Time Management, Mastering the Market and Surfing the Content Curl

As a freelance article writer and web content creator, you need to be prepared for the fact that one third of your time is going to be spent clicking, scrolling and searching for work. There are writers out there hunkered down in front of their computers who didn’t get this memo when they decided to quit their real job (this is society’s phrase, mind you, or that jealous best friend who toils all day in a claustrophobic cubicle) and embark on a career as a freelancer.

News Flash: It’s no fun looking for work all the time. There are days, weeks even, when the search becomes a grail quest, or an archeological dig gone awry; you’d hoped for bars of Spanish bullion or Terracotta warriors and all you have are shards of broken pottery and scrolls of How To assignments.

Click, refresh, repeat…

A writer might hopscotch half-a-dozen sites looking for an article that appeals to their sensibility and skill set. This is where the free in freelancing can be more burdensome than liberating, and trying to decide whether to write a piece for one cent a word or to holdout for something better can be a paralyzing, Hamlet like experience.

To write or not to write…

Sometimes doing laundry, running errands, or engaging in some other distraction is more appealing than writing 250 words on Chimney Sweep Plymouth or Austin Corporate Housing. (Personally, I like to vacuum. There’s something zen-like about the repetition, and it always reminds me of The Figure in the Carpet, that great but greatly unappreciated short story by Henry James). Take a survey of a test group of writers and two things become apparent:

A) Every writer has a distraction that’s more appealing than turning out one cent a word pulp, or content mill swill.

B) One writer’s pulp is another writer’s bread and butter. In other words, every writer’s economic and professional situation is different and therefore their approach to a day at work varies.

Freelancing is filled with valleys, peaks, and lulls, and this is as true for the idealistic newbie as it is for the weathered veteran. A fortune-cookie philosophy for freelancing might read something like: The Only Constant is Change. Adaptation, then, is key to survival.

A surfing metaphor sums it up best. When you freelance, the work comes in waves. Sometimes the cusps and curls of content creation are like a Hawaiian pipeline, and you can’t type fast enough to keep up with it. On other days, you spend half the time sitting on your (key) board, maybe catching a small breaker, if you’re lucky.

Understanding the content market is one of the most difficult parts of the trade, and it has scared thousands of writers into giving up a life of nouns and verbs in search of more conventional professions. Of course, after a week of laboring in a cubicle, you might be yearning for the unpredictability of a freelance career.

Damon H is a freelance writer available on WriterAccess, a marketplace where clients and expert writers connect for assignments.


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