Five Most Important Things I’ve Learned as a Freelance Writer
Choose Faith Over Fear
When I started out as a full-time freelancer, I had six weeks of savings to go on. As I marketed my services, I soon realized that I made very different choices when I was moving out of faith that the Universe would provide, than I did when I was acting out of fear and desperation. I learned that I had the power to choose faith and to reject fear. This shaped the type of prospective clients I approached and allowed for magic to happen. When you move out of faith, you make smarter, wiser choices that align with your spirit, you’re able to say no to what’s not right for you as you trust that what is right will be provided.
Pick Your Clients
I’m choosy. I know what type of clients I want to work with – and those are clients who value people and improve, inspire or add value to people’s lives. The type of industry those clients are in doesn’t matter to me. I have selectively approached potential clients and have been fortunate enough to choose who I work with. I have also seen the Universe pick ideal clients for me. One of my longest standing clients called me up out of the blue one summer afternoon. We’ve been together for six years. Why does this matter? It creates a synergy in my worklife that allows work to naturally assimilate with my life and who I am. I work with clients that I feel good about and we get along well with each other. It makes sense that as individuals we are suited to certain fields of interest, industries or types of clients. Choosing rather than accepting anyone who comes your way, leads to happier, more satisfying work.
Go Where the Money Is
This is the most important advice I was ever given. It came from one of the most successful American Indian entrepreneurs in the U.S. who founded a multi-million dollar security firm for the Department of Defense. He started as an electrician on a reservation in northern Minnesota. He dreamed of having his own business. He took a risk and opened his own company. He said even when things were tight, as long as he was working for himself, there was the chance that the phone would ring and something wonderful could happen. He knew if he hadn’t taken that chance, the phone would never have been able to ring. He saw potential, he climbed above the expectations others had and he learned that going where the money is just makes sound business sense. Go where the money is. Go to companies who have the resources to pay you you charge. Don’t waste your time on companies who promise much, expect a ton and pay little. This is why I will not work for start-ups, non-profits or anyone who doesn’t already understand the value a copywriter brings to their business. I’m not going to spend my time convincing someone why they need me. If they don’t have the business maturity to already know that, they’re not the right client for me.
They Will Pay You What You Decide You’re Worth
Many freelancers struggle financially because they charge very little, they scrape by and never set their sites higher than a minimal wage income. You can be one of these people, or you can decide to be someone who charges a lot more and gets paid higher rates because you decide that you’re worth it. Go to salary.com and check out what the average salaries are for your type of job in the places your prospective clients operate. Set your standards higher. Go where the money is. You don’t need the headache of working for clients who have tight-purse strings, who don’t understand what it is that you do, or who want you to work your ass off for little or nothing. There are plenty of these type of clients around. There’s also plenty of clients who know your value and are more than willing to budget for it. But here’s the main point: you decide who you’re going to work for. You decide how much money you can make doing what you do.
Provide Value through Great Relationships, Not Just Performance
How you do business is more important than what you do in business. Offer more. Always be generous. Set up expectations of what you will do and for how much, but be there in a pinch when your client needs you, too. Remember, choose faith over fear. This means being confident enough to know that the Universe will support you and confident enough in your own value, to have the capacity to be generous. People work with people more than once because they like how it feels to work with them. Skills are important, but skill sets can be replaced. It’s how easy you are to work with, the value you give, how you make your client’s life better and easier, and the quality of your work that keeps them engaged with you.
Remember Why You Freelance
For me, it’s freedom to control my lifestyle and be home with my kids. My husband is also home with us, so we are together as a family full-time. We like it that way. I work Monday – Thursdays, normal business hours. I’ve found a three-day break is ideal for sustaining a creative profession. We also home educate, adapting that schedule around my work and days off. We spend part of the year in Minnesota and part of the year in Sarajevo. I’ve read that just because you’re working from home doesn’t mean that you are with your kids. I disagree. I’m physically present, interruptible and it’s my and my husband’s energy (and not a daycare provider’s) that they are absorbing and growing up with. They are learning what it is to commit to your dreams, to create your life with your thoughts, that they have the power to create money, and are growing up with an alternative to conventional living. They are the remote workers of the future, the agile, adaptable, trans-global innovators, equipped with the technology and the freedom to value their creativity, to think for themselves and possess the power to do work they love. It’s this I remember when things change, when finances aren’t as steady as a regular paycheck, when I’m tempted to wonder if the courage and resilience of depending solely on oneself to create your world is worth it. It is worth it. It’s priceless.