Freelance writing is an amazing writing career. It can also be a great business.
It is wonderful to be able to make a living doing something you really enjoy. But when you work for yourself, there is the added challenge of ensuring you get a good balance between business and enjoyment.
Lots of writers dream of making a living from writing, but unless you have the ability to be businesslike, it isn’t going to work. Since writing is a creative process – even when you’re writing technical reports or non-fiction articles – you have to be extremely disciplined. It isn’t a matter of only writing when you feel creative. As soon as writing becomes your means to a regular income, it must become a business.
Of course if you have another source of income, this won’t necessarily apply to you. But even so, it pays to structure your work and operate within well defined parameters. In a word, it pays to be organised.
Writing has been my primary source of income for longer than I can remember.
Initially I worked full time for newspapers and then for magazines, writing about whatever was required. The jump to freelance writing was a huge one, because there was no longer a guaranteed pay check at the end of every month. Weekends and holidays were no longer a matter of course. I needed all my own equipment, including a computer and a fax machine. Above all, I had to take responsibility for my own future, and the future of my family.
I was lucky to get a few books to write in my early days of freelancing, with advances to keep us going. But I was also forced to find clients who needed writing jobs, including companies that needed regular press releases and other written material. For me the key was, and still is, to ensure that there is always someone you can depend on for regular work. After all, if you can’t cover your expenses, what’s the point?
You’ll make huge strides in your freelance writing career once you start looking on it as a business.
Unfortunately, this is an anathema to many writers.
They can’t make the mental switch from creativity when they’re writing, to logical, hard-headed business thinking when they’re working on their business. They can’t understand that it’s very possible (and lots of fun) to wear more than one hat.
Start thinking of your writing as a business. Take some small business and marketing courses. These courses will give you tools you will use for many years to come.
In Sell Your Writing Online NOW (SYWON), and in my copywriting training, I encourage writers (subtly I hope) to be businesslike.
If you can train yourself to make this mental switch, you’ll become a truly professional freelance writer — someone who’s building a profitable business.