Posts tagged: Freelance writing

Do You Need a Freelance Writer?

One of the hardest things about being a freelance writer is convincing businesses that yes, hiring a freelancer is a wise thing to do.

Are you a business owner? Let me guess some reasons you might not think a freelancer is for you.

1.You’re a pretty good writer, right? Why hire someone else to do what you can take care of on your own?

  • The simple answer to this is that your time is not unlimited. While you may write exceptionally well, if you have a million other tasks to complete, perhaps writing is something you should outsource.

2. You want control. You’d rather have someone in your office so you can look over his shoulder while he works. You want to see what you’re paying for, while it’s happening.

  • This makes sense. That’s why employees generally work in the office. But think about it. Do you really want to hire another employee? There are taxes to pay, paperwork to complete, desk space and computers to provide, paper and other supplies for printing and such, and the list can go on. If you have an employee on-site, you’re liable for workers’ compensation in some cases, and at least liable if they slip and fall in the office. Not to mention that employees converse with others, take bathroom/smoking/snack breaks, check their cellphones and make personal calls, and any other number of off-task activities. All of which you’re paying for…by the hour.
  • A freelancer charges only for time-on-task, especially if you pay them per project. If the cost of brochure copy is an agreed-upon $1000 (for instance), it doesn’t matter if the freelancer takes a shower while banging out your copy. You pay $1000 for the brochure. Period. No need to micromanage. No need to watch over his shoulder. When you purchase a car, you don’t watch each piece being manufactured. You don’t pay by the hour for its assembly. You just pay for the finished product.

3. You know someone who can do it for less. I’m guessing you might have a cousin or a brother-in-law who can write. Why not just give him a few dollars (or nothing at all) and have him write your copy?

  • This one isn’t one I’ll answer straight out. If you’ve ever worked with family, you already know this isn’t the best idea in the world. If you haven’t, and you want to give it a try…vaya con Dios. And then hire a professional freelance writer after the ordeal is over.

Are you a business owner? Have you ever hired a freelance writer? Why or why not? Tell us about your experience(s).

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?

Well-fed Writing


Now that I’ve decided to make my freelance writing business really work, I realize it’s time to make some serious moves.

First thing’s first. I need powerful ammunition to stay on-task and motivated. The first book I read on freelance commercial writing was The Well-Fed Writer, by Peter Bowerman. His book laid out an easy-to-follow blueprint for success, and when I followed directions I really did make money. I had clients, a decent income, and I was on my way.

I do tend to get side-tracked (as you know), and Peter’s book was written mostly from his point-of-view. But he just published a new, updated, expanded edition. There are lots of anecdotes from other successful commercial writers, and I’m just so impressed with what he’s accomplished with this edition.

And his book came at just the right time. Right after I made my decision to get serious with my business, I got an email from him alerting me to his newest book. Serendipitous!

I’m also impressed with Peter’s willingness to answer questions. I’ve had several replies from him, though I’m careful not to overdo asking him stuff. Being personable has won me over as a fan. I’d buy and promote almost anything he writes since he takes the time to respond to inquiries.

Do you have dreams of becoming a successful commercial writer? Maybe we could start a writer’s group to motivate each other. Or if you already have a freelance writing business, maybe you need a good kick in the rear too.

Click on this link to check out the new edition of The Well-Fed Writer. You can buy it in ebook or hardcopy formats (or both), and there are a few other ebooks you should consider as well. I also got the Toolbox and Timeline, both of which are well-worth it.

When you buy it, let me know. I’d love to have others to discuss it with, and you can feel free to leave a mini-review in the comments.

What are you waiting for? Check out the 2009 The Well-Fed Writer and let me know if you’re as impressed with it as I am. His site also has a bunch of free things too, so if you’re even a little bit interested you should head over to The Well-Fed Writer.

Have you been bitten by the commercial writing bug?