Treat your freelance business like a taco truck
Yes, you read that right
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Hello friends! This week I’ve invited friend of FWT Paulette Perhach to share some advice about treating your freelance business like … a taco truck. Yes, a taco truck! It can sound a little odd at first, but there are more parallels between being a freelancer and running a taco truck than you might think. Paulette is a freelancer and a writing coach, so I wanted to get her take on how we all can reframe our thinking a little to build a stronger and more sustainable business. Take it away, Paulette!
My coaching students stare up at the brick wall that I, too, used to believe blocked me from launching into freelance writing. The wall is scrawled with graffiti:
“Who cares what you have to say?”
“You’ve never done this before!”
“Why would anyone hire you?”
I don’t want to waste our time even talking about it. I want to reach through it and pull my writing students to the other side, show them it’s just a mirage. Which is how I found myself begging a newbie freelance writer to treat her writing like a taco and her writing business as she would a taco truck.
The time had come to put the word out that she was starting to freelance, and to make the smallest ask possible of people in one of the best places to find work — her weak ties. These are the people whose social circles do not overlap yours, but merely bump. It’s the old co-worker, the fellow committee member, the person from whom you buy your morning shame scone or what have you.
The ask: If they hear of someone who needs a writer, they keep her in mind.
Want to write a book but aren’t sure where to start? Have I got the workshop for you! Join me on Friday, June 10 at 2 p.m. Eastern time for a deep dive into what it takes to write and sell a nonfiction book, in which we’ll cover everything from finding an agent and writing a proposal to submitting a manuscript and promoting your book. Register to join here!
I love this student, she’s a regular at A Very Important Meeting, my daily freewriting group, so I know her and that she is a joy, which is half of being great to work with. She worked as an editorial assistant in New York, and then in education for two decades. And I know that she needed to become a writer once she got diagnosed with cancer, then sat in her car and screamed because she’d never become the writer she wanted to be. She could no longer stomach spending her time on earth doing a job she didn’t really love, which is why she’d signed up for my Powerhouse Writers freelancing program.
But when I asked her to tell 50 people she’s opening up a writing shop, this woman who’d braved cancer made a face like I’d ordered her to cha-cha naked through her high school reunion.
“You’re opening a business, just like any other,” I said. “If you had a taco truck, would you be embarrassed to put out a sign that said, ‘Tacos this way?’”
She admitted she would not.
And yet, we have such a hard time conceiving of the fact that our writing could bring as much joy and satisfaction to the world as carne, salsa, and cilantro wrapped in a tortilla. Writing! The very thing we love so much that we dedicate our lives to it.
Bleh, nope, impossible.
If you’re a writer, you’re a craftsperson, as much as a chef. People out there are hungry. Sure, they could go to the store and buy tortillas and pork and look up the recipe, but they’re so busy and they’ve never been good at cooking and it’s just not their thing. But behold, an A-frame sign! “Tacos, this way.” Blinker.
Never: Who the hell do these people think they are to make tacos, when so many other people are making tacos, when so many tacos have been made before!
What a relief, that sales is not just getting, getting, getting. It’s about finding the person who needs you, who’s happy you’re there, who’s so relieved there are people in the world who love to do what they don’t really like to do so much that they’ve studied it, practiced it, become people of value in the field.
You don’t have to be special. You don’t have to be the first. You just have to be a writer and a professional, work on the craft of writing and the craft of business, and let people know what’s cooking.
Oh, a few other things …
• Our dear friend Rax King — aka your favorite personal essayist — has granted our wishes and is teaching a six-week online course on writing personal essays! She is a frequent guest on FWT panels and offers some of the best advice for writing essays around. Apply for her course here!
• I am now offering one-on-one coaching and personal pitch reviews! Coaching sessions can include anything you need help with: writing and/or editing coaching, story development, story editing, social strategy, and anything else. And pitch reviews are exactly what you’d think: Let’s review a pitch of yours together! Book a timeslot for either session here.
• For paid subscribers: There are very few concrete, unbreakable rules in pitching. However … I wrote about the only four mandatory components that need to be in every pitch, regardless of the story. Read them all here.
If you’re not yet a paid subscriber, click here to see options for subscribing to get access to past paid-only posts, including the full archive of recorded Zoom panels; a round up of what a bunch of publications pay freelance writers; the dos and don’ts of writing the perfect pitch; and much more. (Subscribers also get a discount to every paid workshop, plus free access to any paid panel.)
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Okay bye ily!