If you are, good for you – you still might find some helpful tips here.
If you’re not, you’re not alone! I can’t tell you how often I hear writers all in a scramble over the business side of their writing.
Here are some examples from my own writing career and that I’ve heard from others:
- It takes too long to track numbers.
- If I set up a business account I’ll have two accounts that take time to manage.
- I know I need a website, but I don’t know how to get it done and it probably costs an arm and a leg.
- I don’t know how to market!
- I don’t like marketing!
- You want me to make cold calls?
Part of the resistance is the recognition that the business of freelance writing will take some time. That’s true, of course, but I suspect most of that resistance is lack of knowledge and understanding about what’s really needed to run a freelance writing business well.
It turns out it may not be as difficult as you think.
You really need only 3 things for your freelance writing business
There really are only three things you need to run your freelance writing business:
- Time to write
- Ways to market your business you’ll actually do
- Ways to handle money that work for you
Put this way, it may seem more manageable… and although you can make it more complicated, there’s really no reason to.
Let’s look at each of the three:
Time to write
For this article’s purpose I’m going to assume you pretty well know how to find time to write.
Ways to market your business you’ll actually do
You’ve got to actually do the marketing you plan for it to work. Sounds obvious, but I’ve coached writers who talk a good marketing game but never, for example, get their website up. Others refuse to do cold calling or knock on doors, or to attend trade shows, or they attend shows and never follow through.
Here’s the real deal: You don’t have to do any of those things PROVIDED you do some sort of marketing – marketing you’ll actually do.
Maybe its figure out how to use Linkedin or Google + or other social media so well folks are coming to you. Maybe you love flying and you learn to sky write and you sky write your way to freelance writing success. There are a ton of ideas out there, and you can make up even more.
Figure out what you will do about marketing, then jump in with both feet. If it works, do more of it. If it doesn’t try something else.
As with so many things in writing and in life there’s no single way to do marketing, as long as it gets done.
Ways to manage your money that work for you
You don’t have to be an accountant or bookkeeper, and you don’t have to hire one although that’s an option, but you do have to find a way to manage your money. That includes:
Having money to pay yourself generously.
Ideally you’ll soon have your business working so well you can actually pay yourself a generous salary. Having this as a goal is a great idea, and making sure it happens is even better.
This has to do with tracking money, setting fees, marketing yourself and your writing and of course, getting the writing done.
Being able to invoice your clients in a timely and accurate manner
I can’t emphasize this enough, because I’m constantly surprised at how many writers say this is a problem. If you’re billing by the hour you need to track your time. Both projects and hourly totals get invoiced. You can create your own, use Paypal or a program like FreshBooks.
Having a solid health insurance policy
Although health insurance for freelancers is easier for many in the US these days, it’s not simple. I think the Freelancers Union is a great place to start. It’s actually free, and although they make their money selling insurance, they seem to provide good information. Other writer’s organization like the Author’s Guild and the National Writers Union can also help you figure out what you need.
You need savings! You need savings to be sure there is money for taxes, so you can give yourself vacation and sick time, and so you can buy and replace the equipment you need – like computers.
Savings also puts you in a strong position when it comes time to negotiate.
I’ve heard people say that savings demonstrates our faith in the future… and I’ve come to believe them. Start saving regularly, even if it’s only a little bit. Keep it up and first it will stick, then it will start to grow.
Now, doesn’t doing your freelance writing business sound easier?
For more help with freelance writing business issues sign up for my Freelance Writing Problem Solutions series.
Write well and often,