It’s a freelance writing fact of life: Occasionally, you will experience a transcendent moment of peace and stillness as the pressure to meet deadlines and craft remarkable words seems to drifts away into the ether. Generally, this is a sign that you have no more work lined up. In this Zen-like state, you may be tempted to spend your time contemplating life’s great questions, like “Where will my next meal come from?” or “Is that guy trying to repo my car?” Alternatively, you might enjoy fighting a rising sense of panic and nervously watching the pile of bills on the coffee table for signs of growth.
If either option describes you, knock it off. There’s work to be done. The time between paying gigs is precious. It’s your chance to write whatever you want and for your own benefit. Spend it wisely, and you may find it is also quite lucrative. Need some help getting started? Consider these three strategies for making the most of your freelance writing downtime:
Build Your Book
Commercial and copywriters lovingly refer to their portfolio as their “book.” These folks feel strongly about their portfolios for the same reason you should: Filled with rock-solid samples of your work, it help you overcome a multitude of hurdles in the pathway to your success as writer.
Copywriting gigs are not something most clients are willing to farm out to just anyone. These jobs are all about writing text that will make your client money. Before they hire you, they need to feel certain that you can deliver. Being able to supply prospects with excellent spec ads, sales letter samples or examples of your press release prowess can put them at ease while demonstrating that you are worth every penny of your rates. No, you won’t earn any money upfront, but time spent building your book can pay off for years to come.
Rule Your Content Marketing Empire
If you have a subject you are passionate about, why not make it pay? Consider putting together a blog or a niche site and monetizing it through affiliate links, AdSense, or any number of other tactics. No matter what strategy you choose, concentrate on doing what you do best: creating excellent content. Readers can spot your commitment to quality right away, giving you an opportunity to become an authority they know, like, and trust. In fact, they will often use your affiliate links or buy through your site simply as a way to say “Thank you” for the value you have provided.
Embrace Your Inner Hack
Once the exclusive realm of writers with a burning desire to own a garage filled with unsellable books, the world of self-publishing has changed. Many writers are now able to market and sell their eBooks through sites like Amazon and Barnes & Noble. This seems especially true of genre fiction. If you are a science fiction, fantasy, romance or horror wannabe, now is your chance to write these stories profitably. If you are worried that spending your downtime creating your own Sam Spade might dilute your brand as a freelancer or that your fiction might offend some potential clients, well, that’s what pseudonyms are for.
All freelance writers will endure slow times, so expect them. You will also need to spend a significant amount of time marketing your services to attract new business consistently. Just remember to leave some non-billable hours open to write for yourself. Not only will it make you smile, it just might make you rich.
Matthew R is a freelance writer available on WriterAccess, a marketplace where clients and expert writers connect for assignments.