Being a freelance blogger sometimes feels a bit like riding a rollercoaster.
First, you’re too busy to breathe, then you’re sitting there with not much to do. You kick it into gear to find more work and the cycle starts all over again.
It’s the old feast-or-famine syndrome and can quickly wear you out, not to mention add a lot of stress to your probably already stress-filled life.
One way to avoid the rollercoaster is to get organized and plan ahead. I know, you’re busy–who has time to plan? But, a careful, well-thought-out plan can make the ride a bit more manageable. Here’s how to do it, fast.
Schedule Weekly Planning Time
The first thing to realize is that your freelance blogging business is a business, so treat it like one.
Set aside time every week to plan: look ahead to the next few weeks to see what irons you have in the fire.
Also use this time to identify work opportunities. Is there a blog out there that you want to write for? Put together that pitch. The key is not to wait until you have nothing going on and then send out a dozen pitches at once.
Even just one hour a week dedicated to planning can make a big difference. I often use this planning part of my week to work on my online portfolio and website that never seem to get off the ground.
This is also a great time to update any invoices you may have for your different clients. There are some high-tech programs to keep track of your time and create invoices, but I prefer to keep track on paper and put together invoices in Microsoft Word. Throughout the month, I keep running invoices for my regular clients and each time I finish a project, I add it on. Then, at the end of the month, the invoice is ready to go.
By the way, it’s a good idea to make sure every first of the month you have time booked on your calendar to send out your invoices and keep all your accounts up-to-date.
Depending on the type of writing you do, you may want to set aside time daily to check out some of the many sites advertising blog writing gigs. You never know when an interesting job may show up, so it’s good to keep an eye on what’s happening and get your pitch in sooner rather than later.
Lately, I’ve found a lot of success with some Facebook groups, including The Careful Cents Freelance Club and How to Build a Part-time Social Media Business. Both groups feature occasional job opportunities and you also have a chance to connect with other freelancers, who are a great resource when you have questions.
This sounds silly, but it works. Book time daily in your online calendar–just 15 minutes is fine–for you to cruise blogs and discussion groups to stay connected with other freelancers. Don’t just browse aimlessly on Facebook; do something productive. If I’m in the middle of writing when that time comes around, then I make a mental note to do those checks afterward.
Take the Long View
If you’ve been freelancing for a while, look back at the past couple of years and look for any dry spots. Are there some months where you could stand to have a little more work?
For example, history tells me that July is my busiest month. With that in mind, I try not to plan the annual family vacation during that month.
I’ve also learned through the years that December tends to be a bit slow. I’m OK with that, as I’m often busy with non-work activities at that time of year. You can also use these dry periods to refine your skills and maybe attend a seminar or an event where you can network with other people at the same time.
Careful planning can’t eliminate all the bumps in the road–you never know when you’ll get that fast-turnaround assignment– but it can go a long way to making your freelance writing career a smoother ride.