Thursday, February 15, 2007

A Day in the Life of a Busy Commercial Freelance Writer

I'm often asked what my day is like - in a roundabout way. I will receive emails like, "Do you have employees - you seem to do a lot." Or, "Who did your website, I love it." When I respond, "I did it," I usually receive a response like, "YOU did it yourself - where do you find the time?"

So, following is a typical day for me - a busy commercial freelance writer.

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Routine: Although I stick somewhat to a routine, I don't have a set schedule. If I have to run out to the cleaners or go to the grocery store, I usually do this during the day, because it's less crowded and I try not to work most weekends - at least not on client projects.

AM: In the morning, I usually log on and surf for thirty minutes or so before I get down to work.
Marketing: I try to always do my marketing tasks in the morning when I'm freshest and the most invigorated. The sad truth of it is, I would never give a client project less than my best effort, but I will shortchange myself in a minute.

How? By putting off marketing altogether, or doing less than what I should be doing. It took me years to recognize this as a pattern. So, I try to do at least one marketing thing a day. And, that usually means writing, as one of my favorite marketing tactics is article marketing.

Getting down to work means updating my blog, churning out some marketing articles and turning my attention to client projects. By the time I finish my marketing tasks, it's usually early afternoon, at which time I turn my time to client projects.

PM: Client projects can be anything from cleaning up web copy to creating a newsletter to writing a press release. I'm usually working on two or three projects at one time, and most are due within a week or so.

I'm pretty regimented in that I like to finish one project before I move on to another. BUT, this is usually not possible.

When I take on a project, I usually build in an extra day or two, where possible, because even though I know I can design and write a brochure newsletter in 8 hours, I'm also experienced enough to know that I may get a rush project from another client that will prevent me from sitting down to do it all at once.

So, instead of telling a client a 24-hour turnaround, I will tell them 2-3 business days, and that if they want it back before then, then I can do it - for a rush fee.

You may be thinking - eight hours, for a brochure. Yes. Because if you're creating it from scratch, you're going to have to take the time to find out about all the services they offer, how they offer them, how the competition stacks up, etc.

NOTE: Any time you're creating sales materials for a client -- I don't care if it's a simple postcard, or a complicated sales letter -- you are creating the piece that will "talk" to prospects when they're not around.

So, a brochure is not simply listing the services offered, it's what tells a prospect why to pick this client's firm, as opposed to another company. Writing copy that sells is a skill - and that's what clients hire you for. If they simply wanted someone to create a brochure to list their services, they could have their secretary type it up.

Keep the above in mind as you market.

After I pack away client projects, I will spend time answering emails sent in from readers. This is usually around 5 or 6pm. I usually only spend half an hour or so on this. I usually only respond to new questions, not those I've answered frequently or those that can be easily found on this blog.

After answering questions, I usually jot down what I want to accomplish the next day -- articles I want to tackle, follow-up questions for clients and billing/account management (arrggghhhh!).

I do so much more during the day because each one is different.

How many hours/day do I work?
I usually put in 9-11, sometimes more if I'm developing a product of my own (an e-course, e-book, etc.).

And that, folks, is a basic rundown of what happens before I log off, usually around 8 or 9 pm.
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1 comment:

Laura said...

Great post! It's important to remember that success requires discipline. Having a schedule or routine helps assure that things get done. Thanks for sharing yours!