Thursday, November 6, 2008

Find me at the Hottest Sites on the Web!

My work with several new clients and as a featured blogger for two great web sites have left me unable to update as often as I like. So for freelance writing news, jobs and information, check out the number one freelance writing web site where I am a feature blogger:

Freelance Writing Jobs (

and for great parenting tips and information check me out at Examiner.Com.

Happy writing!

Monday, September 1, 2008

Welcome to Back to Freelance Writing!

Welcome back! Kids are going back to school, summer is coming to a close and we're back from summer hiatus!

It's been a very busy and productive summer! I've landed some new gigs including as the newest National Parenting Examiner at Examiner.Com. Please be sure to visit and add us to your reader!

I'd also like to welcome any new friends to check out some of my favorite and most popular posts:

The Importance of Communicating With A Client

Signs of a Bad Freelance Gig
How To Break Up With a Client
When Good Gigs Go Bad

Friday, June 20, 2008

Freelance Writing Commandment #2 - Grow A Thick Skin

Being a writer is not for the faint of heart. There is a lot of rejection in this business. Editors, clients, members of your audience, people you consider friends, and at some point, even your grandmother may call you to task on something you've written. To survive, writers need to develop a thick skin.

What A Thick Skin Isn't

  • It isn't an excuse for being pig headed and dismissing all critiques and criticisms.

  • An opportunity to bash other people and then tell them to develop an armor like yours.

  • An excuse to live in La-La land where your skills and wit is beyond reproach.

What A Thick Skin Does

  • It allows you to receive critiques from clients and editors with professional grace.

  • It encourages you to consider criticism and how to use the information given to produce the right product for the client/editor.

  • Provides a barrier so you barely blink at random "You Suck!" comments instead of dissolving into a ball of raw emotion.

  • It allows you to see the other person's perspective - does the client/editor have a point? Can you understand the reader's concern?

  • It keeps your bills paid. No one wants to work with someone who can't accept criticism. If you fly off the handle on enough clients, word will get around that you're difficult to work with. "What do you mean I need a period there! Arrrrrr! You have no vision!" Also, when the client/editor pushes back on your going rate, you won't suffer the dreaded crisis of self-esteem: "Maybe I'm not worth that much, I NEED this gig! I'll do anything for it, including working 50 hours for $50!!!" Instead you can calmly point out your skill, the going rate of others in the field and stand your ground.

A thick skin and a positive attitude will keep you in the freelancing game a lot longer. So what after months of jerking you around and promises of an assignment - your pitch was rejected? Re-pitch the idea to another publication and learn from the last experience.

How thick is your skin? What type of things still get under your armor?

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Know When to Stop - How to Keep from Killing Yourself Writing...

The hubby and I decided to take a two day vacation - just us, the kids and a fun place with no internet connection. Sounds great right? Well we have yet to do it. For years I always tried to get my husband to be spontaneous. Let's just go. Let's just run off for a day or two. He finally says yes and I'm booked.

I'm killing myself working. I'm out the cubicle, but I'm holed up in the office. The result is the same - I look longingly out of the window at the sun and blue sky. Sure I can take my laptop anywhere, but inertia has me stuck.

My four year old is still waiting for our art and fun bonanza to kick off and she's been out of school for two weeks now. Cue the violin and the tragic look of a pouting four year-old. My garden's overgrown and I'm overwrought.

A quick tweet and I realize I'm not alone. So how do we fix this situation? We make a decision and stick with it for a while to see how it works. A decision of not working past a certain time, no matter what. A decision to take a day or two off and SCHEDULE IT IN.

See it's easy to say you're going to do something. But why not schedule it like everything else? We writers adhere to our deadlines like cotton candy on four year-olds, adhere to the deadline of a freakin' break.

We've got the dream job people, let's take advantage of it. I shall take my own advice - at 2pm on Thursday my vacation starts. I shall not see hide nor hair of anything work related until Sunday evening. I just hope I don't go through withdrawal...

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Freelance Writer Commandment #4 - Review Yourself

As if I planned this, I got my series out of order. Yesterday I posted my third writing commandment, however I had neglected to hit my fourth one first. Whoops. But it works out well because it proves my point.

