Over the last few years, I’ve made a really big transition when it comes to my writing. Basically, I’ve gone from taking any writing job that anyone would give me no matter what to being selective about how I want to spend my time.
Being selective when it comes to working online isn’t necessarily a luxury. It’s a privilege that you get after you spent lots of time writing stuff like “How to Pop a Pimple” for $10, because yes, that actually happened to me. (I was damn proud of that $10 when I got that job by the way!)
But that was then and this is now. Last week, I said no thank you when someone offered $75/post to write about 401ks. I wavered. I thought about it. I eventually passed and gave the client the names of some friends and my coaching students instead. It took me a long time to get job offers like that, for those types of jobs to come to me, but these days I have other goals, aspirations, and priorities. I’m tired of writing about things that don’t excite me, and I’ve pretty much settled on pursuing creativity and happiness.
The Not-So-Ideal Client
I encourage all new freelance writers to think about what they want in an ideal client, and you might not even know what that is until you work for a little while online and figure it out. These are the types of things I tell my coaching students (and there are still 4 spots left in the next session if you’re interested ;))
I realize that I rarely talk about the dark side of freelancing. I’m always very positive about the joys of being able to work for myself even though I admit it’s been tough lately with the kiddos, but you should know if you are considering this career path, some unusual circumstances await you.
Here are some of the more “interesting” things I’ve experienced over the last 3 years of being paid to write online:
– Clients who took 3 months to pay after receiving an invoice.
– Clients who have edited my work so much, I’m embarrassed my name is on it.
– Editors who failed to follow copyright laws and attached whatever photo they wanted to my posts, prompting me to get letters threatening litigation if I didn’t take it down.
– Clients who agreed to pay for posts, agreed on a price, assigned the first 3 topics, signed a contract, and then…. disappeared into cyber space never to be heard from again. 10 e-mails later, I gave up.
– Clients who screwed my expert sources, agreeing to put links in and credit their quotes, then deciding to take all links out at the last minute.
– Clients who were so difficult to work with and so mean in their e-mails, they actually made me cry. (Come to find out, it wasn’t just me for that one.)
It hasn’t all been bad. Obviously, I’m still at it all these years later (and much wiser and more aware) but it’s important for anyone new to remember that you have to have your wits about you. This can be a legitimate, highly profitable career once you put the work in and learn how to find your perfect client.
What I Learned
My friend Carrie of Careful Cents reminded me over the holidays that I am the boss of this venture. You would think that after working so hard to be self-employed and have control over my day that I would remember this, but it’s easy to forget when you have 10 e-mails from people assigning deadlines and asking for things and you’re trying to stay afloat.
Many people in this business are such perfectionists and so devoted to making their clients happy, they can work themselves too hard. Eventually, something has to give.
These days, I am much less stressed despite being busier. There is a big difference between the two. I am writing for a handful of websites, and they are all my ideal type of client, wonderful, smart, and just plain fun to work with.
Here are all the things I love about them:
1. They let me write about things that are actually enjoyable to write about.
2. They are fun to talk to via e-mail. They’ve become my friends.
3. They pay me more than $10/post. 😉
4. They don’t excessively edit my work.
5. They pay on time, every time without fail.
It has taken me a very long time, years actually, to cultivate such a wonderful group of people that I call my colleagues, and it has also taken me a long time to get the courage to stand up for myself, insist on fair treatment, and drop anyone who isn’t doing the five things above.
Remember, if you’re a writer or self employed in any way, you chose this path of freedom because you love it and it makes you happy. You didn’t want the 9-5, the cubicle, the long commute. So, embrace everything that’s good about this life, and pursue the ideal clients. They’re the ones who are going to make this worth it.
Today, right now, quit working for someone who is making your life miserable. It might seem scary at the moment, but it will free up time for you to find what you really deserve.