Freelance Writing: Planning Your Writing Business
Are you currently earning income from your writing? Do you claim this on your taxes? If answers to both of these questions are "yes," then you are an entrepreneur. Running your own writing business, while it is a challenging endeavor, does have many advantages. Typically a writer has no other employees or staff and pretty much handles everything from promotion to accounting and everything in between on their own. The real challenge, I think, is trying to enjoy life as a wordsmith but running a profitable business all the while.
"The professional writer understands that what they do is valuable and runs their career first and foremost as a business..."
Writing can be several different things to many people. It can be an art, skill, hobby or a passion. Unless you have money and wealth that is in unending supply, writing must first be a business, and all businesses require a plan of some kind. Many writers tend to think that their creativity and passion for writing will falter and that their loyalty and devotion to their craft will be divided. They believe that looking at their writing as a business, in effect dishonors it somehow.
The professional writer understands that what they do is valuable and therefore runs their career first and foremost as a business. Their understanding is that viewing it as such actually provides them with the capability to commit more of themselves, dedicate the creativity the craft deserves, putting more energy into what they do. This type of mindset is actually the complete opposite of what many writers think. We tend to see it the other way around.
You can commit to excellence in your craft, producing unique, engaging and polished copy but then getting paid as we all know takes a completely distinct skill-set. Just like finding worthwhile wordsmithing work, this too is a balancing act: respecting the craft of writing and all it requires while making a reasonable livelihood off of it. Unless you have no intention of earning from your efforts, it is essential to plan and the first step to that is understanding your economic requirements and situation. This is done by determining what it takes for you to live each month, and not barely scraping by, but reasonably.
As you list your expenses consider: housing, utilities, food, clothing, transportation costs, entertainment, insurance, retirement savings and investments. This will equal what you need to make every single month. It will be a big number, however it is a goal which means that it is a starting point that in time you are likely to realize.
Figuring Your Hourly Rate
Your hourly rate is derived by taking what is necessary for you to live each month and then dividing that number by the amount of time you have available to work during the month on average. It is important to be realistic. Don't say, "I can work for straight 30 days or so for 20 hours each day." Allow for time off, holidays and appointments. And this varies from person to person. For instance, the single writer with no children or spouse will very likely have more time available, so will have a completely different working schedule than that of a married mother of 5 or a single parent. Each writer's daily life is different.
Keep in mind that your rate per hour is a goal, however it is also an average. Some days your hourly rate will be more and other times it will be less. There will be those situations where you'll accept work that pays a lower rate because there is some other attractive benefit such as a quick payment turn-around or the opportunity to break into a new market. Do not give yourself the easy excuse of giving up because you are not yet making the amount of money you want to.
Now, based on this information you can actually PLAN.
Some Hard & Fast Rules:
1. Whatever you do, do not give up! Do not give yourself the easy excuse of throwing in the towel because you are not making the amount of money you want to right now.
2. Do not rely on a good month to carry you through a bad one. Maintain the same effort and save the extra.
3. Avoid annoying clients.
4. Pay close attention to how long it takes for clients to pay you and plan accordingly.
5. Promote and market yourself. Never let up on the work hunt. Plan for volume.
6. When you see a shortfall coming, consider changing your work schedule around to boost the total income that will come in by scheduling writing assignments that even if lower-paying, results in quick cash.
Planning Boils Down to 3 Essential Things
Planning your writing business means that you have to manage income, sales and clients, which when first starting out can seem very complicated. You do get used to it after a while as it becomes simply part of your daily affairs, with practice. Meeting your goals requires that you make certain to obtain enough work, which if you are a working writer, you know is not easy. Every dime you earn comes from completing a piece of work for a client whether that client happens to be a corporation, newspaper, magazine or an online company. The thing writers must do when considering the money to be made is to look at what all a project entails (sales) as well as the aspects of dealing with the client. The rate of cash earned is directly affected by these two things.