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Sunday, April 1, 2012

5 More Things I'd Tell my Former Freelance Self

Last post, I reflected on the new freelancer I was 15 years ago, and included some advice I'd tell my former self. Well, this weekend, as I was preparing for my upcoming Webinar (Make Money NOW Writing Freelance Articles) on Thursday, I thought of a few more tips: 


1. Make freelancing friends. When I started freelancing, I knew no other writers, much less any who wrote for a living. Over the past years, though participating in online forums, organizations like the American Society of Journalists and Authors, attending writers' conferences, and teaching workshops and classes, I've made fellow freelance friends. And they are invaluable, not just for market advice, work leads, and constructive criticism, but for support and camaraderie as well. 


2.  Worry more about the way you write your query than the actual idea you pitch. Yes, ideas are important, and they are often how you get your foot in the door with a market that's new to you. But your idea is only one factor the editor looks at when she reads your query. She's also considering how much research you've conducted,  how you've framed the idea (hopefully in a way that will appeal to her readers), your knowledge of her market, and your style as well. I've had plenty of queries "fail" in that the editor didn't assign the idea I pitched, but offered me another topic instead. (For the record, I consider that a win!) 


3. Make time for the work you want to do. Yes, I write for money. But the longer I've freelanced, the more important it is to write for personal satisfaction, too. Selling an essay pays peanuts compared to writing a service article, but the psychic rewards are significant. Remember, I started out as a freelancer because I wanted to escape the law--and write fiction. Freelancing was just a stopgap measure while I pursued my dream of becoming a novelist. And even if I can't support myself writing "hen lit" novels, making time for fiction them make me happier, not just as a writer but as a person too. 


4. Embrace change--or at least don't fight it so hard. On the technology adoption curve, I'm no "Innovator" or "Early Adopter." It takes me a while to accept the idea I need to do things differently, much less try something new. But you can't stay static in an ever-changing world. You have to learn new skills, figure out new ways to market yourself as a writer, and take on new challenges even when it makes you uncomfortable. Learn skills that make you more valuable to clients, and continue to build on those as you gain experience. 


5. Think long-term. Early in my freelance career, I was only focused on getting one assignment at a time, and on making my annual income goal. That worked, for a while anyway. Today I try to maintain a dual focus--doing work that will pay the bills in the short-term but that also helps support my long-term goals. I suggest you think not only about this coming year, but where you want to be five, even ten years from now, when you're considering what types of work to do and what skills you need to acquire.


***Are you a new freelancer, or know someone who wants to break into freelancing? My new line of ebooks, all branded with the Dollars and Deadlines name, are geared toward new freelancers. I take the same approach that I do with this blog--I give practical, proven strategies and plenty of examples to help you achieve your writing goals. So far the most popular has been Dollars and Deadlines' Guide to Selling your First Article, but Dollars and Deadlines 10 Essential Freelance Templates is also selling well. And if you write for love more than money (nothing wrong with that), you need to read Dollars and Deadlines' 10 Truths Every Writer Who Wants to Get Published Should Know.