Networds asked professional writers what they plan to do differently next year. What activities deserve more time and attention and which warrant a whole lot less?
What they have to say is sure to get you thinking about what’s next for you and your business:
More: Corporate writing — websites and brochures, and perhaps even email. These are the gigs that pay better and typically represent a higher dollar value per project. I’d also like to get more work from overseas clients. I currently have a couple in Europe. Perhaps because of the currency exchange, I find they tend not to quibble about rates too much. They’re still budget-conscious but they don’t go into sticker shock over my hourly rate.
Less: Administrative work. These are the tasks that tend to go undone, for months sometimes, so I think I really need to get part-time help. The challenge is finding someone who can understand the nature of my work and setting up a system that will allow this helper to quickly figure out how much I charge for each project because not every project works on the same billing model. Invoicing on time has been a major issue for me this year and this, of course, affects my cash flow and is equivalent to me lending my clients money interest-free.
More: Improve skills, such as photography, marketing and negotiation, to complement my writing and editing.
Less: Less evening and weekend work. I say it every year, but this year, I’m determined.
More: Recruit more whitepaper clients.
Less: Web surfing!
More: Experiment with storytelling devices and structure in all of my work, as a result of attending a workshop with Ellen Schneider of Active Voice Labs, who shared six strategies to create stories for social change with very specific objectives.
Less: Work alone. Over the past two years, I’ve noticed that it takes much longer to complete projects when I work alone start to finish. In 2016, I’ll be looking for remote support so that I can bounce ideas off another person or people.
More: Form stronger relationships with existing clients who refer me to other divisions in their firms and to outside firms. I want to maintain this momentum.
Less: Do less of the particular type of writing that clients regularly request that I don’t really like in favour of projects that I really enjoy.
More: Acquire sales skills and get over my bad attitude toward sales to develop my B2B case study niche, regularly attend seminar and networking events across a broad range of industries and leverage RescueTime reports to maximize productivity.
Less: Avoid the brain suck of MSN.com and celebrity-oriented websites.
More: Collaboration. Find ways to work more with other writers, as well as editors, graphic designers and other complementary service providers. Get a new more advanced camera so I can take better photos for journalism assignments. Approach my marketing and prospecting more systematically to maintain a steadier workflow and not have to scramble during quiet times.
More: To protect my prime morning time for writing, I’ll scan my email first thing, but invest the hour it can take to review, respond and delete later on that day.
More: Get out of the house. Attend seminars. Exercise. Volunteer. Find out what’s going on in the world. It’s important for my mental and physical health as well as business and professional development. I’ve been making a conscious effort to do more of these things and it has already paid off in terms of more paying projects and a stronger sense of life and work satisfaction.
Less: Staying in and keeping to myself.