Spreading Yourself Thin?


Things were looking sparse in terms of work for me in recent weeks. For a solid month, I consistently had work every single day. Then I took a small break. Then I stopped applying and only did solicited jobs from repeat clients. So things tapered off a bit. Then (holy smokes!) things took off and I’ve only now found a few seconds to update this blog. I just finished a series of articles for one of my awesome repeats, and have been keeping my other blog (http://northernbeavertales.wordpress.com/) on the up and up. Next, I am doing a review of a CD  (long overdue) and continuing an outline for my design partners. I’ve realized that I really need to buy myself a good day planner.

Prioritization!

If you’re not already a Type A Personality type kind of person, you should pretty much try to adopt it. Write down a list of all the projects both short and long term that you have and figure out what needs to be done ASAP and what can wait a bit. And like I said, maybe get a day planner so you can figure out when you’re going to get things done. 

Communicate

My family was recently hit with a disgusting flu. I didn’t get much work done in that time, but I was always available for consult. I emailed my repeater asking for a 1 day extension, which he kindly granted. Most clients are understanding, if you need an extra day (and if you state that you want to make sure it’s good quality,) you shouldn’t have a problem. 

No Procrastinating!

As discussed here, turn the TV off and get your writing done. No excuses. If you’re awake and you’re feeling inspired (or even if you’re not,) spend a few hours where you can writing. If you’re getting paid for the job (and I seriously hope you are) just think of all that sweet cash you’re not making while you sit there watching Mad Men.

Ok so I can scratch “Write for the Ottawa Writer blog” off my list. Done.

 

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Finding the Time to Write


As I write this, I’m watching Robots, keeping an eye on my email, aaaand I just got back from helping my daughter in the bathroom. It’s a lot more difficult than you think, to find time to really hunker down and write. Even when I go up to my bedroom/office to get some writing done, I somehow end up watching Game of Thrones and throwing a few paragraphs in between exciting parts. Even now, I’m trying to find the perfect formula, so far…the clinical trial is inconclusive. But I have learned a thing or two about prioritization.

Lose the Internet

Oh Internet, how I loathe thee. I’m always looking for a distraction when it comes to getting any kind of work done. Sometimes I find myself blankly looking at the Google page, struggling over what to waste my time with. This is where you need to exercise self control and just keep your Word file open.

Schedule

You have to treat your writing time the same as you would for your regular job (if you’re not writing full time, that is). Allot certain times of the day to get writing done. Sometimes I go on a quick break at work and plug away on a blog article, I set goals for the day. I either write one short piece in a 15 minute break, or I write two during my lunch hour. Now that summer is here and the kids are crazy about their new bikes, early evening writing is now on hiatus. I pretty much have to wait until my kids are in bed before I can really put some home effort in writing.

Announce your plans

If you’re like me and have a family who relies on you, always make it clear to them when you are working. I tell my kids that they’re not to come upstairs to my room until the door is open because I’m at work. I also ask my partner to make sure the kids keep away. Plus, telling everyone that I’m working gives me an added sense of duty, that I should do what I say I’m doing.

Unfortunately there are only so many hours in a day, but if you’re serious about a writing career, you can’t succumb to the excuses that lead to our worst enemy: writer’s block. Make the time and write every chance you get!

Referral!


I will be contributing at least twice weekly to a site started up by a bunch of buddies from highschool. I can’t wait to see where this site will go. I have a lot of faith in their idea. Podcasts are very popular and anything goes.

Check out their contests, particularly the one for designing the logo. If you or anyone you know wants on board, get in touch with the guys!

http://northernfrequency.ca/

The Next Step – Getting work without an intermediary


I’ve been using different contracting sites to get writing work. Through sites such as oDesk.com or Getacoder.com, you can find enough work to keep you busy, but they’re not always the way to go. March was an extremely busy month for me, writing-wise. Then April had gone from a feast to a famine. I did a few projects for a couple of repeat clients as well as some new ones, but it certainly wasn’t as lucrative.

But then something awesome happened. I approached one of my graphic designer friends who just happened to be looking for a dedicated writer. Everything is in order and we will be working together in the next few weeks to get our working partnership off the ground. Getting on board with her and her husband will be a game-changer for me because I will have steady work at a rate where writing full time could be a feasibility, and they will have an in-house writer (so to speak), making their web services a ready-made package of graphic design and web content.

