by Lori Widmer
Sometimes running a writing business feels like a marathon. In a way, it is. But smart writers and editors can keep the pace by adopting smarter work habits. These are things successful freelancers have learned to do and things you can do to improve your career and your business.
Keep it up. Putting efforts into your career is an ongoing thing. Consider your career like a prized orchid. Tend it. Find the right work, ask for the job, and don’t allow outside influences to distract you from the goal.
Remember to market. It’s so easy to forget to look for work. Clients have goldfish memories – eight seconds after your last communication, they moved on to something else. They can’t hire you if they don’t remember to. Remind them. Regularly.
Market when you’re busiest. There’s the secret. The feast you’re experiencing today can quickly become famine when all those projects are completed. Instead of panicking, spend five minutes each day finding new work opportunities or connecting with existing clients. You’ll avoid that lull in work and income we fear most.
Plan ahead. If you’ve been freelancing for over a year, you’ve experienced slow periods. For me, it’s July and December. That’s when savings accounts need to be fully padded. Plan for the slow periods by working harder three months prior to your expected slowdowns. Also, market season-specific ideas to help bolster your income and possibly alleviate any slow period. Turn your attention to markets that always need work – magazines, online pubs, and anything with a monthly list of requirements.
Chase the invoices. Rare is the client who waits longer than three months to pay me. That’s because I have an aggressive invoicing system I apply to every client. Thirty days out, there’s a late fee. Sixty days out, another. Ninety days out, the final late fee and the litigation notice. I’ve yet to go unpaid. No writer should wait longer than 30 days to be paid, and never longer than 90 to resolve it. Establish a payment and collection system now and make sure you practice it religiously.
Walk away from clients and work that don’t fit. I don’t care if it’s your first day freelancing – some jobs are not worth having. Don’t think the low-paying job you take today that grossly undervalues your skills will be a springboard to anything more than the shallow end of the pool. If pays less than minimum wage, it’s not worth it. Likewise clients whose projects or personalities don’t fit. If it feels wrong, say no thank you. Trust your gut.
How are you working smarter these days?
Image from http://www.sxc.hu