For the past three years, I have run my own virtual writing and editing company, Desired Assistance. Born out of my ability to write and edit, paired with the increasing demand for virtual assistants, I combined the two to create my own business. This journey hasn’t always been easy, but it has certainly been worth it. Along the way I discovered things about myself, my writing, and business in general. Here are some of the lessons I learned.
Work Your Network
When I first launched my freelancing business, the majority of my clients came directly (or indirectly) from my college and church networks. The relationships I’d made and work I’d done in those environments set me up for great testimonials before my business even started. You never know who is observing you and the impressions that you’ve made.
You Don’t Work for Them, You Work for Yourself
This is something that took a while to get into my head on my first (long-term) freelancing job. The individual that hired me was under the impression that I worked for him. I thought this too until my business advisor set me straight.
It’s the same with doctors, dentists, mechanics, hair stylists, and others. We are service providers. It actually helps to see it more as a temporary partnership: they provide the funds and you provide the services to produce an expected end.
If you can grasp this concept now, you will gain a new level of freedom in your business.
Cheap Rates & Frequent Discounts Breed Cheap Clients
This one’s a toughie. When you are passionate about a talent that comes naturally to you, it can be hard to charge and charge rationally at first. This is especially true if you are surrounded by individuals or a community with a pervading poverty mindset. EVERYBODY wants a discount.
But guess what? You need to get over it. Set a new standard.
Think of it this way: Wal-Mart offers cheap prices and frequent discounts. Bergdorf’s does not. Accordingly, each store attracts a certain type of customer. Which end of the spectrum do your clients swing to?
You are a professional. You deserve to make a good living by the work of your hands.
Writing Farms Suck
I hate, loathe, and despise writing farms! Someone or some entity that herds writers like cattle (hence the term writing farm) and expects you to do excellent work for crappy pay. Stop the madness!
Most of the individuals who work in this environment speak and write English poorly. They get hired for pennies on the dollar and when a high-quality writer comes along nobody wants to hire them because they’re content with sub-par work at cheap costs.
If we band together against this modern day indentured servitude, then the world of writing will undoubtedly be a better place.
Stay True to Yourself
I’ll try not to preach on this one, but what is your foundation? What are your guiding principles and values? I’m a firm Christian, yet have been approached by New Age gurus, mediums, and more who have attempted to hire me for projects. And even though at times I entertained the thought, I had to remain true to my values which usually meant turning the gig down. (I’m trying to figure out how they overlooked the titles plastered on my website like Godly Government and Faith and the Imagination!) And let’s be honest, it’s probably best for the conflicting brand to choose a freelancer who’s likeminded or at least familiar with the subject matter.
I refuse to prostitute my talents to support a lifestyle or career that clashes with my worldview.
You may not believe as I do, yet I bet you have your own set of guiding principles which have shaped who and what you are today.
And the issue may not be something as large as religion. It could be filthy language, sexually explicit content, praise of drugs and other unhealthy actions.
Consider this: would you want your professional brand affiliated with the brand or project in question? Would you want to be thanked in the Acknowledgments? How will this truly affect your business?
You must remain true to your brand, whatever it is.
Bottom line: you must value yourself as an individual, artist, and professional. One size does not fit all! And why should it? There are more than enough freelancing gigs to go around if we would only seek them out.
About the Author
Desiree M. Mondesir is an author, columnist, blogger, and entrepreneur who has run her own virtual writing and editing company, Desired Assistance, since 2010. She loves to help writers become better through her writing consultations and coaching classes. Her books include Godly Government, Faith and the Imagination, and How to Write Fiction that Doesn’t Suck. If you’d like to hear more from Desiree, sign up for her email updates and get some great free gifts. You may also connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. Desiree is 27 and resides in Charlotte, NC.