The Dangers of an Overworked, Stressed Out Freelance Writer

How to use the ripe years to prepare you for the lean years

When most people start their career as a freelance writer they aren’t picturing themselves being overworked and extremely busy. Instead, quite the opposite. They envision a life of complete and total freedom.

However, what they often seem to overlook is that, as an independent contractor, a freelance writer must have new writing projects to work on regularly in order to be able put in full-time hours over the course of a week.

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You see, a newbie freelance writer envisions only having a handful of loyal clients on retainer, which equates to having a fixed monthly income coming in consistently. This is something that is repeated regularly in order to be able to earn a decent annual income and still have the prospect of constantly having new writing projects to work on from this handful of loyal clients — forever.

This is what the freelance writing life would look like in a perfect world.

When You’re Overworked and Stressed Out

However, what they don’t take into account are the ebbs and flows of the market. Or how the economic season can affect whether or not a client can continue to have that freelance writer on the payroll.

The fact of the matter is: Once a newbie freelance writer realizes that this freelance writing life is not exactly the “perfect world” they envisioned it to be… that being busy with steady work is one thing, but being overworked with having to market their writing business in order to land new clients when old ones flake out, well…

When you’re overworked with having to manage the marketing aspect of building your writing business, you may end up having difficulty concentrating on the client projects that are sitting right in front of you.

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You may find that your creativity and focus end up going more towards your own personal marketing efforts rather than on your current client’s writing projects, and ultimately, the quality of work you provide to your current clients ends up suffering.

Moreover, you may end up feeling as though you have to rush through your client’s projects in order to get all of your tasks completed for the day and still be able to market your writing business in order to land new clients — it’s a never ending cycle.

You also may work longer hours marketing your business and end up failing to take a day or two off work each week. All of these factors can combine together to create a situation where the quality of your work suffers — both in the work you do for your client(s) as well as with the marketing efforts you do for your own writing business.

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Ultimately, this state of being overworked can affect the paycheck you get from your current client(s) as well as your ability to land new clients in the weeks or months to come.

Photo Credit: Vineyard Workers Church

During the ripe years (when the writing projects never seem to stop coming in), you may be busy now, but if you don’t do quality work while you are busy with these current client projects, you may not earn future business from them later on.

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And, as a final note, being overworked can, inevitably, make you feel more stressed and unhappy with your chosen profession. And this can breed discontent and dissatisfaction that carries over into your personal life as well.

What You Can Do About It

Clearly, it’s in your best interest, as a freelance writer, to have steady on-going work that can keep you busy so that you are working full-time hours. However, it’s counterproductive, and even damaging to your ability to produce quality, creative work when you are overworked and stressed out.

With that said, when you allow yourself to bear in mind that the perfect world you envisioned when you first launched your freelance writing business doesn’t really exist, you begin to realize how important it is to have the marketing department of your writing business working on autopilot.

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Learning how to implement a lead-generation system into your daily operations is critical to the success of your writing business, and to your ability to have on-going full-time work.

In short, every freelance writer goes through lean years or “seasons of drought” in their writing business. How you manage through these hard times is all dependent upon how you prepare during the ripe years.

During the lean years, through my marketing efforts, I’ve discovered how to not only boost my ability to generate new leads on autopilot, but I’ve also discovered how to earn a residual income in the process — even before landing an actual new writing client.

In other words, I’ve learned how to increase my customer ratio during the lean years so that I’m able to sustain my writing business when my clientele ratio decreases. And when the seasons change with the ebbs and flows of the market, I’m able to convert those customers into leads, and then into new high paying full-time writing clients.

Another way of looking at this is by understanding the following: You see, there will always be a “season of drought” that comes into your client’s marketplace as well, where they will no longer be able to afford your freelance writing and copywriting services. When that happens, instead of worrying yourself to death and working your butt off to find new clients, why not turn those existing clients into customers?

In other words, instead of selling them your high priced writing services, begin to sell them your books, ebooks, and other products where you teach them how to do what you do so that they can do it themselves.

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Now, I know what you may be thinking: “But William… if they learn how to do what I charge high rates for, aren’t I ‘product’ selling my way out of a job?” The honest and straight-forward answer to that is: Absolutely not!

You see, people are all about doing what is most convenient for themselves at the moment. When your client’s market is going through a rough-patch and their not able to afford your services, it becomes more convenient for them to do the work themselves.

But trust me, it’s more work than what they really want. Which is why, when their market begins to move out of that rough-patch, they’ll continue to go for the more convenient option, which is to hire you back full-time and let you do the work for them so that they can go back to doing something else.

And, lastly, if what you teach them through your products actually works for them, the more likely they are going to hire you back to do the work for them once the season of their market begins to improve and become more prosperous. This is because, at this point, they know the value in what you have to offer.


Final Thoughts

There are four ways I’ve managed to do this. For one, I’ve discovered how to implement a content marketing strategy that has become the core foundation of my entire marketing efforts. Second, I’ve figured out how to step up my social media networking game to attract only the clients I want to work with— my dream clients. But notice I said social media networking and not social media marketing, there is a major difference.

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Third, it’s been said that “the money is in the list,” or that your list is your most valuable asset. I agree with that to a certain degree, but none of that really matters if you haven’t established trust with those on your list — and I’m talking about a trust that can never be broken. With that said, one of my marketing mentors shared with me the key to unlocking that kind of trust that can never be broken and it has changed the life of my writing business forever — it can do the same for you.

Finally, the most important part of being able to survive through the lean years is by knowing how to take all the work that you’ve done in the ripe years and turn them into products that literally fly off the shelf. And then when it is time to move back into the ripe years, you simply take those products and re-purpose them into marketing assets and repeat the process/strategy all over again.

Now Over to You…

All freelance writers want to stay busy but nobody wants to feel overworked and stressed out. If you’ve been feeling overworked in recent days or weeks, or even months, consider my ebook, “Marketing for Freelance Writers: 4 Profitable Ways to Draw Attention to Your Writing Business.

You’ll actually find out how to earn residual income through selling products and still keep your financial projections in order while you’re waiting to land next high-paying writing clients.

In short, when you’re clientele writing project numbers begin to fall, re-strategize your efforts and increase your customer sells numbers. This is the only way to balance out your ability to scale your financial projections.


William Ballard, MBA is a highly sought after business strategist and content marketing expert. He is a highly respected master copywriter whose passion is to help struggling firms go from merely surviving operations to truly thriving organizations.