Monday, January 29, 2007

Quick Copy! Tips for Freelance Writers to Increase Income & Output (Part I of II)

Freelance writing is one of those gigs where you only get paid if you produce (for the most part). This article is not about those lucky enough to receive royalties and get paid printing fees. This is for the average Joe sitting at the computer trying to churn out a living every day.

So, if you only get paid for what you produce, the more you produce, the more you make, right? Following are six tips that have more than doubled my output since I started them on a regular basis.

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1. Ideas: As a writer, I'm constantly on the search for things about which to write. To this end, I write down ideas as they come to me. I keep a couple of files on my computer: one entitled "Article Ideas" and the other entitled "Articles I'm Currently Working On."

I throw every idea I have in these files. And, if it comes to me when I'm thinking of the idea, I think of points I want to make in the article. I write those down to. You'd be amazed at what you won't remember if you don't write it down as soon as possible.

Writing them down serves two purposes: i) remember them; and ii) put together an outline. Usually, by the time I open up one of these files, all I have to do is sit down and write. And, more often than not, I have most of the article right there; all I have to do is fill in the blanks.

If you do this consistently, you will have a cache of material right at your fingertips. So, you won't spend half an hour starting and stopping (eg, thinking of an idea and then organizing it into a cohesive article).

2. Being Proactive: What I mean by this is that I pitch completed pieces to publishers (primarily newsletters). I don't query in the traditional sense of pitching an idea and waiting for it to be bought.

While this can be productive and lucrative, usually just when I'm in the middle of a project, I'll get the go-ahead for a piece and have to stop what I'm doing to write it.

This doesn't work for me because it means I'm on someone else's timeline, not my own.By writing about what I want and completing a piece, I always have a body of completed work. This means I sell more and usually get paid sooner.

3. Blog: I've had a blog for almost two years ( It has helped me in three distinct ways:

i) it keeps me regimented: I update my blog a couple of times a week. There were times when I was updating it daily. However often you update (I recommend at least weekly), it will force you to sit down on a consistent basis and write.

ii) it positions me as an expert: My blog is about the business of freelancing. I can't tell you how many interview requests, reader questions and online recognition the blog has brought me.

This leads to indirect income via e-book sales, sign ups for my freelance writing e-course and subscribers to my email list (who I can tell about upcoming e-books and seminars). This brings me to my last point, direct business.

iii) it brings in clients: Much of my work comes from referrals, but more and more, I'm getting work from people who simply find me online. Once they read through my blog, they gain an idea of my writing style, and can start to assess whether or not I'm the right person for the job.

I also think that a blog lets potential clients know that you are serious about your career in that if you've been at it for a while, you must be successful.

Many blogs are updated for a few months, and then they go dead. Blogging is something that has to be done with an eye towards indirect, not direct, income. And, it takes a while to build up a following. So, be patient with it.

For more on this see my article, 4 Tips for Using Blogs to Increase Your Freelance & Small Business Income.

Tomorrow: Read Part II of this article for more tips on increasing your freelance writing income and output.
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