Sunday, January 11, 2009

2009 Writing Goals: Staying Afloat As A Freelance Writer During A "Recession"

I last talked about 2009 writing goals and here's a continuation of that post. Because this year is a difficult year for the economy, here's what I'm doing for the moment as work has been a bit less of a veritable smorgasbord and this has required some tweaking of goals and approaches.

Existing Clients

I'm doing work for my existing client base (although on a smaller scale) and trying to keep them very happy with me so that I don't lose any clients. This has meant trimming the writing team a little and only using people I can rely on so that I don't jeopardize any currently stable relationships. I'm also writing more and subbing out a little less. I'm doing some risk management, too to ensure I don't have any big problems with a few slow payers who might disappear. I've seen a few clients slow down their payment cycle which puts me in a tough position so I'm trying to watch money very closely.

Job Bidding:

I'm quoting a bit lower than my usual rates to try to build my profile on Elance. So far, so good. Elance is a huge source of potential income but it's also a big source of competition so I'm continuing self-promotions efforts and SEO and promotion for my own website as well. I know writers earning six figures a year with job bidding sites so I'm investing $20 a month in a membership and seeing how it goes. I'm in month 2 and doing ok with some repeat business and one client who liked my first job enough to pay me almost double for a follow-up project. One-off clients are not my ultimate goal but can be good gap fillers for slow times and might build some more repeat business and referrals.

Client Queries:

If a potential client finds me, I'm quoting higher than I do on a bidding sites because they found me and saw something they liked on my website and so I have nothing to lose but I'm not quoting quite as high as I might have quoted six months ago--- or as high as I think I could be quoting because things have gone from feast to near famine for a lot of writers I know. I'm also offering some introductory rates to some new clients with potential for increases later on to protect myself.

Writer Evolution:

You have to evolve in order to stay alive in this industry so you're not writing at the same rates year after year or having to drop your pants and write for a penny a word when you're a ten year veteran because there is SO much competition. I'm trying to learn and spend time listening to successful people. I'm also trying to balance between writing for others and building my own online empire. I'm working on building value for existing clients as well so that they get more from me than they do from other writers.

This might be a year of transition for me instead of complete evolution as I decide which direction I want to take my business in. My desire in evolving means transitioning to more of my own work such as my blogs and internet marketing and writing what I want to write instead of having to write 30 articles on tire rubber so I can buy groceries.

Whatever I have to do, I definitely take comfort in knowing I can make enough money doing this that I don't have to go back to that rat race I ran from. The trick is, not letting *this* turn into just another rat race.

This might be a year of late nights and lower paying gigs to ride out the storm but I'm determined to make sure I also find a way to grow and evolve and continue to love my job.


Ashwin said...

Hi Dana,

I am presently going through the same phase as you seem to be going through and I just loved the way you choose to be pro-active and that you are doing something about it.

I can see you have already stepped on gas to promote and market yourself. I did just that, and I am still doing it. Oh by the way, I must thank you for having told me to do some "ezine articles" thingy, which I incidentally started. So far, so good.

Yes, you can count on elance( even though I get pissed at it for those 40 USD I lost for nothing and the fact that so many of them resort to the 50 USD bidding). No, Quoting low is fine - I am seeing that you are doing it and I am doing it too -- but I hate rock-bottom, least possible bids.

I think you are on the right track and I have a feeling it's not going to be a FULL year; it's going to be much less.

You will rock and I know it.

Dana Prince said...

Thanks, Ash. I definitely think it's just short term too. Here's hoping :)
The great thing about this business is that it is constantly flowing and every day when I open my email in the morning I get excited at the possibilities that might be waiting for me :)

Courtney - Web Writing said...

The thing that I love about your blog is that you share your process. I appreciate the way you step out exactly what you are doing and why. I've considered Elance before so I'm curious to see how it works out for you.

Dana Prince said...

Thanks, Courtney. I try to make this blog helpful to people.

I think elance is definitely worth the effort. There are a lot of jobs there. A problem I'm having at the moment though is that I have a difficult client issue that's dragging on. I'm doing everything I can to make her happy but am now petrified she's going to ruin my perfect feedback score and make all the work and effort and low paying sacrifices for naught. I need to be more careful about what I bid on because this one had some warning signs from the start. I'll have to make this experience into a blog post when it's all over with :)

Philip Yana said...

Hi Dana,

How is your Bukisa experiment going now? I didn't make a single cent this week from Bukisa!

