2013 was … unique, wasn’t it? It definitely was for me. I transitioned from a Portland area freelance writer and editor to a branded business complete with a new office, an Oregon registry number, and a city license. I felt sort of like Dak, Luke Skywalker’s gunner from The Empire Strikes Back. I felt like I could take on an empire’s worth of projects all by myself. I managed to fare much better than poor Dak, and yet there are a few things the me of today would like to tell my January 2013 self. So, in keeping with the SF theme, I’ll post six pieces of advice as if Mahesh, Ver.Dec.13 was talking to Mahesh, Ver.Jan.13:
Stick to your market rate.
It’s understandable that people want to shop around for the best deal: it’s human nature. It’s also understandable to want to be paid a living wage: you’re running a business. By turning down intensive jobs that pay less than your rate, you’ve exchanged some income for time and motivation. There is a much greater opportunity cost in taking low-paying jobs. Besides, it’s an “everyone wins” scenario when a prospect’s idea of a deal dovetails with your market rate.
Commit to self-improvement.
Self-improvement can mean anything. It can be learning photo-editing software, research, deepening your knowledge of Excel, and simply taking a walk every day before you enter your office. And, of course, it is also spending as much time as possible with your family. Time with loved ones is the most rewarding source of rejuvenation I can imagine.
All types of writing, including your creative work, is vital to your body-and-soul well-being. Keep the fire alive by working on “your own stuff” before or after a client project and when you have time in between projects.
Fire a prospect (or client).
If you feel uncomfortable with how someone is speaking to you, that’s a good sign that your working relationship will be contentious. Life is too precious for that type of hassle. Extricate yourself politely and move on.
I won’t toss around any cliches about the solitary writer. But it is invigorating to meet with old friends and new ones, including the rock stars of the Copywriter Conclave of Portland.
“…when the dealin’s done”
The chorus to Kenny Rogers’s The Gambler often plays in my head when I am in the process of closing a deal. Always remember that a multitude of factors can influence when (or if) a project begins. Stay flexible and patient.
2013 challenged many of us. It helps to know that despite the sharp falls and sudden setbacks, others out there are dealing with the same issues. And, of course, many many others are dealing with situations that are far more difficult.
Here’s hoping that we all continue to learn and try to make the world a better place in 2014.
What did you learn in 2013? What are you looking forward to next year?