Sherry Zander has been freelance writing for six years and has picked up writing projects paying as little as $10 to as much as $2000! She has seen the market go up and down, and has written everything from articles on business and finance to real estate and local news. Hard work and persistence have carried her through the rollercoaster ride, and she’s got tips to share for freelancers old and new!
Here are four pieces of wisdom for freelancers based Sherry’s experiences in the trade:
- Look for Clients and Then Look for More Clients
- Make Your Goals Visual
- Form a Back-Up Team
- Link Up with Other Freelancers
Sherry didn’t hesitate with her first tip for freelance writers: “Look for work every day even if you already have work by setting aside 15 minutes a day to find new writing jobs. Be persistent in applying for work.” Although it was declared that the recession ended in 2009 and that the economy has been recovering, widespread joblessness remains and these are the very people who have flooded the freelance writing market. “There’s more competition than ever before. I’ve had to work harder this year to look for clients,” Sherry reflects. “Last year, my main lucrative job ran out and I wasn’t prepared. I became comfortable in the longevity of my current jobs and no longer looked for work. That was a mistake. This year, I corrected that and continued to look for work while having good-paying clients, but ran into the same situation. The competition for writing jobs is fierce.”
Wherever Sherry looks in her office, family photos, motivational statements and picture clippings from magazines and newspapers ads remind her of her life goals and their purpose. “Brilliance” quotes, such as one from Harriett Beecher Stowe — “When you get into a tight place and it seems that you can’t go on, hold on, for that’s just the place and the time that the tide will turn,” — sit perched on her desk hutch. Chinese fortune cookie quotes like, “You will always be successful in your professional career,” sit clipped to a note reminder within reach. A cork board contains pictures of a Malibu beach house, a resort in Melbourne, Australia, an elaborate executive leather chair and a New York Times best-seller book list. Family photos placed in prominent view remind her why she does what she does.
“They give me a dream,” Sherry explains. “For some of the things posted up there, I probably wouldn’t buy them even if I could afford them.” The purpose is to be visually motivated to work by keeping your dreams at the forefront of your mind.
Catch this quick testimony from John Assaraf on CNN’s Larry King Live about the power of vision boards:
If you would prefer to make a digital vision board, sign up for Oprah’s O Dream Board where you can choose images from a library or upload your own. Learn more about how to make a vision board from Martha Beck at the Oprah Magazine.
Although freelancing is often seen as a lonely occupation, successful freelancers actually have teams behind them. Sherry recommends that all freelance writers find people to fall back on. “Dream big and envision you’ll have so much work that you’re going to have to hire someone to do it for you,” she advises. “If I have too much work, these people are ready to help me. They accept ad hoc writing assignments and are available when I need them to be.”
“The social aspect” and “the support you get from others in the writing arena” are some of the most rewarding aspects of the field, Sherry shares. “With so much in common, there’s a camaraderie I’ve found. I’ve been so fortunate to meet some of the nicest people who are willing to help each other.” Like Sherry, I’ve also found that writing and freelancing friends not only support and encourage, but also share their work, contacts and insights on the field. Sherry’s most excited about a publisher she heard about from a writing friend who doesn’t require any up-front fees or payments. With this new tidbit of information, it won’t be long before we get a chance to read Sherry’s books!
Are there any other secrets that have brought you success as a freelancer?