Time is everything when you become a freelance writer. After all, the more time you have to write, the more income you can potentially bring in, right?
When I first started freelancing, I spent a lot of time just searching for potential writing jobs. By the end of the night, I would only have a few potential leads and not enough time to apply for them. If only I had known about remote employee websites like WeWorkRemotely.com when I first started out, I would have been able to find contract work a lot faster.
It got me thinking about all the other things I wish I knew when I started out. Things like:
- Contracts: make sure you have one. Without a contract, much is left up to interpretation including payment terms, expected hours, etc. A contract protects you and the client by reducing grey areas. Most companies and magazines will already have contracts made up for their contractors. At the very least, get the details in written form.
- Pitching: if you’re planning to write for a number of magazines and blogs, you’ll need to pitch every day, multiple times a day. The same goes for print magazines. Crafting a unique and exciting pitch takes time, and it could take months to hear back. Keeping a calendar and list of who you have pitched to will keep you organized and know when to follow up with each publication.
- Meetings: if you have multiple writing contracts on the go, and are requested to attend meetings, you need to factor this time into your hourly rate, or detail this in the contract. Remember that thing about time? Consider weekly meetings with multiple stakeholders on the line. I’ve found some meetings with clients are necessary and helpful, but some can just eat up a lot of writing time.
- Expectations: ask your client what your weekly hours would be. I’ve had a client tell me I should expect x amount of hours a week, where in reality, it was far less. As a result of this, I could have potentially lost or declined other writing opportunities.
- Getting paid/invoices: these terms should be outlined in your contract, but it’s important to note that all clients pay their contractors/contributors at different times. You may state on your invoice that you would like to be paid within 30 days of sending the invoice, but that might not work for the client. Magazines, for example, could pay their contributor 90 days after the article goes to print. For some clients, it could be 60 days. It all boils down to how their accounting departments work. So if you want to keep the lights on, as most starving writers do, you need to keep track of when your payments are coming in… or not coming in.
- Feedback from your clients. There has been a few times where I’ve pushed “send,” and not heard a peep back from the client. Did they like the work, was it just satisfactory? Are they planning to rip up our contract and cut all ties? I’ve learned it’s important to have feedback, not only to keep contracts flowing in, but to know what I need to improve on. Checking in at the end of the week with a quick follow-up email or phone call can help.
And the most important tip I can offer — hustle. If you can work efficiently under tight deadlines, you will most likely have a successful freelancing career. Good luck!