Concerns (and Solutions!) for Freelance Writers

Wednesday, August 03, 2011
I realized I worry about freelancing all the time. I worry if I’m using my time wisely, if there’s something else I should be trying, or if I’m working smarter. I've read wonderful advice from WOW!'s instructor Nicole LaMarco about how we should focus on the writing and sending out instead of the worries. And you know what? She's right!  I made a list of FIVE common freelancer concerns, and how to combat them. I'll share three today and the rest next week on Thursday.

Concern #1: Running Out of Good Ideas
Many writers worry that they may run out of good ideas. Without ideas that editors want, a freelance career may be hard to sustain. That’s true. However, I know many writers, and most of them have more ideas than they will ever have time to write. But if this is a concern of yours and you worry you won’t come up with a saleable idea ever again, then try these solutions:

•    Keep a notebook with you, and any time you see anything of interest—jot it down. Refer to this notebook when you feel stuck.
•    Talk to family and friends about ideas or what they are currently interested in. 
•    Scour through newspapers, magazines, and anthologies for ideas.
•    Take a broad topic like dogs or weddings, and create a mind map. Narrow the topic until you get a new and unique idea.

Concern #2: Health Insurance:
This is a huge concern for freelancers, especially if a writer is not married to someone with health insurance. You need to educate yourself on your current options, and what you can do to cover yourself. It’s important to have health insurance. Here are some sites where you can find information. Talk to other freelancers you know, and ask them what they do.

•    A list of links about insurance:
•    Allena Tapia's site:

Concern #3: Time Management
When you’re a freelancer, you are your own boss. If you work, you’ll make money. If you spend your time avoiding your computer, chances are, you won’t. Many people are starting freelance careers after losing a job, or when starting a family and one parent decides to work from home. Time management is a challenge—but you can do it. Everyone can, even if you feel you’re not disciplined. Here are a few tips to combat this concern:

•    Look at how much time you’ll actually have during the day for freelancing. If you are staying home with a new baby, will you work during nap times or after she goes to bed at night? You may not have an eight-hour day to work in, but that is no reason to worry. The great thing about freelancing is that you can do it anytime!
•    Make a schedule for your work, just like if you worked a full-time job out of the house. And more importantly, stick to your schedule. If you are going to write from 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. every day and then again from 7:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. Monday through Thursday, then stick to it. Let family and friends know this is your work time. Only deviate for emergencies and special occasions—just like taking a vacation or sick day from work.
•    If you aren’t productive, then reassess your schedule. Tomorrow is always a new day, and a new plan can be implemented to help with your time management.

Stay tuned for more concerns (and solutions!) next Thursday! 

 post by Margo L. Dill; Margo teaches an online workshop on querying and writing non-fiction articles for WOW!, starting August 19.  To view the syllabus and sign up for the course, visit the classroom here

photo by jczart


Sioux Roslawski said...

Number # 3 is especially pertinent to me, Margo.

Thanks for the post.

allena said...

thanks for the link, Margo. another concern that many have is the spotty payments, no regular cash flow. I often encourage people to vary their incomes for this reason. That is, consider investing time in passive incomes, teach seminars now and then, conference talks, etc.

Wayne Kernochan said...

I'm not a freelancer, but this is a great post :)

You're smart for a girl :D

JennC said...

wonderful blog!!!! Thank you so much!!

Jill Ellis said...

Balancing time between clients and projects is another big one for me. Every editor wants to know you're focusing on their project(s) and every client needs to have your undivided attention. As a freelancer, it's often volume that makes the balance sheet work but achieving balance with so many balls in the air is often tough

Thanks for the reminders, Margo!

Margo Dill said...

@Sioux, Jenn C, and Allena--you are welcome!

@Wayne Ahhh, gee, you're so charming. ;0)

@Jill and Allena--thanks for adding to my list! I think we are providing freelancers some great resources, here!

Shyxter said...

One of the most challenging concern of freelancers is time management. I agree that we should always set a working schedule and put a strong effort to stick to the schedule. As a freelancer, this was the hardest thing that I had to deal with in working at home. Striking a balance and imposing self-discipline are essential to be able to work from home effectively.

Thanks for the tips, Margo. They were really helpful!

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