Saturday, February 25, 2006

Michael Riley on Freelance Writing

Michael Riley, also known as Featurewriter at Absolute Write, posted this response to a query asking about paying the bills by freelancing. I like it because he's made the choice to do what he really enjoys and he finds that he makes as much money as before in less time.

Getting to where I was able to pay the bills by freelancing entailed quite a learning curve, which continues to this day. Experience is the greatest teacher ... unfortunately, experience usually takes longer to obtain than the bill deadlines will allow.

Like most freelancers, I had other income sources to subsidize my growth during the early years. I got the books, studied the success stories, and applied the teachings. But I found that most of the instruction didn't work for me. At some point it became painfully obvious that I had to figure out what DID work for me and apply it. That's when things turned around.

Until that happened, I continued doing what I knew would bring income. A few years into the process, I reviewed my writing work to see how much time was required for each type of assignment ... and was surprised by what I found.

Some assignments paid quite well but I didn't enjoy them. Others paid too little for the amount of time required to complete them. Some of the high-paying gigs seemed like they SHOULD have been fairly easy to accomplish, but if I didn't enjoy them, I would procrastinate until the deadline forced me to act.

Recently I did a little exercise: I wrote down the types of work that I truly enjoy. That list revealed that I was pulling in about 60 percent of revenue from "energizing" sources, and 40 percent from "draining" assignments. It also indicated that the "energizing" gigs took less than half as much time to complete ... mainly because I was enjoying them!

So, I shifted my focus. The result was that in December I made as much as I'd made the prior three Decembers, but only worked a third as many hours. There were no new clients. My rates were about the same. The only difference was in the types of assignments I took on: the types that work best for me.

The post above was located in the forum thread: Who is paying at least half the bills freelancing?

If you enjoy writing, I recommend Absolute Write. You'll find insightful articles, market information, writer's resources, and a very articulate and interesting community of writers in the forum.


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