Posts tagged: commercial writing

Freelance Timekeeping

vintage parking meter

So you’re a freelancer. Maybe you write for businesses. Maybe you’re a graphic designer. Whatever kind of freelance work you do, it’s essential that you keep track of your time. You need to know how long it takes you to finish a 3-panel brochure. Otherwise, the next time you quote your project, you may estimate incorrectly. You might also need to work on an hourly basis from time-to-time, so of course you’ll need to know exactly how much you should charge the client.

The wonderful thing about freelancing, from your client’s perspective, is that they pay you only for time on task. You’re not paid for phone breaks, laundry time, or the 20 minutes it took you to wash your dishes. If you work from home, these little interruptions can add up. Unless you’re able to work for uninterrupted blocks of time, you need a system to keep track of your time.

Now, how fancy do you want to get? There are lots of cool tools you can use on your computer. Check out this list from Freelance Switch. Or you can use a stopwatch that allows you to stop it for breaks and restart it from the last time when you’re ready. You can download a stopwatch application for your smartphone also. Or you can just take note of the time on a piece of paper, and write down when you stop, and write down when you start again. Later, you just add up all the time.

After you’ve done timekeeping for several projects, you probably will need to have some system in place to keep a log of total time spent. This is great for future projects of a similar nature that you want to price, and it’s also a good idea for your tax records (in case anyone ever asks).

What methods for timekeeping do you use? Have you tried one method, only to realize it didn’t work? Share with us!

My Well-Fed Challenge Continues…

stairwell

A couple of weeks ago I started my Well-Fed Challenge. My goal is to make 400 cold calls to local businesses in 20 work days, letting them know I’m a freelance writer and finding out what their needs are. August 20 is my deadline.

So how am I doing?

So far I’ve made 103 calls! Yay!

Of those 103 calls, about 58 agreed I could send them my online commercial writing portfolio. Mind you, many of them were secretaries who were probably trying to get me off the phone, but it counts. I can now add them to my snail-mailing list of potential clients.

Of the 58 who gave me their email addresses, 18 were “hot” prospects. Either they use freelancer writers or they were very interested in seeing my portfolio. One of them even wants to interview me for a part-time position teaching copywriting at their college. I have the interview next week!

The companies I targeted for this first round all have a website, and were listed as having 25-250 employees in my library’s database. They are also all local. I made sure to have a few website designers, graphic designers, and advertising agencies in there too (so I wouldn’t get a million no’s).

One of my tactics is to be sure to ask for an email address every time, even if the secretary agreed to send me to voicemail. This is something Peter Bowerman suggests in The Well-Fed Writer. I figure that once I have an email address I can send future correspondence by snail mail (postcards, letters, etc.). I’ll start my snail mail follow-up campaign in a week or two.

Now for the downside.

I had to alter my plans a bit. I wanted to make 20-25 calls every day, but child care wasn’t available every day. So several days had to be skipped. On days when I did have child care, I sometimes would only have 2 hours to make my calls (and research each company a little bit before each call).

Also, when I did make my calls for the day, I still had to find time to go back and send emails with a link to my portfolio. With limited child care, and with a limited amount of steam (I fall asleep at about 10pm, shortly after my daughter goes to bed), I found that I needed to create time to send those emails. Sometimes I had to take time away from calling to do that.

After all, making the calls doesn’t get my information in front of people. Most of my calls are for information gathering only.

Next week will be a challenge. I have that interview, a doctor’s appointment, and I’m going to investigate another childcare provider. I will probably only be able to make calls and send emails on just 2 or 3 days (I hope).

Even if I don’t make my goal, I’ll keep reaching for it. Stay tuned!

Do you give up when you realize you can’t make your goal, do you keep trying, or do you alter your goal?