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Thursday, April 12, 2007

My Writing Team

As you know I started a new venture in January, leading a small writing team. Boy, has that been a learning experience. And it still is. Here are some of the ups and downs of the past three months.

There was a lot of initial interest in the writing team. One person asked to work with me, took a job and then backed out at the last minute, leaving me to rely on the kindness of friends and some hard work to get the job finished on time. This was a big deal for me because I NEVER miss deadlines, though I do sometimes renegotiate.

A few more people were put off by the amount of writing that they had to do. I can understand this, because when I started I was appalled at the rates I had to write for and the money I was making, but I soon decided that if that was the market, then that was what I had to do to start with. And it's been worth it, because I have improved my skills and knowledge and have now started to earn more money for some projects.

Then there were the people who waited until a job was due to tell me that they couldn't complete it. To say I was incensed would be to put it mildly, so I waited till I had calmed down before pointing out that a last minute approach didn't leave me enough time to find an alternative - a couple of days would have been better. And I've also had dealings with people who want to do the job part time or less, which is fine, as long as they don't promise what they can't deliver.

Working with a team means that I spend a lot more of my time checking work than I had expected and it has also affected my cash flow. I try to pay people within a week of invoicing - and sometimes have managed within a day - but if people don't pay me on time, this can stretch me a bit. However, as a freelancer, I am only too aware that people have bills to pay, and I don't want to make writers wait for money when they have delivered the work.

On the plus side, I am developing relationships with some very good writers, who have put themselves out to meet deadlines, even when the money didn't seem great. They know who they are, and I am very, very happy to be working with them. I've also hooked up with a couple of new writers in the last couple of weeks who look very promising.

I've discovered a lot about the inner workings of Paypal including how to pay people when there's no cash in my account. I've made a bit of extra money, though not quite as much as you might think. In fact, there were some jobs on which I made 25 cents for spending 20 minutes checking, giving feedback and rechecking.

Overall, I'm not complaining. Although there have been some difficult moments, I can see that this will be a good experience, so I'm looking forward to what I learn over the next few months.

And here's a final question - as writers, what would you want from the people who supply you work. I think I have an idea, but it would be better to know for sure.

7 comments:

Sun Singer said...

Very interesting. My old school upbringing might lead me to seek for collaborators, but it's hard to visualize running a team.

To some extent, your experience reminds me of the days when I ran volunteer and for-profit newsletters. In both cases, people would often jump at the chance to include articles, only to back out a day or two before the copy and artwork were due at the printer.

Hopefully, the old proverb that (in volunteer groups) 20% of the people end up doing 80% of the work won't creep into your writing team.

Malcolm

BloggingWriter said...

I certainly hope not, Malcolm. I've had similar experiences when putting publications together - it can get a bit hairy when you've got a gap to fill at the last minute.

Merry Jelinek said...

I'm sorry it's been so difficult in some respects, Sharon, but hopefully it grows into something more substantial and less hassle.

On the plus side, it's great that you've found some good new writers to work with - that's the most amazing thing with writing, generally we are a very helpful bunch when we can. I got a lot of help on that over large batch I had many weeks ago.. I paid the writers who helped me the full balance, but for me it was just to get the work out the door and not miss the deadline so it was more than helpful.

Good luck with the team - I hope it works out wonderful for you.

Merry

Dana Prince said...

For me, the most important thing is communication.
My best clients are those that answer my e-mails quickly, especially when I have questions about an assignment (so I can get back to work asap), tell me etas on invoice payments and who give me feedback when applicable about the work.
Positive or negative, communication is the key, for me.

I hope this experience is a positive one for you and results in success for your business. You have great mentoring abilities from what I've seen so I think anyone working with you will benefit from that once you settle into a routine/rhythm with this new business venture.
:)
Cheers,
Dana

BloggingWriter said...

I think every learning experience has difficult moments, Merry and Dana, but I am still committed to the idea. The first month I wondered whether I had made the right move; now I'm pretty sure I have and I am learning things that will make it easier for everyone.

I understand what you mean about communication, Dana. One of the tough things for me is that when I am balancing my own deadlines and checking work, I have less time to spend on email. It's something I'm trying to address. Watch this space for developments. I think my six month report will be more positive :)

inspiredauthor said...

I hear you. I've managed www.inspiredauthor.com for four years. It has been hard. Even dealing with people who want to teach can be a startling experience. When a teacher is upset that their students actually want their assignments marked, lol. www.writersonlinecourses.com

You are brave for doing this, and you are giving people a fast track start. Keep up, you'll find your balance.

BloggingWriter said...

Thanks for the encouragement, IA. You've got some great sites and I know you do a lot to help other writers succeed.