5. Deposit time (and money) into relationships
But talking does pay in other regards. Stout is a huge proponent of talking on the phone, which is “way more efficient and much more collaborative” than through email or social media. “In my experience working with writers,” he says, “we come up with more ideas talking.” Moran participates in her clients’ brainstorming sessions, knowing they will generate assignments and increase her value.
Another welcome diversion is attending writing conferences or joining groups where you engage with other writers. “You need to keep putting input in there, whether it’s a conversation or a conference,” Stout says. “Sometimes it can be emails. You have to keep feeding it, because you can’t feed it yourself. It gets tired of you. You get tired of you. Through the interactions, it’s generative. It builds up.”
Moran agrees. “Those types of groups are so important, not just for the professional aspect,” she says. “Being a freelance writer is a very particular type of job, and it helps to have access to people who do this job and who can help you with some of the challenges that are unique to freelance writers.”
I initially scoffed at joining the American Society of Journalists and Authors (ASJA) because of the various and robust fees. After attending May’s ASJA Conference in New York City, I was sold on ASJA’s personal and professional benefits. I fed my soul talking to other freelancers and met one who organizes a writing group near my home. I filled a legal pad with tips. And I landed a literary agent.
A decade into my freelancing career, I have learned that businesses run on dollars and cents and hours and minutes. All need to be maximized. My laptop dies, and I have atrocious handwriting, so I need a reliable replacement. My rusty math skills make tax season unbearable, so I put money aside for a good accountant. I need more childcare so I can focus on work instead of changing diapers.
For me, the ROI of that mind-set is incalculable – and invaluable.
Pete Croatto has written for The New York Times, Publishers Weekly, Columbia Journalism Review, and many other publications. He lives in Ithaca, NY. Follow him on Twitter: @PeteCroatto