The Dangers of Freelance Indecision

If you freelance write/ blog for a living, you might have run into a problem that’s cropped up for me in the past: that of working on two articles at once for one client, unable to decide which one will get done sooner. While you might have the freedom to decide, it’s possible that neither one gets done on time if you’re indecisive.

The importance of pillar/ flagship/ comprehensive content on a blog has been much touted. However, when you do it for a client, it’s potentially more of a money-loser if you’re indecisive. To wit, if you have the option of six short articles at $20 each or one larger article at $120, which do you choose? That $120 article might take a bit of research, writing and editing, whereas you might be able to write the short ones with little to no research.

Even worse is when you have the option to work on several large articles, all of which might require an yet unknown amount of research. What if you spent half the week scoping out four articles, starting two or three, and then got stumped. Maybe it’s the fifth article that you didn’t scope out that you could have completed by now.

Four articles half-done means no billables for the week. Obviously, this method of writing can be a real money loser, especially if you have too many open options. If you have this sort of problem, here are a few tips to conquer it:

  1. Stay in tune. Creative personalities (i.e., us writers) do go through periods where we question our self-worth. It’s natural. Deal with it by keeping up to date in your niche(s). At the very least, maybe you can reflect upon goings on, if you are having trouble with something original.
  2. Scope it out. If you have ten articles to write this week and you are not disciplined, you’d better spend an hour or two on Monday (or better yet, Sunday evening) scoping out ALL ten articles. You can make a list, but I prefer to mind map what I’m working on, in a single map, to get an overview of my week’s work. I can add details as necesary. Estimate how much time each article will take, and what type of tasks are necessary to complete each one.
  3. Make a decision. When you’ve scoped everything out, trust your gut instinct (built up from your experience) as to which article to work on first. I know that every single time I don’t trust myself, I end up with an unproductive week and no billables.
  4. Get to work. Made your decision? Good, now get to work. Add details to your mind map, for your given article, or just simply start writing. It depends on your technique.

Us creative types do get moody, but you can increasing your effective DPH (dollars per hour) with a little bit of planning, and being aware of what your options really are.

If you do get stuck on the article you’ve picked, you’ll have to make a tough decision: stick with it until it’s finished, or pick another article to work on. Before you do the latter, though, try taking a break or a change of scenery. Sometimes, that’s all you need.

6 thoughts on “The Dangers of Freelance Indecision

  1. Hah hah. Actually, I did, on my site a couple of weeks ago. “Productivity Tip: Just Do It.” Which is why I thought it so funny when you said “just do it”. And I’ve been the worst for that for part of this year, until recently, as my latest post here says (Break writer’s block in 30 minutes or less)

  2. lol, You are cracking me up Raj. I can just imagine you posting a 3 word title with body text of the same 3 words, telling people to ‘Just Do it’


  3. Brett, come on now, what am I going to write in the next post? Oh yeah, Just Do It It’ll be up later today, if I can “kick it” out of mind map mode, into a finished article.

  4. Hey Raj, I completely understand where you are coming from on this, but as a project manager and blogger, I’d point out that sometimes we can over think these things.

    With that in mind (always easy to backseat quarterback a blog article btw 😉 ) I’d recommend adding a Zeroth Law:

    0. Just Do It – Start writing the Damn thing right now, don’t think just write, pump out a couple thousand words if you have to (easy enough to do with the right tools and only takes 10 minutes) Once you have a couple thousand words under your belt [and this applies for 1 long article or 6 short articles] you can then review what you have and fine tune things by chopping the 2,000 words into multiple articles, or filling in any gaps for the big article.

    You may even find that at 2,000 words, you now have 7-8 articles, you can bank the extra ones for a rainy day, or use them on a different site to promote your customers articles.

    Raj you should know that I respect the hell out of you. (for everyone else, I feel that I owe a good deal of my success in blogging to Raj)

    That said, us writers can be the biggest damn pansies sometimes, and that is never more true than when we get hung up on word count!

    I do think the four steps you provided are great, but I think they should be preceded by the Zeroth Law and a caveat to step 1 that says ‘OK, you stubborn fool, I see that you were being to whiny today to follow the Zeroth law and as such, you will now enter into this regime of four steps to get yourself out of the mess you have created for yourself. This is your last chance to suck it up and just get the work done, otherwise you can just do twice the work by engaging in managing yourself and writing instead of just writing!’

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