Mentoring and mentorships for writers

9 unexpected helpful lessons learnt as a freelance writer in 2016

I think it is important to reflect on what lessons you have learnt so far from time to time especially when it comes to the business side of being a freelance writer. I think it is also important to acknowledge that some lessons you tend to have to keep learning over and over till they stick in your brain. And some things are easier for others to get straight away but tend to take you forever and vice versa. But in case this helps, here is a list of what I learnt in 2016, proving yet again that I did not know everything when I started out. 

Lesson 1: Do not wait on clients as a freelance writer

Seriously, do not. My clients are awesome but I spent a few weeks waiting to clarify whether they were going to be a repeat client or not and in the end, the answer was no and there were good reasons for the delay in telling me this. But what I should have done was say “Ok, let me know when you come to a decision” and then continued to find other clients instead.

Don’t drop the ball if a client has to take time getting back to you. Keep going. You need to eat. You are a freelance writer not an in-house employee – you need several clients consistently giving you work.

Lesson 2: As a freelance writer you must never stop pitching

Don’t drop the ball. Keep going. There are mixed ideas on multiple submissions – some say yes, some say no – I generally give people a bit of time, get in touch to confirm and if no response, assume it’s a no and move on. I should have done more of this and I will do more of this in 2017 – more pitching, less dropping. I cannot afford to be inconsistent in my efforts.

Lesson 3: You never know how clients will find you

Someone found me via the union. Someone else found me because someone I didn’t know at a company I had worked for before recommended me to them. I still have to track them down and send them a thank you card. I met someone else at a function randomly. And others contacted me via the website or because they knew of me.

Lesson 4: Automate and delegate as much as possible.

My tax is easy to do but I gave it over to a tax accountant to handle. I could have continued messing around with invoice and quote templates but I found Rounded and signed up and now I don’t have to. I just put the numbers and information in. They handle payment options, emailing, financial analytics and they just announced that they are connecting up to the banks.

I am going to find more ways to do more of this automating/delegating in 2017, possibly with software rather than actual people and services. This way much as I don’t mind the accounting side of things and other stuff, I can spend more time writing or editing which is what I actually get paid for.

Lesson 5: My mood severely affects things and my mood can be easily affected.

I get anxious and stressed but I don’t often show it and I also keep going and don’t often realise it till later. To combat this in 2017, I am cutting out sugar and alcohol as much as possible so that I am not making things worse or covering anything up. I don’t know what exactly will help me but I will be trying various ways of dealing with things so that I am not so stressed that it affects my day or my work as a freelane writer. Building in more time in my day by outsourcing/delegating/automating things is going to help a lot.

Lesson 6: You cannot tie your self worth to your resume or CV.

I am trying not to do this in 2017. Rejections are a fact as a freelance writer and it means you get hit harder by the rejections when they come. Rejections are also harder when there is no feedback and you are a diverse person because it makes you wonder why. But there is no time to wonder why or to be affected by it – you have to keep going. And I think I need to get back to more of my hobbies. The ones that don’t cost so much to do.

Lesson 7: Take every opportunity that comes your way.

Did I miss opportunities? Yes. A few because I forgot about them but I tried to take every opportunity possible. Even the ones where I was unsure at first. And they worked out and now I know that I can teach one on one very well, provided the student is awesome. I am going to be trying even more of that in the coming year. I now know that working in an office environment can be a great experience if you are surrounded by the right people.

Lesson 8: What seems impossible can be possible.

I thought I would never drive on the freeway. I thought I would never get to a point where I would get to drive. After an influx of cash made it possible to pay for lessons, I made a decision to try to learn and within the last six months of last year I have driven so much in both manual and automatic cars and it’s such a small thing but to be at a point where I am comfortable driving on the freeway even if I am still on my learner plates and not past the test phase yet is such a huge thing for me. And I have my friends and partner to thank. I have realised that I love driving. I don’t know why but I do. Perhaps because it is still such a novel experience in my life so far. I have a test to pass then a year or so of being on P plates under certain conditions and then a hazard perception test and then I will have a full license. Which will be amazing and helpful.

Lesson 9: Good friends won’t mind helping you out.

They seriously won’t. I should ask for help more often.

Over to you

What lessons did you learn last year? What are you planning for the coming year and has there been anything that this year has taught you so far?

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