Managing Your Freelance Writing Career

Before starting this post, I would like to add that I haven’t blogged for almost four weeks now – my longest dry-spell since I started to take blogging seriously a couple of years ago. This is because I have been swamped with work over the past month or so. Having said that, while having a regular freelance writing gig is really nice, can you keep up with the ongoing need for fresh content? Can you balance the workload with other projects? Say you have a client who has you blogging weekly or even daily. Have you found it easy to come up with simultaneously original and useful content each and every week or even every day?

In some saturated niches, it’s not always easy producing regular content. Very few freelance writers have just one project on their plate at a time. At my busiest, I’ve been working on eight or nine projects simultaneously, which requires a certain degree of multi-tasking. Managing multiple projects as a freelance writer doesn’t have to be difficult, however, if you learn how to properly structure your day.

First, you must be familiar with your threshold if you are going to manage multiple projects as a freelance writer. Each of those projects will likely come with deadlines attached, which means that you must have sufficient time to complete them by that point. If you have twenty projects due in one week, you’re going to be working twenty-hour days and I can almost guarantee it won’t be your best work.

Hence, planning is an important part of managing your freelance writing career. If you have a regular writing gig, you might find that trying to come up with new ideas every day isn’t all that easy. You can do your best, but you might feel as if you’re perpetually chasing your own tail, trying to get a new article done on time. Instead, take some time to plan out ideas now that you can leverage later.

One of the first things to do is create a mind-map using free tools available online. I use FreeMind – you can download a free copy here. I use FreeMind to keep an article idea bank. By doing so, I am always at the disposal of article / feature story ideas and it helps me respond to clients and prospective clients faster. You might also want to leverage other people’s work. For instance, if you read someone else’s article that inspires you, record that idea as well. Maybe you can come up with a way to supplement the conversation, instead of rehashing it blandly.

Obviously, one of the perks of working from home as a freelance writer is the ability to work whenever you desire. Hence, when you know how much work you can complete in one day, you’ll be better able to determine your threshold. The next step in learning to manage multiple projects is to set up a scheduled work day. If you are trying to fit in working between doing the laundry, changing the oil in your car and helping your kids with your homework, you won’t get much done.

You will really need to schedule your workday – without that you will not get much done. To avoid distractions and temptations, make sure that you’re working in a reasonably enclosed area and that your family members know you are working and not to be disturbed. It is entirely possible to manage multiple projects as a freelance writer, but you don’t want to reach a point of overload. When you accept too many projects in an effort to get ahead financially, you might wind up breaking contracts or disappointing clients who might otherwise have brought you more work in the future.

If you do find that you’ve reached your threshold, don’t be afraid to say ‘no’ to clients who are asking you to take on projects. It is entirely acceptable to develop a waiting list or to make a referral to one of your writer friends. Also, do not rush through any of your work. If you’re not getting anywhere with billable work, first take a short break. Then try research, administrative or personal tasks–whichever feels most comfortable. Return to billable work later. Consult your idea bank if you have no pressing project to complete. Overall, write when you’re most relaxed; plan when you’re agitated, anxious or non-creative. On weekends, plan ahead for the next week, instead of trying to find your creative footing over and over every day.

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