Q&A: How Full-Time Freelancers Make it Work

I love hearing what’s on the minds of readers. Today I’m diving into a question asked on Twitter from fellow tree-hugging, chocolate-loving writer Maureen Wise. She and I have written for a few of the same clients over the years and we’re both making names for ourselves in the content marketing space.

Recently she asked, “I am always interested in how full-time freelancers make it work! I really want to know how many pieces you write per week and if you ever have to turn work away. How do you deal with a client that doesn’t get back to you? I’ve been having this problem! Thanks!”

Thanks for reaching out, Maureen! I love your curiosity and desire to improve upon this crazy thing we do.  So, let’s dig in!

How Many Pieces Do You Write per Week?

This depends on the complexity of the piece. Can I write from personal knowledge and start composing? Or, do I need to do interviews or dig up multiple online resources before I start drafting?

I continually update a work-focused calendar to keep everything flowing. I map out time for onboarding calls, research, interviews, reviewing writer’s guidelines, completing drafts, sending invoices, doing revisions and any other final tasks before handing it off to the client.

Let’s say I’m writing a lengthy e-book. I might razor-focus my energy and time on that for a week or two. Or, if I’m writing site pages for a new website, I might be on hand exclusively for that client for a few weeks to best flow with their project timeline. If I’m working on a standard content marketing blog post of 400 words bolstered with basic online research, I might do four or five of them in a week for established clients. On top of that, I’m always working on updates, ideas and content for this blog and my lifestyle website, Cupcakes and Yoga Pants.

Do You Ever Have to Turn Work Away?

Yes. There are two reasons why I will decline work. The first is simple: My calendar is full and I can’t take on anything more. I’ve discovered burnout isn’t a mythical creature and working seven days a week is not required to become a successful business owner.

The second reason I decline projects is when they aren’t a good fit for my business or financial goals. To be blunt, if the pay is too low, the topic isn’t in my wheelhouse or the client is unorganized (which leads to wasted time and mental burnout), I’m going to say no.

Time is my number one commodity. As a gal who focuses on self-care to manage autoimmune health issues, every single focused, healthy hour gets scheduled intentionally so my business can thrive.

How Do You Deal With A Client That Doesn’t Get Back to You?

Gosh, being a contract worker is so much like teenage dating. Ignored messages. No call-backs. Sometimes it’s laughable how poorly we’re treated. Just this week I had a potential client go silent after discussing her project in detail over several days. When the conversation arrived at me giving her a price quote based on the number of hours required to complete the task, she stopped responding. It happens to all of us.

If you’re not getting a reply, my rule is to follow up once, and then in a week or two follow up again. Maybe the person was on vacation and your email got lost. Or, what if they had an emergency and mentally weren’t focused on work? We’re human. I generally don’t do a third follow-up. I take the hint and cut my losses, because I don’t spend my time chasing down people who don’t respect my time.

If it’s a payment issue, however, I would go straight to your client contact and then their accounting department. Often those issues can be remedied by looping in the person who actually sends the payment. Sometimes editors are so far removed from that process that they assume everything is running smoothly in the background as they push forward with content tasks.

Thanks for your questions, Maureen!

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Note: This blog post was last updated on October 20, 2023.

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