Monthly Archives: December 2014

My highlights for 2014

Taking some time and writing out the highlights of my year has become a tradition for me. Typically, I just post these on Facebook – but this year, I thought I would share them with my blog followers as well.

We were so blessed in 2014! Here is my list of 10 highlights in no particular order (except that I couldn’t narrow it down to only 10 – so this year there’s 11!)

~ My writing business has flourished – I gained two amazing new regular clients and a few occasional/one-time ones as well.
~ I got my second second-degree black belt (no, that is not a stutter!)
~ Werner and I enjoyed a wonderful relaxing vacation in Washington DC and Tennessee – visiting Werner’s brother Mike and sister-in-law Victoria.
~ Werner and I got out picture taken with the Stanley Cup in downtown London during the Memorial Cup. We had no idea that it was going to be there – we just decided to take a walk downtown to see what was going on and there it was!
~ We went stand-up-paddleboarding (which I had been obsessed with since I read an article about it in my optometrist’s office in 2013)
~ My Mom visited London during the summer – we had fun playing tour guide – taking her around Port Stanley, and for lunch at the Green Frog Tea Room. (And my Mom learned the word “selfie”!)
~ Werner and I saw Damned Yankees at Huron Country Playhouse (with Werner’s parents) and Through the Looking Glass at Stratford (just us).
~ Enjoyed a lovely beer and wine tasting tour in Niagara with friends Rob and Emilie.
~ Won a six-month Wine Club membership from Konzelmann’s
~ Went to Markham for Werner’s Aunt’s 80th birthday party and visited friends Fraser and JoAnn.
~ Met Chris Hadfield at a book signing – got my books signed. Really enjoyed reading his first book!

Can you really make money as a freelance writer?

A friend of mine recently asked if me if it was possible to make a living as a full time freelance writer. Well, as someone who has been growing her own freelance business for a number of years now, of course I know that the answer to that question is “yes”.

But the real question I think is, how is it possible? What traits do you require or what steps should you take to establish a decent freelancing business?

Here are a few tips that I can give based on my own experience:

First, establish whether or not you really want to pursue freelance writing.

You’ve got to be passionate about writing…and have some talent

If you’re going to be a writer, you’ve got to put in the time and dedication. You’ve got to be self-disciplined enough to sit down at your computer every night and bang out as much content as you possibly can. You’ve also got to be fairly quick.

How do you know if you’re passionate about writing? Ask yourself if you write already – without the carrot of a paycheck. If you do, you are probably passionate about writing. And as an added bonus, it means that you are building a stockpile of writing samples that you can send to prospective clients.

Find ways to get clients

In my business, I’ve obtained clients from a number of sources. I’ve had referrals from friends and family; referrals from other clients; and I’ve used sites such as elance.com to apply for writing gigs that I was interested in.

By far however, my most successful source of clients has been kijiji.com – I’ve posted my own ads on kijiji and also used the site to search the “wanted” posts for people and companies who might require my services.

Specialize

When I first started writing seriously as a business, I would take any assignments that I could get – even if they were not really in my sweet spot. This was ok, and I earned some decent money doing it, but a lot of the time it was not enjoyable.

Now I specialize in website content writing and business writing. If someone wants help writing a novel, I have other writers that I can refer them to. This allows me to focus on what I do best and give the best service possible to my clients.

If you are starting out as a freelancer, you might take any job you can get at the beginning, but over time you’ll want to find your niche.

Hire other experts

As your business grows, you may have to employ the help of other experts. Earlier this year, I decided that for continued growth in my business, I would have to start branding myself more professionally. To help me accomplish this, I hired a designer to create my logo. Perhaps, I could have come up with something myself, but I doubt it would have been half as professional and slick looking as what I ended up with.

I also paid my accountant to help me apply for my hst number and show me how to file. Again, I could have done this on my own – but it was not really an aspect of my business that I felt comfortable doing on my own. So I saved myself the stress, and got help.

And really, isn’t that what people do when they hire freelance writers? They take a job that they need to have done (writing) and they get a professional to do it for them.

Are you a freelancer or trying to break into the market? I would love to hear your tips in the comments section!

Setting Goals… and Limits

It’s no secret that running what has now become a full time business as well as working at a full time job can fill your days. Over the last six months or so the writing business has grown to the point where I could quite possibly be sitting in front of my laptop banging out content 24/7 – if that’s what I wanted to do.

To be honest, sometimes that’s tempting. I love what I’m doing.

But never ending work – even work that you love – is far from a healthy way to live. So, I must have a way to manage my work – especially if I like to enjoy a social life as well!

I’ve always been good at setting goals for myself – but I’ve been less good at setting limits. And I think that setting limits is important too. That’s not something you hear a lot in business circles. You are more likely to hear cliché’s like “the sky’s the limit” or “don’t limit yourself.”

And in the context of human potential, I agree somewhat with these sentiments.

But in terms of what you can actually accomplish in a day – you have to set reasonable boundaries – because cardiac wards are full of people who didn’t believe in setting limits.

So recently, as a freelance writer – I’ve set a daily word count goal/limit for myself. There have been days where I have failed to reach that goal – but there have been other days where I just seem to get into a groove and I exceed the limit.

But overall – having a set number of words to reach for has been tremendously helpful – both in the operation of my business and allowing me to have a social life as well.

And the word count is not going to stay stagnant either. I’m working on ways to increase it and grow my business  – because I definitely think that there is growth potential.

The point is, that if you have your own freelance business – you know that goals are important – but set some limits too. Because there is more to life than work!

Time to Quit Slacking on my Blog

I’ve been slacking off with my own blog these days. That’s a big no-no in the world of search engine optimization. If you’d like people to visit your website on a regular basis, you need to give them good reason to do so. Regular infusions of fresh new content is one way to get people to keep coming back to your site.

That said, however – I’m busier than ever with my regular freelance jobs. (Part of the reason why my personal blog has been taking a back seat lately).

I’ve also been preparing for my second degree black belt in seikido (which is a combination of taekwondo and aikido). And now that the test is over, it seems that a semblance of a more normal life and schedule is more achievable. Of course, now we’re getting into the Christmas season, so maybe not!

On the freelance writing front, I’ve recently completed the content for several landing pages for a European style patisserie in Toronto. Fortunately, I didn’t get too much drool on the keyboard while writing about chocolate mousse cake and macarons!

And now I’m on to the topics of spray foam insulation as well as a good deal of content for a Toronto based law firm. Add to that, I have just pitched some more gardening blog ideas to another client (which can be somewhat of a challenge during the winter.)

It’s much easier to write about the weather.

Overall though, it is a pretty exciting time in my freelancing career. I’ve recently obtained my hst number, as I expect no shortage of work in 2015. Quality web content for business has never been more important.

But I’m not trying to do it all. I’ve found that one of the easiest ways to be successful is to do what you’re good at and recruit a really good team to do the rest.

That’s why I met with my accountant after getting my hst number so he could explain to me how to file with the government – plus I had my husband (who is a financial advisor and numbers guy extraordinaire) with me because he’s an important part of my team and in all likelihood, the one I’ll be getting to file for me. J Because my strengths are with words – not so much with numbers.

And when you think about it – that’s why clients hire me. Because I play an important role on their team. They are lacking either the time or expertise to write their own web content. Their time is much better spent on other aspects of their business.

So there you have it – do what you’re good at – and recruit a great team to do the rest – it works!