Sunday, January 18, 2009

And That is a Big But

I was recently in negotiations with a client for a large number of Web content articles. I had written a handful for him before and he was interested in hiring one of several writers who had written for him before to handle a much larger project. After much back-and-forth negotiation (including on Christmas Day), the answer came that he was choosing someone else. Why? Well, the answer comes down to the "but" that shouldn't have been.

In the end, this client, like many others out there, made their decision based on the price per article rather than what he wanted to market, how it could be marketed and the potential readership of the resulting articles. In other words, he cheaped out. I was told that I was the best of all the writers he was considering, but that I was also the highest priced so he couldn't hire me for the project. Did you see the but? Let's examine the but.

If you really think about it, the but is the problem with a lot of clients. It should never have been a but- it should have been an and. I was the best of the writers in the running and I charged the highest price. You get what you pay for, though many clients still don't realize it. They still think that a virtual product is different from a physical one or that the laws of business don't apply to Web businesses. Both of these myths couldn't be more wrong.

If someone is fairly good, expect them to charge more than people who aren't. If you want a plumber who will take his shoes off and won't call you "sweetie," expect to pay more. If you want someone to write your content who has a degree as well as experience in corporate communications, print news writing and Web writing and marketing, expect to pay a little more than someone dabbling in writing to pay off their credit card. And don't ever but me again.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

New Year's Resolutions

Yeah, it's already the 11th. Don't judge. I still have last year's resolutions in the back of my mind to do. I think at this point it's time to let go of the old and to make new ones. I've been thinking about new goals since the 1st of the year because I take resolutions very seriously. I actually have all of my resolutions for each year since I was 16. Seriously.

Last year's resolutions went sort of OK, though I didn't do the ones that I thought were the most challenging, so that's pretty much a fail. In reality, this year's will likely end up like this, but I will press on anyway. Here's what I've come up with:

Stick to a basic work schedule.
For a freelancer, that doesn't necessarily mean that work is done at a specific time- just that a set amount of work gets done each day. I've been trying since the first to work with a daily schedule planned out a week at a time to ensure that I don't try to take on too much work in a day, burn out for a day and then come back with trepidation at the thought of more misery.

Work on my novels.
I have a list (yes, I am waaay into lists) of the novels that I have either begun or have in mind to begin. Some of them have been buzzing around in my head for about 15 years. If I can stick to my work schedule and can feel assured that enough work is getting done to allow us to continue to eat and all of that, I should feel no guilt at delving into my novels and perhaps actually finishing one.

Read my work more often. Once a piece is written and proofread, I tend to never want to see it again. It's over. Finished. I have come to believe, however, that reading over your work after it's cold and dead will give you some objective insight about your style in a way that reading over a still-warm work can't. I have been reading some items that I wrote a year ago or more and I have seen several spots that could be improved. I think that a person's writing style is always evolving and that this evolution can be helped by sucking up your pride and visiting those old items.

Continue to build residuals. This has become important to my income and I hope it will allow me to take it a little easier this summer. Last summer was rotten as the economy tanked and work dried up. With less free time at that time of year, I had less time to market myself and communicate with potential clients and we all suffered for it. To offset this, I am working hard at creating income streams that will continue to come in even if the freelancing market slows. Having a little bit of cushioning like that is important when you rely on your freelancing income for the basics.