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Monday, September 25, 2006

Setting Freelance Writing Goals

Freelance writing is like any other business - you have to set goals to make it a success. When I went freelance a year or so ago, my goal was to make enough money working from home to replace my former salary as a part time lecturer. It was five months before I made any money at all. In that time, I concentrated on creating my website, writing a few children's stories, entering writing competitions (only two, neither of which I won) and writing free articles so I would have some up-to-date examples of what I could do. This helped me to polish my writing skills.

Finding Freelance Writing Jobs

I also looked at many of the sites that listed freelance writing jobs and started applying. That was a difficult time, because bidding is hard work for little reward. I learned a couple of things about bidding, while I was doing it:

First, I learned to have some text ready that I could cut, paste and change around to suit any job with only minor editing. This included a paragraph about the job and my proposal, a paragraph about my relevant experience, a paragraph with links to examples of my work and a paragraph with contact details. That's enough for most bids (and too much for some - some people only want the figures). That didn't help me much with winning bids, but it did help with learning to blow my own trumpet and promote.

Second, I learned that if you're competing with people who will write for peanuts, you will never earn what you think you're worth. So I swallowed my pride, dropped my prices and vowed that one day I would get better paid writing jobs.

Freelance Writing: The First Job

My first freelance writing job (paid) came from one of my former students. I suspect it gave him a thrill to be in the driving seat, but I didn't care. He was pleasant, polite and paid on time - everything you want from a writing client. The next big job came from someone who wanted to take advantage of my experience as a teacher. The job was ghostwriting a lesson. Again, done and paid promptly.

At the same time, I was writing for a new venture that I first heard about here on this site - the revamped InspiredAuthor. Over the course of four months or so, I wrote 75 articles for two new topics I was managing, one of them on freelance writing. I was able to use these as examples of my web writing and that suddenly put me in a whole different league where writing jobs were concerned.

The next thing I knew I was writing for a whole slew of sites on a variety of topics and 10 months after I went freelance, I had achieved my first goal. I was pleased about it, because I was doing it part-time, fitting it around childcare and other family responsibilities. I now have a couple of regular writing clients who pay above the minimum, though I still take the 'peanuts' jobs as well. If I write fast enough, I can make enough from the job to make it worth my while.

Freelance Writing Goals

It has to be said that I managed that first freelance writing goal with only a minimal amount of planning and quite a lot of learning, from people on this site and others. What I have learned in the process is that unless you turn your ideas into goals they may never happen. That means prioritising and detailing the steps that need to be taken to achieve those goals.

For example, I know that in 10 years' time, I don't want to be scrabbling around for 1 cent a word jobs, so I have to raise my profile further and do some writing that will bring in residual income. I can also use my teaching experience to do the same thing. So my plan for the next year is to try to find a few more of those higher paying jobs, and to convert my offline journalism courses to online courses. I've also got a few plans for books. I'll let you know how it goes. If you're a writer (or in another business), I'd love to hear about your process for setting goals and how you've done with achieving them.

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