23 November 2007

Feast and famine

It's all one or the other in this game. Either you are inundated with work or you have next to none. There never seems to be a happy compromise.

I've had a lean November, after months of solid work. I wasn't really panicking as I've been in this situation before and know from experience that it's not unusual. Mind you, I was getting to the stage where I was seriously considering cold-calling for work after I worked out that I'd earned barely a fifth of my income from the previous month. Then a quick read of some of the professional forums I network on showed that many other freelances seem to be in doldrums too. Phew! Not that I wish my colleagues a workless month - it's just that it's good to know I'm not alone and that clients and editors don't hate me. It's just a slack period all round.

And besides, I've just been offered lots of work. Admittedly, I turned down one job because of the anti-social hours required for 5 (count 'em!) nights a week, and another it turns out is not happening until March next year (!). Neither was the latter being offered on the plate it seemed to be at first, when I discovered others had been approached too and therefore I'd have to pitch for it. But one client I did lots of well-paid work for this year has asked me for more. And not being the type to say no, I said I'd email on Monday with my proposals for the project. Result.

Work beckons this weekend, too. I agreed to take on an urgent research job for a sick colleague who needs help while recovering for the lurgy (trust me, when you're ill and freelance, you have to crack on with commitments - it's very useful to be able to call on trusted colleagues at such times). I also, foolishly, took on a couple of other small jobs that I'm now regretting having agreed to. But hey, it was a slack month! I need the cash...


Anonymous said...

I am a freelancer and I go through feast and famine as well. For many months now I was told by a client-turned-friend that if I wanted to earn steadily as a freelancer I should create a web site. I've resisted this for so long because while I have vague notions of how to attract traffic to a web site, I have neither the time nor the resources to feed my web site regularly with fresh content. But I've been thinking - why not let a software do it? For instance if I had to churn out articles per month just to keep my web site informative with fresh content, I guess I'll have to succumb to the temptation of using something like artemispro. People are raving about it (a few are skeptical) but it looks like a potentially effective marketing tool for a web site.
Does anyone use artemispro as an article submission tool?
Would love to hear your opinions.

Unknown said...

I have a website, which I use to showcase my work and give some background on my experience and the kind of jobs I take on. It basically promotes itself with good SEO and occasional updates, plus I do the obvious such as using my URL in correspondence and on any internet forums I use. I don't use my website to bring in work (although it does). That's MY job - marketing yourself if you are freelance is far more effective than marketing your website. That means emailing or cold-calling editors to see what you can write for them.

I'd not heard of ArtemisPro so I googled it. I'm not impressed by these kind of software applications. Why be a writer if you're getting a machine to do it for you? I just don't see the logic, sorry.

The hard truth is to succeed you need to sell yourself to commissioning eds and convince them why they should hire you to write for them instead of some other freelance. None of the other freelance hacks I know who have a website use it for anything other than a showcase and proof of a solid track record.

Anonymous said...

I lived in England about 15 years ago, when a pint was a quid. I imagine it's not that price anymore, so 4 pounds for a story is insane!

I have to comment on what Babs said (above). I've been freelancing as a writer, editor, webmaster, designer, etc., for many years and feel that it's imperative to have a focused marketing plan. Many freelancers do not and I believe that's why they fail. I have also used Artemis (although I think it's called Artemis Pro) and it seemed to work. But more importantly, it's important to have focus, establish your market, and go in with a plan. Too many of us fail.

"If you fail to plan, you plan to fail!"

Unknown said...

Wordsmith, I agree that our web content should be fresh and up-to-date as possible, and unlike Babs, I usually have time and resources to do just that. But in times when I can't write fresh material, ArtemisPro has been a real lifesaver! I've also found it to be a valuable tool when I know what I want to say, but can't find the right words to effectively convey my point. ArtemisPro has saved me a great deal of time and frustration when I most need it.

Unknown said...

Fair enough. I can't comment on Artemis Pro, as I already said, as I'm unfamiliar with it, but I still don't see how a machine can write better prose than a pro.

If I know what I want to say but struggle to find the right words, I consult the thesaurus. Not a software app. Sorry, but in my book a program will never replace a skilled professional writer, however handy it might seem when you are in a corner.

Sarah said...

If you need work you can always seek out hungry internet marketers who are always looking for strong copy write to convert for them. Writing has not been one of my strongest skills. I have been squeaking by with glyphius which statistically compares my work against popular ads to see if it needs to be tweaked. I have not done any testing to see if a copywriter could create a better ad. I will come back to your post to let you know if I do. Thanks for your blog

Unknown said...

If you've read more of my blog, you're probably aware that I'm not keen on copywriting. I do the occasional job here and there, if it the money is good enough and I like the brief. Otherwise, I stick to editing and journalism.

I don't know what Glyphius is, presumably another computer app like Artemis Pro? As I already said, I fail to see how a software program can produce better prose than a human, because our main advantage is we have emotion. And, btw, if writing is not a strong skill for you, which I can see in your comment, you should probably look at alternative ways to earn a living. Wordsmithery is a tough game and only those who can demonstrate top-notch writing ability will ultimately survive.