This week I've mostly been up to my knees in spreadsheets and pivot tables, analysing the results of a survey I did for Journalism.co.uk into how much freelance journalists really earn.
I can't give away too much here as the results won't be published until next week but here's one thing I can say for sure: if you're a freelancer and you're worried that you're not making enough money, or progressing in your career, you are NOT alone.
Pretty much every single one of the 310 people who took part in the survey raised one, or both, of these concerns.
Definitely these are things I'm worried about at times, and they're both issues I'm going to be addressing over the next few weeks in this blog.
But first, for anyone going through a dry spell or who needs to get money together quickly, let's look at a few quick wins for getting more work – fast.
Pitch to existing clients
It's always going to be a little easier to pitch to outlets you've been published with before, rather than going in cold. If you don't have existing clients, skip to the step below.
Put the word out
Contact every editor you've ever worked with. Post something to your social media profiles to say you're looking for work. Reach out to any other writer friends you may have to see if they know of any projects they don't have time to take on, or need help with. You don't need to sound desperate, but rather like you've been incredibly busy for the last few months and now want to do something a bit different. So you could say something along the lines of "I've just wrapped up a big project and I'm looking for some new clients. Would you keep me in mind if any projects emerge that might be a good fit for my expertise?"
I know, I know. Most likely you didn't get into freelance journalism to do copywriting or content marketing or anything like it. But here's the thing: it pays. And it pays well. By using it to boost your income, you'll have more time and money to focus on the things you really want to write about. So set up job alerts on LinkedIn for "copywriting" and "content marketing", and check out this post by Jennifer Goforth Gregory on what you should know about adding content marketing to your services.
You could also join Contently, a portfolio platform on which you can get content marketing gigs once your profile has been vetted (although this can take a few months). Mridu Khullar Relph also runs a Content Marketing for Journalists course which comes highly recommended.
Have an 'emergency' fund
Ok, this isn't a way to get money fast, but rather something you should start doing RIGHT NOW if you're not already. Putting aside an amount of money from each payment you get will give you peace of mind and help to cushion the blow if the boiler breaks or life happens. It can be 10%, or 20%, or more – whatever you can afford. Just make sure you're doing it. Because believe me, you'll be grateful for it when the time comes to dip into it.