As a freelance writer, I am an entrepreneur and small business owner. That means I have to be constantly on the lookout for ways to improve my business. One important effort toward building a successful small business is building a strong, reliable, client base. As a professional writer, this is something that can only be done one satisfied freelance writing client at a time.
That being said, as a skilled writer, and very fast typist, I can crank out articles, posts, publications, and other writings faster than I can sell them, especially if I am interested in the topic. Paradoxically, this does not necessarily mean that I can take on more new clients. To understand, you need to understand a little bit about what a freelance writer does.
Paying Freelance Writing Clients
Typically, a client looking to hire a freelance writer has something specific in mind. Whether it is a single piece of work, or an ongoing project, the client will have certain parameters that are necessary for a successful project. Some of the most common freelance writing project goals are:
- Specific Topic(s)
- Defined Length
- Target Audience
- Writing Style (AP Style, MLA Style, conversational…)
- Number of writings to be produced
It is the last one that makes it difficult to fill up a professional writer’s full bandwidth.
Scheduling Writing Gigs
In order to be a successful freelance writer it is necessary to consistently meet or exceed all of the client’s goals. Doing so requires not only writing well, but also delivering quality writing on time; in other words, always meeting deadlines.
A freelance writer with a project due every day for an entire month has no room for error. More importantly, the writer has no room for illness, emergencies, or just life’s unplanned events. Assuming the writer left weekends open, there is some ability to catch up, but that won’t help if a crazy Wednesday gets in the way of a project due on Thursday.
The writer then has an unpleasant choice to make, either complete the project due on Thursday on the weekend, thereby not submitting the completed work until Monday, or complete Thursday’s project by bumping the project due Friday, thereby missing the deadline on two projects instead of just one. Neither scenario is very pleasant.
To avoid these issues, an experience professional writer will fill their freelancing schedule up in such a way as to minimize the chances of such scenarios occurring. Sometimes, this will simply be impossible, like when two important clients need major projects completed on back to back days, or worse, on the same day. For the most part, however, a reasonable freelancing calendar may be constructed simply by creating the proper spacing between deadlines.
To do this, the freelancer cultivates several different types of clients.
- Ad hoc clients – Clients who have specific projects from time to time
- Consistent clients – Those who regularly bring the freelancer work
- Scheduled clients – Those whose projects are repeating, such as a white paper every month
- On-Demand clients – Those clients who will take writing from the freelancer whenever they produce it
Ideal Freelance Writing Schedule
The writer then constructs a monthly planning schedule keeping adequate space between Scheduled Client due dates and then agreeing to due dates for each incoming project from Consistent Clients that provide a bit of spacing between already determined due dates. This part is simple enough.
The complication arises from Ad Hoc clients. Quite often, Ad Hoc clients are the best paying. Their projects are typically important enough that they can’t take a chance on them, which is why they come to a professional that has done quality work in the past. They are more interested in seeing their projects done right by a freelancer they trust than shopping around for a cheaper provider.
However, ad hoc projects are often inflexible on their deadlines, often because the client themselves have a deadline as well. That means that a pro freelancer must choose between completely filling their schedule to the possible exclusion of additional ad hoc projects, or leaving some space in their planning calendar in case such a project comes up. This decision is generally made by how frequently ad hoc projects arise for the particular freelancer.
When they are common enough, and valuable enough, the freelance writer will leave the necessary room in their business plan. But, no matter how in demand a freelancer is, the nature of freelancing means that eventually there will be times when the freelancer has the ability to produce additional work, but no projects requiring it. This is why cultivating paying On-Demand clients is critical to freelancing success.
On-demand clients are willing to accept the writers work whenever it is available. Typically, these are large producers. The most common On Demand clients are online. Websites that generate large amounts of content as part of their business model will gladly accept quality writing whenever it is available. That makes them a perfect way to fill-in any holes in the business pipeline.
Additionally, they provide writers with an outlet for those middle of the night sessions where the writer just feels like writing, or for unexpected blocks for free time. They also provide a great way to handle any unanticipated expenses. If the printer breaks down, most small business owners must find a way to replace or repair it out of their on going cash flow. A freelance writer, by contrast, could skip Guys/Girls Night Out and instead crank out some new articles to help finance the new printer.
The main drawback to On Demand clients is that they typically pay much lower rates than other clients. When volume is your primary concern, there is little incentive to pay for consistent quality. However, they generally make up for it by accepting (mostly) unlimited product and by needing smaller, easier to write pieces.
There are several well-know freelance writing clients who accept whenever, wherever, writing submissions. Demand Studios is one of the ones that I frequently use. Not only do they accept writing submissions at 3:30 AM, they have an established pay structure and they even provide the topics. If you are wondering if writing for Demand Studios is worth it you can check out the series I wrote about writing for Demand Studios.
Recently, I have begun to experiment with doing some writing for non-paying content generation sites like HubPages, Squidoo, and Ezine Articles. The value in writing for them comes not in what they pay, but rather in the possibility of extending the reach of a portfolio of writing and from the backlinks they provide to a writer’s websites whether they are the writer’s homepage, business website, or other profitable writing ventures.
Do you have any experience writing for these websites? Are there others you recommend? Let me know, and I’ll keep you posted on my experiences with them. Just grab the ArcticLlama Feed to stay up to date automatically.