The reputations of content writers and editors live and die by their deadlines. A late hand-in is one of the worst sins a writer can commit. Repeated missed deadlines can strain client relationships, damage your reputation and, ultimately, impact on your income. Even if your failure to meet a deadline is a rare occurrence – even if it’s a one-off – it will almost certainly kill hopes of a repeat commission, and put a permanent black mark next to your name.
The harsh truth is that it doesn’t matter how busy you are or what else is happening in your life – whether you’ve taken on too many commissions, or are juggling work with personal issues – at the end of the day, clients (quite rightly) demand quality, on-time content without exception. If you can’t deliver, they’ll find someone else who can.
If you are a writer or editor who needs help meeting your deadlines, the reliably punctual team of expert writers and editors at World Words is here to help. Read on for our top tips on always being dependable with deadlines.
Use your diary meticulously
The age of the smartphone is a blessing for the disorganised. Make the most of your calendar app by tracking every single commission you have and referencing it whenever something else is competing for your time. Break down your job, knowing what you must achieved day by day. Another trick to using your calendar well is to put your deadlines a day or two before they are due; this creates a buffer that can help if unexpected issues arise.
Leave time for editing
Submitting your work on time is only half the battle. You timing won’t matter if you file a flimsy first draft. Editing is a crucial part of content writing, so make sure you factor in time for this when planning your timetable. Often this part of the process is easier if you leave a good amount of time between writing and editing, so you will have fresh eyes and be less precious (and more objective) about the work – allowing you to make the necessary cuts.
Be clear on specifics
Establish with your client when their exact deadline is. If they only give a date, does that mean it has to be before that day? 5pm? Knowing the precise time they expect to hear the ping of an email lets you know how long you have left. You should be finishing (and ideally submitting) well before the deadline, but sometimes that is tricky, so make sure you know exactly what your client is expecting and make the most of all the time available.
Know your limits
Don’t take on more assignments than you can realistically manage. When you’re making a living from writing, decisions are often made by what keeps the money rolling in, so you take new assignments from everyone who offers. However, the short term gain is not as important as the longer term stakes of your reputation for dependability and quality. Accepting too many commissions can compromise both elements of your writing and leave you struggling for time as deadlines loom. Spread out your assignments and always make sure your have your current deadlines in mind before taking on new work.
Cut out time wasting
The temptation is understandable – a political scandal is rocking the nation and you want to read all the sarcastic comments on Twitter. Social media is the enemy of hard work, as are the sites designed for procrastination with lists and gifs for every subject. Spend too long on these and you will be still be writing an important commission an hour before you need to file, affecting the quality of your work. Therefore, you need to be self-disciplined in cutting these sites out of your daily routine. Struggle with self-discipline? Then try browser apps like StayFocusd for Chrome and LeechBlock for Firefox, which allow you to limit the time you spend on those tempting websites.
Just do it
At the end of the day, you have to get it done. No matter what. If you’ve organised your time well, knuckling down during your working hours should be enough. But once in a while, you might just have to power on through your lunch break, bail on that fun evening at the pub or even work through the night or power on through your lunch break. Nothing is more important that meeting a deadline: punctuality is priority. So get it done, whatever it takes.
For more tips for creating great content, read some of our other blog posts. And if you have time for a little procrastination, come and follow us on Twitter, where we post interesting travel titbits and links to our work.
Image credits: Time, CC image from Alan Cleaver, via Flickr. Calendar, CC image from Dafne Cholet, via Flickr.
A version of this article was originally published in March 2016 on World Words’ site. Read the original article.