In his landmark book The E-Myth, Michael Gerber identified the biggest problem entrepreneurs face:
People constitutionally suited for the daily grind and details of running a business aren’t the kind of people who are unhappy working in a regular job.
In my experience, this describes the overwhelming majority of folks looking for freelance writing jobs. They own that dislike of daily drudgery and details, and combine it with an artist’s approach to the work itself.
According to editors and clients I’ve worked with, this means working with a typical freelance writer means the following:
- Poor communication
- Missed deadlines
- Tantrums at editorial suggestions
- Inappropriate behavior on site
- Dropped assignments
- Unreliable scheduling
If you want to to make real money in your freelance writing job, don’t do this. Communicate regularly and honestly. Meet deadlines with the ruthless efficiency of a Terminator. Take feedback professionally, and remember that your client’s office is not the desk you set up in your spare room. Do what you say you will do without fail.
I’m not saying I’m constitutionally suited for this. If I were, I’d be turning in reports at a stable job somewhere. But I do have systems in place to keep me on track. I have the same challenge finding new clients that everybody else does…but when my clients need more work, I’m who they call.
How about you? What are the challenges you face when it comes to professionalism in your writing career? What systems do you use to overcome those challenges?