client management

Do This Right After You Get Your First Freelance Writing Job

Leverage Your First Freelance Writing Job. Makealivingwriting.com. Makealivingwriting.com

I can still remember how excited I was to get my first freelance writing job. It was an essay for an alternative paper in Los Angeles that paid $200.

Over the moon! You know I ran right down to my nearest mini-mart, the hour those papers got delivered, to grab myself a few copies.

Then, I followed up on that by doing…nothing.

When you’re just starting out, it’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of seeing your name in print, or getting that first client check. And to be a bit in the dark about what to do next, to keep building career momentum.

There are some key moves to make right after getting that first gig that can help you build your career faster — steps that most newbies don’t take. (I know I didn’t!)

Want to get some real mileage out of your first freelance writing jobs? Here’s what to do right after your work gets published:

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A Genius Tip for Getting Hired at Your First Client Meeting

Master the client meeting with one genius tip. Makealivingwriting.com

Maybe it’s your first client meeting ever, and you’re petrified that you don’t know what to say. And you’ll come across like a dummy.

Or maybe you’ve taken scores of client meetings as a freelance writer — but you keep shooting blanks, and walking away without an assignment.

If you’re an experienced freelance writer, perhaps you’ve left too many first client meetings with the sneaky feeling that you’ve just been milked for an hour of free consulting. You could have charged hundreds for the advice, but you just gave it away, in hopes of impressing your prospect — and still didn’t get the gig.

If you’re any of these writers, I’ve got a piece of advice that’s going to save you time and help you land more clients.

You see, there’s a balance you need to strike in first client meetings between impressing the prospect that you’re smart, and being too helpful. So helpful that they get all the info they need in the meeting, and don’t have to hire you.

How can you impress clients fast, without giving away all your secrets? Here’s my approach:

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Should You Take This Writing Job? This Infographic Helps You Decide

How to choose a writing job. Makealivingwriting.com

It’s a question every working freelance writer faces: You get a client nibble, they explain their writing needs, say what they’ll pay, and then you have to decide. Should I take this writing job, or turn it down?

I’ve spent the past decade coaching writers on how to sift through all the aspects of an offer and make the right choice for their situation. There are a lot of different aspects to consider, to figure out whether a gig is right for you.

And no, being desperate and simply taking every gig you’re offered–no matter how tiny the pay or stressful the working conditions–doesn’t work out well. You need to have standards!

Recently, I realized I could boil down the factors you need to consider into three basic categories. These questions reveal the odds that a gig will be a positive experience. The infographic below breaks down the issues you need to consider, and helps you see where the red flags are.

Should you take this writing job? Ask yourself the questions below:

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Clients From Hell: Quick Ways to Spot and Avoid Them

Beware

They pay late, or too little. They’re not sure what they want. They’re unavailable when you have questions, and sometimes downright abusive when they do pick up the phone. They’re clients from hell, and as a freelancer, you just don’t need this grief.

And yet, tales of client woes are an epidemic in the freelance world. Stories of the best friend you went to work for, who underpaid you for years. Or the company that never raised your rates, even as your responsibilities grew. The one that disappeared with your big final payment.

Wouldn’t it be nice if you could avoid freelance writing clients from hell like these?

Well, for the most part, you can! There are some classic warning signs that things will go wrong — if you know what to look for.

Here’s my guide to quickly screening out losers:

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When Freelance Writing Jobs Go Terribly Wrong: Steal My Recovery Plan

Recovery strategies for screwed up freelance writing jobs. Makealivingwriting.com

Ever have one of your freelance writing jobs turn into a total disaster? It happens, even to experienced writers.

I know, because it recently happened to me. After roughly 18 years of freelancing.

This flameout happened on a $3,000 corporate research report project that required intensive interviewing. I’d done these sort of projects in the past, loved them, was excited to do another one.

Then I did my research, put my list of possible interview subjects together, sent out hundreds of inquiries — roughly triple what I’d needed in the past to land the 6-8 interviews required — and got zero responses. Not. A. One.

It’s been a long time since one of my freelance writing jobs ended in failure. In fact, I’d only ever had one other article that got killed, at the very beginning of my career. Having a complete whiff this late in my career was a humbling experience.

What should you do if the worst happens and one of your freelance writing jobs gets screwed up? Here’s my guide to keeping it professional and minimizing the damage, when everything that could go wrong does:

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How I Turned One Failed Article into Two Big Writing Assignments

Two big writing assignments from one article mistakeI was down to the wire.

The clock was running out, and I had to get this piece — my first-ever paid blog post — to my editor in New York by 5 p.m. The menu bar on my laptop read 1:33 p.m. Pacific time, giving me less than half an hour to clean up my act and hit SEND like a champion.

I know what you’re thinking. I should’ve started earlier, right?

But the problem wasn’t that I had too little. I had too much.

How much?

About double the target word count.

My undoubtedly brilliant article comparing toilets around the world (we’re talkin’ pure glamour here, folks!) was way too long, and I could already hear that horrible sound in the distance: a New York City toilet flushing, with all my hard work―and my paycheck!―swirling down with it.

Instead of giving up, I got my piece into my editor‘s inbox within 27 minutes. And I got paid. Twice.

Here’s the strategy that saved the day.

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