When you are looking for freelance writing work, are there some gigs that you pass on either applying for or accepting because they are too small? This may be a mistake, and here’s my take on why they are worth considering:
1. They can be completed relatively quickly.
You may not have time to commit to (another) large project right now, but taking on a smaller one means that you can get the work done and get paid quickly.
2. Completing a small project can help with your cash flow.
Depending on the payment arrangement you have negotiated with your client, you may need to complete a certain amount of work on a large project before you can bill for it. After the bill has been submitted, then you wait for payment, but your bills still come in. (See Item #1.)
3. Taking a small project on a different topic can help you avoid burnout.
If I spend a lot of time thinking or writing about a single topic, I can get to a point where I hit a mental wall and it becomes difficult to continue. I can have an outline prepared and know what I need to write next, but I’ve become so bogged down in the topic that the words don’t flow well. At that point, having a different topic to focus on, even for a short time, gives me a mental break from the first project. When I go back to it, I can focus my attention much better and get it done.
4. A small assignment shows a client what you can do for them.
I’ve had a number of long-term relationships with clients start off with a small project and grow over time. My work here at FWJ is one example. If I had been a “project snob” and turned down the first gig because it wasn’t worth my time or didn’t pay enough, I would have missed out on the opportunity to work with some really wonderful people, including our own Miss Deborah, and our present relationship wouldn’t exist.
Being successful as a freelancer is about building relationships with people. While you may really want to work on large projects, including some smaller ones in the mix gives you some variety and can help to smooth out cash flow issues for your business. Taking on some smaller gigs also gets your work in front of people who can either hire you for larger assignments in the future or refer you to someone who is looking for a writer.
These are all good reasons to consider a short-term gig. What’s your take on this topic? Do you limit your search to gigs that are a certain length or a specific dollar amount? Is any job really “too small”?
Jodee, the small jobs concept is one I’d initially avoided, but now find it useful. If you are constantly writing long-form articles, requiring voluminous research and preparation, it can help to stretch your legs by firing off some quickies that require information you’ve already gathered. Book authors do this all the time. Shorts are also a great way to become comfortable writing about a different subject.
P.S. Jones says
A job is a job in my book. And you have to remember that two or three small gigs add up to a big jog moneywise and take the same amount of time up.
Dr. Beverly Potter says
Small project help avoid burnout because they provide a sense of accomplishment and bring in some bucks . . . . Burnout is a kind of job depression, caused by feelings of helplessness or powerlessness. Grabbing control of the work to create sense of accomplishment etc bolsters feelings of personal power – a sense of control – an I-Can-Do feeling . . . For lotta articles about burnout: the symptoms and what to do about it – check out my site. -docpotter
Dr.: Burn-out is more about boredom. I tend to agree with the Mayo Clinic that monotony is a key component of burn-out, followed immediately by accumulating stress. When I feel burn-out coming to a head, I try to switch off my writing and do something completely different, such as gardening or physical activity.
The key, IMHO, is to be sure that “small” is really small. If someone wants to pay you $150 for a 500 word article, that’s great – unless they decide you REALLY need to do 5 interviews with one-legged Australians who eat sushi every day (and none of them can be from the same town, of course!).
I’ve found a few gigs (THANKS, Deb and Jodee) that are just terrific in that way: they really do offer small jobs for reasonable pay in an ongoing way.