Freelance writing is one of the better self-employed occupations you can have when you’re choosing to be freelance vs self-employed, partly because you now have the ability to chart your own course for success, instead of having someone else (as in a job) do it for you. With that freedom also comes responsibility, especially for managing your time and space. What you do and how you do it become critically important. Here are some strategies you can use for your own success:
1. Organization. This is one place where even established professionals fall short. It’s critical to keep your working space organized. As a freelance writer you’re almost certainly going to be dealing with a lot of paper, so it’s important to keep it categorized.
More than that, you’ll be working with various publications, so it’s wise to have a folders for each one and any correspondence. Likewise you’ll have that on your computer, as well. This is especially important when doing reseach, especially online. Make sure to store your important bookmarks in folders on your browser. One last thing, make regular backups, at least once a week. Nothing is worse than losing all your data. It could severely impact your business.
2. The 80/20 Rule of Marketing. More than anything else, marketing is the one thing that will make or break you as a freelance writer. It has to be done consistently, every day. To put this in perspective, at the beginning of your career, you’ll probably find you’ll be spending 80% of your time marketing and 20% writing. This is necessary, partly because you won’t have too many clients and you’ll need to spend time finding them, making pitches, etc. Over time, you’ll find this formula will shift in your favor and you’ll be spending 80% of your time writing, which is what you want.
3. Never Write Articles in Advance. Many freelance writers write an article in advance, then try to pitch it to an editor. This is one of the worst mistakes that you can make and is a major waste of your time. Never, ever write articles in advance. If you do and the editor(s) don’t like the story, you’ve wasted your time.
A better strategy is to write a short paragraph that describes what you have in mind. Here’s an example from one of my query letters: “How to Optimize Your Images for the Web. This article will address methods of compressing images, including JPEG, PNG, and GIF. Other options covered will be weighted optimization and selective use of color palettes.”
4. Don’t Use Microsoft Word for Web Writing. MS Word inserts all sorts of undesirable characters in the copy which make it a nightmare for the editor on the other end. It’s even worse when you save documents as HTML. A better option is to use a dedicated HTML program, such as Notetab or Dreamweaver.
5. Momentum. A big problem for freelance writers (and many other freelancers) is that they quit too soon, before they even get a chance to develop momentum. Make no mistake, freelance writing is a business and like any other business, it takes time to develop a client base. This won’t happen overnight. It’s important to think of your work as a discipline and to do it consistently. This is one of the crucial things that will lead you to enduring success.
Freelance writing is an exciting occupation with many benefits. Following these tips will help you get the most out of your business, for the short and long-term.