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How To Master The Freelance Writing Juggling Act

juggling freelance writingWhen I talked about the need for freelance writers to have more than one client a couple of commenters alluded to the need for freelancers to juggle their writing business. It’s true

Get clear on your goals. You need business goals so you know where you’re going. They need to be written down and assigned an accomplishment date. If they are money goals, and you need those too, the dollar (or whatever your currency is) amount of the goal gets written down along with a target date.

Work out the baby steps and track them. I find that when I break goals into small or baby steps it’s easier to get where I want to go. Sometimes the list grows for awhile, like when I take on a big project or something new. For example setting up About Writing Squared and the 5 Buck Forum seemed, for awhile, to grow exponentially. But as I check each step off I can see that I’m making progress. I’ve also found that keeping those lists is helpful for the next time I do something like that.

Put best paying work first. A better way to say this is do the best paying work when you’re the freshest and the writing is likely to be the easiest. And that may mean your own writing comes first – deciding is part of the juggling act and it will change over time. 

Do one marketing thing daily, no matter what. In theory we’re supposed to spend 25 percent of our work time or more marketing. When we’re busy that’s obviously impossible. But it is possible to do at least one thing to market yourself every day. That might simply be a tweet offering your services and pointing to your website, or leaving your business card along with a tip at a restaurant. My hunch is this sort of activity is more about staying in practice and telling the universe your goal as it were. Yes, you’ll need to do more, so set some marketing goals as well. When your time opens up you’ll already know what you need and want to do.

Start a “Long-term” list. I have way more to do than any one person can get done. I’ll bet you do too. I’ve started a long-term list of those things that I know I won’t get done this week. I look at it regularly and find that over time that stuff either gets done or I realize I don’t need to do it after all. Somehow, as long as I’m making some progress on this list I don’t mind that I can’t possibly get it all done.

Easy Does It But Do It. I’m a better writer when I take time away from the computer to get some exercise, have fun with friends and family and spend some time just staring out the window. I suspect you will be too – but you’ve got to find the time in your schedule to do these things. It’s important that you do.

How do you juggle freelance writing?

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{ 13 comments… add one }
  • Jenny Mae

    This is really helpful and I think people should be aware of this too…
    Jenny Mae recently posted..rig mat | composite matting | oilfield matsMy Profile

  • Anne – have never understood that “goal setting” approach to freelance writing.

    Sure, I can SAY “I want to make $62,000 a year.” But sometimes I have the opportunity to make $70,000 in a year. I wouldn’t sneeze at that, even though it’s not a part of my goals. Other times, I might make only $55,000. That doesn’t make me a loser!

    In addition, as a freelancer, I find that work comes in waves. Some weeks I don’t have enough hours to finish all the work, and am typing away at 6 a.m. and 10 p.m. Other weeks I have loads of time to market, polish my website, and clean the house. If I stuck with a routine, I’d be in deep trouble at both ends of the spectrum.

    In essence, my “goal” is to market and/or receive as much interesting, high paying work from reliable clients as I can, while also being present to my family and myself. Having been around the biz for a zillion years, I can also say that business and clients fluctuate, and few are steady and reliable for years on end. Thus, it’s always sensible to market, find new clients, and experiment with new directions.

    Lisa
    Lisa Jo Rudy recently posted..Projects in Process: Fall 2011My Profile

    • Lisa Jo, your take also makes sense to me. I find that goals, no matter if they are dollar amounts or statements like yours, help keep me on track.

  • Wena

    Hi…It is fun to be a freelance writer and for sure, I am understood by most of them…
    Wena recently posted..The DIY movementMy Profile

  • Anne – I agree that marketing is important, but marketing activities do not have to consist of taking time out of the day to “actively” market. I find I am in a position now where the majority of my business is coming from client referrals and those who browse my website and online portfolio. I would say that relationship management – that is to say, staying on good terms with clients, and building a solid and reliable reputation in the business – is one of the best forms of ‘marketing’ out there.
    Benjamin Hunting recently posted..Video Review – 2012 Chevrolet Cruze LT Turbo+My Profile

    • Client referrals are the best, and my website brings in a lot for me too. I still do some marketing just to keep my hand in.

  • It is definitely worth having your very own projects, while working for a client (or various clients) in the meantime. An own project (a blog, for example) might not be very lucrative, and most possibly it won’t be the most efficient way to spend your time and invest energy – at first. But when you see clients coming and going, while you can still stick to your ever growing own project, you will see that it was well worth it.

    A year from now you will wish you had started today
    Zsolt recently posted..Newly launched Xperedon to revolutionize the act of givingMy Profile

  • I count myself as a freelance writer. i do it beacause I love writing but I have more other things to prioritize.
    Adeline recently posted..Paper Wasp Nest: A Natural MasterpieceMy Profile

  • Tannya

    Well we all know that at first, it is never easy to be a freelance writer but as we go along, we get used to it…
    Tannya recently posted..Make Money by Game Testing Job At HomeMy Profile

    • Not only do we get used to it, but we enjoy it Tannya, at least I do.

  • How do I juggle freelancing? Well, some business consultants advise never placing more than 10% of your eggs in one basket. That means having lots of clients/sources of income. As a full-time freelancer working on book-length projects, that doesn’t work for me, but I still value the core of the concept.

    On the one hand, I like only having to create one or two invoices each month (not 10) and I like having secured income for a long period. However, when a project spans 10 months and commands every waking moment, it would be a minor catastrophe if the client suddenly disappeared – as has been known to happen in publishing.

    So, I try to keep a few tiny projects rolling through the larger ones. This also means that the inevitable period in which I’m waiting on a delinquent author, I have paying work to do. — Though, spending that time getting my business in order and doing some professional development is also time well spent.

    Working on your best-paying projects first is great advice.
    scieditor recently posted..Editing Strategies: ChecklistsMy Profile

    • Scieditor, sounds like you’ve got it down well.

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