Last week, I had a transformative experience, both literally and figuratively, that I realized applied to my — and your! — business. It had to do with my hair.
If you follow me on Instagram, you already know that I’ve been struggling with my hair for a few months now. I had a disasterous experience attempting to dye it blue (it was blue for about a day and a half and then turned greenish-blonde), and then trying to “fix” it back to a somewhat normal shade.
Long story short, by the time I was finished dealing with my hair, I looked like this:
My hair, which was supposed to be red, was quadruple-bleached blonde. It was absolutely fried. To the point where, when I brushed it, large chunks of it ripped out. And no amount of shampoo and conditioner could help the stringy texture. Not to mention, after nearly six years of at-home haircuts, it had no shape and my bangs had somehow disappeared entirely.
I finally decided to seek professional help.
After hours of deep conditioning treatments, a proper dye-job, and a professionally-done haircut and blowout later…
Much better, right?
But this post is about more than showing off my new ‘do. The point of my story is this:
If you don’t learn to accept help, your business could end up as fried as my hair.
Here are six things you could (should!) ask for help with as a freelance writer…
1. Get Help with Images
Before Ramiro Roman was hired to do all of the illustrations for LittleZotz Writing, I was drawing them myself. You can see my original artwork in my free e-book, LittleZotz Writing: Adventures in Freelancing.
The thing is, I’m not a professional artist. Although my art was “passable,” it didn’t look nearly as good as what I now have on my site — done by a professional illustrator.
More importantly: The time I spent drawing “passable” illustrations, was time I could have spent writing.
The same goes for you.
Even if you prefer images over illustrations, the time you spend photographing your own images is time you could spend writing. And, unless you are a professional photographer as well as a writer, your photos will likely only be “passable” anyway.
To help you out, here are some stock photo sites where you can search for images:
- Death to the Stock Photo
- New Old Stock
2. Get Help with Website Security
This was a lesson I had to learn the hard way when I was hacked in 2012. I hadn’t shelled out for proper security as I’m a bit of a miser (as evidenced by my at-home haircuts and so on) and I paid for it dearly.
Fortunately for me — and you! — Sucuri exists and can protect you from hackers and malware.
Note: If you’d like to buy Sucuri security and help support LittleZotz Writing, check out my affiliate link for it.
3. Get Help with Backing Up Your Files
Here’s another instance where you can learn from my (very recent!) mistakes. As of earlier this month, I ended up losing my entire website because I hadn’t backed up my site properly.
Fortunately, I had been backing up most of my writing (from 2013 onward) on both my laptop and two external hard drives. But my website back-ups were crud. It’s something I should have gotten outside help with.
Note: If you know of a program/service for this that’s stellar, let me know in the comments’ section! Thanks!!
4. Get Help with Your Taxes
Trying to do your taxes on your own as a freelancer can be a confusing mess. Get help. Or, at the very least, use a program like TurboTax to help you. Don’t try to do it on your own.
5. Get Help with Knowing When to Let Go
Let’s go back to my hair really quickly…
When Lida, the hairdresser, saw the back of my head, she made this evaluation: “The back cannot be saved. The back has to go.”
That’s not a decision I would have made — or been able to make — on my own. But check out how fabulous the back looks now that all the straggle-nasty bits were cut off:
I often have to have close friends help me make those decisions when it comes to my writing, and my writing business, as well.
Have someone to help you edit. You don’t necessarily know what to chop out on your own.
And have someone who will tell you honestly what you can let go of from your business.
For me, it was a horrifying experience to realize that nearly 100 articles were lost to the ether when my website wasn’t saved properly. But it was a relief to have someone whose opinion I trusted say, “Those articles weren’t your best anyway.”
What’s something about your business you would be better off without?
6. Get Help with Your Health
In 2014, I went for several months without a single day off…and then I slit my wrist.
I burned out, and then kept going. And the point past burnout isn’t pretty.
This is another instance where you can learn from my mistakes.
You are your business. You have to take care of yourself. And, if you can’t, then find someone who will.
For me, a mix of medication, therapy, and two days off per week have done wonders for my health — mental and physical.
Don’t be afraid to accept help.
The less you do by yourself, the more you can do for yourself — and your freelance writing business — in the long run. A happy, healthy freelancer means happy, well-paying clients.
You are not alone.
Happy Holidays and look for my podcast — helping writers to go freelance! — in January 2016!
Lauren Spear (née Tharp) is the owner and creator of the multiple award-winning LittleZotz Writing. She’s written hundreds of bylined posts helping freelance writers to become BETTER freelance writers. Thousands if you count all the articles she’s ghostwritten (but she’s not allowed to talk about most of those).