Freelancing By Francesca Nicasio Struggling to increase your income? Maybe the clutter in your life prevents you from seeing and grabbing the lucrative opportunities around you. I encourage you to put on your spring cleaning cap, and spruce up your writing business. Because, believe it or not, cleaning can help you boost your income. This isn’t just about tidying up a room and finding spare change under the cushions. I’m talking about significantly increasing your revenue by removing physical, psychological, and professional blocks from your writing business. Just as spring cleaning your house brightens up your environment and makes room for better stuff, cleaning up your writing business will allow you to make room for better clients and more revenue. Here are seven ways to help you accomplish it. #1. De-clutter to make inspiration and income flow A disorganized workspace doesn’t just make it harder for you to find that pen or style book, it also makes it more difficult to find the ideas and thoughts you need. A cluttered environment hinders your focus, creativity, and motivation. Clean it up to ensure your workspace is conducive to inspiration and productivity. De-clutter your desk, your office, your patio – wherever you do your writing. Put away things that distract such as bills, old post-its, and supplies you don’t need. Also consider clearing your inbox by deleting and unsubscribing from unnecessary newsletters. Got more time? De-clutter your phone by deleting apps you don’t need. All these steps lead to a cleaner working environment – one that lets you focus better, be more creative, and get more work done. When clients see how quickly and well you respond, they’ll be more inclined to work with you and pay top dollar for your services. #2. Sort mental clutter Nothing curbs effective writing more than a cluttered mind. Organize your thoughts by writing outlines for your articles. This creates a structure for your post or story, making it easier to flesh out the piece. Another way to organize your thoughts is through mind-mapping. Use a tool like Magical Pad or bubbl.us to create a visual representation of your thoughts. Organizing your thoughts will make it easier to finish projects. You’ll increase your hourly rate, and you can use the extra time to find more opportunities. #3. Write tight Embrace brevity when writing. Get straight to the point. Doing so will lead to better content and higher rates. Here are a few suggestions: – Nix unnecessary adverbs. While adverbs can sometimes enhance your writing, for the most part, they’ll only clutter up your work. As Mary Jaksch puts it, you’re better off shooting adverbs on sight. Hit “Ctrl+F” on your document to find words ending in ly and delete the ones that fail the redundancy test (e.g. “smiled happily,” or “ran quickly”). – Keep your sentences short. Short, snappy sentences pack more punch. They get your point across faster, and make it easier for readers to follow your writing. – Shrink your writing. Replace two- or three-word phrases with just one word. For example, the phrase get rid of can be replaced by eliminate, nix, or delete, depending on what you mean to say. – Break up your paragraphs. Walls of text look intimidating and turn readers away. A good rule of thumb is to keep paragraphs under five lines. This makes them easier to read and digest. Make sure each paragraph communicates only one idea. If you apply these principles to your work, your writing will be more effective. That’s something clients gladly pay for! #4. Recognize that less is more (niche-wise) While I do see the value in being a generalist who can write about anything under the sun, I’ve found that expert writers work faster and command higher rates. Consider specializing in a handful of topics, instead of becoming a jack-of-all-trades. If you already know a lot about a particular topic, you can decrease your research time and produce articles much quicker, thus increasing your hourly rate. Another benefit of specialization is that it’s easier to generate ideas if you have in-depth knowledge of specific topics. Finally, specialization will help you build a stronger portfolio. All these factors make you more valuable to clients, making it easier to charge higher rates. #5. Say goodbye to problem clients Do you have nightmare clients that are costing you time (and money)? Consider firing them to make room for better ones. I once had a client who haggled on price all the time. She wasn’t the easiest person to work with either, and I ended up spending more time and effort on her projects compared to those of my better, higher-paying clients. Parting ways with her was one of the best decisions I made. It freed up my time and allowed me to find more lucrative gigs. I was also able to eliminate a ton of stress which, in turn, improved my overall well-being… and the quality of my work. #6. Free yourself from negative beliefs Your thoughts and beliefs influence your actions, and your actions influence your results. Address this by becoming more mindful of what’s running through your head. Clean up your belief system. Throw out limiting words or thoughts like “I can’t do it” and “I can’t earn that much” to make room for more positive beliefs. Instead of bemoaning what you can’t afford, think of how you’ll be able to afford what you want. The “can’t” belief is limiting and makes you feel sorry for yourself, whereas “how” empowers you, pushing you to come up with ways to earn more. You may come up with more article ideas to pitch to publications, or marketing strategies to bring in better-paying clients. Remember, if you think you can’t, then you probably won’t. So sweep away limiting thoughts and replace them with empowering ones. Doing so will open up your mind (and wallet) to greater things. #7. Spruce up your network You’ll find better opportunities by spending time with positive, thriving individuals. Successful people can share tons of advice on working smarter and earning more. You can learn a lot by hanging out with them. You might even find your next lucrative project, partnership, or client around them. That’s more than we can say for negative people. Think about it. When was the last time you scored leads or great advice from whiners and naysayers? From here on out, make a conscious effort to surround yourself with optimistic people. You can do this by joining mastermind groups, finding mentors, and networking with successful individuals. Improving your writing business isn’t just about charging on and moving forward. Sometimes, you need to stop, look around, and unload the unnecessary stuff that you’ve acquired along the way. This season, take the time to do just that. De-clutter your physical, mental, and professional environment. I promise you, you’ll end up feeling productive, refreshed, and empowered. And find better clients. And command higher rates. Got any other spring cleaning advice for writers? Share them in the comments below.