5 Things I Never Expected When I Started My Freelance Writing Business

Small Business surprises

There are the things you plan for and the things you never expect.

Creating a business you love will definitely present you with a few things from each category.

When I started my freelance web writing and social media marketing business, there were things I knew to count on – the occasional flaky client who disappears into the ether and doesn’t pay; the high-maintenance client who expects the world on a silver platter, haggles over every insignificant detail and expects you to make yourself available for phone meetings at the ungodly hour of 10:00 p.m. on a Sunday night, when most sane people are enjoying normal activities like catching the latest episode of Mad Men; the feast-or-famine cycle that dogs you until you finally get your marketing right, and so on.

Then there were the things I never counted on, things I couldn’t have predicted.

Here are five that come to mind:

1.  That one of my best clients would come from answering a craigs list ad, and that I’d still be happily working for her over two years later.

2.  That people would offer $10 per blog post/article/piece of content with a totally straight face, then when you kindly object to working for such a rate, act shocked, haughty, self-important and stunned that you find this insulting. The corollary to this is people who will actually take those assignments.

3.  That I would have to subject myself to a drug screen, a breathalyzer, a TB skin test, a pertussis vaccine, having a vial of blood drawn, and a lengthy discussion about worker’s comp and who would cover me if I got injured on the job, for a freelance writing contract with a healthcare client.

4.  That people find it odd that I’m skilled in, a:  writing web copy, blog posts, email marketing campaigns, case studies, press releases and so on, and at the same time, b: social media marketing and strategy.  I don’t say this to brag.  It’s just that several people – including a few clients – have expressed surprise about someone being able to both write well, and plan and implement effective social media campaigns.  Yet I know many other people who have this same skill set.  Hmm, it’s a mystery.

5.  That the stories I wrote in 7th and 8th grade, and the “books” I made with handwritten content together with images torn out of a magazine as illustrations, would be turn out to be good preparation for one day launching a writing-oriented business in my adult life.

Maybe you have similar stories.  If you own a business, whether you’re a one-person show or a 10-person or more operation, you’re bound to.

If so, I would love to hear them.  Let’s all share, shall we?

Please share your story about an interesting or curious thing that happened to you as a small business owner or solopreneur that you didn’t see coming.

This should be fun.  ; )

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  1. Business is constantly surprising, isn’t it? Hmm… I have a bunch, but perhaps my favorite is that the prospective client who called me at 6 a.m. in the morning (she was on the east coast, and at the time, I on the west; I’d forwarded my office line to my home number the night before so I could work from home a part day the next morning) and listened to me babble, half-awake, about my experience… Would actually hire me (and continue to be an awesome client).

    • You’re right, Jessica, business is always surprising! : )

      Love your story — that’s how I feel about the client I got from replying to a craig’s list ad — an awesome client, which you usually don’t find on craigs list, who continues to give me more and more work as the weeks and months pass. Who’d have thought?

  2. Hi Kimberly,
    That’s a very interesting list of experiences in your post. What’s up with all the invasive stuff because of the freelance job with the health care client?

    I wasn’t expecting so many people to want to work with me on creating and selling an online product like eBooks and other programs. I’ve found that many were just too scared or lazy to do the work by themselves. Either way, it was nice to be asked.

    • Hey Justin,

      Thanks for commenting!

      Well, the invasive stuff with the health care client is because I do about 20 hours per week of the work actually in their offices on the hospital campus, so I had to go through the same initial process that regular employees go through. It was unusual — I mean, the day I showed up to get my drug screen, which is standard procedure and which I knew about going in — the nurse said to me after, “Just sit in the waiting room until we call you to do the rest of your tests.” That part I did *not* know about! I’m thinking, “tests, what tests?” But it’s all worth it, because they are an amazing client, with a ton of interesting work, and they treat their freelancers extremely well — pretty much a dream client all the way around.

      I’m not at all surprised so many people want to work with you creating online products and programs! I know there are plenty of people out there who have ideas for things they want to create, but not enough time to create them, or, they lack the organizational skills to get it all done, since there are so many moving parts to launching a product or program. In fact, I’m putting together an eBook for a realtor client of mine right now, and the biggest challenge has been pinning her down to give me more content for it, as she’s extremely busy.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts, and good luck with your work!

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