With all the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, it can be hard to stay motivated enough to have productive holidays instead of just fun ones. One of the best things about being a freelancer is that you aren’t wedded to a set schedule. You set your own hours and can make special allowances for holiday events. It’s important to make a plan before the holidays get too hectic, though. Without one, it’ll be much harder to stay productive during the holidays. So, how do you do it?How do you stay productive during the holidays? Click To Tweet
Remaining positive while looking for a job is very easily said, but not all that easy to do. When you spend hours each day looking for a new job or your first step onto the employment ladder, it can be very easy to get downhearted and feel as though that dream job may never come.
For a lot of people, the process of searching for a job, typing in the same search so many times that the engines know that you’re looking for jobs in Sheffield or jobs in manufacturing; finding the contact details for the person associated with the vacancy, researching the company, filling in the application and sending it in can be very long and drawn out and, in many cases, repetitive, only to receive a rejection letter or nothing at all. It’s no wonder why people get easily disappointed. [Read more…]
Looking for work is a necessary evil for freelance writers. For people who work for employers, part of the reason finding a job is something to celebrate (along with a regular pay check and hopefully a good benefit package) is that they don’t have to keep looking for work.
For freelancers, it’s a different story. We have the freedom to work for ourselves (which definitely has its advantages), but we must perform a juggling act in our professional lives. Not only do we need to be able to keep up with our current assignments and produce high quality work, but we must also be constantly on the lookout for the next gig.
We can use a variety of methods to hunt for work. Putting up a web site, writing a blog to feature our expertise to a specific niche market and keeping in contact with people in your circle of professional acquaintances can all be effective strategies. Cold calling and passing out business cards are also good ways to find work.
If you have ever gotten to the point where you feel bogged down by this activity, you’re not alone. It’s easy to get into the mind set that looking for work is a chore. No one looks forward to doing chores, do they? These activities are things we have to do but that don’t really appear on the “want to do” radar at all.
Unless you can find a way to turn looking for freelance writing gigs into something that you can get excited about, it’s going to remain a chore and something that you will get bogged down in. It’s also very difficult to present yourself in the best way you can if you are not feeling enthused about communicating with a potential client.
In a situation where your freelance writing job search isn’t getting you the results you are hoping for, consider whether you are just going through the motions when you are looking for work. You would rather work with people who are enthusiastic about what they do and excited about a new opportunity than a person who is just not feeling it.
You have the power to kick start your freelance writing job search by adding some enthusiasm any time you choose to do so. Turn the process from a “have to” to a “get to”, as in “Today I get to talk to someone about how I can help their business.”
The best thing about this approach is that it isn’t dependent on outside circumstances. You can choose to look at talking to people about what you do and how you can help them as an adventure or a chore. Which one will you choose today?
When you are looking for freelance writing jobs, it can be very tempting to apply for any and every opportunity you see – whether you are a good fit or not – especially when you are getting started as a freelancer. This type of approach could work and there are some people who do find gigs in this way. I suppose the idea is that if you put enough applications out there, sooner or later someone will respond. The issue with this type of job hunt is that the prospective clients who do respond may not be the ones that are a good fit for your skills and abilities.
Far too many people use the same approach to looking for work as they do when they are at an all-you-can-eat buffet. You would think that the words “all you can eat” would encourage diners to take their time and plan what and how much they want to eat because they can get in line as often as they want.
Instead, they take a linear approach to the buffet line, starting at one end and putting items on their plate. This works out really well in theory, but by the time they get to the good stuff (i.e. dessert!), they either don’t want to eat anything else or are so full that they don’t enjoy it anyway.
A much better way to approach the buffet table (without having to fight with your family members about who has dibs on the couch once you get home) is to take some time to do a little recon to find out what the buffet has to offer. Figure out which dishes you are most interested in trying and make sure you include them in your meal.
