Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Re-examining Your Vision for Your Freelance Writing Business

Devon Ellington responded to Lori Widmer’s guest post with a comment that really has me thinking about where my freelance writing business is headed. Devon left this comment:

“I'm in the process of gently disentangling myself from several clients I've grown to resent. For me, it's not just about money, but about where I want my career to go. They don't fit my vision any more.”

It’s taken me a long time, but I’d like to think I’m progressing to that point as well. There was a time early in my freelance writing business when rarely (if ever) said “no” to a client or turned away a project. Five years later I understand the importance of identifying which projects are right for me and the vision I have for my business. I also recognize that my vision has evolved over the years.

When I was first starting out, I just wanted to get paid for writing, by any means necessary. My early days were an experimental time as I learned how to run a business and learned about different types of writing and marketing methods clients were willing to pay for.

Last year I questioned briefly whether or not I still wanted to write for a living. I was trying to balance my responsibilities to my ill father, my immediate family and my freelance writing clients. While I appreciated the freedom of being able to earn a living in spite of a sometimes grueling travel schedule, I was feeling uninspired and unmotivated. At first I couldn’t understand why I felt that way. Very slowly I realized that I no longer enjoyed working on certain writing projects. I felt stuck and resentment was festering.

I had an idea that involved a different genre of writing I wanted to pursue. He idea of this personal project excited me, but I had created a situation that made it hard for me to even get started. Naturally being unable to work on the writing projects I wanted to caused resentment to grow. What was my problem? Making a living as a freelance writer is what I wanted, so why was I feeling so unmotivated? I‘ll tell you why: my vision for my business had changed but I was still operating the same as always.

I wanted to put more time into my personal writing projects. I also needed to start choosing projects better. One of the first things I did was end a working relationship with a long time client. This client supplied me with steady work, but was unable to pay my current rates and her projects were demanding more of my time. Saying “no” was both frightening and liberating. It was very necessary though; if I want to keep doing this and enjoying it, I have to recognize my new vision and take actionable steps to make it happen.

Few things in life are static. We are constantly evolving. My accountability partner in Santa Barbara, California has been freelancing for well over 10 years and assures me evolution is a big part of ensuring longevity as a freelance writer.

When is the last time you revisited our vision for your freelance writing business? Are you on the right path to realizing your objectives, or do you need to make changes?


Susan said...

It's interesting that you ask this question because I've reflected on this a lot lately.

I initially jumped into the pool as a freelancer a couple years ago,and now I realize ..... I can do this forever (as in I won't starve and do not and will not need to return to a full-time workplace, ever).

However, after going through a couple projects that were just not well organized, I've thought that perhaps I could/should hire people and produce a much better product. If I do this, though, it would no longer be a "freelance" business but a business where I am managing people, and I am not sure if that is what I want. But it is a thought that I've more and more frequently, and I may try it eventually.

I am glad that as a freelancer/working my own hours I have had (and can still have) at least freedome to dabble and try these ideas, which I never would have had as a full-time employee.

Kimberly Ben said...

I agree, Susan. The wonderful thing about freelancing is that you have so many options for how you want to operate. If something doesn't work, you can always pull back and make adjustments as necessary.

Lori said...

Thanks for the link, Kim. What Devon said had me thinking, too.

I think when we start out, we take nearly anything because we're afraid not to. Sometimes that causes us to set the earnings bar way too low.

I have one client now that I will probably stay with forever (you probably know her, too), but the pay is not super. She is. However, the side projects have made it worth staying with her. Plus she's just a dream to work with - pays within days, champions her people, etc.

Kimberly Ben said...

Yes, Lori, I know the client you're referring to, and I don't blame you - she's great. I'm glad to hear she's hired you to do other projects as well. :)

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