Friday, September 26, 2008

Freelance Writing Addiction

It's official. I am addicted to freelance writing.

As I mentioned in my last post, I've been getting a lot of extra work lately from one of my favorite clients. The other day, I received two more assignments from them, which aren't due until Tuesday.

My sister is visiting from Indiana this week. Her bus was supposed to arrive at Philadelphia's 30th St. station at 8:00 tonight. Of course, as is usually the case with buses, it's about an hour behind schedule.

I have lines I could be learning for a show I'm in. I'm in the middle of a very good book (Assassination Vacation by Sarah Vowell---excellent read!) that I could finish. I could try to get comfy in one of the ridiculously uncomfortable benches in the station and take a nap.

Instead, I shelled out $10 for T-Mobile's gut-wrenchingly expensive Wi-Fi access, set myself up in the food court, researched and wrote both articles.

Now that I'm done, I'm wishing I had more work to do.

It's weird---I used to think that I'd never be able to handle working a full-time job and freelancing on the side, especially when I'm so active in community theatre, too. But I've gotten so used to juggling all my commitments and squeezing in writing whenever I have time that I don't know what to do with any extra time I have anymore. It's rare to have an evening to myself that's not taken up with rehearsals, researching or writing.

I love it. I love being busy. I love researching, I love writing.

I think I've chosen the right career path.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Repeat Business: How To Get It and Why It's Good for Your Freelancing Career

I'm currently nine months into building my freelance business on the side. So far, my favorite part of this job is getting repeat business from existing clients. I love it because I don't have to aggressively market myself to get work from them, and I already know they're good on payment—something that's always a bit of a risk with a new client.

As a part-time freelancer, I hate marketing and contacting new clients. It's a necessary part of this business, but it takes up a lot of my time that I'd rather dedicate to writing. So when I get more work from an existing client, it makes my day.

Copywriting guru Bob Bly points out that repeat business can offer some of your most lucrative opportunities because you are already familiar with the client and they are already familiar with you. "You can charge the same price per job, or maybe even more if they like you. But you can do the jobs much faster because of the knowledge you have accumulated," Bly says.

In addition, repeat clients have more of an opportunity to get to know you and your work ethic. If you have a good relationship with them, you may be able to approach them for a recommendation for your portfolio or Web site.

So how exactly do you go about getting repeat business?

Be professional with every assignment. This is the biggie. Clients won't want to hire you again if you miss deadlines or turn in sloppy writing. Do your best to be an editor's dream writer. Don't just satisfy your clients; delight them. Turn in assignments ahead of the deadline. Edit your writing until it's as flawless as possible before submitting it. If the editor asks for rewrites, do them without complaint (within reason, of course) to match the editor's requests.

Don't be shy about your services. I have a link to this blog and my Web site in my e-mail signature. A few weeks ago, one of my regular SEO clients followed the link to this blog and saw that I also do editing work. She asked me if I'd also be interested in editing for her. Since I like this client and they've always been great to work with, I said yes. Since then, my amount of work for this one client has doubled.

Ask for repeat business. Whenever I send in a completed article or editing assignment, I tell my clients that it was a pleasure working with them and that I'd be happy to take on more work in the future. Editors like working with established writers whom they can trust. Make sure they know that you're available and willing to take on more assignments.

Don't rest on your laurels. Just because you've gotten repeat business from a client doesn't mean you can slack off. Approach every assignment from a repeat client with the same professionalism as you did with the first assignment. Make your editor glad that he or she assigned you another project.

While you don't want to rely too much on any one client, repeat business is a great way to fuel your freelancing career.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Gramar Lesson of the Day: Commas Before Conjunctions

It's been a while since I've done one of these, so let's celebrate the unofficial beginning of fall with a GrammarScribe Grammar Tip!

Sometimes commas are used inappropriately in text when two clauses are linked with “and” or “but.” A comma can be inserted mistakenly because a pause would occur while speaking, but the use of commas in writing differs somewhat.

An easy rule of thumb: Insert a comma if a new subject is introduced in the second clause, or if the initial subject is restated. Otherwise, leave it out so the second half of the sentence isn’t divorced from the first half.


Incorrect: Jack went into the storeroom to look for supplies, but couldn’t find anything. (The second part of the sentence should have its own subject or the comma should be removed.)

Correct: Jack went into the storeroom to look for supplies but couldn’t find anything.

Correct: Jack went into the storeroom to look for supplies, but he couldn’t find anything.

Correct: Jack went into the storeroom to look for supplies, but Locke found them first. (New subject; so a comma is required.*)

*Like just about every rule in this crazy language of ours, there's an exception. It's okay to omit the comma between short coordinate clauses. Example: She went to the store but he stayed home.

I'd like to make GrammarScribe Grammar Tips a regular feature on my blog. Do you have any burning grammatical questions that need an explanation? What are some common errors that you'd like to see addressed? Leave a comment and let me know!