by Jennifer Brown Banks of Pen & Prosper
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The feast or famine cycle is real for far too many writers.
Here’s a familiar storyline: in May, your freelance income affords you enough revenue to finally rock a Gucci designer handbag. Come June, and you’re trying to sell that pretty purse on Ebay to pay the rent.
Truth be told, there are more fluctuations in this business than in the stock market.
And to make matters worse, sporadic income can lead to stress.
Stress can cause writer’s block.
No output means no income.
And if you’re not producing, you definitely won’t be very profitable. Which leads to more stress! Take it from me: it’s hard to be strategic and creative when you’re stuck in “survival” mode.
There’s a better way to live the life you desire and deserve, and to get off the financial see-saw many writers experience.
Based upon more than a decade of professional freelance writing, during good times and bad, here are a few practices and principles I’ve discovered that can keep you in the game and keep your business in the black.
1). “Court” repeat clients.
The Pareto Principle contends that 80% of business will come from 20% of your customers. All the more reason why repeat customers should be romanced and remembered like your teenage crush! They save you time, money, and marketing efforts. Why not establish a “Customer’s Appreciation” Day? Or offer discounts for certain spending levels, or holiday discounts? Leading retailers do. Another smart retention practice is to send cards and gifts for special occasions or milestones.
In other words….give to receive.[bctt tweet=”‘Repeat customers should be romanced and remembered like your teenage crush!'” username=”BeyondYourBlog”]
2). Build better contracts and payment policies.
Many times, it’s the little details that we overlook that can keep us from meeting our income goals and reaching new levels. Here’s a case in point. Last month, a new client provided me with a post-dated check for services rendered on her website launch. Since I wanted to appear flexible and accommodating, I didn’t make a fuss over it. But, essentially it meant that I had to wait for funds due, and spend time and effort to physically go to the bank to negotiate it, (as opposed to cash or PayPal payments). Adding insult to injury, the client’s bank charged me $7.00 to cash the check because I didn’t have an existing account with them.
Don’t “work harder, work smarter.”
Make sure your contracts protect and prosper you. Outline and limit the amount of revisions you’ll perform. Add penalties and extra compensation for late payments, “special arrangements,” missed payments, and NSF fees. I learned the hard way, but it’s a lesson I’ve definitely mastered. Think of it in the same vein as with banks and “Nuisance Fees.” Don’t cheat yourself, treat yourself.
3). Make Marketing a priority, not an after-thought.
Let’s face it: most writers would much rather pen pieces than promote their goods and services. But, ongoing marketing is a must to build your client roster and your bottom line. There’s good news, though: it need not be complicated or time-consuming to be effective. Add your website link to your outgoing email signature line. Guest post at prominent blogs, and include a “beefy” bio with your services and expertise. Make flyers and leave them at your local library.
AllIndieWriters.com has a Writers’ Directory that allows you to market your services and place your profile for only $14.95. Get listed.
Make marketing a part of your weekly routine to make money on the regular.
There’s great validity to the expression, “Never put all your eggs in one basket,” particularly for scribes. Having different projects not only provides multiple income streams; it can combat boredom, broaden your skill set and your client base.
This week, for example, I’m busy as a beaver working on projects that range from ghost writing a book, to building a website, to teaching an online class, to blog coaching.
Some projects pay a deposit in advance, others upon completion, some weekly, others monthly. It makes for an interesting and profitable mix.
5). Overcome your “poverty mindset.” Learn the Laws of Attraction.
For a long time, I didn’t get this. That there is a correlation between thoughts and manifestation. Even the Good Book tells us that :“As a man thinketh, so it is.”
What self-defeating thoughts are holding you back? What negative self-talk is causing doubt and detriment? Perhaps it’s low self-esteem from childhood? Or fear of real success and what it would mean? Retrain your brain.
In the Book “Ask and it is Given,” authors Esther and Jerry Hicks share: “If there is something that you desire that you currently do not have, you need only put your attention upon it, and by the Law of Attraction, it will come to you. For as you think about this thing or experience you desire, you offer a vibration, and then, by Law, that very thing or experience must come to you. However, if there is something that you desire that you currently do not have, and you put your attention upon your current state of not having it, then Law of Attraction will continue to match that not having it vibration, so you will continue to not have that which you desire. It is Law.”
The business of writing is not rocket science. Still, it requires a smart approach for optimal success. Follow these five strategies to up your bottom line, and provide for a more secure financial future.
Jennifer Brown Banks is a veteran freelance writer, award-winning blogger and relationship columnist, with more than 700 publishing credits in print and online publications. Her work has been featured in top-tier sites including: Pro Blogger, Men with Pens, Tiny Buddha, South 85 Literary Journal, and Daily Blog Tips. She blogs (to rave reviews) at Penandprosper.blogspot.com and teaches at coffeehouseforwriters.com.
When she’s not at the keyboard, you’ll likely find her in hot pursuit of a good bargain sale.