Keep in mind that since this is an all-you-can-eat buffet, you get to go up more than once. There isn’t one magic food on the buffet, any more than there is one magic freelance writing job and that once the opportunity has passed, you will never find another one. Just get back in line and see what else is available by conducting a focused search on the types of gigs and clients that are right for you.
This is the time of year that we take time out to enjoy gathering with family and friends. We also pause to reflect on the year that is coming to an end, and remember the good and not-so-good things that happened along the way.
Part of ending one year and starting a new one has to do with making resolutions. I used to do this faithfully, but now I make a point of not making New Year’s resolutions. The ones I used to make were either too vague (I will be a better person in the New Year) or just plain unrealistic (“I will stop eating chocolate”).
I realize now that when I was making resolutions, I was making wishes, not setting goals. If you are going to reach the ones you set for yourself, whether it is to land a particular type of writing gig or to reach a certain income level, you need to have a plan.
You will have much greater success in building the kind of freelance writing business you want if you take the time to set goals for yourself. Map out a plan of action, specific steps and dates when you will complete each one.
If you want to be busier in the New Year, make a plan for how you are going to generate some new business. It doesn’t hurt to have a multi-pronged approach to your job search. For example, you can set a goal for answer a set number of ads and writing a certain number of pitches each week or month. Whatever you choose, make sure you hold yourself accountable for following through.
One more thing: you don’t have to wait for New Year’s to make your resolutions or set goals. I like to think of each new day as a fresh start. This strategy seems especially effective if I’ve had one of “those” days. Think of how wonderful it is to have 365 new opportunities to reach the goals that you have set for yourself.
Whatever winter festival you celebrate at this time of year, I hope it’s a warm and wonderful one. Enjoy!
Your first freelance writing job is the hardest one to get, in my opinion. Once you have one (or a few) gigs under your belt, you can use your past writing experience to propel yourself forward to the next opportunity. How do you approach the task of landing that first gig, then?
Start with what you know, and I don’t necessarily mean the fact that you have been writing for yourself for years. Working on your own projects is not the same thing as taking on client work. Both of them involve writing, but your own work is more of a free-range thing: you are not subject to the same restrictions that are in play when you are taking on work for someone else.
What I’m trying to get to here is that you should take some time to think about your past experiences, including paid work and volunteer work, your hobbies and general interests. All of them can point you in the direction of a niche that you can use to get freelance writing work.
Write down all the topics that come to mind, without editing them. (This can be a tough one; most of us have an internal editor that get in the way.) You should have a lengthy list of ideas when you are done.
Now you have something that you can use when you are apply for freelance writing jobs. I admit that at the beginning of my career, I used the shotgun approach to finding. I applied for anything and everything that I thought I was a good fit for, and it didn’t work out well at all.
When I changed my approach and started targeting gigs that related to my previous experience or a personal interest, it became much easier to get jobs. I wasn’t sending a prospective client a cover letter saying, ” I want to work for you,” I was saying, “I want to work for you because I have experience in or am interested in [X].” My guess is that adding more specific information made me a better candidate.
If you aren’t able to find an entry-level writing gig that reflects your prior work experience or your interests, you can still present yourself as someone the client would like to work with. Tell him or her that you are able to follow instructions to the letter and that you will give the project your best effort. In other words, work with what you have when you are looking for freelance writing jobs.
What approach did you use to land your first freelance writing job? Do you still use the same one or have you changed it over time?
Have you ever thought about what a potential client thinks when you describe yourself as a “freelance” writer? The dictionary software on my Mac defines freelance as follows:
“working for different companies at different times rather than being permanently employed by one company”
A person who can’t hold onto a job for a time is generally looked down upon, since we value people who can commit to an employer for a time. Companies recognize long-term workers and may even provide them with gifts or bonuses in return for their years of service.
If you tell someone you are a freelance writer, what does that say about you? It certainly is an accurate term if you work for clients, as opposed to being an employee who provides writing services, but is it the best way to describe what we do?
