Got Your First Freelance Writing Gig? Now what?

How to Improve Your Writing Process

Transitioning from wanting to be a writer to getting your first writing assignment is an exciting time. Now that you’re going to get paid for your first assignment, you’re a bonafide professional writer. Of course, you must get this first assignment right. Let’s look at the process you should follow to ensure it goes without a hitch.

Get All the Details

Don’t start working on anything until you get all the details. You need to know what the deliverables are supposed to look like. What is the client expecting it to look like? Ask all the questions once you see the assignment that you have. Go through it, write down anything you’re not sure about and ask them right away within the day of receiving the assignment.

Dot Your I’s and Cross Your T’s

Don’t start work without a contract for long term projects and a deposit or payment in full. If you have a long-term regular client, you can probably send invoices instead but if it’s someone new get paid up front or at least half before you start. A contract doesn’t have to be crazy; it can simply be a document that states the responsibilities of each party, the payment, and how to submit the assignment and payment.

Get It Scheduled

Once you know what the deliverables will look like, and you understand what you need to do, and know your deadline you’ll want to get this scheduled. Start from the due date and work your way backward in your calendar giving you enough time to do all parts of your writing process from outlining through editing, completion and invoicing, if needed.

Keep Your Client Updated

For long term projects, it’s a good idea to keep your client up to date as you move through the process. Some clients like more hands-on approach and may want to see your outline, some of your research, or other things as you work, but most of the time you’re going to be totally on your own. Sending a quick email now and then letting them know you’re still working on time will be appreciated.

Get It Done on Time

While no one is going to ever be perfect in terms of deadlines, it’s imperative that you’re not late on the first assignment unless something really bad happens. Once you’ve worked with someone for a long time, you can probably get more flexible deadlines, but in the writing world, deadlines are super important, so ensure you really do set up your calendar realistically. Never miss a deadline without informing them as soon as you know it will or might happen.

Rewrite as Needed (with a caveat)

After you submit the finished work expect the client to want some editing and rewriting. Of course, this does depend on your contract. Some freelance writers do “draft” writing in that they know an editor is going to edit it for them, so they just write and don’t have to worry about editing. The client won’t be offended by that if they have stated that they have an editor. However, try to submit what you think is perfect work.

Don’t worry, it will never be perfect no matter what. The warning: Some clients will start asking for edits that are outside of the scope of the work. For example, if your client asked you to write a list article then changes their mind and wants another type of article that’s not included in the editing process as that is changing the scope of the work.

Send a Survey

After the work is done, and the invoice has been paid, be sure to follow up with the client so that you can find out how they like your work. Put this in your autoresponder so that you don’t ever forget about 20 to 30 days after the due date of the project. You can simply ask the question: “How can I improve the work that I do for you?” Let them answer it their own way.

Finally, it’s imperative that even when you have an assignment and clients (even if you don’t need clients right now) to continue to market your services so that you can have clients in the hopper waiting on you to open a space.

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