If you want to make $100,000 a year as a freelancer then you must average $50/hour (assuming you work 40 hours/week and take 2 weeks of unpaid vacation a year).
$50 an hour.
That sounds doable, right?
I mean some copywriters make well over $100/hour so you should be able to manage $50, right?
You can. If you learn to take control of your time!
Learning how to invest your time wisely is one of the most important skills you can develop as a freelancer.
For example, let’s say you book a $5,000 copywriting job. If you stay focused and get it done in 50 hours then you made $100/hour, right?
If you get distracted and it takes you 25 more hours then your hourly rate just got bumped down to $66/hour. Ouch!
(Side note: the truth about freelancing is that you’re almost never doing billable work 100% of the time so you also have to factor that in too. But that’s a post for another day.)
So the big $100,000 question is, “How do you stay focused as a freelancer?”
There’s a million articles out there about “productivity hacks” and how to get get more done in less time. But I like to keep things simple because I naturally overcomplicate things as it is.
So the simplest, most helpful practice that’s allowed me to get copywriting projects done fast (and done well) is to use Focus Sessions.
What is a Focus Session?
I define a Focus Session as an uninterrupted block of time devoted to one of your most important tasks for the day followed by a short break and then your next Focus Session.
It’s also known as the Pomodoro Technique.
I’ve experimented with different lengths of time until I found the right mix. I now work for 47 minutes and then take a 13-minute break. I use an app called Brain Focus to help me with this.
During my Focus Session I go into “Monk Mode” which means I: snooze my chats, close email, quit Skype and ignore calls and texts.
It’s a time entirely devoted to doing ONE thing well.
I try to shoot for at least three a day (15 a week). It doesn’t always work out that way. For example, this week it looks like I’ll only have 13. See my calendar below:
What Type of Tasks Do You Do in a Focus Session?
It depends on what I have to get done that week. I usually have a copywriting project I’m working on so that usually requires at least 4–6 Focus Sessions a week.
Other high-level work would include coming up with marketing strategies, doing my own marketing, working on pitch decks, delivering a pitch, solving big problems, etc.
Basically it’s all the work that requires me to be at my best. This is not the time for low-energy work like checking email or renewing domain names.
Why Do they Matter?
They matter because I’ve found that it’s hard to control a whole day. I like to plan and schedule things but plans never go according to schedule 100% of the time.
There has to be some room for the unknown. I also seem to constantly forget to schedule time for little tasks that I hate doing. These all add up.
So I schedule time for these tasks after lunch, when I have low energy levels. When I think of one of these tasks I just remind myself that I’ll have time to do it after lunch.
If you want to test this out then start tomorrow! It’s simple just block off 3–4 hours and set a timer for 30, 40 or 50 minutes and FOCUS on an important task. Take a break and do it again!