Monday, August 07, 2006

Advice gleaned from my first failure

My workload has lessened considerably now, as I have finally completed the major projects that were hanging over my head. However, one of the projects was completed on less-than-desirable terms, as I missed the deadline - by a long shot. It's not like I wasn't working; on the contrary, I worked my ass off! It was just too much work for me to handle.

At this point, about all I can do is to hope this one project is not too much of a blight to my career - and to learn from my mistakes. It's clear to me that this happened because I accepted too much work at once. Had I known a few things beforehand, I might have avoided such an experience; but now that I have learned by lesson, I might as well pass a few tips on avoiding a similar situation on to my fellow freelancers.

Estimate the time needed to complete a project generously. This way, you'll have a little cushion in case it takes you longer than you expected.

Be firm about telling prospective employers what you can and can't handle. If I'd told a couple of employers, "I'd love the job, but I won't be able to start work on it until [such-and-such a date]," I wouldn't have gotten into such a pickle.

If you're swamped, don't keep looking for work! Most seasoned freelance writers will tell you to keep searching the job boards, even when you have plenty of work, but don't believe it! You'll only end up inviting more work than you can handle. Stop searching for jobs when you have enough work to keep you busy for several weeks; you can always resume your search as you complete your existing jobs.

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