Hardworking but flexible. That’s the common theme that has run through these series of freelance writer interviews I’ve done.
Today we’re talking to Jennifer Frazier, who has been writing professionally since 1984.
Congrats on a long freelance writing career! How and did you decide it’s what you wanted to do?
I was published in a book of poetry called Young America Writes when I was 11. It was a poem called the Coal Mining Dilemma, and I won some awards for it. That’s when I first realized that I could actually pursue something I loved doing so much. Of course, as I grew into being a writer, I realized poetry isn’t a feasible sustaining income for most, and concentrated on Journalism. I earned my Bachelor of Journalism at the University of Missouri, and have been writing ever since — for newspapers, magazines, and most recently, advertising campaigns, videos, TV spots, and lots and lots of blog posts.
Have you noticed the “feast or famine” world that people think about when they picture freelancing?
It’s a valid observation. At times, projects you expect to be complete in one month might take four, and others roll out quickly in a week or two. So billing can be sporadic. But how freelancers like myself overcome that is through retainer accounts and keeping a steady trickle of projects in the pipeline — and that takes good project management.
Many freelancers today work for clients and also supplement that with their own blogs and books. What’s your approach to maintaining a successful freelance career?
I’ve had good success with ghost writing for companies. I help them establish a voice, and then translate that into blog posts and editorial that we can then share with the media and their database. It fills a need for both of us, and is a steady stream of reliable income.
In your opinion, what’s the best way to get new clients as a freelancer?
Do great work and foster clients who love you and recommend you. Nothing is more powerful than a recommendation from a designer, producer or business owner a prospect knows and trusts. I also sit on several advisory councils and boards for local charities and help guide their marketing and communications strategies, and then contract to do the work. This gives me good visibility among a very qualified group people who are also wonderful to work with.
Tell us what your day is like. How many hours do you work and do you have the flexibility that many freelancers crave?
I start at either 9am or 10am, typically. I try to avoid rush hour like the plague, and can usually set up meetings between 10 and 2 to avoid those headaches. (Anyone who knows Tampa traffic knows what I’m talking about). Sometimes I write early in the am, and sometimes late in the evening. Weekends are always there to clean up the loose ends from the week before, tackle another project, or prepare for interviews, meetings or deadlines starting Monday. Being a freelancer does mean flexibility, but we’re a hard-working bunch, too.
What’s your best advice for someone who wants to start freelancing today?
Make sure you have enough experience under your belt and enough contacts to hit the ground running. I’ve had art directors who have worked with me at agencies, and then hired me as a freelancer as they transfer for their careers to places like Philadelphia or Chicago. I would also recommend that they run their business like a business. Don’t stop for a half hour to fold laundry or walk Fido if there’s a deadline on your desk. Work comes first. You have to be able to put blinders on to ignore the rest if you have a home studio like I do. Otherwise, get an office and treat it like the 50 to 60-hour per week career it takes to be successful.
Anything you’d like to add?
Freelancing is a wonderful occupation, but it can be isolating. Make sure to get out and network with both peers and prospects, take webinars and attend workshops to stay sharp, and stay abreast of current trends and tools. Success never happens in a vacuum.
Where can we find you online?