What I’m reading: The Optimist’s Daughter by Eudora Welty
What I’m listening to: Iris (Hold Me Close) by U2
Thursday already? It’s been a slightly frustrating week. I’ve been trying to complete a project, but the things I need to get the thing done haven’t appeared. It’s like working with both hands tied behind my back. I’ll press on, but I’ll be putting in at least one late night.
I’ve started this reflection exercise lately. After an event that was too time-consuming and too stress-inducing, I thought it would be a good idea to go back over my career as a sort of retrospective. Thankfully, I have a blog, so finding out what I was up to say five years ago isn’t tough.
I went a little farther, in fact. I wanted to see just how far I’d come in my marketing, but also in my confidence level.
Pretty far, it would seem.
Like most freelance writers, I started not knowing what I was doing or where I was going. Because my first freelancing happened in 1989, things have certainly improved from a technology perspective alone. But they improved in other ways, too. I learned to market. I learned to say no. I learned to negotiate.
Most importantly, in my opinion — I learned to treat this as a business.
So for all you writers out there who are beginning, or at some stage of freelancing that you can’t quite move beyond, this post is for you. Here are five revelations I had that may help you get out of your own head and into a better place.
Marketing is easier than you think. Do you know how to write a query? How about a tweet? That’s all you need to get in front of potential clients and get to know them. Don’t sell, sell, sell, but do reach out, interact, share what you’re doing, and make connections.
Even slapdash marketing can work. To put it in hockey terms (because I just love hockey), if you shoot toward the net something is eventually going to go in. So stop worrying about screwing up with marketing. Put yourself out there. Learn as you go. It’s not hard, but it’s impossible if you don’t try.
If you want to earn more, you can. I’ve heard it all, as have most of you. Your earnings are beholden to what the market will allow, you should just succumb to the fact that freelancers are always going to be underpaid…. I call bull sh**. You, dear freelance writer, can start earning more right now by charging more. Click To TweetYou may lose current clients, but you’ll gain clients at a higher level (and those who come with the ability to value your skills without being convinced).
Free advice abounds. You don’t have to pay a dime to get advice on how to improve your career. This blog and others have plenty of it. Don’t know how to market? Can’t see what’s wrong with your query letter or letter of introduction? Unsure about what to charge? Just ask. Or do a Google search. Or click on the links I just left behind. What not to do: sit back and wait for someone to tell you what you haven’t asked.
Freelance writing is hard work, but not impossibly hard. Look, it’s a career that requires your attention. You have to learn to juggle a lot, but once you get the rhythm, you can have a successful freelance writing career as long as you maintain it. Think of your business as a pet — you have to feed it, care for it, and make sure it has what it needs to be healthy. You’re capable if you want to be.
Writers, what revelations about freelance writing did you discover?
What advice do you have for writers who are struggling?