Devon Ellington: Can You Cut It As a Freelance Writer? Part 2
Today we continue with part two of Devon Ellington’s article on freelancing.
Thanks, Devon, for sharing all your insight with us!
Can You Cut It As a Freelance Writer? Part 2
Set up your systems first. Keep track of your pitches, your submissions, the status of every project with every client. Excel is useful for this, Quickbooks is useful. Play around, see what works. Keep a large calendar to track deadlines, payments, and follow-ups. Set up regular contact with clients and potential clients to let them know you’re still out there. Spend time each week marketing yourself, looking for prospects, and adding to your portfolio. Use the blocks of time outside your current job to prepare for the transition to your new job.
If you’ve already lost your job, build in all of the above to your daily routine of sending out resumes and looking for work.
Decide on your fees. Stay on top of your invoices. Decide on your policy for late fees, rush fees, etc. Do NOT miss a deadline. As a freelancer, there will be plenty of times you don’t get to knock off at 5 PM on Friday or any other day. When you’re on deadline or on multiple deadlines, you work until it’s done. It doesn’t matter if you’re tired, it doesn’t matter if you have dirty dishes in the sink or laundry piled up, and there will be times it doesn’t matter if your kid wants you to stop and play. If you’re going to keep a roof over your heads, you get the work done and you don’t miss a deadline. And, even when you’re busy, put aside a few hours per week to keep marketing. If you wait until you’re not busy to market, you will have large pockets of time without income.
Once you’re established, you keep up the work ethic, but you have more freedom to say no. You have the freedom to clear deadlines off your desk early and fly to the Bahamas for the weekend, or take your kid to the aquarium for an impromptu afternoon. Once you’ve established yourself, you’ve got the freedom you crave. But you have to earn it.
If you’re someone who needs another person cracking the whip at you in order to get anything done, this is not the life for you. If you lose your job, sign up with a temp agency to get through until you can get another job in a structured environment. If structure makes you feel safe, then go for structure. Freelancing will add too much stress to your life, and some people just aren’t cut out for it. But if you are willing to put in the initial work and lay the foundation to earn your way into setting your own schedule, then approach it in a professional manner, and earn your way to freedom.
THE WELL-FED WRITER by Peter Bowerman, and his website: http://www.wellfedwriter.com. The best book and website for freelancers, in my opinion.
About Freelance Writing – http://www.aboutfreelancewriting.com – Anne Wayman’s site. She has some of the better job listings, and always lots of practical advice.
Words on the Page – http://loriwidmer.blogspot.com – Lori Widmer is one of the smartest freelance writers out there. Her site is filled with tips, treats, and ideas to grow your business while avoiding scams.
Media Bistro – www.mediabistro.com – They have both free and paid memberships. Their job listings are usually filled with full-time jobs, but they have media listings from all over the country, they’re legitimate, and the pay rates are good. Their networking parties are fun, too!
Devon Ellington publishes under a half a dozen names in both fiction and non-fiction. She writes the Jain Lazarus Adventures, and her plays are produced in New York, London, Edinburgh, and Australia. A freelancer her entire career (over twenty-five years), her work appears in publications as diverse as FEMMEFAN, NEW MYTHS, ESPRESSO FICTION, THE SCRUFFY DOG REVIEW, THE CRAFTY TRAVELER, THE SAVVY GAL, BLESSED GARDENS, TOASTED-CHEESE, HAMPTON FAMILY LIFE, THE ARMCHAIR DETECTIVE, and ELLE. Visit her blog on the ups and downs of the writing life, Ink in My Coffee, http://devonellington.wordpress.com.