Friday, December 28, 2007

The Positive Attitude and the Freelancer.

A positive attitude goes a long way in determining your career as a freelance writer. Don't believe me? Think about how often you have a negative reaction to something work related.

You didn't get that gig and the person who did always gets the good ones.

A negative response: be upset at the person who got it, throw a little hater-party and keep dragging along, knowing full well that same person will get the next gig too.

A positive response: figure out what makes that person so good. What are they doing to get hired? Reach out to that fellow writer, congratulate them and ask for any tips. Most writers are very willing to share tips and even leads, there's enough work out there for all of us.

Your editor sends back your work with tons of changes, you don't even recongnize the article.

A negative response: complain about the editor to anyone who will listen. Give that editor a speech about the "writer's voice," your experience, yada yada yada. Basically, guarantee the editor won't use you again. Good riddance you think...not so fast!

A positive response: look at the critiques objectively, find out what the editor is looking for and give it to her. You will earn yourself a reputation for being great to work with and you learn what the editor likes putting yourself in the position of being their go-to person. If there is something you truly, truly think the editor's wrong about, talking about it rationally, with supporting facts.

A positive attitude may not magically bring gigs to your inbox, but it will affect how well you perform on the ones you already have.

Ever have a negative turn into a positive because of your attitude?

Friday, December 21, 2007

Uma, Oprah, Terreece...

What's in a name? In my case - several r's and e's. And no one seems to get it right. Print articles, Web sites, and photo captions all take liberties with my government name. Sure it's difficult, but how difficult is it when I spell it out for you? Write it out for you?

In a business where your name is your business my name is get the business end of the screw. When I'm Googled I need all of my work to show up right then. Clients won't be inclined to look for variations of my name on the off chance that someone's messed it up.

I just recently appeared in an article for a site I write movie reviews for: Kids-in-Mind.Com. Actually, I was just in the photo of the reviewers, nevertheless, good press - great press. And they got my name wrong.

I remember watching Oprah one day - isn't that what all freelancers do? Eat bon bons and watch Oprah? Anyway, she was talking about how people use to tell her to change her name because no one would ever remember Oprah. She didn't and I'm not.

It's T-E-R-R-E-E-C-E- M. C-L-A-R-K-E. It's not that hard, just double check your text, your sources, your notes for heaven's sake. I spell it out very nicely. I'm good at it, been doing it for 30 years.

By the way my husband apologizes monthly for passing on a last name that added yet another 'e' to my repetoire. For getting him, it's an easy trade. :0)

Is Adsense Working for You?

I've got Google Adsense on my blog and have yet to make any real money from it. I see Adsense ads on practically every site and blog I visit so I'm wondering - does it make money for everyone else but me?

As we wind down our freelancing year and gear up for the next, I am carefully looking at everything I've done this year - gigs earned, revenue generated, what worked, what didn't and planning for the New Year. Indeed, I plan to spend next week after the holidays preparing my office and life for 2008.

Which brings me back to Adsense. Is it working for me? Not really. Am I working for it? Probably not. So as I delve into the web to find out how to "maximize my Adsense revenue" I'm asking you, my genius readers:

If you have a web site or blog, how are you doing with your Adsense revenue? Any tips for us trying to make a buck?

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Competition or Comarderie Among Writers

I'm competitive. I want that gig. I want it and I want to rock it. When I don't get it, I always go back to see who did and if they are doing as well as I thought I would do in the position.

I used to jealously guard my leads. Mine. Mine. Mine! Then I began to open up to other writers. Contact them. Congratulate them. And you know what? I got more out of the relationships I fostered with other writers than when I shut myself away.

One of my most cherish relationships is with a writer I met after she got an editing gig I wanted. When the publisher wrote me to say the position was taken and advised me to contact the new editor because they are looking for writers I was sullen. "She stole my gig!"

Eventually I got over myself, contacted the new editor and found a new mentor and friend. She rightly deserved the gig. Sure I got work with the publication, but more importantly I got a friend in this biz with more experience and crazy enough to take me under her wing. She invited me to her writer's group and there I met three other fabulous women. I have been more successful knowing them.

Sure we're competing for the same gigs, but there are millions of gigs. Isn't it better to have a network of fellows than a network of perceived adversaries? You never know where good friends, fortune and contacts reside.

Saturday, December 15, 2007


Tricia Grissom over at Coffee and Critique posted her list of anti-goals for the new year, among other things she vows not to "Respond to any freelance job ads with exclamation points in the title. Even though I could be making six figures! From home! In my spare time!"

Ha! I thought Tricia's idea was genius and decided to write my own:

I will not:
  1. Remind my daughter to wear a hat when it's 20 degrees outside. Surely she has nerve receptors that will tell her it's cold.
  2. Chase my students to get them to do their homework. Not my job. I already have my degree. (I tutor at the local comm. college.)
  3. Allow single people with no children use traffic as an excuse for being late - I made it through the same traffic, dropped off kids, changed diapers, put on a new shirt and still arrived on time.
  4. Shrug apologetically when I show up late because of traffic, having to change shirts, drop off kids or change diapers. See how that works?
  5. Chase checks. I'll just move me and my family in with whomever owes me money. (Of course all my current clients are prompt payers, I'm just sayin' in theory, someday, someone..)
  6. Respond seriously to ads that! use! exclamation! points! I will! instead! send my! email! like! their! posts! whoo hooo!
Any anti-goals out there? Share 'em!

Friday, December 14, 2007

Quick ways to NOT get the job..

There's a great blogging opportunity posted on several freelance writing sites from a blogging syndication group. While applying, I had a great email conversation with Nancy and got some info that I had to pass on, with her blessing.

