Freelance writer business problems!
I can’t tell you how many writers over the years have been surprised to realize that, assuming they want to make money and even earn a living, they are in business for themselves.
They usually discover this when they run one or another of the top freelance writer business problems – problems we all need to solve.
I know how surprising it can be, because back in the day, I was surprised too. I don’t know why, maybe it was because I had some misty eyed dream that I’d get to write and somehow my work would be published and the money would magically appear.
As you probably already know, it doesn’t happen that way – and even when it seems to, like those ‘instant’ successes like JK Rowling who seem to come out of nowhere, the real story is quite different. In fact, according to a TED talk as reported in Wikipedia, ‘Seven years after graduating from university, Rowling saw herself as “the biggest failure I knew.”‘
But I drift.
Generally, freelance writer business problems fall into these eight areas:
Finding freelance writing jobs
Some of us are lucky enough to move from a fulltime freelance writing job to being out on our own knowing we’ll have work from our previous employer. Usually, however, we need to find writing gigs on our own. In most cases this this becomes freelance writing business problem number 1. Working job lists is one approach, so are email queries, making cold calls, getting referrals, working linkedIN groups and more.
Of course, finding writing jobs is one thing, actually getting hired is a true freelance writing business problem. Over time, I’ve come to the conclusion that the only way you’ll get hired is if you focus on how you can solve the prospective employer’s problem. If you convince them you can solve their writing problem, chances are they will hire you. Sure, there are other tips and tricks, like following instructions, but even those come down to finding a way you can solve the problem.
Like most writers I know, early in my writing career I was stiffed by a client… heck, maybe two. It happens, but it doesn’t have to be that way. The secret is in getting the agreement between you and your client in writing. It doesn’t have to be some complicated, hard to understand document (and no, I’m not a lawyer, but speaking only from my own experience now). It can be an email, or even scratched on the back of a napkin although I don’t recommend that. Get it in writing so you both understand what you’re doing and so, if there’s a problem with pay or anything else you can refer back to the agreement.
Getting paid enough
Talking about the rates you should be paid for your writing is sort of like talking about the height of the sky or the length of a piece of string – it depends. I did a series on rate setting, which is a good place to start. Jenn Mattern at AllIndieWriters has a free calculator that will help you set your hourly rate.
Earning a living with freelance writing
Once you begin to get the hang of finding gigs, setting your price and writing agreements, you’re in a position to begin earning a living with your freelance writing. It takes discipline and persistence in both the writing and the running of your business.
If you ever find yourself in a group of freelance writers, and I hope you do, eventually talk will turn to marketing, usually with lots of whines and complaints. But marketing is a learnable skill – and one you must take on if you’re to be successful.
I like to think of marketing as giving me the opportunity to be of service to the right clients… from that point of view it’s almost easy.
You and your money
Money is a huge part of many freelance writer business problems. Many writers say they don’t feel right even thinking about it, or that they are afraid of the whole subject. Regardless, money is part of how our society works.
You’re not alone. Learning to handle your money well is also a learnable skill. It doesn’t matter if you’re talking to clients about money, setting up savings, or dealing with income and expenses, money is important and deserves some of your time and attention.
Finding time for writing, your family, your friends and you
Writing full time means a different sort of working schedule than a regular job. Finding time to write full time or part time requires some serious scheduling. You also need to find time for your family, your friends, and of course, for you. It’s a balancing act – and it can all be done.
Does this match your experience? What freelance writing problems have I left out?
If you’d like more help with these issues, sign up for my Freelance Writing Problem Solutions series.
Write well, and often,