I’m determined to be ultra-organized this year. I re-did my office over winter break so that I have clearly defined areas for each type of work. I also did a thorough search for some sort of database for tracking queries, book proposals, and contracted work for magazines and books. I was ready to create a database in FileMaker, but really didn’t want to add that to my To Do list.
I’m always looking for a better way to manage my writing business. Yes. Business. Being a freelance writer is at least as much as managing the business aspect of the role as the actual writing – if your goal is to make a steady income.
I’ve been a freelance writer for about five years – writing for much longer than that – and I’ve done okay, but nothing stellar. What I mean is, you won’t find me in the pages of the six-figure income books! But this year I had a solid plan to make a steady, very respectable income, from my existing clients. I know. As freelancers you already know the sad punchline to this tale. My biggest client hasn’t gotten any new requests for content in six months. Talk about bad news! The good news is, I’m one of their writers and as soon as they have more business, I have more business. The other good news is that I have several other clients who continue to generate business for me.
It’s time to pitch some ideas. Many ideas, in fact. It occurred to me the other day that my current process is designed for someone who pitches occasionally, rather than for someone who pitches on a regular basis.
I determined that the problem with my current system is that it is:
- Doesn’t work
I mean by all of this that once something is printed out and filed, it is out of mind. That may be a result of running in many directions at once, but I rarely meet a freelance writer who is not in the same situation. I think it’s part of the job.
My new system is not paper-based:
I create folders in Scrivener. These folders hold all the research sites and documents I have on a topic. This is important because I find that researching a topic takes two passes at the start. The first pass is to establish that this is as interesting as it seemed and that there is enough readily available information for me to get up to speed. The second pass is when I am ready to write a query and have determined my angle. With everything right there on my desktop, I don’t have to do research twice or have a bookmarks bar that is so big I forget about what’s not on the screen. (Yes. Out of sight, out of mind was a saying created with me in mind!) To be sure I don’t space out about my queries, I leave Scrivener open on my desktop. When I get on my computer, it’s right there!
At the start of one week, I look through what I have in Scrivener and pick five topics that have passed the first screening. I make a list on my Note pad and let those five topics spin around in the back of my brain until the Friday of week two, when I write my queries and send them out. With five queries a week going out, I’m greatly increasing the odds of getting an assignment. When I’m done generating queries, I start a new list on my Notes pad.