Hi. This is an old, unmaintained blog. You may find these sites more to your liking:

Carson Brackney: This is my primary site.

Ad Astra Traffic: Content production/article writing service.

Ad Astra Traffic Team: For those who'd like to get writing gigs with Ad Astra.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Keeping busy...Or how to avoid famine...

This post was motivated by observations from one writer at her blog and by comments made in a writer's forum on the same topic. The issue? How can a freelance content writer maintain a consistent workload?

For most freelancers, writing for the web seems to be a "feast or famine" proposition. Either they have too much work to do and feel insanely pressured, or they are staring at a blank calendar hoping for a job. It can be a maddening cycle and it's one that has undoubtedly led several people to quite the industry.

I'm lucky, I guess. I always seem to have enough work to keep me mildly nervous at all times. Sure, some months are more packed than others, but I feel as though I can count on a consistent and acceptable base level of assignments monthly.

I don't claim to have all the secrets to staying busy, but I do have some opinions and ideas... If you are interested, here are ten of them...

(1) Quality keeps you busy. If you produce good work, you will get more repeaters and more word-of-mouth business.
(2) Customer service staves off famine. People like to work with those who treat them well.
(3) Flexibility pays. If you are an article writer, that's great. However, if you can diversify your skills to successful manage other content needs, your risk of being underbooked disappears.
(4) Being a generalist helps. If you like to work within a particular niche, you will experience wilder shifts of workload. If you are willing to research and tackle new subjects, however, your options multiply.
(5) Working your list produces results. If my schedule for the next month is looking a little thin, I will start contacting past clients in groups of five to ten, reminding them of my existence and seeing if they have anything in the works with which they could use a hand. It works.
(6) Self-promotion helps end the cycle. If your primary strategy is to hold tight and wait for bid job boards to come your way, the risk of a down time is probably high. Spending some time getting your name and skills in front of potential clients pays dividends. Blog daily. Write articles. Email potential clients. If you go to the mountain often enough, it will eventually come to you.
(7) Specials bring business. Large auto-makers give cash-back bonuses or offer employee pricing discounts. Shopping malls have sidewalk sales. Grocery stores offer weekend specials. Sometimes a good special offer can fill a schedule fast.
(8) The picky risk hunger. Sometimes you might have to break price a little. Sometimes you might have to take a dull topic or two (or seven). Sometimes you'll have to bite off a bigger chunk of pot roast than you are accustomed to chewing. Those who paint themselves into a very small "this is what I do" corner can find themselves with a small amount of work to do.
(9) Diversification makes a difference. Find a few other ways to put your online talents to work on the side. Maybe you can write and market your own ebooks. Perhaps you can launch a few low-maintenance, solid-earning Adsense blogs. Find a few residual earners to keep some extra income padding coming in every month.
(10) Improve. If you are on the feast/famine treadmill, you have to find a way to hop off. That might be by doing some of the things mentioned here. It might also requirement some improvements in your work or in how you run your business. Repetition is dull and promises nothing more than expected results, at best. Improvement, on the other hand, is a source of infinite possibility.

Personally, I think numbers 1 and 2 probably account for well over half of what keeps writers busy, but the other things are important, too.

I think that's what keeps me relatively busy. Do you have any other ideas/suggestions about how to keep a nice consistent workload as a freelance content writer? If so, please feel free to comment.