The beginning of the year is always the part where I’m filled with the most enthusiasm. I’ve had a great break, spent at least a few days with friends and family and have had time to think about how to make the most of the coming 12 months (in both a professional and personal sense).
A strong believer that change is continually required to move forward and develop, I’m always looking to start the year by making some amendments to my existing processes and approach to writing in general.
The reason behind this is as writers, we should never sit still. Speak to some of the most established writers out there and you’ll find that even though many have been writing for decades, they’re constantly moving forward and looking at how they can become even more successful.
Whilst I believe every freelance writer needs to have their own development points based on their specific needs, there are a few aspects that all freelancers should make changes to to ensure continued success.
1. Rate card
Always a tricky one to approach, making changes to your rate card on an annual basis is strongly advisable. Apart from anything, yearly increases mean you never have that awkward conversation with a long-standing client of “I haven’t increased my rates in five years…” – they don’t care and one large increase is much more difficult to manage than five smaller ones.
But what you have to understand here is that when you increase your rates, it doesn’t have to be a uniformed thing right across the board. You’re in control, so you can charge who you like what you like.
It’s because of this why I don’t always increase an existing client’s rates. I’ll create a new rate card, but I might just apply it to new clients. That’s not to say I don’t increase the rates for existing clients, but I take into account things such as their loyalty and the length of time they’ve been a client when doing so.
Whilst I strongly believe every writer should – and can – increase their rates on an annual basis, if you really, really don’t think you can, it doesn’t mean you should skip over this point. Instead, you need to look at how you can change your rate card in other ways, such as by making it clearer, easier to understand and / or more streamlined to suit a larger audience.
2. Client base
As a freelance writer, you’ll find that over time, your client base naturally changes. Old clients will leave, new clients will come and existing clients will change their requirements.
However, just because this will happen naturally, it doesn’t mean you should just sit back and let it – give it a bit of a helping hand and you can see more expansion and growth than ever before.
For example, it could be worthwhile looking to stop working with your low paying clients if they’re taking up a considerable amount of your time. Freeing you up to devote more time to finding high paying gigs, ultimately reducing your working time whilst ensuring you receive the same money (if not more), this obviously may not be a possibility for everyone, but it does show how an active approach to developing your client base could be beneficial (and something that wouldn’t happen naturally).
3. Writer relations
I talked about this quite a lot in 2012, but it’s important to mention here as I still know so many writers don’t realise its importance – and with a new year meaning new beginnings, now is a better time than ever to start improving your relations with other writers.
Although your fellow writers are, in theory, your competitors, they’re also your friends. They’re the people who are going to help you through the bad times, support you through the difficult times and congratulate you through the good times.
They’re the ones who are going to throw some work your way when you need it and who are going to provide you with a bit of promotion when you’re looking to expand.
However, they’re also the people who are going to come to you looking for help, advice and support. They’re the ones who are going to ask questions and seek assistance at times – and ultimately, it’s going to make for a better freelance writing industry as more freelancer writers become more educated and more efficient by learning from one another.
A new year can mean a whole host of different things and results in a variety of emotions being felt. For me, however, it means the start of a fresh 12 months based on great change and development, something I really do believe every freelance writer needs to do to ensure their instant and continued success.