Wednesday, July 9, 2008

My Five Truths of Freelancing

I saw this post on Words on the Page the other day about the seven truths of freelance writing. Lori covered a lot here, but I felt compelled to add a few of my own:

The more of a hurry they're in for the first draft, the longer they'll take to get back to you once it's turned in. This happens all the time. You'll get a client who is in an insane hurry for the finished product. He asks you to complete everything in half the time you usually take. You agree to it (charging a rush fee, hopefully) and you bust your butt to turn it in on time. You wait for a reply: "We loved it, send us the invoice!" would be fantastic, but you'll settle for "We need some major edits..." as long as you hear something back. You wait a week. You wait two weeks. Nothing. The more of a hurry the client is up front, the less of a hurry he'll be in once you pass in the work.

Learn to love the ebb and flow. Last year my big slow month was May. This year May was OK, but you never know how the rest of the year will turn out. You'll have busy months and slow months. If you've got too much work to do already, you'll hear from three more clients before the end of the month. If you're hungry for work, your clients won't need you that month. It's just how things are.

You can't get too complacent. Complacency is the freelancer's worst enemy. We don't have a sympathetic boss giving us raises and Christmas bonuses. We have to earn those ourselves. I love this post over at Rogue Ink about how much money you think you'll need. Set big goals. If you fail by a little, so what? You'll still make a lot of money.

Wearing your PJ's all day isn't as fun as it sounds. Trust me. You start to feel gross.

Writer's Block tends to evaporate under the pressure of paying the rent. Think you won't know what to say when the time comes? Trust me, you will. The client is counting on you. Your dependents are counting on you. Your houseplants are counting on you. The words will definitely come.

So what are your truths of freelancing?


Anonymous said...

Truth #13 - The less information someone provides in the contact form, the less likely they are serious about the project.

On my contact forms, I make email addresses required, and phone numbers optional. Those who fill in the telephone number are almost always serious, and those who don't almost always aren't...


Mark Wiehenstroer said...

I definitely agree with "Wearing your PJ's all day isn't as fun as it sounds." Wearing PJ's all day makes you the house bum - period. Also thanks for reminding me that I have to water my plants.

P.S. - I see your total number of posts for this year already has eclipsed your total for last year. Congratulations as I remember that was one of your resolutions for this year.

Anonymous said...

Jennifer - I laughed out loud reading your first "truth." That is so on the money! And it usually goes the same way for the second draft too: Hurry up! (and wait).

As to your second truth, I'm going through major "flow" right now. I'm swamped and I keep getting calls about new projects! Where were these jobs in February when I needed them?

Unknown said...

I'm so tickled you linked to me, Jen! And I LOVE your additions. Entirely too true, aren't they? The first one is absolutely spot on. And the PJs one - I was there ages ago. It's much better to dress for work lest the delivery people get an eyeful.

Anonymous said...

Here's another freelance truth:
Now that I am my own boss, I STILL occasionally find that my boss is an idiot or an ass.

Rebecca Laffar-Smith said...

lol I keep seeing Rebecca Smith's comments and thinking, "I don't remember writing that." It took a moment to click that it wasn't me. ;-)

I completely agree with all your truths.

The greatest truth I've found is:
You'll always get more work done when you're really 'busy' (or on deadline).

When you've got a lazy hour you 'could' spend on a project it's much more likely you'll do anything else instead. If you want to get things done create a monster to do list and some deadlines.

Anonymous said...

I was very happy to find this list...I'm a professional writer, currently employed full-time for a personal finance website, but strongly considering going the full-time freelance route. I've had a hard time trying to figure out whether my fantasies are just that (like the PJ thing) so thanks for this funny and refreshing read!