Most freelancers relish the opportunity to work for themselves by themselves.
However, the adjustment from being an employee operating as part of a team to working entirely alone can be tough.
Don’t get me wrong; if you work with crazy people, a traditional office environment can be toxic.
Yet, there’s something about bouncing ideas with other like-minded professionals.
It’s an incredible way to inspire you to boost your business, and it forces you to consider advice you’d wouldn’t have otherwise heard.
Cue, an accountability partner.
Let’s dive into this in more detail.
So, what’s an accountability partner?
They slightly differ from all of the below:
- A coach
- A colleague
- A mentor
- A trusted friend
Yes, these people are amazing for asking questions and getting a sense of direction.
However, it’s not the same as developing a productive relationship where accountability for growing your business is the focus.
An accountability partner wants to develop similar skills to you (either as a freelance writer or as a business owner more generally).
Put simply, the point of developing this kind of relationship is to keep each other answerable for taking action. As freelancers, we all have goals, so let’s go out and reach them.
Typically, you’ll share your targets with each other and then check on one another’s progress to ensure you’re both on track.
You may go further than this, and additionally delve into:
- Conversations about marketing and productivity
- Discussing your industry more generally
- Giving and receiving feedback on each other’s work
You get the idea! The focus is on doing whatever you need to develop professionally.
Is an accountability partnership time-consuming?
Put simply, no.
Typically, accountability partners schedule a weekly meeting for around an hour.
This could either be in person or over Skype (it really doesn’t matter), just try and get in the habit of working these meetings into your regular working week.
The frequency and structure of your meetings can vary but make an effort to keep things regular.
Over time you’ll probably form a friendly, albeit professional, relationship. Perhaps you could try and meet in person once every six weeks for lunch or a drink? Use this as an opportunity to discuss a few topics you’ve decided upon in advance. This is a great way to delve deeper into these subjects with your accountability partner.
Obviously, if they’re not local to you, this isn’t always possible- but it’s certainly something worth bearing in mind!
What do we talk about?
As I’ve just alluded to, the primary objective is to go over your goals for the upcoming week. Then, you’ll take it in turns to discuss what you achieved since you last spoke to one another, as well as what you struggled with.
Finish off your session by setting targets for the following week and discuss how you intend on accomplishing your goals. The best thing to do is to share a Google Doc where you both write your aims down. This is an effortless way of keeping track of one another.
You may also want to set up a Facebook group (a private one) where you can post words of encouragement, as well as any questions you may have in between your sessions.
In addition to your weekly goals, you could also share your monthly and yearly targets in the same Google Doc. Think to yourself, ‘what do you want to achieve in X amount of time?’
At the start of the month/year, try discussing your vision in greater detail, just as you would your weekly targets, and keep each other accountable for achieving these aims.
How can I be a good accountability partner?
Honesty is truly the best policy.
It’s incredibly important to give your accountability partner positive feedback when they’ve achieved their goals, or they’ve taken the right steps to get to where they want to be.
However, it’s not your role to coddle someone who’s making excuses for themselves.
This doesn’t mean you need to be brutal.
Instead, you could say something along the lines of; ‘It doesn’t sound like you’ve had a great week. Don’t be disheartened. Just keep doing [insert what they need to do to reach their target], and you’ll get there!’
Or, something to that effect!
You need to feel comfortable encouraging one another to stick to your goals, as well as supporting your partner to go outside of their comfort zone. Say, reaching out to a more prestigious blog or, attempting a new marketing method.
What about accountability groups?
Accountability groups work too.
However, they’re usually more effective when they’re smaller, say five people or less. This ensures each person gets enough time to discuss their week and receive constructive feedback.
Does everyone in the group need to be a writer?
However, it’s usually helpful to have at least one other freelance writer in the group, and ideally, you should all be small business owners with a few things in common. That way the group dynamic ensures everyone benefits from one another’s experiences and advice.
How do I find an accountability partner?
If you like this idea of having an accountability partner, here are a few ways to find one:
1. Explore your network
Think about your professional network. Is there anyone you want to learn from, specifically? Do you know any other freelance writers in the same position as you? If so, reach out and see if they’d be interested in partnering up.
Top Tip: if you’re not 100% sure they’re a good fit, perhaps meet for coffee or have a Skype session first. This will help you gauge whether you’re compatible before committing to anything.
2. Utilize social media
Join Facebook groups dedicated to freelance writers and content strategists.
If people are asking questions there, get involved and make yourself known. Once you’ve started to build a rapport with a few users, why don’t you reach out and invite them to be your accountability partner or to form a group?
Publish a post asking whether anyone wants an accountability partner and see the response you get. You never know where that could lead!
3. Cold emailing
Is there anyone in your industry you admire? Or, a blog you follow? If so, contact them, and see if it works out. After all, you have nothing to lose and everything to gain!
If you’re unsure how to initiate a conversation, check out the template below:
‘Hi [insert their name]
I recently saw your post on X / read your article on X /started following your blog, and really resonated with [insert something you liked about their work].
I’m a content strategist, committed to growing my business and was wondering whether you’d like to be accountability partners?
From what I can tell, we’ve plenty in common, so I think we could help each other out!
This would require minimal effort on your behalf and would help us both remain focused on developing professionally and boosting our businesses.
What do you think?
I look forward to speaking to you soon,
[insert your name]’
I hope this blog post helped you realize the benefits of having an accountability partner. If you think this would benefit your business, get searching today; there’s bound to be someone who wants to partner up with you. Best of luck!