, and the more opportunities will come your way. It’s one of the single best things you can start. 

But if you’re trying to figure out what is the one step I can take? What’s the one actionable thing I can start doing today that will have the biggest impact on my next year?

It’s writing every single day. That’s it. I genuinely believe it. 

Start Right Now. No really. Now. RIGHT NOW.

If you do these five things to prepare for the rest of the year, you’re setting yourself up to be successful, make the changes you want to make, have a thriving business, and have a happier life.

And in the end, all of this it’s so that we can be happier and more fulfilled doing the things we want to do to earn a living. So we can have more free time to do the things we love to do with being with the people we love. 

That’s what this is all about, at least for me and probably for you too. So let’s do it!

Sean Ogle

Sean Ogle is the Founder of Location Rebel where he has spent the last 12+ years teaching people how to build online businesses that give them the freedom to do more of the things they like to do in life. When he's not in the coffee shops of Portland, or the beaches of Bali, he's probably sneaking into some other high-class establishment where he most certainly doesn't belong.
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