- By Yuwanda Black
- Published 09/23/2011
Freelancing writing can be a feast-or-famine existence. The reason I say “can be” is because it doesn’t have to be. I’ve been a freelance writer since 1997 and it took me quite a few years into my career before I learned how to steady the ship, so to speak. Recently, a new freelance SEO writer emailed asking about how to stay motivated as a freelancer when things get tough. She wrote: “I wanted to write in to let you know that I got my first client today!! However, it took me three weeks of constant (10 – 15 emails a day and even a handful of cold-calls) to get a nibble that turned into a client. I got really discouraged during that time. You may have already written a post on this, but could you maybe do a refresher on how to stay motivated when things aren’t going as well/quickly as you had hoped? I think it would be helpful to a lot of us.” First let me point out what I told this freelancer, which is, that’s no time to start landing clients. So she’s already off to an excellent start. Now, to some concrete advice on how to make the tough times easier so you hang in there and experience freelance writing success. I. Market, Market and Market Some More: The best way to stay motivated as a freelance writer – especially through dry spells (which happen to the best of us) is to market for work. Why does this work? Because it beats the heck out of sitting around feeling sorry for yourself – and it usually winds up bringing in jobs. Feeling sorry for yourself won’t pay the bills and it sure won’t land you the next writing job, so you might as well use the time fruitfully. II. Assess the Competition: Look at their websites, their writing samples, their pricing structure. What are they doing that you’re not doing? Is their site more professional, are there samples better than yours, are their rates way less or way more than yours (yes, charging too little can lose you jobs because prospects may not trust that you’re “professional” enough). III. Ask Questions: Query your past/present clients. Tell them that you’re doing a “company assessment” to improve services and ask them to give you some honest feedback. Impress upon them that you’re looking for honesty and directness and while great feedback is always appreciated, it’s the “stuff you need to improve on,” that you really want them to tell you about. Freelance writing is a wonderful career, and it doesn’t have to be fraught with uncertainty. While dry spells happen to almost every freelancer, remember to stay proactive. This is particularly when times are good – and you’re tempted to slack off your marketing.
Market all the time; ask for feedback all the time – if you do, you’ll find that the dry spells will be fewer and farther in between, they’ll be shorter and you’ll find freelance writing gigs that much easier to come by.