What's on the iPod: Somebody That I Used to Know by Gotye
I think the primary challenge we writers have with understanding our worth or our value is understanding how to change the status quo. It's great for you to read any of these posts this month and say "I'm worth so much more!" It's wholly another issue to change what you're doing.
So here's today's challenge:
Change one thing.
Yes, you could sit down today, rewrite (or write) a business plan and marketing strategy that helps you understand your market value and gets you earning more now. I'd encourage you to do that -- sooner rather than later. However, the idea may be too much for you to take on all at once. So choose one thing you're doing now and change it. Here are some areas where you might want to improve on things:
Price. Do a little research. Look at guides like Writer's Market to get a sense of the price range you should be targeting. I'd caution you not to rely on that entirely -- my own prices don't fall within their parameters. But it's a good way to understand what's considered normal versus what you're doing. Also, ask other writers to share their rates with you. Most will. And don't forget to calculate how much you want/need to earn annually to get to your rate.
Clients. If you're working for a client who isn't paying enough, is avoiding paying, or is a handful of trouble, sever that relationship. Don't wait for another gig to come around first -- that rarely happens. However, often after you bid farewell, another client will appear (usually because you've spent that time actively searching).
Where you look. If you find your work through job listings, stop. That's too passive, and frankly, it's depressing ten minutes into it. Instead, spend that time deciding where you new clients are. Draft a killer letter of introduction, and find those clients who both need you and understand your value.
Marketing. If you're marketing the same way you did last year and things are, well, stale, shake it up. Try another way of reaching out to customers. Try new customers. Send them snail mail instead of email. Call. Interact on social media. Send them something useful. There are many ways to reach clients. Go beyond the expected and the overused.
Your skill level. I used to be weak in certain grammar areas. I've changed that by studying grammar and style guides regularly. I may never have textbook-level skills, but my sentences are much improved. Find your weak spots. Work on one at a time until they become non-issues.
Invoicing. If you spend more time fretting over unpaid invoices than cashing the checks, adopt a new invoicing system. Send out no more than three invoices. Each one after the initial invoice should have a late fee attached (and it should be written into your contracts that late fees will be assessed and expected to be paid). That last invoice should go out with the Final Notice -- either the threat of litigation or collections. And make damn sure you follow through. If you merely threaten, you're wasting your own time. Know how you plan to collect before it becomes an issue.
Confidence. That's right -- change your confidence level. That means no more worrying that you'll lose the client if you don't accept their terms verbatim. No more taking questionable work at questionable rates because you're afraid of starving (you won't). No more allowing clients to control your price, your work hours, your work process, or your business. How do you stop it? By changing your thinking. You own your business -- you're not merely a freelance writer. In fact, until your confidence improves, remove the word "freelance" from your title. You're a business owner. A principal. Approach clients from that perspective.
Writers, what one thing did you change that made a big impact on your success?
Where are your current weak points? How do you plan to overcome them?