Freelance Writing – The Owner Never Calls in Sick

In Part One I introduced myself. In Part Two, I introduced the varied opportunities for the Freelance Writer. Now in Part Three, we need to discuss this whole idea of me and you as freelance writers. I put myself first there (even if it is usually reversed) on purpose because everything I am going to say in this article pertains to me in spades.

In a September 12, 2013 article, Forbes magazine quoted the following from Bloomberg Business, “8 out of 10 entrepreneurs who start businesses fail within the first 18 months. A whopping 80% crash and burn.” The author of the Forbes article states the majority of businesses failed because they ran out of money.

Can any authors reading this article relate?

A recent article in The Writing Life by Kameron Hurley details how much money she has made as a novelist and why she has decided to keep her day job (and she is doing better than many writers).

Most authors I know are in the same boat – they have a separate stream of income that they rely on for their survival while they build their writing career. If you remember from Part One, Freelance Writing can be one of those alternate income streams. Emphasis on the CAN!

As a Freelance Writer you are a self-employed business person. You are part of the group that employees (those with a guaranteed paycheck) call Rich!

I’ll pause for a moment so you can finish laughing or gagging ……

You have to be rich – You work when you want to, you decide what you want to work on …

Pause ……

Back to reality — As a self-employed person you do not make a dime until someone buys your product. As a freelancer your product is that article on Parenting, Homeschooling, Gardening, The Care and Nurturing of Dragons, etc. You can be an excellent writer and an expert in your field but that does not guarantee success. The truth is the only thing guaranteed is work, often arduous, and financial rewards are rare. You are part of that group where 80% will fail in the first 18 months.

This article relates how long it took giant companies to become overnight successes. The hours that startup entrepreneurs work are legendary. Few of us are in a position to work 16-plus hours a day at our craft. We are serious writers and serious husbands, wives, parents, etc. Each of us must decide how we divvy up our 24-hour day.

But if we do not dedicate time to our writing nothing will come of it. You must decide how many hours a week to give to your craft. Then you must treat that time as you would a normal job. A boss wants your butt at work when you are scheduled. As the business owner, You Don’t Get To Call In Sick! (major illness or family emergencies excepted).

All businesses monitor their productivity.  As a Freelance Writer, you need to do the same.

In Part One you were asked to create a list of topics to write on and decide the number of hours a week you were going to write. Now you are going to keep track of your productivity. If you decided to write five hours a week, starting today you must write five hours a week. If you don’t your writing business will FAIL! That is a guarantee. On the other hand, if you discipline yourself and dedicate the amount of time you decided on, your business MAY SURVIVE.

In Part Two you were directed to webpages where Calls For Submissions can be found. You should be visiting those sites looking for work. It is your business and you must drive it forward.

When you find a job, send in a query or submission, whichever that particular editor requires. As you send in queries and submissions, record these on a separate list to keep track of your productivity. I use a composition book. I record the day I sent in the query, the name of the magazine, the title of the article I proposed or some other identifier, and the date I can expect to hear back from the magazine if I know this information. This is the beginning of how you will track your productivity.

If your query list is not growing steadily you are not being productive. You should add one or two per month at a minimum. Take your writing seriously and others may consider you a Serious Writer!

About Dennis McGeehan

Dennis P. McGeehan is a husband, homeschooling Dad of eight, a Martial Artist, Freelance Writer, Author and Speaker. He is a member of the Catholic Writers Guild. His latest book is titled The Diaries of Joseph and Mary.
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