Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Finding Motivation When You Need it

Building a commercial freelance writing business involves lots of dedication and hard work. Some days you’re on fire! You’re full of ideas and strategies that seem to pull in new clients effortlessly; but then there are those dry spells when you feel like no matter what you try nothing seems to work.

When motivation starts fading, you have a harder time staying focused. You may even start questioning your decision to freelance full-time. It isn’t until you’re your own boss that you realize motivation is not in unlimited supply. When you need it, you have to do something about it.

Network – in person!

Sometimes a change of scenery is all that’s needed. Working solo is easy for me – I prefer it to a typical office setting working along side coworkers. But even I feel the urgent need to step away from work and interact with others now and then.

Join your local chamber of commerce or an industry organization that has the potential to net you a few good clients. Attend meetings periodically for a change of scenery and networking opportunity. Making a few new contacts can get you back in the groove.

Set goals

Sometimes having something to work toward is all you need to get those motivation juices flowing again. You may have your sights set on taking an anniversary cruise n ext summer, building an extension to your home for a new, private office space or hiring a virtual assistant. Make your goal something attractive enough to make you work for it.

Remind yourself why you decided to become a freelance writer

You were probably never more motivated than when you first had the idea to strike out on your own and make a living as a freelance writer. Wouldn’t it have been great if you could have bottled that feeling?

Did you choose this path for the freedom? More time with your family? More money? Whatever your reason, take a time now and then to recall the reason(s) you chose to start freelancing to reignite your motivation.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Navigating Client Personalities

Today I wrapped up working on a project with a client whose personality is pretty much the polar opposite of mine. He’s one of two people in his company that I work with. Last year we ran into a few problems while developing content for a web portal. I was used to working with his partner who has a communication style compatible to mine.

Unfortunately we had a difficult time working together initially. He tends to provide what I like to call “over communication.” He would send very long, drawn out emails about project details that really could have been delivered in a just few short sentences. I could understand if he were outlining specific points in his messages, but mostly he would end up repeating the same information over and over in different ways, and spinning off on confusing tangents in a desperate attempt to provide examples of what he was trying to say. And the long phone conversations were even worse.

I was often so confused by his instructions that I would have to send him an email outlining what I understood and request an approval reply. Like I said it was tough on both of us.

We finally settled things by going back to the old way of doing things; I communicate with his business partner on all projects. It’s working out beautifully, just like in the beginning.

One thing I’ve learned while freelancing is that you must learn how to deal with various client personalities. I’m happy to report that for the most part I have an easy time of it; but every now and then I get thrown a curve ball and have to figure out how to make it work so that it’s a win-win situation for everyone. Here are just a few client personalities I’ve encountered:

The Big Wig

The Big Wig is either someone in an executive level of the company or the owner of the business. He’s the decision maker. He is confident (verging on cocky), wealthy and brimming with big plans and ideas for his company.

If you're lucky enough to land one of these clients with a secure business who understands the importance of marketing and content development, you’ll enjoy the fruits of your labor as long as you deliver as promised.

Unfortunately, there are also so called Big Wigs out there who don’t have a clue about the value of good writing and will try to nickel and dime you at every turn with the promise of bigger and better projects down the road. Quantity and a fast turn around are more important that quality and experience. Don’t fall for it.

The know-it-all

Keep your eyes peeled because this client can either come across as hostile or the friendliest person you’ve ever met. The friendly know-it-alls just want to share their knowledge with you and believe that without their input the project will not turn out as well. Hostile know-it-alls will test your patience as they search for errors and mistakes to point out, and seem to take perverse pleasure in making others feel incompetent. They really believe that they are just being truthful with their scathing criticism.

One distinguishing characteristic all know-it-alls share is their need for your undivided attention and for you to acknowledge their wisdom. They need to control every aspect of the project, and their demands can suck up your time making it difficult to manage any other projects on your plate.

The dissector

The dissector easily gets caught up in the details of what goes in to a project so much so that he has a difficult time remaining focused on the goal. He wants to pick apart how you approach the project so that he can understand how everything will fit together. Dissectors have a strong need to be in the know. They can wind up monopolizing your time worrying about trivial matters and make it harder to get your job done.

Again, these are only a few client personality types I’ve managed to navigate in this business. If you’ve had experiences with any I may have missed, feel free to share.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Your Writer Resume

While trolling the job boards looking for a few good leads, I’ve noticed quite a few ads requesting resumes from potential writers. This seems to throw some writers for a loop. You expect a prospect to want to see your online portfolio (you do have one, right?) as proof of your writing skills, so you may wonder why a resume is even necessary.

Corporate state of mind

One of my biggest first clients was very new to the concept of working with a freelancer. We got along well and he appreciated the work I did, but he operated his business the same as he always had in the corporate world. Some of the systems used to operate a traditional business with employees don’t work as smoothly when you’re operating a virtual business using contract writers.

He required that I send him a resume because in his mind it outlined my qualifications much better than sending a sample to my work would. He felt that by having one I automatically established myself as professional. He also paid attention to how long I had worked with clients and related jobs to determine whether I was employable and reliable. He also happened to require a college degree so that info was there to review as well.

Traditional resume versus writer’s resume

The thing that distinguishes a writer’s resume from the typical job seeker’s resume is that it is meant to highlight specific experience more than provide details of your work history.

If you don’t have a current resume and need some help, here is some helpful information to get you started. I’d love to hear how many other freelancers regularly submit resumes for gigs.
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