Monday, September 10, 2007

POST #12: 40 Days to a Successful Freelance Writing Career

PUBLISHER NOTE: If you are a regular reader of this blog, then you know about the upcoming freelance writing seminar in October. Details.

Many have inquired about what will be discussed at the seminar. So, in order to answer your questions and to get you prepared for what to expect, I've started a series of posts entitled "40 Days to a Successful Freelance Writing Career."

To start at the beginning, click here. And, welcome to the blog. Now, on to today’s post . . .

Why Newbies Get More Work Quicker than Experienced Freelance Writers

It’s been my experience that new freelance writers get more business – sooner -- than experienced freelance writers. While you may scratch your head at this, when you really stop to think about it, it makes sense. Why?

I think there are a few reasons. And, general discussions with other freelancer writers bear this out. So, what are the reasons.

1. Ignorance: What do I mean? I was watching one of those entertainment news shows that quoted Brad Pitt as calling Paris Hilton “blissfully ignorant.” This is the thought that comes to mind when I think of newbies (new freelance writers) sometimes.

Some newbies don’t know that they’re not “supposed” to get certain jobs. So, they blithely apply anyway. Experienced freelance writers tend to apply for things they are “qualified” for. Qualified is in quotation marks because, more and more in this industry, that is subjective.

When you don’t know that you’re not “supposed” to get a job, you apply with less fear – with less internal barriers. While I’m not saying that newcomers should waste their time applying for any and everything – which is a waste of time – they should apply for things they feel they are remotely qualified for because, hey, you just never know.

And, if samples are requested – all the better. Many times, you will be hired for a job based on your sample – it won’t matter what your experience is.

Want to learn exactly what to do to earn $100, $150, $200/day or more as a freelance writer, editor and/or copy editor? Inkwell Editorial's upcoming Freelance Writing Seminar will tell you how. Details. It's a career anyone who can read and write can start -- with the right information.
2. Willingness to Learn: Many experienced freelancers have their own way of doing things, so they dismiss assignments that don’t fit into their modus operandi and/or are a pain to deal with.

Newbies are hungrier, so they’ll take on “bothersome” assignments, or learn how to work within a company’s procedures. Now, while they may later regret it (and you will at least once -- boy will you!), or choose not to take on certain assignments, it means they’re more open to the possibilities.

Speaking of possibilities, consider the following:

How One Account Turned into a Boatload of Money: A Personal Story

I have one account that started out disastrously. You see, the manager was a pain to deal with. He was disorganized, forgetful, and a blamer -- as in, quick to put the blame on someone else.

He would tell you to do one thing one way – and forget that he told you – and then wonder why you turned the project in done that way. It got so bad that I started putting things in writing – to cover my carcass – and to refresh his nonexistent memory.

Anyway, I was talking to one of his subordinates one day because something didn’t make sense to me. The more we talked (the subordinate and I), the more we realized that this guy (the account manager) was just plain ole incompetent. So, we devised workarounds to keep him out of the picture as much as possible, while still getting the work done on time and within budget.

The reason I tell you this is because this was an account I went out of my way not to have. Initially, after two or three interactions with this account manager, I knew that he was incompetent. I thought to myself, “I really don’t need the kind of headaches this guy is going to give me right now.”

But, he was persistent in getting me to take the account. He told me that he liked working with me because I was so professional (his words). Of course, I’d never let on what a pain he was to me.

Long story short: This guy went on to give me a boatload of business – it’s an account I still have. He recommended me to several other people in his company, telling them how wonderful I was to work with.

I now do some business consulting for this client – outside the scope of what they originally hired me for.

Moral of the story: You never know where a contact will lead, so think long term, even if the client is a royal pain. Do your best on each job and remain professional throughout the process. Sometimes your worst account can turn out to be your biggest blessing.

Account Update: I STILL try to avoid contact with this particular account manager. I’ve found that those who work under him usually know what’s really going on. So, we work together to make him look good – all the while keeping him out of the loop as much as possible.

3. Enthusiasm: Although this wanes quickly, newcomers to freelance writing have an infectious enthusiasm for their new career. The chance to be jaded hasn’t taken hold.

You can’t place a value on this.

A word from the wise: To all newbies, try to bottle this sentiment because it fades quickly. As you will spend more time marketing for assignments – especially in the beginning – than you will completing assignments, try to remember what made you want to start this career in the first place.

In short, try to hold onto your enthusiasm past the honeymoon phase. For, while freelance writing is a rewarding career, like anything else, it takes time and hard work to make it a viable, “I can pay my bills doing this,” career.

NEXT POST: In Post #13 tomorrow, we’ll discuss how to approach your existing employer for work – without jeopardizing your current position.

What do you think? If you have questions, comments or observations about this post, send them in. Email them to info [at]

Editorially yours,
Yuwanda (who is this person?)
P.S.: Tomorrow marks the sixth anniversary of 9/11. I lived in New York City during this tragic time, so it will be heavily on my mind. My fiance is an ex-Marine, so to all those who lost loved ones, who were touched by the events of that day, and to the soldiers of every nation who put their lives on the line for ordinary citizens like me -- you will be on my mind tomorrow -- as you are every day.

9/11 -- may we never forget -- and continue to learn -- from what could so easily go down as a senseless tragedy. Let's not let it.
Upcoming Features in Inkwell Editorial’s Newsletter
September 12: Gordon Graham. We ring in the “editorial season” by interviewing Gordon Graham, aka “that white paper guy.” Gordon writes and edits white papers and case studies. He charges $90/hour just to edit a white paper and a minimum of $4,000 to produce a white paper from scratch.

Now, do you see why I had to interview him?! Most freelancers don’t even dream of making this type of money. I can’t wait for this interview.

Missed the latest issue of Inkwell's freelance writing newsletter? The 8/15 issue featured an interview with B2B freelance writer, Meryl K. Evans. Want to break into this very lucrative market? Meryl's interview sheds some detailed light on how. Sign up to receive your copy to read what Meryl had to say.

Gain clients, web traffic and brand awareness. How? Let us interview you for our popular newsletter? Full details. Read the first issue here.
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