It was an interesting year in my business—full of unexpected opportunities to grow. This is a recap of some of the lessons I learned. I hope you’ll share yours in the comments.
My work will always be unpredictable. I don’t have the same “gigs” month after month, year after year. The sources and variety of my work continue to surprise me. At least I can still make a living and I’m never bored.
When I’ve found a good niche, I need to stay there as long as I can. There have been some interesting temptations this year. I have tried not to jump at the next shiny thing, or be beguiled by someone else’s idea of an opportunity that would be just right for me.
Working remotely has serious limitations. This is a heretical statement coming from a dedicated freelancer, but I had several projects that would have benefited from regular face-to-face “check-in” meetings with my clients.
The busier I am, the more strategic I have to be about social media. I’ve had to develop more lists and schedules for social media engagement for clients as well as WagnerWrites. I’m still working on this.
I can ask for more money. I won’t always get it but I can ask. We have all gotten used to a scarcity mentality in this economy and believe me, freelancers are constantly being asked to do more for less. But when clients get unreasonable about their expectations vis-à-vis the cost, I have to speak up.
Cash flow is king. I worked on several projects this year where it took months to get paid (for different reasons). I try to do progress billing wherever possible but sometimes I have to accept other conditions. Anticipating and controlling cash flow is critical.
I can handle much more than I used to, if I manage my time and stress levels. This year, both my writing partner and I accepted part-time contracts in addition to our other freelancing work. All I can say is, “Thank God for Evernote.” I’ve also started taking more of a “tough love” approach with myself, asking questions like, “Is this really that hard? Am I over-thinking it?” “Is this actually going to matter next week?” “Should someone else handle this?” “Can I just say ‘no’ to this?”