It was the last year I started a freelancing business. Although in the past, I had worked primarily as both a nurse and social worker, I had always loved writing, and so when I finally retired (at the young age of 56) it was natural to me to pick up my pen and do the one thing I had always been passionate about. Having no background in business I read many books to prepare myself, but soon found myself trying to take shortcuts. Needless to say, it didn’t work, and it was only after restructuring that I found myself getting clients and making a bit of money.
1. Not Treating My Business as a Business
Despite the fact that this was highly stressed, it just didn’t seem like something a writer should worry about. It didn’t take long to find out just how wrong that attitude was. I was soon overwhelmed and confused about what to do next, had I taken the time to set up files and an accounting system I would have soon found myself on track with no missing deadlines or lost contacts. It doesn’t matter what you do, whether it’s in a creative field or a production field, a business must be treated as a business to survive.
2. Ignoring Marketing
Like many creatives, especially writers, I found marketing to be a big and scary undertaking. Cold calls and query letters just didn’t sound like me, besides I had read a few marketing books and they were all boring. Let me state that there is no substitute for marketing. If no one knows who you are or what you are offering, there will be no customers to support your business.
3. Not Keeping Business Hours
This one happened because like so many people I thought that business hours were a little ridiculous for a writer, after all, writers have so much free time. Again I was wrong, if I only worked when I felt like it very little got done. Within a short time I was far behind and struggling. It all became easier when I worked from six in the morning, (I’m an early riser), until at least three in the afternoon. It also gave my clients a time frame in which they could expect to reach me.
4. Not Keeping a Database Of Client Information
A database seemed like a great deal of work, so instead I wrote everything done in a notebook, or so I thought. These quickly scribbled notes were often incomplete with missing preferences, pay averages, length of deadlines and contact information. It only took one time of missing an important deadline before I saw the necessity of a database.
5. Not Keeping A Presence On Social Media Sites
Social media has become a vital necessity too both traditional and on-line businesses. Persons who buy today demand interactions. They rightfully, expect a company to share not only it’s brand, but it’s personality and values. The experts tell you that social media should be addressed as often as needed. That means that Facebook can be addressed once a day but Twitter should be addressed several times at prestated intervals. In all the confusion of my other mistakes, I ignored social media, this action led me to lose large numbers of followers as well as potential clients. A hard lesson that I won’t soon forget.
It doesn’t matter whether you are a creative freelancer or a manufacture just starting out, the rules of running a business are much the same. Shortcuts may sound great but are often a road to disaster, so unless you want to restructure your business after losing clients, then you may want to pay attention to the rules.