If you want to become a successful freelance writer, you have to first begin by organizing your day to make it happen. If you focus on organizing one day, then follow that plan for three weeks to make it a habit, you'll have no problem achieving success in this field.
NOTE: Most experts agree that for something to become a habit, you should do it for at least three weeks - continuously - before it will stick.
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1. Block Out Hours for a 10-hour Workday: I know, I know, this is not popular, but for the first year or so, you are going to have to put in 9 or 10 hours a day (sometimes more) to make it happen. So, just get used to it.
People wonder how I do all that I do and the my answer always is organization and willpower. I know what I want and am not afraid to work hard to get it. So, 10 hours - wrap your brain around it and move on.
2. Create a Marketing Plan: A marketing plan is like your map to success. Without it, you will be like a dog chasing its tail - going around and around in circles making no progress at all.
Of course, creating a marketing plan means deciding what type of writing you want to do, who your target market is, how you will reach them, how much it's going to cost you, what your pricing schedule is, etc.
This doesn't have to be fancy, and it doesn't have to cost a bundle - but it is a must. Remember, marketing is a numbers game. If send out 50 mailers a week, that's 200 hundred a month. A 1-3% return will bring in 2-6 prospects.
If you close half of these, that's 1-3 new clients a month. When you look at the numbers like this, it's really not so hard, is it?
Build up your client list to 25 or 30, and you should stay fairly busy.
3. Create a Realistic Pricing Schedule: Many freelancers work for peanuts. Hey, I still do sometimes. But, it all depends on my goal. I have an income goal that I set each month. If I feel like I'm falling behind that, you betcha I take on low-paying projects.
Stipulations for Low-Paying Projects
I don't do it on a regular basis and I have certain stipulations that must be met (eg, is this going to be a repeat client, a bottom line (I do have a rock-bottom minimum), what the project is, how long it's going to take, etc.
Industry Wage Minimum
I've given up on this market having a stable industry norm, as discussed in my 11/7/06 post, Should Freelance Writers Have a Minimum Wage?
Some writers are going to rail that you're low-balling; some clients are going to say that you're too high. I say create a pricing schedule that works for you. As discussed in 2/8/07 post, Are You a High Stakes or Low Balling Freelance Writer?, only you can decide what "price" is right for you.
4. Diversify Your Income Streams: As I said in my 1/31/07 post, How to Make $100/Day as a Freelance Writer, "Choosing two or three different types of writing you can do well. For example, you might do resumes, articles and web copy."
Also, create your own products to sell, eg, e-books; use write-for-pay sites like AssociatedContent.com; and/or set up a website on sites like CafePress.com to sell t-shirts, mugs, etc.
Diversifying your income streams means that when projects dry up, you're not left out in the cold.
5. Market, Market, Market: While this point could fall under Tip #2, I wanted to write it as a stand alone - last.
Make it your business to get out a certain number of marketing messages a week. Whether this means mailing out 100 postcards, sending out 200 emails or, attending two networking events and passing out 20 brochures.
You can't get business unless you get in front of prospects. Staying home, surfing the net, lamenting about why no business is coming in will not make you successful.
For the first year at least, you're going to have to work your butt off to get business in the door.
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