Also I had some advice from one of the guys at Daily Writing Tips to forget about these revenue sharing sites, and forget about writing for the unpaid article sites, just concentrate on the likes on and

Love to hear your thoughts about that.

Dana Prince said...

Hi Philip,
At 2.5 months with Bukisa I'm at just over $30. I have only posted a few articles this month so most of that is from the effort I did in the first month.

These free sites do a lot for a writer like me because they do more than just earn me a few pennies every day. They increase traffic to the sites you link to (which works great if you're a niche blogger or internet marketer), they build an online presence under your name so people can look you up and see quality articles with your name on it (which can help if you're applying for writing gigs) and they can also bring in residual income. So, I'm only dabbling in this when I have time as part of my self-promotion efforts (a writer needs to promote themselves and free sites work great!) and if I make money as a result, then great! I do spend the majority of my time on work that I know will pay me but the more passive income streams I build, the more choosy I can be about the writing gigs I take. I guess it all depends on what your goals are. If you want to make money solely through ghostwriting spend all your time on guaranteed up front payment work. For me, I am spreading my efforts between ghostwriting, my own blogs, my own internet marketing and trying to build passive income streams. I'm getting traffic to my websites through my Bukisa articles because I'm always sure to put at least one link in an article so for me it's self-promotion with perks. I know a writer making $1000+ a month with Ehow and that's passive because most of her earnings come from articles she wrote months ago. If you compare the cost of writing a $20 once and selling the rights and then posting it on a site like Bukisa or Ehow and making a few hundred dollars every year it can work out really well. Not every article will earn you that much so it's important to find something to write about that people want to read.

Hope that helps.

Philip Yana said...

Thanks for your detailed answer Dana. Greatly appreciated!

I'm dying to know - what does the person making $1000 per month on eHow write about?

Dana Prince said...

Hi Philip,
On ehow her username is Writergig :)She's selling an e-book for $25 detailing her process as well. I wrote about it a few blog posts ago.


Sharon said...

Thanks for this, Dana. I think many of us are considering our options at the moment. Like you, I am considering giving Elance another try, though I don't plan to enter any rock bottom bids. It will be interesting to see how it goes.

Lori said...

Great list, Dana. Food for thought.

I've used one bidding site in the past, and I stopped altogether when I saw a big jump in the $4-an-article jobs. I was paying $75 for a three-month membership and that's what I was getting? When I brought my concerns up with the site owners, they basically responded "tough nuts."

It's why I don't use bidding sites. That and the idea of having to compete for work or pay to see the listings.

Dana Prince said...

Bidding sites are definitely a crap shoot. I've had a few positive experiences so far and some experiences that have been a bit rough so it's teaching me I have to be very careful about how I bid. I'm trying to go no less than 25% below my regular prices and am staying within the 'connects' for the $20 a month membership. It's also costing me about 8% of my earnings so it's definitely something I'm being careful with and only doing when the load is light. I've only done $1000 worth of writing so far so I'm still developing an opinion. Hopefully my positive feedback from users so far will help me to begin to charge my regular rates.

Russell said...

For what it's worth, the elances, Suite 101s, Associated Contents of this world will never pay more than pocket money. However, they are - along with a well-focussed blog - a way of building a writing portfolio. This is especially useful if you have one or more niche subjects as you can then try for better paid work that relies more on your knowledge and experience rather than swimming with everyone else who wants "to be a writer" ... Good luck - I like your site.

Russell said...

For what it's worth, the elances, Suite 101s, Associated Contents of this world will never pay more than pocket money. However, they are - along with a well-focussed blog - a way of building a writing portfolio. This is especially useful if you have one or more niche subjects as you can then try for better paid work that relies more on your knowledge and experience rather than swimming with everyone else who wants "to be a writer" ... Good luck - I like your site.

Dana Prince said...

Thanks, Russell.

I do know someone who has made over $600k from Elance since 1990 so it definitely has potential. She also has a large team of writers working for her so can charge bulk rates, too and that makes a difference. For now, it's a gap filler for me and could be used as a way for me and clients to utilise an escrow service which can be valuable when nurturing a new client relationship. I don't see the bulk of my work coming from this site but it's been an interesting experiment.

RaSh said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Barb said...

Good writing is so valuable. How can these sites get away with paying so little? I've been a freelance writer for more than 15 years, but work for clients who valuable what I do, not anonymous sites. Why should writers settle for so much less than auto workers, to say nothing of investment bankers? Writers, unite. We need a bailout--or at least some respect.