It's Like Riding a Bike

Yes, that's really me!
Yesterday, I learned to ride a motorcycle.  Not just any motorcycle - a fast little sport bike my husband outgrew for a bigger, faster one.

Today my shoulders are sore, but I'm so excited about the things I learned that I can't wait to get back on when he gets home from work (I'm still chicken to ride without a companion).

Launching your freelance writing business is kind-of like learning to ride a motorcycle. 

How so?

  • The first time you sit on it - and it's running - you're pretty nervous.  The same can be said for starting out as a freelance writer.  You may have written a few things here and there for content sites or friends (which is like riding on the back when someone else is driving - not too scary), but reaching out and finding your own clients and trying to convince them you deserve to be paid for your talent might make your stomach turn.
  • As you let out the clutch, the bike starts to move forward on its own.  After you've written for your first client, your freelance writing business may start rolling.  If you've let the clutch out correctly (by delivering awesome documents to your first client), word of mouth may score you more clients or the positive experience will encourage you to go find another.  Sure, it'll be slow - but you need that at first so you can get used to the feeling.
  • When the clutch is all the way out, you have to remember to give it some gas.  If you don't, it'll stall - and so will your freelance writing career.  Gas in freelance writing is marketing your freelance writing services, and the amount you do will be directly proportional to your take-off speed.
  • Eventually, you're going to have to navigate a turn.  As a freelance writer, you're going to encounter crossroads all the time.  Should you specialize in one area?  Is it time to raise your rates?
  • If you want to go faster, you're going to have to learn how to shift.  You'll need to expand your freelance writing business when it's time - just like when you get on the freeway ramp on your bike.  Knowing how to compete with the top freelance writers will put you in the fast lane - and that includes knowing your business inside and out, knowing where (and how) to advertise and trying new things to make yourself more successful.
  • When you hit a traffic light, you better know how to use your brakes. Sometimes you need to slow down - burning yourself out (or careening through a red light) will stop your career in its tracks.  If you have a client from hell, you might need to apply a little brake-age to keep your business upright.
  • Once you know how great it feels to ride successfully, you can't wait to do it again.  Parking my new bike in the garage yesterday, I felt like I'd just come home from a one-day trip to Cedar Point, Kings Island and Busch Gardens all at once, and there were no lines anywhere - and like I rode the Dragster ten times in a row.  Every time I complete a client project and hear, "Thank you, Angie, this is awesome," I feel the same way (but without helmet hair).
My husband told me yesterday that there are two kinds of riders: those who have dropped their bikes and those who haven't dropped their bikes... yet.

When you're freelance writing, you'll drop your bike - but the true test is whether you pick it back up and get on again.  (If I drop the bike, I'm not sure I will - but I've done it with freelance writing, and since that doesn't hurt quite as much, it's easy to pick it back up and start again.)

What's your experience with freelance writing?  Can you relate, or is it totally different for you?

© Angie Papple Johnston, 2010; if you are reading this anywhere but on or Gather, some silly dude who can't ride a bike has bike-jacked it!