Top 5 tips for Freelancing in 2015

Sara Donaldson - Freelancers

This is Sara Donaldson’ s second guest blog post. Sara is a freelance editor with an eye for a mystery. When not editing a range of projects (mostly non-fiction) she can be found with her Sherlock hat on as a professional genealogist. You can find her on Twitter @psychodwarf

In case you missed it, it’s the New Year. On the horizon are a few months of crossing out the date when you write 2014, wondering where the last year went and a barrage of people telling you how to de-tox, de-clutter and deliver your business.

If you are anything like me, you thrive on coffee while working (with the occasional foray into herbal teas when the family notice the coffee pack is barely lasting two days), you will de-clutter eventually but most of the time live buried under paper (‘It’s my own personal filing system… honest’), and deliver your business in a way that works for you (no thanks I’m not going to join Ello just in case it suddenly becomes popular).

In December I wrote about what to do when a famine hits, but there’s nothing quite like starting January with a positive spring to your step. So here are a few tips for jumping into 2015 with a smile.

1. Focus

With news that the digital publishing world is slowing slightly, the rush for hastily written and badly put together e-books may be over (well we can hope). However, as a whole, the publishing industry is still struggling. Gone are the days of paper, and nothing but paper – today the industry has to provide readers with their fix via both traditional and digital publishing that reaches all platforms… all those e-book readers, tablets, computers and phones provide an ever expanding world of gadgets that need to be addressed.

Do you know where you fit in? Can you offer to work on all platforms or do you specialise in one. Do you work on general projects or are you a specialist. If you are not a specialist what can you specialise in?

Start January with a little focussing exercise, the more you know about yourself, your business, what is working and what is not, the easier it is to see where you need to go.

2. Collaborate

In today’s market people invariably want to go down the easy route. Many quality publishing arenas have cropped up within the last few years that offer the author/publisher a one-stop shop; BookMachine.Me, Whitefox and Reedsy are only three. If you haven’t signed up to such collaborative sites seriously have a think about your professional network. If a customer wants your skill but also needs that of another, and would prefer to work collaboratively, do you have quality professionals you can contact? It’s worth thinking about, and may one day help you to land a commission that might have gone elsewhere.

3. Learn

Remember I said that the market is diversifying into all those different platforms? No matter what your speciality there is always room for learning something new. Focus on where you want to go, or what you want to brush up on, and find a way to enhance your knowledge. It can be anything from a paid Lynda or free FutureLearn course to a morning on the internet doing some research into your specialist area. There’s no excuse not to do something… unless you are so busy with work you really, really can’t fit it in.

4. Market

Start now. Do it. Research your customer base – find out where they hang out, how they search for services, what keywords they use for searching, what they really want. If you work for publishers find out who they are, what they want, whether they use freelancers. Do your marketing before you need to.

5. Be Sociable

Don’t spend all day buried in your work. Being sociable is important for freelancers. Get out there and physically meet people if you can. If, like me, you are somewhat remote, talk to people online… use social media and professional forums. Let people find the real you beneath the professional you. It’s important to be seen as a person, not as a just a business name.

So there you are, five top ways to make 2015 YOUR year -focus, collaborate, learn, market and be sociable. It’s not too laborious just remember to regroup and refocus as the year goes on. Here’s to a productive 2015!


  1. Can I plug the *Try Programming* course me and the other folk from Bibliocloud are running for Oxford Brookes on 20th January? It ticks off number 2 *and* number 5, before January’s even out! You’ll write your own Rails app in one day, and it’ll be brilliant.

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