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Setting Priorities For Writing Work
As a freelance writer, it can be tempting to say yes to too many projects when you’re not busy. You can have a wildly unrealistic idea about how much you will be able to achieve in a given period. Once you’ve said yes to a project, then you have to deliver. But in order to do that, you need to set some priorities for your writing. Here are some of the questions I ask when deciding which work comes first.
1. Is this an existing client?
Repeat work is money in the bank for any writer — or any business. If a client has come back to offer work several times, then that client is valuable and I will try to meet their delivery requirements. Of course, if you have a great track record with an existing client, you may be able to negotiate wiggle room on a deadline. It never hurts to ask, and I have found that most people are reasonable if you have a good reason.
2. Is this a new client?
If you are working for a client for the first time, then you need to deliver what the client asked for on time. No exceptions. Just as you wouldn’t go back to someone who had provided a shoddy service, no writing client will come back to you if you fail to meet the brief and the deadline.
3. How does the client pay?
With a new client, one that has paid a deposit may take precedence over a client who hasn’t, because the one who has paid has shown that s/he really wants the job done. With existing clients, the ones that always pay on time are the ones whose work will get priority. I don’t think I’m giving away any secrets here.
4. How does the job match my work pattern?
If you are a morning person, that might be the time to do a job that requires more thinking, while you might leave a job that you can do in your sleep for the afternoon. Alternatively, you might decide to do a job that you can fly through first, because you will achieve so much more. I can write twice as much in the morning as in the afternoon.
Of course, another key issue for freelancers is knowing when to say no. Sometimes it is better to say that you’re fully booked than to say yes and find that you’re overstretched. It’s a lesson I keep having to learn. :)