“Substitute ‘damn’ every time you’re inclined to write ‘very’; your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be.”
Freelance writing is one of the various things I do to make a living. In the process, I hit some of those common stumbling blocks that many other writers might have hit already. Some of the lessons I learned also apply to the other forms of work that I do, but I find that those writing skills–which were brought to the table in nearly every other job–were most impacted by just a few subtle shifts in my character. I believe that these very same shifts will make all the difference for you too, no matter what your career is.
I love children. It’s funny because when I was a kid myself I never thought that I would. Truth be told, they have been some of my greatest teachers. Not only that, but they are so purely smart, creative and talented. If I can learn from children then I have absolutely no shame in telling others that I teach, even if it means teaching someone older than me. The importance of teachability was instilled in me all my life and I finally came to see why it mattered so much. I hold it so high that I decided not to work with someone who got offended by my use of the term “teach” when I was explaining simple ways to use social media. The universal truth is that we are always learning. If someone is resistant in the slightest bit to being taught…there will be no atmosphere of success for either one of us.
I shared some tips about what to do when freelance work slows down in hopes that I could help others like me stay on the horse and not get discouraged by a waning stream of income. Many of us have been there. I have too. This is why flexibility is so important for writers especially.
Working from home can be both a blessing and a slight burden. While WAH-ers get to be their own boss, they also have to, well, be their own boss. This means picking oneself up from the bootstraps, getting work done on a schedule (as long as he or she wants to get paid), knowing how to adjust when clients request revisions, and so on. With a good habit of flexibility, I anticipate that we all will find our own writing flow, making it more like a dance rather than a day job. (Click to tweet that!)
ABM = Always Be Marketing
This is one of those skills that stands the course of time. I am living proof of someone who has had the blessed privilege of finding work just when I needed it simply because I tapped into the ABM principle. With the prevalence and accessibility of social media, networking has actually become more of a hobby and passion for some. Honestly, networking should be fun. Just know that up front, those of you who may have already started to break a nervous sweat.
I have read several accounts of writers who land gig after gig after gig after…you get the idea. They, too, successfully implemented the ABM principle. Also, keep in mind that work and new clients can come in unexpected shapes and sizes. No, not everyone will be an ideal client for you to work with just because you meet him/her/them. However, the person in the checkout line (real life story, here) could mean the next good connection and paying opportunity, not to mention a good referral. You can wipe your forehead now.
I leave you all with this final thought of mine: follow the heck up. It has taken me years to find my own strategy for doing this. I still try not to get frustrated when people expect promising results from the “spray and pray” method of networking or job hunting or pitching to the media. If it helps, you might try doing what I do: create a simple reminder within your virtual calendar, containing the term “Follow Up” as the header and the person’s name, title, and contact in the description for a short reference. Outlook is my go-to program hands down for organizing this, but there are many other productivity programs out there available to make sure you add some follow up-ness to your repertoire of good writing traits.
Do you have any other techniques that have worked for you in your own career? Share them in the comments! I would love to know.