How’s Your Freelance Portfolio?

In the investment world, the best advice against tough economic times like these is diversification. For freelance writers, that advice is just as sound. Are you relying on only one or two clients to bring home the bacon? It’s a more stress-free lifestyle when times are good, but when the economy starts to tumble, will those clients still be there? The current money woes on Wall Street have mixed impact on freelance gigs. It all depends on who you work for and what the nature of their business is, but if your money sources are drying up, it’s time to start taking more diverse work.

I consider myself lucky in this respect; Ive gotten myself plugged in to several clients who send good-paying work my way on a regular basis. The ratio of pay to output is reasonable and I am not bogged down in low-paying, high volume hell, Some of the gigs pay so well that I keep wondering when the alarm clock will go off to wake me up from this dream. My best paycheck currently comes from being a freelance editor, but I keep my hand on other work for regional lifestyle magazines, health and fitness publications, and I do commercial writing. Only one of my clients reports any serious money woes at this point; how long will that last? If my best gig tanks tomorrow, my other work will keep the rent paid til I can find a replacement for some of that sweet cash.

I would be in serious trouble if i depended only on my high-paying editing gig–what if the publication took such a financial blow that it had to suspend operations next week? I’d be out a paycheck and looking for work at a time when other publications might be pulling back, depending only on their core freelance writers until the uncertainty blows over. Other companies might retreat competely and force their existing in-house staffers to take the workload. It’s a scary time for everybody in business right now, and even some who aren’t actually feeling the pinch are taking cover…just in case.

That said, it’s not too late to find new editors, clients, etc. But as Wall Street’s problems make things uglier on Main Street, the playing field is going to get tougher. Does anybody remember what the freelance landscape looked like post-9/11? Let’s take a lesson from that. Be aggressive, be proactive, and pound on those doors until you find one that opens.

Best advice for newcomers and mid-level writers looking for more work? When the going gets tough, focus your efforts on your strongest types of writing. Use your most solid skills and concentrate your attention on publications you could get steady work from. Going for the high-visibility score might earn you some street cred, but at this point in time, a more steady flow of work might be much more important for you than getting bragging rights. Find some dependable editors and court them. In uncertain times, it’s a good strategy.

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