Every writer should take the time to go back and review their work. Reviewing blogs helps you to see what topics did well, topics you can expand on, pick up on any errors or mistakes and respond to any comments you've forgotten. Reviewing articles and other projects allows you to see where you can improve, what you've done well and may lead to new ideas and perspectives.

Sometimes writers forget to go through their clip files and see the work they've accomplished. We just keep churning out the articles, but there is nothing like pulling out that clip bin and going "Hmmm, not bad, not bad at all." Nothing like a little pride to keep you loving what you do!

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Freelance Writing Commandment #3 - Know Your Worth

Each day, freelancers troll job boards, contact editors, follow-up with clients and screen offers for gigs. And with each contact we make decisions on our worth. The question is, are you treating yourself with the respect you deserve?
Are you constantly tempted to lower your rates for friends and associates? Do you pause before you send your invoices or proposals with the thought of "No one's going to pay me that much?" If so, you have a confidence problem, and I understand because I had one too.

I had one until one late evening I found myself working my tail off for a couple of bucks. By the time I had finished the project and made sure it met my personal standards, I had lost an entire evening of work. I realized I was working too hard for too little. Then, in case I'd forgotten my late night pledge of "never again," the client decided they wanted to make additional changes -- four different revisions to be exact.

Knowing your worth is doing enough research to know the fair price range for services in several markets, sticking to your range and also knowing your base rate so when you do give a deep discount you don't undermine your own economic goals.

It's courageous and professional to say "I'm sorry, that's below my minimum." Constantly undercutting yourself can have several negative results:
  1. You're putting yourself into or under the poor house.

  2. Clients may second guess your skill and ability - why are you so cheap if you're so good?

  3. You may end up resenting the gig, the client and your profession because you're knocking back 60 hours a week and barely making ends meet.

  4. You undermine other writing professionals.
Everyone wants a good deal and when there are writers out there who will create 50 500 word articles for $.10 each, clients will and do expect other writers to do the same.

I've had potential clients say "Well for that much I can get 10 articles from other writers!" And I reply ever so sweetly, "Probably, but quality costs." One time I pointed to a lady's Prada bag while saying it and I got the contract.

So friends, even if you can't believe people are willing to pay you well for all the wonderful work you do, think of your fellow writer who knows they should get a higher wage and don't undermine their goals. Be a professional and know your worth!

Do you have a set of standard rates? Ever undercut yourself? Spill the gory details!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Freelance Writer Commandment #5: Have an Editorial Calendar

Most busy freelancers swear by an editorial calendar. The method of tracking ideas and deadlines may vary: Excel spreadsheets, large desktop calendars, specialized software, but the outcome is the same - better control over your time and a boost in productivity.

I admit, I was slow to warm to the editorial calendar idea. Sure I posted deadlines, but mapping out what I would be writing or blogging day after day seemed a bit restrictive to me. That is until I started getting so much work in I couldn't keep myself straight. After a couple of eyeball-busting nights spent hunched over the keyboard and I shouted "Uncle!" and tried to organize my thoughts and work for a week in advance.

It worked out well. Each morning I woke up, I knew what I needed to work on and didn't have to look to my plants for inspiration. As ideas and work came in I was able to plug them into the calendar. It has been working swell for me.

I use a pretty old fashioned method - the giant wall calendar. It allows me to see at a glance what all I have going on. I need that visual. It hangs right above my desk as a gentle reminder to "keep working and stop twittering" and allows me to sync up my family's activity calendar with my work calendar. I now know if I need to start working early one morning (like today) because my evening is going to be lost to an outing - like the Sex and the City movie preview I get to go to tonight!

There are some ways the calendar can fail you however - not looking at it. Right now my office is off-the-hook with supplies, loose papers, etc., so I've been at my kitchen table. With no calendar to keep me on task I've taken to copying my calendar into my smaller planner. Yes it's redundant, but whatever works!

Not updating your calendar won't help very much either. Even the simplest productivity enhancer take a little discipline.

Do you use an editorial calendar? What method do you use and how has it helped?