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Top 7 Rules for Managing Your Freelance Writing Business
By Bobbi Linkemer
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If you are the creative type, running your business is probably not your idea of fun. Nonetheless, unless you are independently wealthy, you must do it. So, here are some nuts and bolts on what to do to keep your business afloat when you are not actually working or out finding work to do.
- Schedule and keep track of appointments.
If you have ever failed to show up for an appointment, you know firsthand how embarrassed you felt and what impression you created in the mind of the person you were supposed to meet. If you rely on your memory or a scribbled note on a post-it to keep your appointments straight, chances are good this will happen to you, if it hasn't already. Your system can be as high tech as scheduling and calendar software or as unsophisticated as index cards and a generic planner. What matters is that you have a system of some kind.
- Keep your promises, and adhere to deadlines.
Trust is a delicate thing: it may take years to build, yet mere moments to smash it to pieces. It doesn't take very long for a person to figure out that, when you say you'll do something, chances are good you won't. How many times has someone said to you, "I'll get back to you on that," or "I'll put that in the mail right away," or "I'll pass your name along to so-and-so," and forgotten the promise as soon as it was uttered? Is a simple remark like, "I'll call you" really a promise? In my mind, it is.
- Market for new business, and network.
While part of you may be the dreamer of big dreams, the other part of you has to turn those dreams into reality. It is up to you to write the letters, proof them for errors, get them mailed, and schedule the follow-up calls and face-to-face meetings. Networking is another matter. While that other part of you loves to schmooze with the crowd, someone has to determine which crowd is worth the time and trouble.
- Manage your database of clients and/or editors.
Your database is gold, especially if it is well researched and up to date. It is your lifeline to new business or to ongoing business with current clients or editors. Every name on it should be there for a reason: it is a current, inactive, or potential client; a new lead, a media contact, or a referral source; an editor or a publisher. If the name has no real purpose, delete it. This is about quality, not quantity.
- Nurture your relationships.
As important as that database is, it merely represents people; it is not the people. Freelance writing is a service business, and service means more than merely making deadlines and sending holiday cards. Service means developing and sustaining relationships, getting inside of a person to find out his or her real needs, and then going beyond the expected. It means knocking their socks off with consistent, above-and-beyond attention to everything you do.
- Assign priorities to projects and tasks, and then do them in order of importance.
There isn't a time-management scheme out there that doesn't propose some method of separating tasks into groups. Most systems counsel that time management begins with knowing your life's mission and working from there. Effective time management is a more complex process than making lists. Pick a system, or design your own way of assigning priorities. What matters is that you do the important things first, when you are fresh, and that you are disciplined enough to complete one thing at a time.
- Open mail, read and respond to e-mails, return phone calls, and go through your in-box.
The proverbial in-box is everybody's nightmare; but when you work at home, it can be as large as your office, dining room table, or available floor space. Piles here, there, and everywhere are hardly conducive to an orderly mind. A good part of the mess is probably unopened mail (could there be bills in there?), catalogues or magazines you never asked for and won't read, offers for zero percent interest on a new credit card, this week's grocery store specials, and assorted JUNK mail. Calls to return are written down somewhere; and the newest scourge, e-mail, could take you all day, if you actually read and replied to every one you receive.
Bobbi Linkemer is a ghostwriter, writing coach [http://www.writeanonfictionbook.com/Coaching.html], and editor. She is also the author of 14 books. Bobbi has been a professional writer for 40 years, a magazine editor and journalist, and a book-writing teacher. Her clients range from Fortune 100 companies to entrepreneurs who want to enhance their credibility and build their businesses. Visit her Website at: http://www.WriteANonfictionBook.com
Article Submitted On: January 22, 2009