Your Most Important Freelance Writing Advisor—It’s Not Who You Think

by • December 17, 2013

writing, editing, proofreadingGuest Post from Linda Formichelli

Your most important writing advisor isn’t your mentor, your writing coach, or your best friend.

It’s your gut.

So many writers email me and say, “An editor said X. What should I reply?” Or “How much should I charge for a 500-word blog post on topic Y?” Or “What should I do about this situation with a client?”

The funny thing is, they already have the answers. They’re just afraid to go with their gut feelings.

Of course, it never hurts to ask an expert what she thinks. But if you do this every time you’re unsure about something, you’ll never develop the intuition that will help you interpret these situations on your own.

Here are three cases where you can run with your intuition…and the more you do it, the more finely honed your gut feelings will become.

1. Pricing

I always get nervous when a writer asks what she should charge for project X, because I know she won’t like my answer—which is to price it at a level that feels fair and good.

So I send the writer information on average rates for various types of writing and tell her how to use her math skills to figure out how much she wants to earn in a year, add on her projected expenses, and divide by the number of billable hours in a year. (Don’t forget to subtract your vacation days from that!)

However, while many experts advise you to carefully calculate your hourly rate down to the penny, when a prospect calls asking my price for a project—I give him the price that feels best to me. And I’m not alone: Mark Silver from The Heart of Business has a whole e-book on intuitive pricing.

So if you feel uncomfortable parsing out an exact hourly rate that you pull out with every client and every project, try using your intuition to figure out how much it’s worth it for you to deal with this particular project right now.

If you’re busy, the project is a rush, or you sense a high PITA factor (that’s Pain In The A$$), you can charge more. If you really, really want the gig because it will give you a great sample, and you feel the project will be a walk in the park for you, you can charge less.

2. Knowing What a Client Really Meant When He Said X

I get a lot of emails from writers asking, “I sent an editor a pitch and he said X. What do you think he meant by that?”

Why would I know any better than you? Often, you do have an idea of what he meant but you’re letting your under-confidence show.

And if just can’t figure out what the editor meant by something—always, always, always write him back to ask.

3. Client Snafus

A writer never second-guesses herself more than when a writing project goes awry. The client may have edited your writing beyond all recognition, or sent the draft back with a request for extensive revisions, or complained about something you did.

And now you want to know: What should I do?

It’s tempting to believe there is one right answer that will always work. But in reality, every situation is different—so you need to consult gut when responding to the crisis.

For example, in one instance your gut may tell you to put on a happy face and pull an all-nighter to make the situation right with your editor. But in another case, your gut may tell you you’re being taken advantage of and you need to put your foot down.

Of course, I’m not saying you should never ask for advice on what to do when a project goes kablooie. Another writer may have been through the same situation and be able to share his experiences with you. But in the end, it comes down to your intuitive take on what the situation calls for.

How about you: Have you ever gone with your gut in a difficult writing situation—and had success? Tell us all about it in the Comments below!

About the Author

Linda Formichelli runs the Renegade Writer blog and is the author of the new e-book Write Your Way Out of the Rat Race…And Step Into a Career You Love, which will help you quit your day job to write.

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