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Improving Freelance Writing Job Performance

Improvement for Freelance WritersBy Lori Widmer

Last time we talked about the freelancer’s performance review. If you haven’t evaluated your performance, take a few minutes now and be honest in how you’re performing.

Now that you understand your strengths and more importantly, your weaknesses, what do you do next? My advice – rechannel some of the energy you spend doing those things you love or are good at into the weaker areas of your performance.

Bolstering Your Performance

For instance, you write terrific query letters and emails. But suppose you’re weak at editing. Chances are you’re going to get inquiries to do some editing. What can you do? You can refer it to an editor friend or you can learn some basic editing skills that will allow you to take on a few more projects.

I’m not saying everyone is born to editing or can learn it. But you can study up on a few editing techniques, read some style manuals, and get a better grasp on grammar. This improves not only your own work, but increases your ability to take on proofreading jobs or small editing jobs.

Go Beyond Your Comfort Zone

I know a friend who is terrific at phone conversations. She can schmooze with the best of them. But ask her to connect with people on Twitter or LinkedIn and she freezes. She can’t transfer the face-to-face conversation to electronic media. It’s a real hindrance for her as she has few books out and is having difficulty getting word out. If she were to start a blog –which you remember started as online journals – and pretend she’s talking over the phone to her best writing friend, she could increase her online presence, increase awareness of her books, and gain more customers, as many an author has done. Instead, she struggles with trying to get the attention of media outlets.

My advice to her is this – learn one social media tool. One. Take your time with it and watch how others are using it. Read a little about the expected etiquette. Look at the people you follow or link to closely – why do you follow them? What about their interactions appeals to you? Mimic that.  Keep it professional, but add a friendly tone to everything. Social media has a more relaxed tone than phone, email, or written communication. Adopt the same tone in your interactions.

Reduce Time Sinks

I’ll admit it – I’m addicted to Bejeweled Blitz. It replaced my Yahoo! home page news addiction. But I use it as a reward for finishing a project. If I’m working all morning on something, I won’t go near it until I’ve completed that project. Then I allow myself fifteen minutes. And I stick to that.

In fact, you could reduce threats to your time by looking at how you deal with phone calls, emails, or even your Internet home page. I mentioned Yahoo! I used to have Yahoo! as my home page until I realized I would open my browser for a search and ten minutes later in the middle of a news story, I’d forget what I was searching for in the first place. I switched to a blank Google page. The time I saved was significant.


Other ways to save time – check email less frequently or turn off automatic email notifications. My new Outlook program pops up a less invasive email notification that I don’t have to acknowledge (Outlook 2003 required that I say “Yes” or “No” to opening the new mail). It’s helped keep me on task and has reduced the amount of time I spend jumping from project to project as the emails come in.

What are your performance weaknesses? How do you plan to improve those areas?

Lori Widmer blogs at Words on the Page. You can learn more about her at her business site, and if you want to follow her on twitter it’s: http://twitter.com/LoriWidmer

Two newsletters:
Abundant Freelance Writing – a resource for freelance writers including 3x a week job postings.
Writing With Vision – for those who want to get a book written.

Image from http://www.sxc.hu

{ 1 comment… add one }
  • Focus, focus, focus. I don’t know if it’s just attention deficit disorder or what, but I am easily distracted. My biggest challenge. I have done a few things to help that.

    #1-I turn off my phone in the early a.m. (my most productive writing time) so calls go to Voice Mail.

    #2-I don’t know where I read it, but there was a time management tip for sticking to what you’re doing (usually writing) for 50 minutes, then take a 10-minute break to do whatever. I find if I push for hours on writing, my writing suffers, I suffer & I am more likely to go waste too much time when I do come up for air.

    #3-This is a new experiment – until I earn enough to outsource some of my administrative stuff, this is a huge time hog. I am experimenting with leaving that to Fridays, which tends to be a slow day for my customers. So far, it seems more productive than trying to do it throughout the week.

    I’m open to any & all suggestions–oops my 10-minute break is up–see ya’ 🙂
    .-= Cathy Miller´s last blog ..Is Ghost Blogging Unethical? =-.

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