Here's a quick summary of my take-away from the session on Finding Freelance Success given by Robyn Sekula Davis and Jeff Cutler at SPJ's national convention:
- Capitalize on all your opportunities to write something for someone. Ask where every piece of writing came from. If you are reading it, someone wrote it.
- Choose your clients with a mix of potential conflicts in mind. If you write for a company or organization, you might need to decide later on not to cover an event or happening that client is involved in. In other words, you should not cover a company you write PR or ad copy for. Think about that up front - before you write speeches or blog posts for a client in the field you specialize in covering.
- Err on the side of disclosing too much about your potential conflicts of interest. That gives the client the opportunity to decide whether you have one.
- Everyone you meet has the potential to throw work your way, so be open to connections.
- When a potential client says "no" to a pitch, it really means "no for now." Be open to opportunities to approach him/her another time - and be ready when s/he calls in the future.
- Freelancers have NO LEEWAY for errors in their copy. They are more accountable for meeting deadlines than staff writers, and it is more important for them to follow instructions to a T.
- When someone asks you what you would charge to do a particular job, don't bid too low! Figure out how long it's really going to take to complete the assignment, and don't be afraid to put your number out there. There is room for bargaining down, not up.