"I really appreciate that you actually read the ad to make sure that your blog qualified technically though," Nancy said. "You wouldn't believe the number of people who write to me who have written once a month, or twice in April and once in's stunning. I'm not sure if people just respond to every single ad and don't bother reading them or if they just don't care if they're qualified."

Nancy is a weary victim of quick shooting freelancers. These speed demons email blast away at anything that posts, not really caring or checking to see if they are qualified, if they've followed directions, etc.

"Not only do I get people who have blogs that aren't qualified, I get many many freelance writers looking for a job, even when in this ad, in the second sentence, I say, "
We are not hiring bloggers, we are looking for existing blogs,"" Nancy said.

What does it say when a writer doesn't even read the second line of the post? Set yourself apart from the pack - read the post carefully, make sure you're qualified, then apply.

Freelance Online Portfolios

There has been much posted this week around the freelance writing blogs on freelance portfolios - what needs to be included, what needs to be left out, the importance of having one, etc. So much so that I decided to revamp my basic, quiet little portfolio into something pretty darn neat.

With the help of a great writer and friend Dawn Friedman, I am currently under construction at TerreeceClarke.Com. Little did I realize there are so many decisions to make:
  • What do I want the site to look like?
  • What color, theme, graphics or no?
  • What do I want to project? What types of business do I want to attract?
  • Should I include this blog? Wrap all 3 that I write into one?
  • Are flowers professional?
  • Do I need to add some red for good career feng shui?
  • Can I put corporate work and examples with freelance magazine writing?
And then some. Yikes! I had no idea what I was getting into, but that made me realize that perhaps I had taken my site for granted. It's not even listed with Google for goodness sakes! I've treated it like something you needed to have because experts said so, but truly never utilizing the space. Talk about a waste of hosting money.

Redoing my site has forced me to consider several questions - What do I want from my career? Exclusive magazine work? More corporate work? More editing? Is there a way to have all three? What about journalism? Can I show that I'm versatile without losing the "serious journalist" edge? Are flowers too girlie for journalism?

So I will spend the weekend pondering and hammering it out. Going beyond "What kind of gigs do you want?" Paying. I really feel like Harland, I'm blessed to be talented enough to do a variety of writing styles really well, but ya gotta pay me.

Magazine, corporate and journalistic writing - can you have it all? What does your online portfolio say about you?

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Good gigs come to an end...

I just got an email from a editor that I write for and the publication will cease publishing shortly. Bummer right? Well, not necessarily.

It's par for the course. As a freelance writer, know that gigs will often end. This one ended on a good note. I was notified in advance. I will still get paid for all work submitted. I have the experience of writing for a company that has several other publications - that could lead to other opportunities.

When a gig ends it's disappointing (well sometimes it's a relief), but there are a few key things to do before you wrap it all up with a bow:

-Make copies and backup your work for them. If it's a Web site or online newsletter, make a PDF copy of all your work, that way when the archives no longer exist you still have it.
-Wrap up any outstanding payments due. No need to elaborate on that.
-Finish any outstanding work with the same vigor and professionalism.
-Keep in friendly touch with the editors and publication. Update them on what you are doing, inquire about what they are doing. Contacts go a long way in this biz.
-Get back on the horse - if you fell off. Get back on the job boards, contact editors, let people know you have wrapped up a project and if they want your services to get on now while the gettin' is good. Notice I didn't say write everyone you know and beg for a job because you got fired or laid off or the publication folded. Keep things positive, plus desperation just scares people away.
-Finally, take a close look at your budget, trim the fat if you need to until you get the next gig in.

It's a good idea to keep a plan in mind for if and when regular gig end. My granny always said "Don't count money until it's in your hand."

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

What do you say?

When people ask you about how to get into freelance writing?

I use to get all wide-eyed and congratulate them on making the decision and then proceed to give them blow by blow information that helped me, pros and cons, etc. I would write a eBook's worth of information for them and then wait for their genius to be unloaded on the world.

For the majority of folks, I'm still waiting. My very business minded friend said I should charge folks a consulting fee that way I don't waste my time. :0)

And it is a waste of time, but silly me, I thought I was helping to start careers... I think people are turned off by the idea that successful freelancing takes time. My day consists of more work than most people probably attempt in their corporate jobs. Freelancers, successful ones at least, work hard to get work, market themselves, complete work, balance work and family, and find more work.

I blame the media (ironic, no?) for perpetuating the image of the writer who goes to the spa for the majority of the day, gets good news and money from their agent and floats off to write a little.

Don't get me wrong. Freelancers do that. It is usually, though, after they've put in serious time sweating out that book proposal (kudos Dawn), hitting the pavement looking for gigs and spending time researching and honing their craft.

Most jobs are like that: you have to work at them to be any good. Now if you'll excuse me, I've got bon bons to eat....

Monday, December 3, 2007

Getting Ready for the Tax Man...

Hey Freelancers!

It's December and it's time to start getting things ready for the tax man. Sure the 1099's won't show up until January, but you still have things to do. Like gathering those receipts...

Sure we all try to be as organized as possible, but you and I both know there are some receipts sitting in a pile or file somewhere. Get them out, figure out what they are and mark them.

Find yourself a good accountant if you need to. I have a sneaking suspicion I could've gotten more money back if I had used an accountant instead of my tax software from home. I'm going to see about admending my return from last year... Many freelancers will most likely be able to do their own taxes if their info is pretty straight forward, but if you're claiming a home office and other somewhat complicated items I suggest you get yourself a accounting buddy before the busy season hits.

Don't make too many plans. Most publications/employers will get these out by the 15th of January, but others will take until the last possible moment to send yours. Why? It's not like they don't know the end of the year is coming...

Don't forget to gather your mileage log and utility bills bills as well. Getting these things together now will ensure you don't start your year with tons of OLD work to do. Tax time is stressful enough!