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Four Tactics Every Freelance Writer Should Use For Meeting Deadlines

This contributor post by Lanre Solarin was supposed to go live last week Friday, but it’s being published late due to WritersinCharge’s migration to Hostgator last week. Enjoy!

As I wrote a guest post for a new, high-paying client, a tear rolled down my cheek.

Then more followed….

I cried – and yet, I still kept writing.

I wasn’t writing a motivational article, neither was it a love story with the happily-ever-after ending.

I cried because I had no choice but to write. I was tired, sick and had a close deadline to meet. I had made a promise I wasn’t near keeping.

And I wanted to give up.

Don’t do that – ever!

On the basis of appearing professional, writers can sometimes make outrageous promises, especially to new clients.

What do you think this can lead to? More jobs? Repeat clients?

Not exactly.

This can either lead to compromised quality or extended deadlines. Nevertheless, accepting jobs with short deadlines is sometimes unavoidable. When this happens, what do you do?

Here are four strategies you can adopt to meet those short deadlines.

 1. Use A Voice Recorder To Reduce Time Spent On Writing

Writing massive articles in 2 days under feverish conditions isn’t something you’ll look forward to. My inability to look at a laptop screen for extended periods, with a ton of other jobs piling up simply meant one thing- I needed a solution. Like Oni, I could have stored up my ideas on my Smart Phone but after weeks of tapping away, my thumbs started begging for retirement. By using a voice recorder to record content ideas while doing other tasks, I could reduce the time spent on writing the article.

Take action: Use or get a voice recorder app on your phone with adequate record time. This will help collect your ideas while you use your hands to do other non-writing tasks.

2. Use Time Zones To Indirectly Extend Your Deadlines

Having a client who is 5 hours behind your time is more favorable than you think. With a deadline on a Friday, I had the opportunity to work 5 hours into Saturday. When working with international clients, you either work according to their time or yours.

Take action: It won’t hurt to find out the location of your clients as well as have access to time converters. If their time is ahead of yours, work according to your time. If not, work according to theirs’. This will give you some extra time to meet your deadlines. But let them know from the start to avoid any misunderstanding. This always works for me.

3. Set Milestones To Speed Up Your Writing

You get to different milestones before the final deadline. It’s just like hurdle racing. I realized that by setting 15 minute deadlines for each section of the article, meeting the ultimate deadline was a breeze. This strategy works best if you’re writing a ton of articles or ghostwriting an ebook. By personally setting short deadlines at different parts of the article, you’ll be surprised at how motivated you’d be to finish.

Take action: Break your job down into even bits. If you have a 24 hour deadline to meet, set hourly milestones for every section of your article and ensure you meet those milestones.

4. Write Progressively To Reduce Panic

Here’s what panic can do to you- you’ll research, write and edit your articles, all at the same time. This is the slowest way to write and will not only lead to tension but will also compromise your quality. That’s a sure way to disappoint your clients. Research on the whole article comes before writing, after which you proofread and edit. You won’t accomplish more by doing all three for different parts of your article, especially for list articles. I made this mistake and was doing all three for each point in the list article before moving on to the next. What a terrible way to go!

Take action: Increase your productivity by doing one thing at a time. Don’t write a word until your research is complete. This way, you’d write a lot faster. Just let it flow, then edit after. But remember to set milestones for each part.

Now that you know the applications of these four tactics, meeting short deadlines should be a breeze. But sometimes, meeting such deadlines might seem impossible. What happens when this is the case? Well, you either don’t get paid or you lose that client for good. That’s not something to look forward to.

Here’s a bonus tactic that you can use to counter this.

5. Use Honesty As A Leverage For Trust From Your Client

We’re all humans and making mistakes is inevitable. Not all clients understand this because as a professional, you’re expected to be up to the task.

You are a few hours to your deadline and are no where near the end of the article. What do you do? In my case, I simply send a brief, honest message plus a draft of the article to the client. How do you do this?

Take action: A draft is simply an incomplete version of your article. But don’t send just any kind of draft. Your draft must include the title, introduction, some points (if it is a list article) as well as a conclusion. Adding a conclusion simply makes the article appear complete. Also, by including place markers such as, “[Description goes here]” or “[picture goes here]” within the article gives your client the impression that more work is still being done. It works every time.

In your honest message, avoid phrases like, “I’m sorry” or “Please accept my apologies”. These show unprofessionalism, incompetence and lack of self confidence. Simply send a brief, honest message stating why you will be missing the deadline and when the final article will be submitted. Ensure you meet the new deadline you set.

So, did I meet my deadline? I sure did! And I did it using the exact tactics I’ve laid down.

As writers, the way you manage your time and workload determine just how short your deadline will be. So your major concern should not be the number of days a job takes but just how well it fits into your schedule. If the deadline given by a client isn’t realistic to you, don’t be scared to mention it. You might lose the client but you’ll save your reputation in the long run. Your reputation is very important, don’t sacrifice it.

Now go out and make those deadlines work for you!

Lanre Solarin is a WritersinCharge team member and a freelance writer who helps service professionals generate leads online using content marketing. Download your free copy of his Proven 20-step blueprint to start generating your first few leads online.


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Welcome! I'm Bamidele Onibalusi, a young writer and blogger. I believe writers are unique and highly talented individuals that should be given the respect they deserve. This blog offers practical advice to help you become truly in charge of your writing career.

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