How to Failure-proof Your Writing Business

What I’m listening to: Shape of You by Ed Sheeran

Here we are in the second full week of 2017. How are those resolutions going?

That badly?

Maybe it’s because resolutions don’t come with anything measurable. It’s easy to say “I’m going to lose weight this year!” It’s tougher to actually plan it.

It’s not as tough as you might convince yourself it is, though. You need to decide how much to lose, how much more exercise you’ll put into your regimen, and what kind of diet changes you’ll make. Then you’ll apply it and measure your progress.

The same thing goes for your freelance writing business.

I was reading a great blog post from Linda Schenk (a.k.a. Virtuallinda) over at The Brand Builder ToolboxHer post lists the top 10 reasons your business will fail. This list is so full of gems, it’s something I recommend you read, bookmark, and memorize.

Linda goes over points I’ve covered here in the past, and with good reason. These are essential elements to growing your freelance business. A couple of the points, in fact, are ones I’ve pushed encouraged you to adopt in your own writing careers.

If you want to strengthen your freelance writing business, start here.

Build your business plan. When I started out, I did the formalized business plan — the pages of content and analysis and funding and…. right. My interest waned at about the same point I suspect yours just did. So I simplified. Here’s a simple template. If you’re the type who enjoys the comprehensive planning, check out the business plan tags on this blog.

Set goals. Like deciding to lose weight, you have to plan for freelance writing success. Set an earnings goal, a “this is how many new clients I want to attain” goal, a marketing goal, all of the above, or whatever else suits you. Now for the hard part…

Add accountability. Why do people forget their resolutions weeks, hell, days after January 1st? Because they don’t have to answer to anyone. If you don't have accountability for your writing business, you lose focus. Click To Tweet

Right now, think of one person or one forum, blog, or platform to whom you’ll provide a monthly assessment. (I’ll be starting up the Monthly Assessment feature again soon — feel free to share there, as well). Then commit to doing it. Schedule it on your calendar so you won’t forget.

Charge more. There’s been way too much debate over how much a writer should charge. Some say the market and the market alone determines your price. Some say other writers determine it. I say you determine it. You own the business, am I right? So set your rates higher, because I suspect many of you are charging way too little. You’ll lose some current clients, but you’ll gain a different level of clientele. And the minute that first check arrives at the higher rate, you’ll realize how long you’ve been holding yourself back.

Know your approach. By that I mean know what you’ll say for every possible client issue. Part of why businesses fail is the owner’s inability to stand up for the business and protect it from harm. While most clients aren’t out to harm you intentionally, there are times when they inadvertently (or purposefully) cross the line. For instance, your client was just sent the third invoice notice — that’s when you should be escalating your collection process. Or your potential client argues your price — do you offer options or do you thank them and move on? Know the answer to each scenario. Write them down if you have to. Then when you’re approached with a problem, you’ll have a tactful way to defuse the situation and find some resolution (or a cordial parting of the ways).

Don’t assume you know it all. In other words, educate yourself. You don’t know what you don’t know, so start reading. Investigate your craft, your specialty, your clients’ business interests. Keep learning as you go.

Writers, how did your bullet-proof your writing business?

What elements have made the most positive impact on your success?

Where do you think freelancers are failing?

About the author