This year marks my 20th as a freelance writer. I’ve learned much along the way— maybe some of what I’ve garnered will help you to begin your own freelance journey.
Here are 10 things to keep in mind as you start up your business:
Think like a business owner.
Remember, you are not only a freelance writer but also a business owner. As a business owner, it’s your job to attract clients and keep them satisfied. The business part of freelancing is your “professional footprint” and equally as important as your writing.
Create a marketing plan.
Every successful business has a marketing plan. Freelancing is no exception. You should create and implement a plan to interest potential clients and persuade them to use your services. Set goals!
Keep your social media presence professional.
Your online business and personal interactions should be separate. Set up a Facebook business page where you can interact with clients and customers. Have separate Instagram, Twitter and other social media accounts for your business. Create a business web page and/or blog.
Make solid working relationships a priority.
It’s vital to build strong relationships with clients. After making initial contact with a potential client, follow up by email every 4–6 weeks about the possibility of freelance assignments. Try to offer something new, like a link to your Facebook business page or web site. This is effective on two levels: it keeps your name on the list for new projects, and it establishes an ongoing relationship. With both new and customary clients, a solid relationship pays off.
Maintain a routine.
Freelancing doesn’t mean sleeping in on mornings when you don’t have a project. Every day is a workday. Get up at a set time and “go to the office.” If you don’t have a writing assignment, then your job is finding one.
Remember—nothing is a sure thing.
You can’t count on a project happening until you have a contract. Sometimes, a publisher will decide not to follow through on a project. It doesn’t happen often, but it does happen.
Look toward the future.
When I first started out, I had a great freelance job writing 30 hours a week for a client. It was a job that came with healthcare benefits, a 401k plan and the opportunity to write for a leading educational textbook company. My only regret is that I didn’t look beyond the present. When their business slowed, I was let go. I had few other clients to rely on, and it took a long time to rebuild my client list. Lesson learned: Always look to the future and plan for the unexpected.
Save for “rainy days”.
When the economy slows, the publishing industry feels the economic crunch along with most other businesses. Keep several months of living expenses in your savings for times when you have no assignments—and no income.
Celebrate the positive.
There are days when you’ll wish for a job with a regular paycheck and benefits. During those times, think of all the great things about freelancing: You’re doing something you love, working from home and creating your own schedule. You can take time off to run errands and wear PJ’s all day, if you want . . .
Start each day doing something good for yourself.
For me, it’s prayer and then coffee. I ask God to inspire my writing, and then I make myself a flavored cappuccino or latte. Even better, I pack up my laptop and head to a coffee shop to write . . .
I think I’ll do that right now.
I’m heading for my favorite coffee place
to celebrate 20 years in business.
What else can I say? The freelance life is good.
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