I have recently received some sage advice about how I must run my freelance business. I need structure, routine and a business plan. I need to market my work efficiently online, keep accurate financial records and get out ‘there’. My ad hoc bohemian approach was causing me unnecessary stress I was told. Get timetabling, project planning, networking. Take regular breaks from the computer screen. Exercise. Hmm…
Unfortunately for me, the ‘routine’ referred to did not refer to coffee breaks; the structure does not mean the comfortable back support and the business plan does not mean keeping the mortgage paid. Marketing online does not include chatting away on twitter about John Keats and Kenneth Branagh, sharing your Spotify lists or putting photos of the allotment on Facebook and although I may be rich in Bejewelled Blitz coins this will not impress the Inland Revenue. And sitting in Costa with a notebook isn’t networking, apparently.
So – the timetable for the week is up on the wall of my little office, coloured blocks indicating what I should be working on when. My freelance admin work on Mondays and Thursdays; writing on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Fridays is a ‘flexible’ day – the allotment, meeting mates, housework. Well the first two anyway. So now, however hard working from home alone can be, I just have to stick to it. I think my husband is a little cynical about it already – I fixed it to the wall with Paddington stickers rather than motivational quotes; but as a guru you don’t get much better than the Bear.
To make a start I have just ‘launched’ my website. Have a look at www.suziegrogan.co.uk.
I am quite proud of it. I love my blog and link through to it, but my website is to promote myself as a businesswoman. Which I am. I earn money from my writing and I have been a researcher for years. If all the Grogan family required was a roof over their heads I earn enough to pay the mortgage. I need to celebrate that and work with and on it.
Interestingly though I have yet to meet another freelance writer who doesn’t procrastinate on social media, which is a vital way to market your writing . And sitting in a cafe listening to other people shouting at their children (or is that just our Costa?) whilst you flick through the papers is actually a vital way to spark the imagination. It is a matter of finding a balance, and therein lies the challenge.
So I am really interested to know how others out there cope with these seemingly opposing demands on a freelance writer’s psyche. At present it feels as if I need to be two entirely different people – one creative, imaginative and relaxed about the passing of time over a cup of coffee and a bun; the other a part-time accountant, administrator and marketing executive.
So what do you do? And what do you think of my website? I am going to be be posting regular news updates about the publication of my anthology of mental health posts from No wriggling on it. Can I improve it? Or will it just be another way to procrastinate?