Tag Archives: advice for freelancers

Helpful Tips on Staying in the Loop

Roller Coaster

By Amanda Smyth Connor

Who has enough hours in the day to work and stay on top of all of the industry trends? It’s tough, but not impossible.

Helpful Tips on Staying in the Loop:

5. Use your Google Reader. You have the lovely world of Google Reader right at your fingertips. You can add the URL of every website that you follow and Google Reader will create an RSS feed for you based on the sites you add. I’ve got NPR, CNN, Freelance-Zone and various other blogs on my reader list. This way, whenever I have a few free minutes, I can open Reader like a newspaper and see all of the blog and site updates without having to visit each and every site.

4. Make life easier – Follow Guy Kawasaki. He is doing most of the footwork for you by filtering out the best blogs for various industries, including social media and freelance writing. He also has some great humor blogs listed on his site (check out The Bloggess, she’s amazing.)

3. Read Freelance-Zone. (Guess you can cross that one off the list.)

2. TWEET. TWEET LIKE YOUR LIFE DEPENDS ON IT! Sure, we all remember a few years ago when Twitter was born. It was new and weird and seemed pointless. Today far too few freelance writers are taking advantage of Twitter. No time to read all of the blog updates of the day? I guarantee every blog and news organization you follow has a Twitter handle. Follow them and many will Tweet only their best blogs/stories of the day. This helps you filter through the muck.

Everyone is using Twitter. You can job hunt through Twitter, make friends in the writing industry, get insider news, market yourself, learn about new trends, market yourself and oh….market yourself. If you AREN’T using Twitter to market yourself you are missing one of the best opportunities for free marketing…of…all…time. It’s FREE. FREE MARKETING! Please tell me you are all using it and are following people other than Obama and The Onion. And don’t bother being modest. Showcase yourself. No one ever got hired for their “respectable use of modesty.” Be a Diva and let the Twitterverse know that you freakin’ rule.

1. Don’t be afraid to jump on new trends. If you’ve heard through the grapevine that a new networking site has popped up, or a new piece of useful technology is floating around, (Hello Google Buzz) give it a try. I get invited to 10 new networking sites every week. Will they all last? Probably not. Does it hurt to give them a shot? Certainly not. Some might even make your life a little easier, and who knows where that next client might be lurking.

Press Release Marketing


What in the world does this old punk rock album cover have to do with self promotion for freelance writers? Too many promising freelancers pass on marketing opportunities eagerly used by thousands of bands–the humble press release.

“But what have I got that’s newsworthy?” You may well ask. Sometimes the answer is nothing at all…but sometimes the answer is EVERYTHING.

When you go into freelancing part-time, you don’t have much of a news hook. But what about when you take the plunge to go full time? No, USA Today doesn’t care–but your hometown or community newspaper might. Local somebody quits day job in crazy economy and goes freelance? That’s quite a news angle if you play it up right. What does it take to survive in our economy as a self-employed person? Are you the face of the new American economy?

It’s all about how you spin the story. You can use press release marketing to get yourself some added visibility–and don’t limit yourself to newspapers, local radio or television stations.

Consider sending a copy of that same press release to non-media sources like potential clients. If your release looks professional, you might just attract some interest by approaching that next client in this way–it’s outside the usual channels and doesn’t look like you’ve simply got your hat in your hand searching for work. That unique approach might just be what it takes to catch the eye of a hard-to-land future paycheck.

Five Stupid Mistakes Freelancers Make

stupid-mistakes-freelancers-make Before I launch into this, understand that no single freelancer experience triggered my urge to write this entry. Instead it comes at the realization that every single freelancer I have ever hired has made some of these mistakes. 99% of the time, they are completely avoidable.

Editors have precious little time and it costs every time we have to stop and tell a freelancer stuff like this. If you want to become an editor’s favorite–and quickly–all you have to do to get started is make sure you aren’t doing any of the following:

5. Submitting Copy Full Of Mistakes. I can’t tell you have many times I’ve regretted yoking myself to people who seem to have a pathological fear of spell check AND who can’t tell the difference between a possessive and a contraction. Folks, the apostrophe has been abused enough, don’t you think? Can you please make some DIFFERENT mistakes from now on? A little variety would be nice. Here’s the trick. If you don’t know how to properly use the apostrophe, DON’T GUESS. Stop using contractions, for a start. The contraction for “it is” is “it’s”. The reason it is called a contraction is because it is an abbreviated word–the apostrophe has a SPECIFIC purpose.

4. Not Telling The Editor If A Deadline Won’t Work. When the editor says “This piece is due in 14 days,” and you accept, the editor assumes that you understand the deadline is firm and will live up to it. The freelancer who has trouble along the way does well to let the editor know as soon as it’s apparent the deadline won’t be met. Letting the deadline fly by and THEN explaining that your sick cat had a pedicure that went horribly wrong is bad for the editor, but it is worse for YOU. Always try to establish yourself as a reliable “go-to” person, even when you have to blow a deadline. Anything less, quite frankly, means you get less work from that editor.

3. Not Listening To Specific Direction From Your Editor. I have worked with writers I specifically told, in no uncertain terms, to stop using specific personal cliches in their copy. The “personal cliche” is a line that appears in a writer’s work again and again. For some, it’s the phrase, “You can’t go wrong.” For others, it’s stuff like “Additionally, the xyz is an ABC.” How do you think it makes me feel about your work to see those cliches coming back a week after I told you to edit them out of your copy? Yeah–you guessed it–it makes me think you’re a moron who can’t follow instructions. I can forgive it once or twice, because people forget in the beginning. You have to re-emphasize it a few times before some people get it. But folks, if you KEEP DOING the stuff your editor tells you NOT to do, you get branded as an idiot.

2. Not Submitting “Stand Alone” Invoices. I can’t tell you how many freelancers send me invoices in e-mails that discuss other business. Sounds petty and insignificant to complain about that, doesn’t it? But folks, remember that every editor in the business is swamped and has six different issues that all need addressing at once.  When you send along an invoice in an e-mail that is cluttered with other issues that need taken care of, it’s VERY easy for a distracted editor to overlook the fact that your invoice is in there. Don’t delay your money–send that invoice ALL BY ITSELF and clearly marked as such. Otherwise you WILL have to go back and remind the editor to pay you–it’s just a matter of time before it happens.

1. Not Submitting Your Payment Address In Your Invoice. You would NOT BELIEVE how many freelancers have sent me invoices with no payment address. What the hell? How am I supposed to pay this? What’s more, if it’s a larger operation with an accountant, how is THE ACCOUNTANT supposed to know? Don’t make this mistake–it slows down your pay, and in this economy who can afford that? Here’s the kicker–EVERY SINGLE FREELANCER I have EVER hired has sent me an invoice with no payment address. Usually it’s the first one, too.  Even if we have paid you a hundred times in a row, send that address in your invoice.  You never know when the person who pays the freelancers gets sick or goes on vacation and hands the job off to somebody else.