Ever since I launched my career in 1999, I’ve been hit with many questions:
* where do you find your work?
* can you earn enough to support yourself?
* where do I begin?
* do I need a degree?
* how do I find my niche?
* what resource books have you read?
* what web sites do you use the most?
Out of all of these questions, though, the number one question I’ve heard is:
How do you keep your work flow steady?
To be honest, I’m a very aggressive freelancer. I don’t like to let opportunities slip through the cracks, so I’m hunting on a daily basis. If I don’t have ten active queries out to editors on an on-going basis, I feel like I’m letting my business slide.
What do I mean by active queries?
Because I query daily, I set a number that tends to be based on jobs where there’s a single assignment involved. So, I’ll send out ten queries to these types of leads on every business day. The exception is when I find an opportunity for a long term gig and, at that point, I’ll reduce my querying based on how much work this gig offers. For example, if they need one column per week, I’ll adjust my queries to between five and nine per week depending on the level of work involved with that positive lead.
How much time do I spend querying?
I subscribe to a couple of blogs and newsletters that offer leads on a daily basis, so not a lot of my time needs to be spent searching. Rather, I spend that time sending out queries, clips and follow-up letters. I allot myself one hour at the beginning of each day to satisfy this goal.
What do I do once I land a gig?
Before anything else, I schedule it in. If I don’t, then I find myself taking on too much and swamping myself. That isn’t good for anyone because the risk of being late or not completing the work is present. So, out comes my date book and it’s written in before I even send in a response. I also print out a copy of the email to make notes on and act as a tangible reminder of what I need to do.
How do I manage all else that goes along with the business?
There’s the need to update your resume, build a website, research, write follow-up letters, send invoices, fuel your idea files and run maintenance on your computer. In addition to that, general office organization needs to occur and keep clip files fresh. How do I manage all of this? I chip away at a little at a time each day. I don’t follow the traditional business day tactics. I’ll work any day and any hour to complete these tasks. Some weeks, it doesn’t seem like I’m running a business at all. While other weeks, I feel as though I need to hire an assistant. It all depends on the work load.