Every now and then I talk about the excuses freelance writers make for their lack of success when they're not happy in their careers (and how they need to take personal responsibility if they want to change that). Let's talk about the latter half -- making changes.
It's not enough to knock off the excuses. You stopped blaming the economy for your lack of work. Great. You stopped blaming low-rate writers for underbidding you and costing you jobs. Fantastic. You stopped blaming your busy schedule for the fact that you can't work enough billable hours. Wonderful! But where do you go from there?
Changes That Can Improve Your Freelance Writing Career
You have to take action. If your freelance writing career isn't where you want it to be, then something you're doing (or not doing) is holding you back. What that is will vary from one freelance writer to the next. Here are a few ideas for changes you can make to your freelance writing career though. Maybe one of them will be the right option for you!
- Change the hours you work. -- You might consider yourself a night owl, but that doesn't mean it's the best time for you to work. I used to be one myself. Then I got a biological reality check. I didn't want to hear it when people told me getting up very early would be better. But do you know what? It was! I get nearly twice the amount of work done each day, and I still have far more time for my own projects and my personal life, not to mention more money because of the increased productivity. I get up at 4am, and it's a "magic number" as far as I'm concerned (yours might be 3am or 6am... I don't know). There really is a huge difference when you're working with a well-rested mind -- not one that's been up and processing all day and evening. And you still get the benefits of working late at night (it's dark, it's quiet, and there aren't many distractions). It wasn't an easy change for me early on. I'd say it took a good week or two before it went from being something I was making myself do to a natural habit. Once you hit that phase, you'll wonder why you didn't do it sooner.
- Change the freelance writing rates that you charge. -- We've talked so much here about why you shouldn't under-charge for your freelance writing services that I'm not going to get into it again. If you aren't earning enough, chances are good that you aren't charging enough. That's all there is to it.
- Change the market you target. -- If you're afraid to raise rates, because you're worried clients you work with won't want to pay you more, you could very well be right. That doesn't mean what you're charging is right though. It means the target market you're reaching out to is wrong. Your target market has to consist of people who are looking for the services you offer, but also those who can afford the rates you plan to charge. It's not either-or. This can be one of the most difficult changes to make in a freelance writing career, because it can literally mean starting over. You might have to re-launch your professional site, put together a different portfolio that appeals to the different market, and be prepared to try new marketing tactics to reach your new potential clients. And on that note....
- Change your marketing plan. -- Sometimes the only reason you're not succeeding is that your marketing plan is a bit off. Maybe the strategies you've been pursuing really don't work well with your target market. You might be cold calling Internet businesses where people don't always answer their phones (they might prefer an email pitch). You could be blogging to showcase your expertise in your niche when you're targeting high-level executives, where a white paper might be far more effective. Look at your target market. What to do they? Where do they go (online and off)? What are the most efficient ways of reaching them in a way where you can make an impact? Those are the types of things your marketing plan should focus on. If they're not, make a change.
What other types of changes would you like to make in your hunt for freelance writing jobs? What changes have you already made, and have they worked out for you? Share your stories and other advice for making changes in the comments below.
Jennifer Mattern is a professional blogger, freelance business writer, and indie author. She began writing for clients in 1999 and started her first blog in 2004.
She owns 3 Beat Media - a publishing and client services company which operates All Indie Writers as well as several other websites and blogs including The Busy Author's Guide and BizAmmo. Jenn comes from a background in online PR and social media consulting, having owned a small PR firm for several years before choosing to pursue a full-time writing and publishing career.
Jenn also writes fiction under multiple pen names in the areas of children's fiction, mysteries, and horror fiction. Jenn is an active member of the Horror Writers Association (HWA) and currently serves as the organization's Assistant Coordinator of Promotions and Social Media.
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