The word, free, in freelance refers to your ability to pick and choose the clients you’ll work for and the schedule you’ll work – not that you’ll work for free or that you won’t’ need to invest in your freelance writing business.

At a minimum, you’ll need a decent computer to do your writing on, the associated software, a decent internet connection, a web site and an email address.

The computer is both where you’ll do your writing, probably with Microsoft Word™ and the way you connect with the world with your internet connection, doing everything from research to finding writing clients and/or assignments.

Although it’s tempting and sometimes even necessary to spend as little as possible, you also need to be willing to spend some money so you can make more money. That’s what investing in your writing business actually means.

For example, I once moved to a community and they had a free wireless connection available to everyone. Sounds great, but it wasn’t. The first day I connected I quickly realized I would not be able to access the net with any speed at all. Later that same day my connection went down. When I asked the manager what was up, he explained that the server providing the free connection was in someone’s house and that it probably needed rebooting. Since they weren’t home, I’d just have to wait. As you can imagine I was on the phone to a real internet provider within minutes. I knew I’d lose far more money sticking with the free connection than a real connection would cost me.

So how do you know what’s a good investment in your writing business? Ask yourself these questions:

Will it help me save money? We are given opportunities to save money for our business. For example, it might make sense to buy three reams of printer paper for the price of two, or to take advantage of a special on domain names if the one you want is available. A webinar like our 8 Tax-Savings Strategies will make sense for most freelancers. Taking advantage of early registration makes even better sense.

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A writer was lamenting her inability to score new clients. She’d marketed, she said, but couldn’t seem to get any client to the table. What was she doing wrong?

That’s a loaded question. There are so many factors that go into why a client does or does not hire you that it could be anything. I’d guess her marketing was a little lackluster – did she follow up, for instance, or did she send out one note and not send any others? Did she target the right clients with the right message? Are the clients she’s reaching out to clients who will buy? Can they afford her?

See? There are too many factors to say for certain why that client isn’t buying. It could be the writer isn’t doing anything wrong. Or maybe she’s not reaching them in the right way.

To swing the odds in her favor a little, I suggested the following:
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To blog or not to blog is a question many freelance writers have.

It gets even more confusing because many of us are now using blogging software like WordPress to create our professional sites. We do that because using a content management system makes updating so darn simple.

Writers also, however, consider writing blogs on any number of topics with the idea of picking up anything from a bit of change to serious money.

A niche blog, like my AboutFreelanceWriting and Lori’s WordsOnThePage or any number of blogs for writers, plus innumerable blogs about everything from About.com’s Blogging to ZebraBlogs are written from passion and/or to promote a business. Some of these will earn some money blogging.

Here are the top six ways a writer can make money with a blog other than their promotional site:

Google Adsense. You include ads in your posts or on your blog and Google ‘reads’ your site so it can provide ads that make, usually, contextual sense. You get paid because people see and click on the ads. If you’ve got enough traffic, you can make significant income. I love including Google as one of the companies that pays me.

Affiliate programs. Also sometimes called associate programs, the short version is you promote a product and get a commission off any sale that comes through your blog. Amazon offers one of the better know affiliate programs. [click to continue…]

writer's contractIt’s so exciting when a potential new client gets in touch! But before you sign a contract or letter of agreement, make sure you can answer these eight questions and that they are reflected in the contract.

My goal in creating contracts or letters of agreement is to give us both a document to go back to if things get confused – and they often do. The agreement is the guide for both parties.

Are you clear on what the new client wants you to do? Exactly what the client wants you to write must be spelled out or you’re almost certain to have problems. Often called the scope of work, it needs to address the purpose of the work,  number of words, how any research will be handled, and, of course deadlines.

Is the client’s responsibility clear and also written down? Clients often need to provide information, do reviews of drafts, get graphics done, etc. etc. etc. The client’s responsibility is just as important to the successful completion of a writing project as your role. Spell it out so the responsibilities are clear. [click to continue…]