Freelancing: It's Not Enough to Love the Writing

If you're anything like me, you love to write. If you didn't, you probably wouldn't have chosen a career in freelance writing. But it's not enough to love the writing. You also have to love the work. No freelance writing business will succeed on writing alone. You have to network, market your services, maintain a website or portfolio, and handle basic administrative and financial tasks on a regular basis.

Fortunately you don't have to let those other work-related tasks hold you down, pulling you away from the writing you love so much.

Balancing Writing and Running Your Business

The real key is balance. I've seen too many authors who want to be "just writers." They don't want to market their books, build a platform, or do anything else it takes to succeed once a book is written. They want publishers to do all of that "other stuff." The publishing industry simply doesn't work that way anymore for the vast majority of authors. And neither does freelance writing.

You have to find a way to balance both sides of your freelance writing business. And you want to do it in a way that doesn't burn you out and that allows you to continue waking up every morning loving your job. Here are a few things you might be able to do to find better balance and keep the "work" aspect of your business from getting you down:

  • Get admin work out of the way first thing so you don't spend all day dreading it.
  • Reserve your admin for a single day of the week -- write for four days and handle everything else on a separate admin day.
  • Hire someone to do things you greatly dislike (or barter your services).

Incorporate Writing Into Other Business Responsibilities

Another good option is to incorporate writing into your other business activities so you learn to love that aspect of your work too. For example, you might focus your marketing efforts around writing-intensive activities like guest posting, writing pitch letters, or putting together a weekly email newsletter.

You can do the same with networking. For example, rather than calling clients, you might write up emails or send occasional follow-up letters. Or you might keep in touch with colleagues through social media writing like social network updates and blog commenting.

You might not be able to turn everything into a writing-intensive activity that you enjoy, but much of your work can be. Here are a few more examples:

  • Write up weekly reports on your marketing activities, cash flow, and other business updates as a weekly evaluation. 
  • Outline how you want to tackle tasks you really don't want to do. By writing out a plan and using it as a roadmap, it might feel less painful.
  • Set up an online client communication system on your website, where you can write back and forth, collaborate on projects, and handle project scheduling all in writing. If you can't find a solution to do this on your own site (which depends on your content management system), consider using Google services like Google Drive for collaboration and Google Calendar for scheduling.

How do you move beyond your love of writing and embrace the other aspects of running a successful freelance writing business? Do you find ways to incorporate more writing into your work days? If so, how? Feel free to share your thoughts and tips in the comments.

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Jennifer Mattern is a professional blogger, freelance business writer, consultant, and indie author. She runs numerous websites & blogs including All Freelance Writing, Freelance Writing Pros, NakedPR, and Kiss My Biz.

Jenn has 25 years' experience as a professional writer and editor and over 20 years' experience in marketing and PR (working heavily in digital PR, online marketing, social media, SEO, new media, and thought leadership publication). She also has 19 years' professional blogging and web publishing experience (including web development) and around 18 years of experience as an indie author / publisher.

Jenn also writes fiction under multiple pen names and is an Active member of the Horror Writers Association.

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6 thoughts on “Freelancing: It's Not Enough to Love the Writing”

  1. I make it easy. Otherwise, I’m not going to do it. My invoicing is a series of manila folders clearly marked “Accounts Paid” and “Accounts Received.” Also, I have the “Current Invoices” folder for the newer invoices. Once a week I go through them to see what’s still in there. If an invoice is in that folder longer than three weeks, I nudge the client. Beyond that, late fees.

    I have a virtual sticky not program on my desktop. I use it to jot down quickly the queries, LOIs, and client contact I’ve made that day. At the end of the week, I open Excel and put the results in there.

    I’ve learned to love marketing. It’s become a fun, challenging part of the business. I enjoy making first contact and finding ways to appeal to the prospects on a more personal level. I try new approaches. Sometimes it works, sometimes not. But it’s okay to show a little personality, I think.

    • I try to turn my work day in general into a game using timers and such to push myself to do more than I think I can. I haven’t found a good way to do that with marketing specifically though. If you come up with ideas, be sure to share them. 🙂

  2. Honestly, I enjoy the business aspect of freelancing more than the writing most of the time. (In school, I was always the one who struggled to hit the page count–and to this day, I find it much easier to write short pieces as opposed to longer ones.) Writing/editing happens to be the way my brain is wired, which led me down the magazine/advertising/marketing path; but my competitive, negotiator, sales-guy side is what led me to want to run my own business.

    As far as tips, I’d highly recommend taking a class in sales or negotiating, which will give you confidence as well as tactical knowledge. Better yet, if you have a friend who’s in sales, see if you can shadow him or her for a day or two. You will be blown away by what you can learn.


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