Courtesy Eran Finkle

Courtesy Eran Finkle

Planning is essential in all aspects of your life, including your freelance writing. My focus here is on the little things that make a big difference when you do them early.

This cuts two ways: some things done early result in a big payoff you otherwise wouldn’t have gotten, while some things done late will have some major bad consequences.

Four Do-Early Writing Tasks

1. Sending Queries for Seasonal Articles

You want to submit these at least 6 months before Christmas or the summer travel season. Editors often have long lead times, especially for seasonal material. Wait until January to pitch your idea about spring-break beach fashion tips for college women and you’ll likely find all such assignments already given to other writers.

2. Conducting Interviews

Contact all the people you need to interview as soon as you know who you want and what you’ll ask them. Wait too long and they may not be available, or you won’t get the interview completed in time.

3. Asking for Testimonials

If you want people to write testimonials for a book or product or website, or to recommend you on LinkedIn, let them know immediately and give them all the information they need.

4. Sending Book Proposals

Create a solid proposal and get it to publishers or your agent ASAP, especially if you won’t finish the book without a contract or you need the advance for living or research expenses.

8 Do-Early Tasks in My Freelance Writing Niche

In my main freelance writing niche I create lecture outlines, test and quiz questions, and other educational supplements for college textbooks. Here’s what I do as promptly as possible for a project:

  1. Submit my signed contract
  2. Make sure I have the latest page proofs of the textbook
  3. Make sure I have all other materials I need, such as the previous edition of the textbook and the previous editions of the specific supplements I’m creating/updating
  4. Create templates in Word, PowerPoint, or Excel that I will use for the entire assignment
  5. Send a sample of my work to my editor so I can get any necessary corrections and feedback before proceeding with the rest of the work
  6. Put all work due dates in my calendar
  7. Put all invoice submission dates in my calendar
  8. Follow up on any missing information or payments

Four Do-Early-and-Life-Is-Easier Tasks

1. Making Reservations

For planes, for conferences, for restaurants, for concerts—anything important where reserving too late means you either can’t do it or have to pay a premium price.

2. Paying Bills

Pay them late and you pay late fees. Wait too long and you’ll hurt your credit rating and your reputation.

3. Canceling Services

You may have various services set up on automatic payment through your credit card. If there’s one you’re not using, be sure to cancel before the next billing period.

4. Purchasing Gifts and Cards

Keep birthdays and anniversaries in your calendar. Buy gifts and cards well ahead of time, when it’s convenient for you and you’re in the mood. If you wait, you could forget entirely, or have to make a special trip and not be in the right frame of mind to make thoughtful choices.

The Take-Home Message

Develop a list of the small but important things you need to do on regular basis. Integrate these into your planning system so that they get done early.

Your Take

Do you take care of the small but important things early, or do you wait until they become big, important, and urgent? And what would you add to my lists above?

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