Whether you are new to freelancing, or just thinking about it, these idioms will help:
1. Rise and Shine! Working from home is the best of freelance perks, but that doesn’t mean you should sleep in every day. Set a daily work schedule and stick to it.
2. Know the Ropes. The best way to get and keep clients is to understand the publishing industry. Read and learn about the publishing process (the steps to get a book from contract to print). Stay current with trends and what your clients’ companies are publishing.
3. You Can’t Judge a Book by Its Cover. Vet potential clients carefully, especially small or new publishers. Know exactly what is expected from you, the due date, how much you will be paid, and the payment terms. Always work with a contract.
When I began freelancing, I accepted an assignment from a promising, new company. The articles written about it were positive. But had I dug deeper, I would have discovered that this company was in serious financial trouble. Many employees had been let go, and the publisher was relying on freelancers to do the work. It went bankrupt, and I never received full payment for my invoice. A $5000 mistake on my part, and a reminder to you—do your homework.
4. Don’t Bite off More Than You Can Chew. As you add more clients to your list, there will be times when assignment offers overlap. It’s tempting to accept every offer, but remember that quality is more important than quantity. When faced with multiple offers, ask yourself: “How much of my best work can I deliver in the specified timeframe?” It’s better to turn down an assignment than to deliver less than your best or to miss a due date.
5. A Bird in the Hand is Worth Two in the Bush. There will be times when you need to weigh a “maybe” against a “sure thing”. For example, a client has told you that they might have a project for you in a month or so. Another client has approached you with a definite project due within the same time frame. Will you wait for the “maybe” project, or will you accept the sure thing? Sometimes it’s a difficult choice.
I did some work for an educational publisher, writing questions for standardized tests. The work was fun, and it paid well; however, the lead times (the time to complete the work by deadline) were short and the work was sporadic. The client would let me know that they might have work for me in a month or two. Often, if the work materialized, I would already have taken on a “sure thing” assignment and couldn’t fit their tight deadlines into my schedule. I ended up losing that client, but still, I feel that I made the right choice. The income I received from the sure assignments was, likely, greater than if I had waited.
6. Get Down to Brass Tacks. Freelancing is a job, just as if you were sitting at a desk in the publisher’s workplace. You need a home office, or designated workspace, free from distractions and interruption. Sometimes, you might need to get out of the house and write someplace else. Think about places you might go to write.
Visit your local coffee houses, and you’ll find people wearing headphones and working on laptops. Noise blocking headphones, or even playing classical music through earphones, can help concentration and block noise. Bonus—coffee houses are great places to meet other freelancers.
7. Actions Speak Louder Than Words. Deliver what you promise. Always submit your best work, in the best format, and on time.
8. It’s a Race Against Time. The publishing industry is deadline driven. Schedules are created to meet a specific print date. If that date is missed, it costs the publisher money. Another idiom: Time is Money. If you miss your deadlines, it is almost certain that you won’t get more assignments.
9. Drastic Times Call for Drastic Measures. Sometimes you will be overwhelmed by work and deadlines. It’s important to remember that work comes first. It’s not like you can peek over the wall of your work cubbie and ask a co-worker for help. This is all on you! Plan for how you will handle freelance stress.
Prayer and meditating on God’s Word helps me during stressful work times. I also listen to quieting music. Pandora Radio is a great resource for finding soothing music to listen to while you work.
10. Go the Extra Mile. Do more than what is expected. Turn assignments in before the due date. Help your editor as much as possible by submitting a well-formatted manuscript (Spacing, paragraph indents, etc.).
11. Don’t Look a Gift Horse in the Mouth. Your clients don’t have to choose you for their assignments. When they do, it’s a gift and a testament to your good work! Be grateful, humble, and giving.
When a book I’ve worked on is published, I like to put a link to it on my Facebook business page. I always link to the publisher’s web site, and I thank them for inviting me to work on the project. This is one way to show appreciation.
12. Be the Apple of Their Eye! Simply be the best you can be with a healthy dose of friendliness and humility.
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