Clients Come First — Or How to Go Crazy the Thursday Bram Way

I haven’t been spending as much time writing for this blog as I would like over the course of this summer. This isn’t an excuse — just a simple fact. That’s because this summer hasn’t been as simple as I’d hoped and, when things get crazy, I have to focus on work for clients first.

That’s sort of the freelancers’ credo: clients come first. We’ll skimp on our own projects, kill off our social life and do anything else it takes to make sure that the projects we’ve contracted for get finished. After all, we want to pay our bills, eat something other than ramen and generally have a respectable income. Our clients are the only ones writing us checks.

When crises hit, we bunker down — we get through the client projects that we can and everything else can quickly fall to the wayside. And that’s been the story of my summer. No one wants to hear the litany of whining that goes along with a retelling of my summer and I’m not after sympathy, but it’s worth admitting that as freelancers, our priorities are not exactly what they might be if we held jobs.

How to Make It Worse

While I haven’t been active here as much as I’d like, I did find a way to make my life even more complicated. I’ve been working on some of my other side projects, and had some pretty interesting partnership opportunities come up. Of course I said yes — why make my life easier?

There is a light on the other side of the tunnel, of course. My business is growing by leaps and bounds and it’s (hopefully) going to reach an equilibrium soon. I’ve been able to find some great help and I’m not exactly going it alone. And, if my side projects work out the way I know they can, I’m going to have a little more financial freedom in my writing career.

Coming Back from the Crazy

This summer, if nothing else, has given me some opportunity for reflection. I have a much better idea of where I want to take my writing in the future and I think I have some valuable information to share in the future.

I’ve rearranged my priorities and I know where I’m headed. Just to give you a head’s up, you’re going to see that reflected in the content here.

You’re going to see more about several topics:

  • Going beyond freelancing
  • Building up passive income stream
  • Turning writing from a service to a product
  • The project management side of writing
  • Creating partnerships to earn more money
  • Hiring staff or subcontracting to expand a writing business

In short, I want to talk about writing as a business — without the assumption that freelancing is the only way for a writer to run her business. It is a question I’ve been struggling with, especially when I’m not in a position to put in the sheer number of hours that tend to go along with a good freelancing career.

I don’t think I’m the only one, either. A lot of us get into freelancing because we are looking for flexibility and, yes, it does provide a lot more flexibility than an employer ever would. But there are other constraints, often on income and time. There has to be a way to build up great income without giving up flexibility or constantly working ourselves to the edge of burnout.

I’m Not the Only Crazy Person

The entire profession of writing is undergoing some interesting upheavals right now, and there aren’t a lot of clues to where things are going. We know that the Internet has created an incredible demand for new content. We also know that outsourcing to countries like India or the Philippines (where many people speak English fluently) are changing the types of work that we are seeing. Big batches of SEO articles routinely get outsourced, while a writer from the US or the UK will be hired to ‘localize’ those articles.

It’s easy to see the changing economics as a problem — as a sign that the world has gone crazy. But it is just as easy to find opportunities. It takes almost nothing to start an online publication or to act as a content marketing consultant. Well, nothing for a writer who pays close attention to what is going on online. We have to embrace those opportunities.

Image by Flickr user Stuart B Pilbrow


  1. P.S. Jones   •  

    1) I had no idea what that picture was of for the first ten minutes of staring at it.
    2) Congrats on productive (yet tiring) summer. It’s nice to be wanted, even if it’s stressful.
    3) Excellent point on being flexible and the ability to evolve. I hear writers complaining all the time about how this industry is dying or that industry has gone to hell. My thoughts are that you can either mourn the change or find opportunity in it. Those that find opportunity will still be here surviving and growing tomorrow. Those that don’t, won’t.

  2. thursday   •     Author

    @P.S. And here I was, thinking I was witty for picking a photo of someone pulling their hair out… Oh well.

    I do think flexibility is a problem for a lot of writers: I’ve worked in an old-school newsroom and it was the folks who couldn’t change who were winding up jobless the fastest. Strangely enough, it was often the newer journalism students who were inflexible. There was one old character who had done every type of writing over the years (screenplays, non-fiction books and more, in addition to his career at the newspaper) and he was taking up blogging while I was there. That’s the writer who will always have work.

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