Diana Kelly Levey

What Can Freelancers Do with 15 Minutes?

african american women chatting with laptops

September 8, 2018

You might have sent a ton of pitches to editors recently and been twiddling your thumbs waiting for them to respond during a summer slowdown. While this can feel nerve-racking, you take advantage of 15-minute breaks in your calendar to boost your business.

Time is a commodity that’s precious to all of us, but freelancers in particular can feel the “time is money” worries daily, as can anyone who owns a business I’d venture to guess. That’s why I took 15 minutes during this busy week to refresh this blog post from last year, in case you didn’t read it then.

When I was first getting started with freelance writing, if I wasn’t writing articles, interviewing a source, or getting story assignments from editors, it felt like I was losing money or wasn’t being a productive freelancer. But, what I’ve come to learn is that I need to set aside time weekly to grow my business through different avenues, particularly interacting with editors, brands, sharing on social media, and building relationships.

(Check out this post where freelancers share their number-one success tip.)

You might say “I don’t have 15 minutes to spare daily,” but I challenge you to try any of these tactics at least once a day for a week. It’ll help sustain you when you’ve turned in all of your freelance writing assignments and don’t have additional work on the horizon. (Those quieter times tend to be when freelancers beef up their marketing, connecting and social media strategizing.)

How to Find 15 Minutes in Your Schedule

  • Check email less frequently
  • Take a 15- to 20-minute break after turning in an assignment
  • Wake up 15 minutes earlier
  • Do one of these freelance writing business tasks while dinner is cooking
  • Set a timer on your phone or computer or phone (I use e.ggtimer.com) and then give yourself permission to take on one of these tasks.

Boost Your Freelance Business in 15 Minutes or Less

• Schedule social media posts for the next day, two, or week.
• Find new writers to follow on Twitter or join a writers’ Facebook group
• Look back to the editors you worked with a few months ago or last year and reach out to say hello, see how their summers are going, and ask if there are any content needs you can address. I just did this and landed a $400 assignment. (Learn how to find any editor’s name and email address.)
• Update your website. I did this after coming back from vacation one time. It took me about 40 minutes to change some images and update links but changing the top navigation of my homepage and manipulating dates on content freshened up my portfolio page.
• Find new connections on LinkedIn and connect with them.
• Take another few minutes and endorse friends, colleagues, editors, and associates for skills on LinkedIn.
• Add an article to your site or a portfolio you have on another site.
•Update a portfolio on a content marketing writing site, like Contently, ClearVoice, or Skyword
•”Pin” some of your recent articles on Pinterest.
• Share your latest published articles with the sources you interviewed.
• Scan published print articles into PDFs for future sharing with sources and upload them to your site.
• See which hashtags are trending on Twitter and Instagram and see if you have an article or post that could include that tag.
• Read an article that’s in your “to read later” folder.
• Update your expenses and tax write off documents if you keep track of them throughout the year. (I do in an Excel doc and find this helps!)
Share an article from another site, writer, or news outlet that you admire in social media and tag them.
• Read the message threads on one of your Facebook Group pages to see what’s trending, discussions people are having, and if there’s a solution you can offer to a user who posted a question.
• If you’re a fast writer who can knock out a blog post quickly, you might be able to publish one in 15 to 20 minutes. (I’m not that fast yet.)
• Take care of some of the business side of freelancing if you don’t have a set time for that, like following up on pitches, invoices, articles sent to an editor, and paying bills. (Some freelancers find it helpful to block out a set time for these things weekly, or use an accounting program that tracks invoices like Quickbooks.)
• Watch a YouTube video, TED Talk, or listen to a podcast of someone who’s an expert in your industry or someone has valuable entrepreneurial information.
• Send a quick pitch to an editor you’ve already worked with and have a good relationship with. You can probably have a more casual tone in the email and get a feel for if they are into something you’re kicking around in your head as a story idea. (Here’s how to come up with story ideas.)

What do you do to keep you business momentum going and growing, even when you’re super busy?

Need a work break? Here are 23 things freelancers can do to reduce stress on a break.

If you like this blog post, share it on social or forward to a friend. Want more freelance writing advice like this? Enroll in my Freelance Writing ecourse on Teachable.

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