I am not suggesting that “freelance” be considered one of the words that we no longer say out loud. It’s not the new “F” word, nor is it a put down like the “R” word or the “N” word. Since writers are all about words and we are usually very precise about the ones we choose to use, let’s consider for a minute other kinds of work that are performed independently that aren’t referred to as “freelance.”
Anyone who operates a business independently is technically a freelancer, but we don’t refer to our doctor, dentist or plumber in that way. We work for ourselves because we choose to do so, not because we can’t commit to a job or (horrors!) no one would want to hire us full time.
So instead of calling yourself a “freelance writer,” why not just say “I’m a writer.” Or an independent writer. Or a professional writer. Or a communications consultant. Heck, you can even call yourself a wizard of words, since there are times when a writer needs to work some magic to pull off some of the assignments he or she takes on. Let’s face it, any job title that implies you get to wear flowing robes and use a wand can’t be all bad….
How do you define yourself as a writer? Are you a freelancer and proud of it, or are there other terms you feel more comfortable with?
I read somewhere recently that freelancers need to be cocky when looking for work. I’ve been thinking about that statement, and I don’t think that is the case.
When I think if a person who is cocky, it brings to mind someone who is conceited and arrogant, to be sure. This is a person who apparently has no issues with low self-esteem. Instead, they have a greatly exaggerated sense of their own importance.
Did you notice that everything in that description has to do with the person him or herself? This is someone who is definitely embracing the WIIFM (“What’s In It For Me”) mindset.
Now think about what it means to be confident. This second person is self-assured and knows him or herself well enough to understand exactly what traits they bring to the table.
The person in the second example is interested in making a contribution and adding value to the projects he or she takes on. They are ready to roll up their sleeves and get their hands dirty to get the job done.
How does this relate to looking for freelance writing work? When you are talking to a potential client, you need to walk the fine line between being confident in your abilities and sharing information about what the client can expect if they decide to work with you, and coming off as being cocky.
How do you know you’ve stepped over the line? If your focus stops being about the client’s needs and becomes mostly about you, it may be time to reign things in a bit. You can be proud of your work and what you have accomplished without getting it into your head that you are doing your clients a favor by deciding to work with them.
Does being cocky ever pay off when looking for freelance writing jobs?
Summertime, and the living is easy…..It can be hard to get (and stay) motivated to look for work when it’s sunny and warm outside. The summer is a time when many people do take time off, but you would be mistaken if you concluded that there is no point in continuing to look for your next great freelance writing gig during the summer months.
While people do take time off and some businesses may slow down during this time, it doesn’t mean that there are no clients who are hiring now. You should continue to make pitches, send out queries and apply for gigs.
Some of your fellow freelancers may also be taking time off this summer, which means that you have a chance to pick up some work. There may be less competition for available gigs, as well, if other freelancers are cutting back on their writing schedules right now.
Keep in mind that for some clients, summer is business as usual. By all means, give yourself summer hours if you can and take a break to regroup and recharge your batteries. That way, you can approach the fall freelance writing job market refreshed and ready to put your best foot forward.
The short answer to this question is “Yes.” Marketing your writing business should be an ongoing activity. Many freelancers have peaks and valleys in their work load. It goes with the territory.
If you want to keep the work coming in, you should be constantly doing activities that will grow your business. Even if you are at the point where your time is completely booked and you couldn’t possibly squeeze one more thing in, do it anyway. Find a few minutes to check out job boards, the job leads we post here at FWJ, to make a couple of cold calls, or approach a potential client by e-mail.
Don’t worry about how you are going to fit the next gig into your schedule. You haven’t got it yet. It may take time to hear back from your job searching efforts, and chances are that you will apply for many more gigs than you actually get. You can always discuss deadlines when you are negotiating fees with the client.
Part of being a freelancer is juggling the work we have in front of us with being on the lookout for our next project. Do you look for work constantly, or do you back off from these activities when you have a lot of work do do?