No, successful freelance writers don’t sink ships or take hostages, but they do one thing that pirates do. They keep a stash. I’m not talking about the kind of stash your creepy older brother used to have in his underwear drawer. I’m talking about pirate stash. Booty. Treasure.

Pirates like to have things stored away for a rainy day. They bury their treasure under two trees that form an X. They keep weapons and a rowboat in a cave. They have secret compartments in their ship in case they get boarded. Pirates like to have something stashed aside for when disaster hits.

What do freelance writers stash? Freelance writers stash the things that will be useful to them: money, articles. ideas and clients.

Stash your money

Freelance writing is an up-and-down career. One week you are flush with cash and the next week the check you expected from your biggest client doesn’t arrive or bounces. Always have some money put away for emergencies. Be very careful about what you define as an emergency too. Your emergency stash shouldn’t be used for every little bump that comes along, or you will soon find yourself without an emergency stash. Put the money where you can get to it, but don’t use it unless you are facing a serious money problem. If you do use it, your next task should be replenishing it. You don’t want the treasure chest to be empty when an emergency hits.

Stash your articles

Keep all of your old articles, research, and other work. One of the advantages freelance writers have over many other freelance professions is that they can resell, rewrite and repurpose old articles and research. A good writer can turn research about health clubs into club profiles, fitness tips, and buyer’s guides. They can take those same articles and resell them in different markets. They can also rewrite them later to incorporate new information or use them as research for new articles

Stash your ideas

Keep a notebook, a PDA, a tape recorder, or whatever it takes, but find a way to record your ideas when they happen and save them for later. Record article ideas, productivity ideas, marketing ideas, and whatever other thoughts you have that may contribute to your freelance success. You may never use 90% of what you recorded, but it’s worth it for that one really great idea that you would have forgotten if you hadn’t recorded it.

Stash your clients

Keep track of your old clients, especially the good ones. Send them postcards and holiday greetings. Call them on the phone or send them an email every few months. You don’t want to be a pest, but you want to stay in their thoughts so that the next time they have a project, you are the first person they think of. Sometimes you will even manage to catch them at just the right time, and your effort to keep in touch will land you an immediate sale. Isn’t it worth the price of a few postcards to have that happen?

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