Getting started with freelance writing can be a difficult task all by itself, but once you find steady work and have to start meeting deadlines, you may quickly find yourself overwhelmed. Fortunately, as a web writer, you have the advantage of already being seated at a computer, one of the most powerful organizational tools on the planet, when used correctly.
Not everything I recommend in this article will be useful to you, because no two writers are exactly alike. These are suggestions that should get you started toward developing an efficient writing system that is relevant to your type of work.
1. Plan According to Your Pay Schedule – Do you receive weekly checks? Lucky you. Whether you are paid weekly, bi-weekly, monthly, or (God forbid) quarterly, you should plan your work schedule around those payment windows. You will need to complete a certain amount writing within that time frame, so plan accordingly.
2. Use Planning or Scheduling Software – It can be as simple as a to-do list web application or as complex and a project management suite. Use whatever works for you, and check off projects as you complete them.
3. Writer Early and Often – You already know this, but I am going to say it anyway. Do not wait until the last minute. Start on your writing when you have enough time to finish it and catch up on episodes of your favorite show. You are being paid for quality work, not a rush job.
4. Document Everything – When you are writing for a company or website, you will most likely need documentation in your invoices. Keep a list of everything you write, and, if possible, backup copies of every article.
5. Take Notes – Whether you are a pen and paper person or use some sophisticated online note-taking tool, take good notes. When writing for the web, it will be easier to use a computer-based tool so you can copy and paste URLs, pictures, and anything else you need for a job.
6. Reserve Time for Promotion – This is particularly important if you are getting credited for an article. Your name is on it, and that makes you proud. So, promote it. Give yourself time to get on Twitter, Facebook, Digg, YouFace or any other social media site you use, and spread the word.
7. Have a System and Stick to It – You may think you do not need a routine, but as a human being, you are hardwired for it. When you have a routine, it is a lot harder to make a mistake because you can do certain tasks without a lot of forethought, like resizing images, remembering to add blog post tags, and making your title SEO-friendly. Part of your routine should also be environmental. Have a quiet place to work or use white noise to cancel out your kids, like I do.
8. Develop an Invoice System – For this you can use accounting software, an online service, or your own custom templates, but make sure you stick to the system. It will be so much easier when you send invoices to clients, and they will appreciate the consistency.
9. Balance that Budget – Since you already planned for the entire month, you should have already known how much money you would make. Budgeting at this point is just planning how you are going to spend the money you have earned. Be sure to include any expenses like PayPal fees, Internet usage, and any subscription business services.
10. Communicate – According to Manchester web server hosting provider 34SP.com, communication is one of the most important aspect of any business. Your clients do not need to know all of your personal business, but they will want to hear about your progress and anything that may delay your work. Communication can go a long way in preventing unhappy customers. Remember, you want your clients to be happy and refer you to all of their friends.
Organization is all about making work easier and more productive for you. You may like Post-It notes or keep everything in your iPhone. It is all up to you, but make sure you have some type of organizational system. Not being prepared is a sure way to end up forgetting important business and possibly even getting fired. Freelancing can be fun, bit it is still work, so plan well and succeed.
Photo Credit * e_walk
Tavis J. Hampton is a librarian and writer with a decade of experience in information technology, web hosting, and Linux system administration. His freelance services include writing, editing, tech training, and information architecture.
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