Monday, September 27, 2010

A Freelance Grant Writer Is A Jack Of All Trades

When you decide to start your own grant writing business, there are many skills to develop in order to be successful. You may, depending upon your success, end up hiring employees to do some of the tasks for you; however, that level of success is unlikely to be immediate. So you better learn how to be your own bookkeeper, secretary, custodian, and whatever else needs to be done (i.e., chief cook and bottle washer).
One of the exciting things about running your own freelance grant writing business is the opportunity to learn lots of new skills and to do everything yourself. This means you'll have to be organized and think ahead because there won't be anyone to back you up.

Here are a few of the skills that you need to posses, develop, or get some training in before you attempt to go out on your own as a freelance grant writer.

1. Keyboarding skills-in the past you may have been able to either type your own writing or dictate and have somebody transcribed for you; however, now you are dependent on your very best hunt-and-peck method.

2. Editing skills-unless you have a trusted, skilled, and inexpensive editor who's willing, ready, and able to edit your drafts; you are going to have to be your own editor.

3. Graphics skills-the quality of software available today for dcreation of graphics has raised the bar far beyond the elementary, cartoonish clip images we used to drop into documents to add a little pizzazz.

4. Filing skills/secretarial skills-being able to find which you need at the time you need it without wasting valuable writing time searching through stacks of paper is important.

5. Budgeting skills-you may have had the advantage in the past of relying on a steady stream of income and a set budget from which you could order materials and never run out. You may also have had the advantage of working in a large organization where if you did not have the materials  needed you could always borrow from another department. Without an accounting department, you will be responsible for paying your own taxes, Social Security fees, business registration fees, city business taxes, insurance costs (liability, worker's comp, etc), utilities, rent, equipment, materials and supplies, transportation, expenses, and, well... you get the picture.

6. Chamber of Commerce skills- this encompasses a large set of skills from understanding and following federal, state, and local rules/regulations, taxes, licensing, insurance, and a variety of other minutia that are requirements for running a business.

7. Marketing and sales skills-now this may have also been included under item 6 above; however, I've listed it as a separate item because until you run a business, you generally do not have to sell or market your skills to anyone except perhaps your immediate supervisor. Now as a freelance grant writer you will need to market your skills to a variety of agencies and individuals who seek your services. You will need to develop your elevator speech, your print materials, and your online presence. If you are uncomfortable selling yourself or speaking publicly then you'll need to seek a place to develop those skills such as Toastmasters.

Freelance grant writing is much more complicated than simply writing grants for clients. It means you're running a business and you must develop a comprehensive set of business-related skills in order to be successful in the long run. Look at it as a challenge and a growth experience because if you are already a good writer and a successful grant writer within an agency then you may have what it takes to go out on your own and experience the success, fun, and freedom of running your own freelance grant writing business.

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About Creative Resources & Research

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Woodland, CA, United States
Creative Resources and Research is a consulting firm specializing in grant writing, grant seeking, program evaluation and professional development training. We have worked with hundreds of clients including public and private schools, school districts, universities, non-profit organizations, and social service agencies throughout California, securing over $155 million from federal, state and private foundation funding sources over the past decade. Our primary grant writers and program evaluators have over 50 years of combined experience in the education and social services fields. At CRR we prefer a personal approach to the clients we work with; by developing long term relationships, we are better suited to match client’s needs with available funding sources. We provide a variety of services to help assist you, including grant writing, evaluation consulting, professional development opportunities, and workshops.