Dealing with freelance writing business challenges is a natural part of being a work-at-home writer, but it’s not always easy.
Since I’ve been running a writing business from home, I’ve found the challenges are that I needed to become a Jack of all trades, a master at weaving multiple competing activities into a seamless whole.
Simultaneously. Things demanding attention at any one time include:
- Doing the current work and submitting it by the agreed date
- Following up leads and developing a pipeline of future work
- Business development activities like blogging, writing for other publications, exploring new directions
- Business administration like taxes, invoices and chasing payments
- Professional development e.g. training, courses, conferences
- Looking after myself and having time for family and friends
Some days there is just too much and it is hard to know where to start. That’s where the freelance writing business challenges can become all-consuming.
But each one of these activities is really important or they wouldn’t make it on to the list. Some are more enjoyable than others, but I want my freelance writing business to grow and flourish so the challenges must be addressed (even the uninspiring bits).
Asking around how other freelance health writers manage this I don’t think there is one single answer to how to best balance everything. It seems like everybody comes up with something different. Nevertheless, I think there are some broad principles and guidelines that are important to keep in mind to help us create our own balanced working life and keep our businesses on track:
Look after #1 – the freelance business owner
I figure there must be an equation that goes something like “A healthy me = a healthy business”. We’ve all heard it so many times in so many cute memes and parables, but in real life I must come first. I must make sure I get enough sleep, eat properly (especially lunch), exercise, meet friends and have plenty of family time. These things are foundational to a healthy me and thus to a healthy business.
Prioritise your freelance business challenges
Prioritising is definitely easier said than done. There’s no rules and like setting fees it is a blend of science, art and guesswork. But I think about things like: Who are my dream clients? (Should I be doing their work first?); What are my business and career goals? (This can help sort out the important from the distractions); What is due next? What do I enjoy? What work energises me?
Plan your core business tasks
Planning of course helps us create some sort of order out of chaos…well mostly. To help keep things on track I try to set some broad commitments like blogging twice a week wherever possible. I also try to map out the coming month to the extent possible so at least I know if can say yes or no to new work.
Outsource the freelance writing business aspects that are most challenging
It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that as the sole trader in your business you have to do everything. But it isn’t true. With a creative eye, we can subcontract many tasks. Sometimes we can share work with colleagues, or subcontract the work to an associate. Sometimes we can convince family members to help us with taxes. So yes, some of it we have to do – but sometimes outsourcing can help ensure everything else keeps ticking over nicely. Just make sure to outsource ethically – and stay away from those cheap medical writing outsourcing marketplaces!
Stay positive when coping with freelance challenges
Sometimes things get overwhelming and it’s hard to see a clear way forward. So I have learned to remind myself that things always have worked out in the past. I have survived hectic times before and have what it takes to manage. Just thinking this defuses the pressures and gives me a clearer head to sort things out sensibly.
Stay flexible in business
Flexibility is key to dealing with freelance writing business challenges. Planning and prioritisation are great…until things change as they inevitably do. Workflow can change from one day to the next. Brilliant opportunities can arise when they are least expected. So a plan for the week or month is a work of fiction to be discarded and rewritten as needed. We need to be smart and move and shift things around as the work ebbs and flows around us. We need to know when to say no. We need to know when to stop investing energy in an activity. We need to know when to outsource. And we need to know when to down tools and get out for a coffee or a walk.
So yes, running a freelance writing business means I need to not only be a Jack of all trades BUT be master of them all. But looking after myself, prioritising and planning, outsourcing, staying positive and flexible means I’ve got a great chance of doing just that.
What freelance writing business challenges do you face, and how do you deal with them?