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5 Reasons to Tackle Freelance Projects You Don't Love

As a freelancer, it's great to work on projects that resonate with you on a personal level, challenge you creatively, and otherwise get you excited to power up the computer each morning. Of course, some projects aren't quite as lovable. Maybe at first glance the topic is mind-numbingly dull. Maybe the creative brief includes a list of a zillion words and phrases you can't use. Perhaps the project is so repetitive it makes you feel like the poor wooden guy on the left. Take heart. Here are five reasons why it sometimes makes sense to do these projects anyway.

  1. Boost your bank account. Let's be honest: the #1 reason why freelancers take ho-hum, mercenary projects is for the paycheck. I wouldn't suggest accepting one of these projects unless it's pays very, very well (or you're really hard up for cash, in which case anything will do). Survive a few weeks (or months) of mind-numbingly boring but high-paying work, and it could bring you closer to your goal of buying a house, spending a month in Tahiti, or padding your retirement account. I try to balance a few high paying, less interesting projects with super-interesting projects that pay peanuts so they balance each other out.
  2. Work on neglected skills. I'm not a huge fan of SEO-focused writing. Often, it doesn't pay as much as other types of writing, and it starts to feel formulaic very quickly. But I still do the occasional SEO project, and learning those skills helps improve my other web articles as well. It's like taking vitamins that boost traffic instead of my immune system.
  3. Diversify your portfolio. Say you want to branch out into business writing and land a boring but lucrative gig copyediting an Intro to Accounting textbook. You may not get a thrill from reviewing bar graphs or circling typos, but you'll learn a lot of basic accounting terms and you'll have something to tell editors of the business publications you're pitching or the clients you're trying to land. Even if business writing isn't your end goal, it can't hurt to have that experience.
  4. Stretch your creative muscles. Hey, if you can find a way to make asset management or antacids sexy, then you are one heck of a copywriter! You might begin the project thinking, "how the heck am I gonna write about this?," but once you get going, you might think of it as a creative challenge and find ways to keep it interesting. Once you've delivered the goods to your client, you may get a nice confidence boost, too.
  5. Build your network. You never know when your client, the owner of the widget company you write for, might refer you to one of his golf buddies or a colleague from the local Chamber of Commerce. Or maybe in the process of researching that article on fire safety, you might discover a source with a super-interesting story to tell for another piece. That's why it's so important to turn in quality work each time you accept an assignment, whether it's your dream article or the dullest assignment you've ever gotten. Giving it your all creates a positive impression, while half-a$$ing something so you can move onto more interesting work sends a less favorable one.
Freelancers, what about you? Have you ever accepted a project like this and what did you get out of it? Anything? Flickr photo courtesy of JulyYu

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5 Reasons to Tackle Freelance Projects You Don't Love + sources