I feel like in the past few weeks I have been pulled in a thousand different directions. Aside from the coming holidays, things in general have just been really busy. Not that I’m complaining – I’d rather be too busy than not have enough to do. Unfortunately though, that means that my personal blogging has fallen to the wayside. I do want to get back to more regular blogging here, but for now, I just want everyone that reads this blog to know that I am truly grateful for having met all of you and for the encouragement that I get from you. Soon I will be back much more regularly. Have a safe and happy Thanksgiving!
When I decided to leave my full time job, I thought I had made a very planned out, informed decision. I had saved enough money to keep me going for six months. I had researched what jobs I could do, the type of clients I could take, how much I should charge and more. I thought I knew everything I needed to know. Boy was I wrong. After almost six months of freelance writing full time, here is what I’ve learned:
- I will never know everything.
- This is one big roller coaster ride with huge highs and incredible lows.
- Accounting and book keeping take up a lot of time and is a lot more complicated than I thought.
- There will never be enough time in the day to do everything.
- Other writers are so nice and always willing to help out.
- Being by myself all day is hard.
- Making big decisions by myself is hard.
- Success directly depends on how hard I work.
- Success is what I believe success is.
- The small things should be celebrated.
- I shouldn’t get my hopes up until a contract is signed.
- There are many good people out there, and just as many bad.
- A livable wage means learning to go without some things.
- Some people will never understand what I do, no matter how many times I try to explain it.
- Opportunities are out there, I just have to find them.
- There are so many writers out there.
- It’s easy to be disciplined when I get to wake up every day and do what I love.
- Not every project is something that I love.
- I now know what other writers meant when they said you have to have a thick skin.
- I thought I had worked hard in the past, but I have never worked harder than I do now.
With everything I’ve learned and am continuing to learn, I wouldn’t want it any other way. I love what I do. I love being my own boss, setting my own schedule and working hard to overcome challenges. I know that I have so much more to learn and that my journey may never be complete, but the journey is the best part.
Over the past two weeks I have been asked to do four separate spec pieces. Normally, when I get these requests I email the potential client and let them know that I don’t do spec work, the reason why and I send them some of my published clips. Generally, I don’t hear back. Ever.
My issue with spec work is that in the past when I have done it with no questions asked I have never heard back. Once, I even found that my spec piece had been used, without my permission or even my name and after repeatedly trying to get in touch with the company, I never heard back. Yes, I got burned. How does the saying go? Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me…..
I’m not sure why all of a sudden there is a flurry of spec work requests but, here are some tips on how I handle these requests:
- Don’t do it if it sounds like they are asking for spec pieces from a bunch of people. You know those emails that start out “You’re in the top 20 candidates, to determine the best fit we are asking for…..”
- Always ask questions before you do any spec work. Clarify that your article won’t be used without your permission and get it in writing.
- If you can’t get in touch with the company about your questions, it probably isn’t going to benefit you to do the piece anyway.
- When a company asks for a spec piece just to apply for the gig, give a few sample paragraphs, but not a whole article. Explain why you can’t give a full article and direct them to samples of your published work.
- Follow your gut, if you have a bad feeling about it there is probably a reason.
I have not actually gotten a job off of a spec piece. Most clients that hire me look at my online portfolio and can determine if they want to hire me based on my published clips without needing additional writing. That being said, I don’t like to rule out opportunities, especially if it’s a gig I really want. I try to handle every request on an individual basis. How do you handle spec work requests? Have you had any luck with spec work?
Today was one of those days – I have several big projects for private clients waiting for me and I just couldn’t seem to get started. After messing around doing little chores around the house, playing with the dogs, running a few errands, it dawned on me that I procrastinate. Having never thought of myself as one to wait until the last minute, I started wondering why I am doing that now. I’m not lazy or usually distracted, rather what I think the problem is, is that I want to do such a good job on certain projects that I sike myself out. I will finally have a shot at a project that I really wanted or a magazine article that I know I can nail, but for some reason I freeze, get nervous and can’t produce – it’s like I’m afraid that my work won’t be good enough. And I’m sure I’m not the only one to suffer from this.
Here’s how it usually goes for me: First I put off that big project for a few days and spend my time working on smaller less meaningful projects. Then, when I finally designate a day to work on it, for the first few hours I mess around on Facebook or Twitter or like today I do things around the house that could wait until later. Then I start checking things like my eHow account, my bank accounts, my email (about 50 times in an hour) and so forth until before I know it half of my day is wasted and I still haven’t started said project.
What I have found is that after I waste a whole bunch of time and I finally get to work on the project, it goes pretty fast and I produce high quality work. The problem is just getting started. It’s like I have nervous energy that I need to get rid of before I can get down to business. Hopefully acknowledging this problem will help me work through it. While I have made massive improvements in my time management skills, I can’t make a living by messing around up until the last minute on the big projects. What do you do to stop from procrastinating?