Do You still have the Employee Mindset?

mindsetMany freelance writers got into writing for money online because they wanted to get out of their normal ‘9-5’ type of job.  There is a lot of appeal to being your own boss, setting your own hours, and being largely responsible for your own success.  For many freelance writers, however, even if they have left a 9-5 job, they still hold on to that employee mindset that they really wanted to escape.

Freelance writers should look at themselves much more as business owners than employees, because that is what they are.  There are a number of places where many freelance writers run into trouble by continuing to act as employees, rather than owners of their own business.


When you’re working for a large company, you may want to keep yourself busy to ensure your boss doesn’t assume you’re lazy, or worse, unnecessary.  When you are a freelance writer, however, there is no need to ever engage in busywork.  Unfortunately, this is a hard habit to get away from.  Whenever you’re engaging in any activity for your freelance writing business, always ask yourself if it is really providing value to your business.  If it’s not, eliminate it!   There is always something you can be doing to benefit your business, so don’t waste your time with busy work!

Set Your Own Hours

Another common mistake many freelance writers make is forcing themselves to work a set number of hours, or a set time during the day.  When you work in a corporate environment, you typically have to be in the office about 8 hours per day, 5 days per week.  That is not a requirement for freelancers.  If you can get your work done in 4 hours, you can stop working and enjoy the reset of the day off.  Of course, there will also be days when you are working 18-20 hours at a time.  The important thing here is to set hours based on what your business needs, not what the clock says.  In most cases, this will also help you to remain more productive each day too, since you will be working to accomplish certain things, not just to meet a set number of hours.

Working in the Office

Just like the hours of the day you’re working, you might feel like you need to be at your desk the entire time you’re working.  Freelance writers can take their work with them anywhere, which is one of the big benefits.  If your life permits it, you can travel to Florida and stay in a hotel for a week on a family vacation, without putting your business on hold.  You can also go down to the local coffee shop or anywhere else to get a change of scenery.  As long as you can bring your laptop, or even just a note pad, you can get the work done from where ever you want.

Financial Planning

While working a 9-5 job has a lot of things you’ll be happy to leave behind, it also has some nice benefits.  For most people, getting a paycheck on a very consistent basis makes financial planning a lot easier.  With freelance writing, however, you’re likely to go through a lot of ‘booms’ and ‘busts’ financially.  Since you’re now a business owner rather than an employee, you need to plan for your financial situation at all times.  When you’re bringing in a lot of money, you need to set some aside for later when you’re struggling.  In addition, you’re responsible for paying your own taxes and other things that your business would normally take care of for you.

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  1. says

    One of my main problems working from home is distraction. There is always something to do, places to go, or things that sidetrack me from accomplishing what I’ve listed on my to-do list. Busywork and setting my own hours are two major problems, and are actually a part of the distraction from work. Always something more interesting and fun than sitting down and getting to work. Good post!
    Edie Dykeman recently posted…No RegretMy Profile

  2. says

    Thanks for this post! One way I try to stay away from busywork is to have a set goal in mind every time I sit down to “work”. As soon as I’m done I try to get up and work on something else, mark in my spreadsheet that I am done, or move on to the next assignment. Of course, this doesn’t always work. Sometimes I get distracted by reading blogs, at least your site is a fun and helpful distraction!
    Thanks for the tips.
    AJ Everton recently posted…The Power Strip that Makes SenseMy Profile

  3. says

    Hi Michael,

    You make some great points in this post and I suppose many new freelancers do stay stuck in the employee mindset when embarking upon their entrepreneurial journey. I especially like how you point out that you don’t have to stay tethered to your desktop in your home office. I love my huge iMac desktop, but often just need a change of scenery, so I’ll take my laptop to the local Starbucks and work from there. In the summer, I take the kids to the pool and work poolside on the laptop (with lots of sunblock and under a sunbrella, of course).

    One of the great things about starting your own business is getting free from the shackles of the traditional office. And busywork? Who needs it! Nuff said on that topic. Just say no to busywork.

    I like that you emphasize the importance of financial planning. This is critical for any entrepreneur. You’ve got to have a plan in place for whatever may come along — both good and bad.

    Thanks for shedding new light on this common issue for new entrepreneurs.
    Samantha Gluck recently posted…Self Promotion – Does It Have to Feel Smarmy?My Profile

    • says

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting! I’ve taken my laptop to the pool quite a few times as well, it is really great! I’m not quite as productive as I would be at my desk, but I’m enjoying myself A LOT more! Plus it is great for the kids!


  4. says

    Great article Michael. For me the biggest challenge when switching from a corporate job to freelancing was changing from an hours based to value based mindset and working style.

    • says

      Yes! This can be very difficult, but once you do it, it can be very rewarding. I love the fact that if/when I need more money, all I have to do is work a little harder/smarter and the money is there. Unlike a 9-5 where I am at the mercy of the employer.


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