It seems funny to write about having a plan when the world is so topsy-turvy, but I feel as though I’m finally coming out of my coronavirus fog and settling into the new way of being.
The last few weeks have been a time of watching commissioned travel work disappear, feeling incredibly unsettled, feeling frustrated about chasing up late invoices, and if I’m totally honest, struggling to find the motivation to do any writing.
But, over the last week things have slowly shifted.
I’ve been on long (slow) walks with my partner and kids, collecting wild blackberries (and lots of sticks).
I’ve been spending lots of time in the garden.
I’ve been baking (and eating) A LOT.
I’ve been working on some stories where I’ve been interviewing local artisans and business owners who are doing great things amid the crisis.
So I’m tentatively developing a plan.
Because as I write this I have no work.
I’ve just filed my last article and there is nothing on my ‘to do’ list apart from this blog post.
Usually I would feel utterly panicked about not having any work lined up (which has actually never happened to me before), but instead I’m feeling kind of excited.
I love a good challenge and I’m looking forward to seeing if I can continue to earn good money in this challenging time.
I have to say, straight up, that I don’t know how this is going to play out.
Usually I’m really confident about my techniques and strategies but what we are going through is unlike anything else, so I have no idea what’s going to work.
I’m planning on trying a number of strategies and I’ll share how I go.
But I’m also very aware that I’ll only have two days a week to work as I’ll be home schooling my son (yikes) three days a week.
Do the most obvious task first
The first thing I’m going to do shouldn’t come as a surprise to any of you.
I’ve been thinking about this a lot over the past few days because I have previous clients who I really liked working for and who paid well, but I didn’t enjoy the work.
I’ve been weighing up whether I would reach out to them to see whether they need content.
But (and this may change depending on how needy I get) at this stage I’m not going to.
I think you can look at this in one of two ways.
Not having any work means you can feel desperate, scrabble around and accept anything that’s going.
Or you can use this unusual break in your schedule to look at your priorities and really work out who you want to write for.
Now I know I say this from a privileged position of having savings and a financial buffer.
I’m very aware that I’m offering this advice while I’m also not stressed out about being broke.
But if you have the resources to take a breather for a day or two, then use that time to reconnect with previous clients who you’ve lost touch with and who you’d like to write for again.
That’s my first point of action.
Because off the top of my head I can think of four clients or editors who I have lost contact with over the past year who I should reach out to.
Look for industries thriving at the moment
All my travel writing work has disappeared almost overnight, but there are lots of industries that haven’t been as hard hit by COVID-19, and in fact, some that are positively booming.
Some of the least hardest hit industries include:
Health care and medical
Now you may look at that list and think, so what?
Maybe you’re thinking, “I can’t write in any of those areas.”
But I bet you can.
Even if you’re predominantly a travel writer or someone who writes about the arts, there are still heaps of opportunities to … (prepare yourself I’m going to say the most overused business word of the virus epidemic) …. pivot.
One travel writer I know with a background and interest in the arts wrote this article about an artist doing selfie isolation portraits.
At these times, your writing experience and ability to turn around clean copy (quickly) is generally going to be the most important thing to editors and clients.
Spend a few purposeful hours on LinkedIn, connect and reach out to potential clients.
Acknowledge that it’s a crazy time but let them know that you’re available.
This is what I’m going to do early next week.
I’m going to emphasis my PhD in social work, my health background and also the work I have done in business/finance (it’s scant, but it’s there!)
I’m not sure how it’s going to go – especially with cold emails to potential clients in the current climate – but I’m interested to see.
Open coaching sessions
Last week some of you noticed that I made a small announcement in my newsletter that my coaching sessions have re-opened.
I was planning on starting the sessions up again, so this has always been in the plan for April/May.
I’ve got four writers booked in this week and I’m so excited to get back coaching and see if I can help them get to where they want to go.
Work on resources for freelance writers
I’m in two minds about my online course – do I launch the beta or do I wait?
I know my strategies and techniques work in a ‘normal’ environment, but what about now?
So for the moment, it’s still shelved.
But part of my plan for the next couple of weeks is to work on a small set of affordable resources for freelance writers.
These are templates that I use time and again and I think lots of freelancers could benefit from them.
Take each day as it comes
Who knows what this time next week is going to look like?
All I know is that I have really benefited from having a slow couple of weeks work wise.
My little family is pretty happy (apart from the odd scrape about who gets what stick) and I’m forever grateful that we live just metres from bushland and country side.
I might be here next week saying that this was all a total flop and that I’m applying for government benefits.
But I’m just going to take it day by day.
Will you let me know how your day by day is going too?