A question I am asked quite regularly is how I have managed to sustain a freelance writing career for over thirty years.
There are various answers I could give to this, but probably the single most important factor has been having regular clients.
Over my career I have had somewhere in the region of thirty regular clients – people and companies who have supplied me with work over a lengthy period. As a matter of interest I have listed some of my main clients over the years below:
Maple Marketing (UK) Ltd – books and ebooks, distance learning courses and email newsletters
Streetwise – newsletter articles and training course content
Lagoon Games – puzzles, games, novelty books, quiz books, and so on
Agora (Fleet Street Publishing) – newsletter articles and web content (currently I am contributing two articles a week to their Creating Wealth email newsletter)
Hilite – newsletter articles, distance learning courses and web content
WCCL – distance learning courses, website content and copywriting
The Writers Bureau – distance learning courses and copywriting (I was also for several years a tutor and assessor for them)
Some of the above I’m still working for, others not – though my door is always open, of course!
Having regular clients has meant that almost every month I know there is some money coming in. Obviously I have also had other occasional and one-off clients, but I’d hate to have to rely on that to pay the bills.
For one thing, you get to know your ‘regulars’ and build a relationship with them. Good clients can be guaranteed to pay you for work done (even if once in a while their accounts department may need a prod). With new clients you simply don’t have that reassurance. They may be good, or nit-picking nightmares, or at worst downright crooks. When a potential new client approaches me these days, I am quite cautious before taking them on!
Regular clients are a lot less worry and hassle, and over the years I have developed strong working relationships and even friendships with some of them. This is great when, on occasion, you need a little extra flexibility (over a deadline, say).
And of course, it makes work less stressful and more enjoyable.
And finally, if you have a core group of regular clients, you don’t need to spend so much time marketing your services. You can therefore concentrate on your writing, which is presumably what you enjoy doing, and also what you get paid for.
So my top advice to any writer starting out today would be to make every effort to build long-term relationships with clients. For me anyway this has been the key to sustaining a long career as a working professional freelance writer.
If you have any comments or questions, as always, please do post them below.