Approach people

The only way you’re going to find work without using contracting sites is if you put yourself out there. Do you know anyone with their own business who could use a writer for their website or promotional material? It never hurts to ask. And even if you’re unsure if they could use your help, come up with reasons that they could accept. Also, be sure to always include samples of your work to back yourself up.

Turn your craft into a business

If you want to hire out your services, you need to have assurances to people that you’re a professional. Get business cards. Make a website with information on who you are, what you do and why people need your writing expertise. Even better, keep a blog (much like this one) to demonstrate your skills.

Network events

Oftentimes, there are networking events for people to introduce themselves as professional whatevers, and hope that someone there may require their services. Look up any local events that you think may benefit you. Make yourself as presentable as possible, get your business cards ready and be prepared to meet a lot of people who could help you out.

Writing work won’t just fall into your lap. If you don’t rely on a contracting site, you will need referrals and word of mouth. Once you build your reputation and portfolio, clients will be seeking you out, for a change. If you’re lucky, you’ll be in a position where you can command a very good pay rate, and you’ll have your pick of many writing projects. It’s all up to you.

The Pro Bono Jobs


I’m still putting my foot out in front of me, getting a feel for what kind of work is out there. Using websites like odesk.com or elance.com are definitely helpful, but somehow it doesn’t feel real until I’ve secured work without the intermediary.All I really want is to get my name out there but that’s sometimes hard to do. I have, however, offered my services to certain people for free, the only thing I ask for in return is authorship. They were happy to oblige, and I will be getting started very shortly. Working for free might be a trick to bigger and better things as a writer.

Quid Pro Quo

Writing as a job, isn’t always about the money. It’s about credibility and getting your name on professional work, readily available for public consumption. In other words, something that will be seen by many people. If you are acquainted with someone who has their own business or venture, they may have need for some writing for their website. I’m currently planning some blogs for my favourite hairdresser’s website (http://shearscolourhairsalon.com/) and in return, y name will be put on the entries. Will people notice the name of the person who wrote it? Who knows, but I can try, right?

Seek Clients Out

I found a Toronto musician quite by accident a few years ago on Myspace. I quickly became a big fan, probably her biggest fan from out of town, as she was just starting out. Skip over to now, and she’s got a full length album for sale, which I bought. I then emailed her and pitched the idea for a review of her album to put on her website, as well as my own. She was very happy to trade my services for authorship. Quite frankly, I’m honoured to have the chance because her music is that good. (http://www.ileenlaura.com/) Once I finish that review, I will likely be posting it on this site. The point is, don’t be shy to approach people who could use your services, just be sure to have a fleshed out idea of the project before you contact them.

Don’t Think of it as Free

Donating your services in return for authorship can build up your name/brand/business more than you’d think. If anything, they make great samples for your portfolio. Additionally, if an employer searches your name, they will find these articles and will see for themselves that you have had professional employment and deliver top quality work.

The frustration of finding writing work


Yesterday I looked in my bank account and wasn’t that satisfied with what I saw. You see, for the past month I’d been doing really well, getting steady work, buying some nice shoes, feeling a little overconfident…then I got lazy. I realized a little late that I hadn’t put many bids for work out there.

Keeping a schedule?

Schedules are hard to make when you freelance. You never know what your workload is going to be for any given week. If I can be punching out one 500-word article a night, I’m having steady work. If I have three articles per night, I’m officially swamped, but that’s only because I also work full time and have a family to care for.

Always bid

If you use sites to get work, such as Getacoder.com or Elance.com, make sure you keep consistently bidding. If you take a break and none of the clients choose your bid, you won’t have any work a few days later.

Don’t count on your repeat clients

I have a handful of clients who require my writing services fairly regularly, but I can’t wait around until they approach me. If I’m going to have a lot of work, I’m going to have to constantly get the ball rolling myself. Additionally, I have to make sure I don’t overbook myself with new clients, so I’ll be able to have room for the repeats.

Balance

Freelance writing is a balancing act. Some people prefer the steadiness of a full time writing job, while others like the flexibility of freelancing. Just make sure you keep everything well balanced and that you don’t stretch yourself out too thin!

Every writer has his or her own writing process. The real trick is to find a rhythm in your work cycle and making it work. I’m now off to put in some more bids, I want that bank account looking a bit better now!