Spring is in the air and regardless of whether you have a million projects going or are in-between jobs, it’s time for a spring cleaning!
I advocate doing a quarterly “spring clean” in your office area so that you are able to stay organized and have minimal issues with efficiency. What does this type of re-vamp consist of? Here’s my checklist for the bare minimum you need to stay on top of things in your writing life:
Organize those e-mails you have been avoiding dealing with or keeping in your inbox to get to at “a later date”.
De-frag your hard drive (PCs).
Back up your computer.
Organize any paperwork. Toss, file, mail and address. Then, get it off your desk.
Catch up on bookkeeping.
Reach out to editors that you haven’t been in touch with for a while and touch base.
Clean your computer screen and blow out your keyboard with canned air.
Replace office supplies as needed.
Check printer ink.
Update your web presence (LinkedIn, website, etc.)
This is just a basic checklist–be sure and add anything you need to take care of to it. If you can set aside a day or two each season to take care of these things, you’ll likely be a lot more organized–and a lot less aggravated!
As I settled into my favorite writing spot this morning to check e-mail I began thinking about the idea of having a “comfort zone” and how much easier that can make things…
The way I’m defining comfort zone for the purposes of this post is: “a place the writer feels comfortable and is likely to have little chance of getting distracted from the task at hand–writing.” Mine is the couch. For some writers, it’s the desk. For others, the local coffee house.
The couch elicits an almost Pavlovian response from me in that I can get to work quickly. I’m extremely efficient, aware of time (and maximizing my use of it), and can hammer at tasks I need to do every day–such as answer e-mails, file things and do initial research. I’m lightning fast.
But I’ve learned something else about my comfort zone.
It’s a lousy place for me to be creative. The same things that enable me to work well when sitting on the sofa are the very things that seem to inhibit my ability to tap into my imagination. For that I have to go elsewhere – and that works quite well for me. A new environment opens up those creative pathways and allows me to explore new ideas and directions.
It has taken me a long time to discover this about myself, and I’m not sure it works the same for everyone…but I have a hunch it will ring true for many people when they stop to think about it. So I thought I’d put it out there to perhaps save others a bit of time and effort if I can–and to hear from writers who may work the same way.
So tell me–who else out there has a “comfort zone” and how does it work for you?
Catherine’s post yesterday, “Helping Another Writer = Good Karma,” was a timely one for me, and I wanted to expand on her thoughts—because it’s even better for your freelance business if you expand your freelance network beyond just referrals for other writers.
Some examples from the past week:
I received a referral from a client for a PR project that was really outside my expertise, so I sub-referred it to someone I know who’s capable of pulling it off.
I referred a long-time graphic designer colleague, who’s recently gone freelance, to a client who needs some high-end talent.
And while editing a white paper for another client, it occurred to me that another client (a professional speaker and author) might find the content useful for her audiences, so I introduced and connected them, too.
None of these will result in direct business for me, and I don’t know for sure if it will mean additional business for any of the people I’ve introduced to each other. And as Catherine pointed out, my motives for doing it were a blend of unselfish and selfish. Sure, I might help some folks generate some additional revenue. Sure, if my matchmaking works, I’m going to cultivate some good karma with clients and potential clients as well as fellow freelancers…and maybe some additional business or referrals will come back my way down the road. There’s nothing wrong with that, eh?
From a bigger-picture perspective, I think we often fool ourselves into thinking that participation in social media means we’re being social. It doesn’t. Real business means picking up the phone or sending a thoughtful email, personally connecting partners, clients, colleagues or friends in ways that improve their own networks and results.
In the comments, share your matchmaking tips or anecdotes. What do you do to expand your freelance network and influence?
It may seem counter-intuitive, but helping another writer get work can actually bring you good writing karma.
Many writers I know are reluctant to share information they come across about jobs in the field. There’s always this feeling that you should keep it to yourself–just in case you need it.
I take another approach…
If I hear of a job I can’t take on – I pass it along to another writer who I know is deserving. Now…that is where you have to use sound judgement…you don’t want a recommendation from you to be associated with a writer who can’t do the job…so you have to know they are a decent writer. And if they are, I say, give them the job–or at least share the opportunity with them to follow up on.
Part of the reason I do this is completely unselfish. I know how hard it is to get jobs in this field and how competitive things are when it comes to work. I’m sincerely happy to help out a fellow writer.
The other part is not as unselfish. I’ve gotten jobs this way too. Writers that I have helped out along the way have done the same for me from time-to-time. It’s nice. It’s like a big job pool. And I have to say, it feels really good when we’re all working together rather than elbowing each other out of the way.
So…for the holiday season, that’s my pitch to you in the coming year. Look out for your fellow writer. It will not only make you feel warm and fuzzy, but it may come around and net you a little cash down the line. Let the writing karma abound!
Every year I do something that helps move my career forward during the holidays…
I market myself.
This means reaching out to people to touch base, getting my contacts organized, sending out some new feelers and other strategies designed to both keep me working and find new jobs. Here are some great things you can do to stay on top of things for 2013:
Send holiday cards. Sending out a simple holiday greeting is a great way to remind editors you are out there. Touch base and write a short note in the card. It’s good business.
Organize your address book. Add contacts that you should have in there and delete old e-mail addresses.
Research places to send an outreach e-mail to in the NY. Get an Excel document going with names and e-mails of people that you would like to reach out to for work in the New Year. Don’t send these e-mails over the holidays–they’ll probably never see light…but do get ready for your marketing push in January.
Look for reprint options. Sift through any articles you sold in 2012 and see if you can re-slant them for another publication in 2013.
Do your tax prep. I’d advise using an accountant, but no matter what you do for taxes, you’ll need to organize your receipts. Get it done while things are quiet and you’ll be thanking yourself in April. Believe me.
Network. Arm yourself with business cards for all of the holiday parties that you will be attending and pass them out like crazy. You just never know when someone will need a writer.
Do you have any good tactics for marketing yourself during the holidays? If so, we’d love to hear from you!
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