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When You Can’t Write Because of a Bad Mood

bad moodCan you write when you’re suddenly in a bad mood?  While I can force myself to get a few words on the page, it’s way harder than it needs to be and I know I’ll have to rewrite everything. It’s tempting to quit and go to bed and eat cookies for the rest of the day.

Over time, I’ve come to realize that I’m the one responsible for all my emotions, good, bad, and indifferent. Sometimes I wish I didn’t know this and would rather blame you, someone else, or something else. But a truth is I can change whatever emotions I’m feeling right now into some other emotion if I’m willing.

In other words, it is possible to change your bad mode into if not a good mood, to something more up tone that will let you not only write but get on with the rest of your life in a positive way.

That includes moving from happy to sad as well as the other way around. Here are some of the things I’ve learned along the way.

Emotions are often a habit

How I feel is often habit. That is, I’m likely to have a certain reaction to almost any event that causes me to feel anger, boredom, love, joy, etc. For example, I’ve deliberately formed the habit of smiling at babies and letting that lighten whatever mood I’m experiencing. But many of my feelings are the result of unconscious habits.


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Let’s Talk About Invoicing Again

invoicingInvoicing seems to baffle more than a few freelance writers. I know because I get questions. Not only that, my article Sample Invoice for Writing & Editing Work continues to get a high number of visits every week even though it was written ages ago.

My hunch is it’s not the mechanics about invoicing or even setting up a reliable process for making sure it’s done on a regular basis that’s the problem. Both of those invoicing procedures are important in running your freelance writing business or any freelance business.

No, I think something else is going on about invoicing

When freelance writers have trouble invoicing I strongly suspect it’s because they have money issues. These issues tend to fall into three areas:


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flat feeIf you follow this blog you may realize I love flat fees.

Like so many things in life, flat fees do have some potential problems.

The biggest, in my opinion, is that you may end up charging your client less, sometimes significantly less than you would have if you were charging them by the hour.

This came up in a comment to the article 4 Reasons Freelance Writers Should Always Insist on a Deposit, when Claudia, whom I know to be a dynamite editor,  said “… The difficulty comes from not being certain, even though I have established decent measures of how many pages per hour, for instance, how much work and time I’ll actually expend, because the manuscript given me to edit is still incomplete.”


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7 Questions to Help Your Client Know What They Want

 know what they wantDo most of your writing clients really know what they want? Of course, mileage will vary. If you’re working with managers who often hire freelance writers, the chances are those clients really know what they want.

On the other hand, someone who has worked with few or no freelance writers often has lots of misunderstanding s.

For example, those who want books ghostwritten are classic for not knowing what they want. They know they want a book, but they have little idea how a book actually goes together and what’s actually required in terms of time and effort. The same is true of the executive of a small business who suddenly decides she wants a blog. Unrealistic expectations abound. They are sure they can get rich or increase their sales with ease.

Vague assumptions are perhaps the first clue they have no idea how to define or spec a writing job. They think they do, but because they don’t understand how writing actually gets done or what the writer needs, they can be difficult to work with. These seven questions will help your client know what they want and you to get crystal clear on your assignment.

1 – What is the writing for?

Every piece of writing has a purpose, and that should be made clear. Why do they want you to write it in the first place? Knowing this will help you understand your client’s goals.

2 – What does your client want it to accomplish?

Is this an advertising or direct mail piece that’s supposed to sell a product or service? Or perhaps it’s to get the firm or someone in the firm publicity. Is it to provide background information of something tighter and more specific? Is it to be a ghostwritten piece, and if so, whose voice should the writer use?


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depositInsisting on a hefty deposit or up front payment, if you can’t get totally paid in advance, is an absolute must for freelance writers for at least four reasons.

If the client can’t or won’t pay you get something

Not long ago I wrote about what you can do if a client can’t pay. When you insist on payment up front or at least a large deposit, if the client flakes or otherwise defaults you’ll have at least earned something for the portion of the project you completed.

How large a deposit? That’s subject to negotiation, but I generally insist on 50 percent up front unless it’s a project that would pay me thousands. Then I may take a third or a quarter up in advance.

Refusal to pay a deposit or an advance is a huge red flag

If the potential client refuses to pay a deposit, they usually claim it’s because they have no idea how well you’ll perform. This isn’t too surprising the first time they hired you. Your samples, and testimonials  on your website or in your portfolio, should convince them. If not, their stated fear may be cover for not wanting or not being able to pay you. It’s a huge red flag.


