Projects

Things You Need To Know As A Freelancer/Writer, Part 5:

Heck, I didn’t realise I was so full of information that might be useful till I started to write it all down. Here is yet another installment. From my stats analysis, I see that most of you turn up on a Friday. I wonder why? Care to comment and let me know?

The list starts below the fold. As always, if you are new – go read the other posts. I am trying to offer helpful information to other freelancers & writers based on my experience so far and I expect this list to keep growing as I keep going.

  • TALK TO OTHER PEOPLE IN YOUR FIELD:
    Seriously. Do it. This is why you need to join a society/union. Talk to other people and find out what the publishing firms are like, which clients pay on time and are most reliable and most importantly what works for them as writers/freelancers. If you are thinking of getting into the business, then talk to someone who has done it. Talk to people who have done it for years and talk to people who have only just started out so that you have a clearer idea of what it is like in the beginning.
    Quite often, other people in your field will either pass you jobs or hire you for work that they have no inclination or time to do. So make use of anyone you know who is even vaguely related to what you do. If you are nice, people are happy to help. Heck, I don’t even know you and I am giving you a lot of information already. For free. Read blogs and comment on them, call people up, have a gossip session at the society meetings and so on. I regularly message friends in the middle of the night to ask them for their advice on stuff. Today I asked a friend who runs his own film production business about a tax issue.
  • CREATE & MAINTAIN A SCHEDULE:
    If you are anything like me, you are a night owl. Especially because you went to college or university. You have to be a little bit organised. Set hours and stick to them. If you have to deal with clients, you need to be roughly 9 to 5 in your hours unfortunately. So set time aside for everything else such as socialising, eating, sleeping etc and if you can, make these standing appointments in your organiser. I have a long standing brunch date with a friend of mine every Tuesday for example and because I have it in my diary, I do not make any appointments to meet with panicky students or busy clients during that time. I wake up and start work a lot earlier every other day so that is my day where I can wake up slowly in front of someone who is used to me looking rather haggard in the mornings. Likewise, because I have either met clients or worked on their work or done maintenance and marketing for the rest of the week, I can say to myself that I am not going to work on Sunday this week at all. So be organised, set your own hours according to your clients, your business and what you need to get done. Set aside whole days if you must to do particular things such as marketing or bookkeeping.
  • PORTFOLIOS/RESUMES:

    Portfolio: A sample of each type of writing you do. Bundle the pages together and create a PDF file. Upload it to your website and place a link to it.
    Resume/CV: Make it one page long. Copy, cut and paste it into a seperate page all by itself on your website. You can read my C.V. here.  Make it easy to find.
    Keep both the PDF of your portfolio and your C.V. on your computer so you can send it off as necessary to potential clients.
    The reason you should make it available on your site is that you have little to no control over who visits your site and it might just be a potential employer no matter who you market your site to. So you might as well have it up there. If you are handing out a business card with your website on it to potential clients, make sure they can see how well you write, your C.V., your services and your prices on the website or it is a waste of effort on their part.
    If you haven’t noticed already, I don’t have a portfolio up here yet. I am working on it. 😉

  • PERIODICALLY REVIEW THE FOLLOWING:
    Your website layout/design – make sure it is easy to navigate, that information is easy to find, that you are getting the kind of results you want from it.
    Your income strategy including rates – make sure you are making enough to feed yourself etc. and keep ahead of rising costs.
    Your marketing strategy – find out what works, what gets you work and focus on those methods alone. Make it efficient and make it work for you.
    Your methods and organisation – is the system you set up to file thngs, provide services and so on, working for you? Keep asking yourself if it does and keep trying to make things work as easy as possible for you and clients.
  • EDITORIAL CALENDARS:
    If you have a book such as the Writer’s Market/The Writer’s Marketplace, what you do is go to all the publications’ websites and look for editorial calendars. These are calendars that the editors create that list what each issue for the year is going to be focused on by month/week. It should also tell you the deadline for the submission of content for each issue (usually three months before). If you want to write for the May issue of a publication, it goes on sale in April and therefore requires content by February and so on. The point is that this helps a lot. You can just pick a topic that you can write about well and write it and send it in. The editor then does not have to assign people to a topic or have to chase up content for the issue in question. If you have an idea, write the article, then send a query letter  with a description of it to the editor. If they accept,  ask if they have any changes – maybe they want you to interview someone etc. Basically, they have no idea you are out there but they are much more likely to accept your work if you tailor your work to a) their magazine and b) the issues they need topics covered for.
    It can be difficult. There are tons of publications and few offer compensation for articles and even fewer of those have updated editorial calendars on their websites with the topics they intend to cover. Sometimes they have the deadlines for copy and ads for each issue but not the topic. Sometimes you can only find the calendars if you download their marketing/media/advertising kits. It is however a worthwhile way of ensuring that you have less chance of your articles getting rejected.
    If you have a weblog, set up an editorial calendar of your own that tells your readers, when certain kinds of content go up on your website.

I hope these tips help and make sense. Feel free to discuss any of them in the comments or to offer your own.

Cheers, Marisa.

Marisa is a globetrotting freelance writer, journalist and editor with cat for hire (her, not the cat). She is currently based in Melbourne.

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