Friday, October 19, 2007

The ups and downs of freelancing

A post about writing today – they sneak in every once in a while. When I came back from vacation near the end of September, I had anticipated a very busy week. A regular client had work for me, as did a new one. A return client, who pulled a project August due to internal issues, contacted me again to work on a different project. Since work had been a bit slow before my vacation, this made me happy knowing I had this work ahead of me.

However, as we know in the freelance life, we don’t count on upcoming projects until they’re in your hand and you have the contract signed and delivered/faxed/emailed.

The regular client’s work went on as continued, but the new client bailed (no explanation given). The return client gave me a wonderful project to work on but after I did a few hours on it, I got a call that this project was also pulled because of – you guessed it – internal issues.

It’s times like this when you just want to bang your head against the nearest wall. As luck would have it, another client, who sends me work from time to time, provided me with a few good hours of stuff and then I found another new client to fill in the gaps. This new project is great and it’s something I really enjoy working on. The client is an absolute pleasure to work with and I hope that this will develop into regular work. I also picked up a few smaller projects along the way so, things do ultimately work out in the long run. But this up and down is enough to drive the most secure person a little batty sometimes.

A few people have asked how I get my work. One word: Marketing. Fairly regularly, I send out letters of introduction to anyone who may be able to use my services. I comb the Internet for prospects and send off tailored letters to my target companies. What happens most of the time is I don't hear back, but every once in a while, there's a return message that they’ll keep my information on file, and again, every once in a while, someone calls with work. And, you never know when the call will come. In the spring, I emailed a company and that very afternoon, I got a phone call from them. I now have a very regular client out of that letter. This past June, I sent out a slew of LOIs and didn’t hear back from any of them – until September. Just before my vacation, someone contacted me because her boss, to whom I had addressed my LOI, passed on my email to her and now they had work for me.

So, other than applying for jobs as they come up, the LOI route does actually work. It just doesn’t work with lightening speed most of the time. If you’re looking to be a freelancer, don’t give up if you don’t hear from the people you are targeting. Work on it, keep it up, and don’t give up. It will happen if you put enough of yourself into it.

News for Today:

Ban cold medicines for kids under 6, U.S. pediatricians tell FDA
Strategy needed now for future pandemics: experts
FDA to warn Viagra users of hearing loss
Effectiveness of most PTSD therapies is uncertain
Early intervention dramatically improves outcomes for new dialysis patients
Services for patients with BPD need to be improved say psychiatric nurses

7 comments:

Terrie Farley Moran said...

Hi Marijke,

Thanks for this very interesting peek into the life of a freelancer. I write fiction, so I enjoyed seeing how the non-fiction world works.

Also, as a grandmother with five grandchildren under the age of six, I deeply appreciate the link about the cold meds, which I sent to my children and children in law.

Have a great weekend.

Terrie

Onehealthpro said...

It's always helpful to read a message regarding the value of persisting!
Onehealthpro

Georganna Hancock said...

Thanks for the explanation of how to pronounce your name in the sidebar -- boy was I waaaay off!

What you say about clients and freelancing is so true. I've had some that it took a year before they came around to the idea that yes, perhaps a website would be helpful.
And since I began insisting on a 50% down payment before beginning work, no one has pulled a project.

Marijke Durning said...

Hi Terrie; I'm fascinated by the fiction world. I don't know if I can make the leap though. Maybe one day.

I'm glad you find my news links helpful!

Hi onehealthpro.
I guess being stubborn is one of those traits that comes in very handy as a freelancer!

Hi Georganna:
Believe it or not, I once got a client because of my name explanation on my website. She was very impressed that I would take the time to address this, knowing that many people have difficulty with it. I thought it was important because it's awkward to call someone if you don't have a clue of how to pronounce the name.

You are defintely not the first to be way off. One day, I'll do a post on the many ways I've heard my name said. It could be an interesting read. :-)

Crabby McSlacker said...

My approach to freelance writing is to fantasize about people asking me to write things for large sums of money.

Oddly enough, this approach hasn't worked very well.

Glad yours is more effective!

Renie Burghardt said...

Hi Marijke,

Love your name. I freelance as well, but I write inspirational non-fiction, mostly. The Internet is a great help for finding freelance markets, isn't it? There are many opportunities out there, we just have to search and find.

Just wanted to say "Hi," and tell you I enjoyed reading your blog.

All the best,

Renie

Marijke Durning said...

Hi Crabby. I tried that approach. Oddly, it didn't work for me either!

Hello Renie, thanks for coming by. I kind of like my name too. :-)
I hope we see you again.