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What Do You Do When a Client Can’t Pay You?

can't paySometimes a client simply can’t pay you. It almost doesn’t matter why, except I’d rather know the non-paying client has no choice than deliberately stiffed me.

Businesses go south all the time. It may be the owners or the CEO, depending on the size of the organization, did something stupid or failed to do something necessary. Chances are when they contracted with you for some writing they fully expected to pay you on time; instead they do not have the money, don’t know where to get it  and literally can’t pay you. Oh sure, there are a few real crooks out there, but they are pretty rare.

What can you do if they can’t pay?

Although a few businesses will let you know as soon as they know that you won’t be getting paid, mostly you find out after trying to collect over a period of time. If they truly don’t have the money to pay you there’s not a whole lot you can do.


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raise your writing ratesIt’s probably time to raise your writing rates.

How do I know? I’m betting you haven’t looked hard at how much you’re charging in over a year. It seems the decision to raise your rates is often a difficult one for many freelance writers.

The considerations seem to fall into roughly two groups. The first is “Am I, and my writing, good enough to charge more?”

The second is “How can I get my existing clients to accept the price increase?” Let’s look at both.

Am I good enough to charge more?

My hunch is you’re probably a better writer than you know. That seems to be true for most people who have sold at least some writing services for at least a year or longer. Take an honest look at your writing and compare it with one or two others in the same field who you suspect are earning about what you are. Chances are you’ll discover your writing is at least as good as theirs, maybe even better. Sure, it’s a subjective judgment, but it can help you see that you’re actually doing a pretty good job.


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Sales Funnels and the Freelance Writer

sales funnelsSales funnels – is it just me or is there a lot of talk about sales funnels going around?

The term seems like it’s simple enough – you lead people down through your sales funnels to the sale.  And in a way, it can be that simple.

Let’s see how it might apply to your freelance writing business. First let’s look at a definition.

What, exactly, are sales funnels?

Simply put, sales funnels are the process or steps you take to find potential customers, educate them about what you do, offer your services, and close the deal. The advantage of creating this process is that once you’ve got it working, it’s repeatable without much trouble.

Most of the hype around these funnels is aimed at products, and we writers are in a perfect position to create information products for sale. But a sales funnel can also work on marketing your writing services, and that’s today’s focus. I’ll talk about using a sales funnel for an info product you create in another article.

Although there are lots of ways to build sales funnels, I like this five step process.

Step 1 – Locate potential customers

In my mind this is the biggie. Here’s an approach that has worked for me:

When I want to market my ghostwriting services, for example, I first decide who might want it and has the money to pay for it. Say, for instance, I want to find a sales person who has a wow of a story to tell. I’d start by googling something like ‘top sales people.’ I might find some lists of people there or not. I might find some forums where I could post, or some websites that might let me write an article and include a link to my new (see below) opt in page.

The people you’re looking for might be middle management in a particular industry, or retirees who want to tell their story. You get the idea, define who you want then go out and find nests of them.


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The Marketing Mindset for Freelance Writing

marketing mindsetDo you have a marketing mindset about your writing and your writing business? Or does the necessity of marketing make you shudder and want to go back to bed and eat cookies?

For a long time I felt exactly that way.

Marketing was a pain; it was boring; it felt more than slightly distasteful and I often just didn’t get it done.

Sometimes I appreciate advertising

Then one day I made a startling observation. I find some advertising helpful. Maybe because it tells me about a product or service I’d really like to have. Some ads have interesting stories to tell about topics that are new to me.


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side projectsSide projects – some would describe freelance writing as a side project, but I’ve been writing as a mostly full time freelance writer for multiple decades and I’m far from alone.

Many of you reading this are also full time writers and those who aren’t are working to get there.

Of course, full time is in the eye of the freelancer.

What is full time work?

We tend to think a 40 hour week is normal for a full time job. (It actually became law in the US in 1869) I’m not so sure, at least for writers. I find if I’m writing well, 3-4 hours is about all I can do if I’m to write again the next day. All the other business of writing, marketing, research, talking to potential clients, etc. etc. etc. can take a lot of time or not so much, totally depending on what’s up.


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