Saturday, November 15, 2008

What Do You Do When The Writing Work Well Runs Dry?

Sometimes we bite off way more than we can chew with writing work and sometimes we leave ourselves too much room. I found myself in a pickle recently because I was given an assignment of 150-250 articles weekly for three months to keep myself and a good portion of my writing team busy. So I planned for it and as a result, didn't put forth much effort to keep bringing new work possibilities in as I normally would. The project was large and challenging and had a bumpy start but smoothed out within a few weeks and then things were smooth sailing.

But then suddenly the client put everything on hold.

At first it was ok because we all got a chance to catch our breath. It had been a roller coaster of a few weeks so it was nice to catch a breath. But after a few weeks it got a bit nerve-wracking. I got a bit panicked. We'd all left big gaps in our schedule for this project and as a result there'd be gaps in our income as well.

What's a writer to do 6 weeks before Christmas when she thought her Christmas would be jolly because of a nice big project with a decent payout and now that's not happening? Add to the fact that the climate online right now is a bit eerie with all kinds of financial crises and people putting things on hold.

Writing Rescue Plan

Do you have a plan for if your well of work runs dry? Luckily, I do. I have a client that offers me an all I can write buffet at any time. If you can find yourself a client like this, it's wonderful.

Not all the work is fun and not all of it pays the rates I'm accustomed to but as a fall back plan I know that as long as I have this great relationship and the client has a profitable business I'm safe.

I've written in the past about not putting all your writing eggs in a single basket but sometimes things are outside your scope of control. Our big client is just waiting for some financing approvals to resume his project which was very aggressive but very expensive so it sounds like his bosses wanted to slow down and see if there were any fruits from our few weeks of labour before continuing. I do expect the project to resume but in the meanwhile at least we can all write---and eat.

If you can't find a client that can give you an almost unlimited amount of work, here are a few things you can do in a pinch:

Find Writing Work FAST

-Do a special writing offer on a popular webmaster or marketing forum. You can often get buyers when you throw a great deal together and make PayPal cash fast

-Visit Writer forums and see what they're talking about in terms of current potential clients hiring

-Post an ad on a forum or on free classified sites

-Do some marketing and self-promotion of your own writer's site

-Join sites like Bukisa, eHow, Helium, AC and others to build some passive income

-Start bidding on sites like eLance, getafreelancer and guru

It can be nerve-wracking and cause you to panic but the great thing about writing online is that endless opportunities continue to present themselves. You never know, you could find that due to one door closing, a better paying or more creative one opens.


Blondie/Pamela said...

You have some good information for everyone. I often find myself without a paying client because I was so busy with another and had no time to look. Now I spend 1 hour a day looking and applying and that has seemed to solve the problem.

I also like the passive income I make for ehow and now i have started writing for Bukisa as well. AC is my last resort, but it is there when I need it.

Dana Prince said...

Thanks Pam. It's definitely wise to have a plan B for if/when rugs get pulled out from under us! :)

Andrea said...

I do it to myself all the time--and then kick myself every time. I get so busy for a little while that I can't see the light at the end of the tunnel. Then, one day, there's nothing left and nothing lined up. It's the most frightening feeling in the world--especially when you have three kids with hands out, Christmas coming, and bills that never quit.

Thanks for posting this. You have no idea how nice it is to know I'm not the only one that does it. Now I'm back to work on some one of the few projects I've managed to line up this week and mulling over a special offer of my own.

Lori said...

Great post, Dana. Been there, been stuck like that.

If it's on hold, you're free to find other work. If he comes back, he gets in line. It has to be that way. We're not employees - we're self-employed. It's a tough lesson to learn, but we have to treat clients as clients and not as bosses.

Anonymous said...

I'm wondering how exactly you go about finding the big clients in the first place. I'm not talking about the clients you can write articles for, but the ones that provide bulk work that you can then subcontract to other writers. Those are not the kind of jobs advertised in any writing site I've ever visited. Do you contact the clients directly to ask for work, even if there's no advertised job? Do you look in some special website to find these jobs? I've always been curious to know how that works. DB

Dana Prince said...

Great question, DB. I started to put an answer together here for you but it began to get way too long for a comment response so I think I'll make it into a blog post instead. I'll write that up in the next day or two.


Anonymous said...

Thanks, Dana! Looking forward to the post. DB

Anonymous said...


Again, thanks for sharing! I find myself in this situation, in part because of taking a leave of absence while I had a baby.

It's kind of scary to face a dry spell - it's like all my clients decided at the same time to dry up. But your advice is good. Hopefully things will pick up for everyone again. (It seems like a trend right now.)

Anne Wayman said...

Great ideas... the one I'd add is savings... savings aimed at helping me over humps like this.

Anne Wayman, now blogging at

Dana Prince said...

Thanks so much for stopping by, Anne.

I hear you on that! I wrote a post for my other blog the other day that talked about sustaining your business through difficult times and talked about planning financially by portioning your income. It is definitely good material for a future post on this blog!

Kristen King said...

Great post! Thanks for the ideas. I've stumbled this one. :)


Dana Prince said...

Thanks so much, Kristen!