Thursday, April 14, 2011

Survival Tips for the Sane Freelancer

When some people think of the typical freelancer, they envision the carefree days of a writer sitting at home, clad in cozy fleece pajamas while sucking down expensive cups of Starbucks coffee.  But anyone who freelances knows that, although there are certainly advantages (like wearing the cozy fleece jammies all day), it can also be extremely frustrating at times.

The problem is you never know what a new day is going to bring.  Sometimes your day can be moving along right on course and seemingly perfectly when all of the sudden something goes wrong.  Terribly wrong.   Like for example, your internet connection dies or worse yet, your computer crashes along with all of your files - right before an important deadline.

We all hope nothing that drastic ever happens to us, but even minor setbacks can slow down the most efficient of freelancers.  Difficulty finding the proper resources for a project, minor technical difficulties or a bad case of writer's block might be enough to get your writing goals off course for the day.     

Fortunately, there are a couple things you can do as a freelancer that could save you hours of time and frustration in the event of all things unexpected.

Plan for unexpected inconveniences by not procrastinating

Some people really do work better under the gun, but in the professional world, and especially in a career that relies heavily on sometimes unpredictable technology, waiting until the last minute to complete a project is not an advisable thing to do.  Losing your internet or any other such unpredictable difficulties might prevent you from completing a project that wouldn't otherwise have taken you very long to do.

Plan completion of your projects ahead of time - before the deadlines you and your client agreed upon.  This way, you are not taking any chances with potential technology woes, or any of the other aforementioned little inconveniences that might pop up.  Your clients are your bread and butter.  They're counting on you to stick to your word and deliver when you said you would. 

Save, save, save

It sounds a little silly to mention, but save your work on a regular basis.  I know I'm really harping on the technology aggravations, but if you've ever lost all your work at a crucial moment, or after spending hours on a project, then you understand why.  All it takes is a click of a, of a mouse, or a tap on the finger save yourself a lot of frustration and heartache.  

If simply saving to your hard drive doesn't offer enough security for those extra special projects, then you might want to consider free online backup sites like Dropbox, or Mozy.  Most offer 2GB of free storage with an option to purchase more if necessary.  Plus, for those who have Gmail, Yahoo, or Hotmail, you can always attach your files to an email and send it to yourself.  A lot of times, I even do this instead of file sharing when I'm going from laptop to PC or vice versa.   

A little extra planning and a few extra precautions with your work might literally save your projects, your business, and quite possibly even your sanity.

What little things do you do as a freelancer that helps keep your sanity intact?


Kerrie said...


These are both good points and both things I need to work on. I must love the adrenaline rush of waiting until the last minute, but I want to kick myself every time I do.

I guess another tip is to constantly be on the lookout for the next story and keep submitting ideas--dry spells are no fun!

Lisa Vella said...


I admit it, I'm a procrastinator too. But with four children, I've learned that staying ahead of the game really is the best way for me to work. I never know when something is going to come up and get in my way of finishing something.

Good tip! I'm just curious, do you submit more queries or manuscripts? What have you had more success with?

Betsy Henning said...

Lisa, when I'm working on ANYthing at all and Tom walks in the room he says, "you're saving, right?"

I roll my eyes, "of course I am."

Then I quick hit save, hoping he doesn't notice...because, ummm, yeah, well, maybe I hadn't done that recently.

Thanks for the reminder, I appreciate it. But don't tell Tom.

Lisa Vella said...


Tom is a very wise man, but your secret is still safe with me! LOL.

Looking forward to talking with you soon!

Love ya!

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Plan for unexpected inconveniences by not procrastinating

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