Tag Archives: freelance advice

Freelancers On YouTube

freelance videographersFrom time to time, we post YouTube videos that address freelance issues (see yesterday’s post for an example) and we’d like to know how many of you are active on YouTube, what you think it may have done for you in terms of spreading the word about what you do, and how you like using it.

If you’ve done any YouTube posts as a freelancer in the last six months or so, we’d love to know about it–please feel free to post links to your latest in the comments section of this post or send us an e-mail to give us a nudge in the right direction. It would also be fun to do some interviews with our fellow freelancers on using YouTube–please feel free to get in touch with us about that, too.

Contact us: editor (at) freelance-zone (dotcom) and let us know what you’re up to on your YouTube channel!

The Wealthy Freelancer on Finding New Freelance Clients

I found a YouTube clip posted by TheWealthyFreelancer focusing on finding new, high-value clients by paying close attention to headlines and developments in the business community. While the information in this video clip won’t apply to ALL freelancing disciplines, it’s an intriguing proposition. How can these strategies translate to your specialty?

I’m not a fan of ALL of this advice–the discussion about Jigsaw.com and BudURL.com put me off a bit as it felt a bit promotional–but with a bit of creative thinking, the remainder of the advice presented here could serve you well even as an editor, writer or other freelancing creative. Full disclosure–I know NOTHING of The Wealthy Freelancer aside from what I’ve seen in the YouTube clip, so I can’t vouch for anything except the clip.

–Joe Wallace

Freelance Advice For Newcomers

This YouTube video, posted by the folks behind LockerGnome.com, is not for anyone currently working as a freelancer. But I refer you to it anyway because we ALL get questions from people who want to–or THINK they want to–become one of us. How many times have you wanted to refer someone to a specific resource or link that could answer some of the basic questions that we’ve all answered 100 times or more?

This video is a great reference primer for people on the outside looking into the freelance world. Bookmark this, send it on to your friends who keep asking you about the freelance life, and save yourself some breath. Admittedly, there is a bit too much self-promotion about LockerGnome for some tastes, but the value of this clip for freelance outsiders can’t be underestimated:

Blog Posts, Attribution, Fair Use, and Copyright

Joe Wallace Turntabling Rare RecordsI once freelanced as Managing Editor for an online startup. This company needed a writing staff built from scratch, which I was happy to do, but less happy to have one employee more or less imposed on me because of the new hire’s friendship with one of the owners.

I didn’t see it as much of a problem initially since this new hire’s credentials looked pretty solid. But the writer didn’t have blogging experience, so some of the things you might tend to assume or take for granted? Couldn’t be done in this case. Since I didn’t know this person from a hole in the ground, I felt the need to lay out a few ground rules just in case.

I carefully explained to the new hire (at the risk of insulting someone’s intelligence) about the rules about attribution. “Generally, if you’re promoting a product, it’s OK to use product images from the official site. It’s best to attrubute sources, but when you’re helping to sell a product, the owners don’t seem terribly interested in suing you”.

This site was retail-related, so there would be plenty of promotional writing–almost ad copy. But we also did non-promotional writing, so I also mentioned a few other cautions. “Use royalty-free stock images wherever possible. If you do use someone else’s work in reference to their web page, blog, or work, be sure to attribute the source. Be transparent. Don’t just lift things without permission–give attribution at the very very least.”

That advice–given years ago–still played too fast and loose with the rules of permission & attribution. It should have been far more hardcore scared-of-getting-sued. So I blame myself when I learned that this person, who was still with the company after I moved on, got into a serious amount of hot water for disregarding my advice.

According to my sources, this person lifted some images from another website without attributing the source, and did so for a post that was non-promotional. So basically this employee “borrowed” non-royalty-free images, didn’t attribute, and didn’t get permission. Everybody does it once in a while, right? Right? RIGHT?

Except in this case, the person who owned the copyright to these images got in touch with the company and demanded compensation. And he got PAID. As in, compensated big time in order to avoid legal action.

Did you know that in such cases you can complain to the web hosting service of the offending web page and–potentially–have the site taken off the web for good due to Terms of Service violations?

Read the fine print in that web hosting agreement of yours and you’ll see…those who are borrowing images, text, or other content without attribution, permission, etc don’t just live with the possibility of getting a Cease and Desist or even a potential lawsuit. They also run the risk of losing the entire website.

Permission and attribution take far less time to accomplish that building a whole new website from scratch.

–Joe Wallace

Negotiating Freelance Rates? Give Yourself a Raise

Joe Wallace Turntabling Rare RecordsIt’s easy to forget that the whole world is NOT paying attention to your every move–especially if you freelance online. But who really IS paying attention?

I don’t write that to be insulting. I write that to be ENCOURAGING. As in, who really knows what  you’ve been charging for your freelance services in the last year or two? Sure, if you publish a rate card online you’ll need to be a bit careful when adjusting your fee structure, but when it’s time to talk fees with a new client it may be a good time to ask yourself if it’s time for a raise.

Even a small one.

One of the most difficult parts of the freelance game for many is staying motivated in the tough times. Getting compensated what you feel you’re worth–or at least within spitting distance–is part of that motivation. Have you been working for peanuts? Working too long for peanuts? Have you been working at a reasonable, but somehow still not quite satisfying rate? When you’re the boss, the only person to ask for a raise is YOU.

I struggled with that concept for ages…how could I justify charging my new client more when I was still working at a lower rate for others? When I realized that I wasn’t cheating, but offering my older clients a longevity discount, that’s when it occurred to me that I could indeed up my fee when warranted, and not worry at all about the idea that I might be fudging numbers, shortchanging a newcomer or asking for something I didn’t really earn.

The more experience you get as a freelancer, the more your inherent value as a freelancer goes up…unless you do shoddy work, of course. But this post isn’t aimed at the half-hearted, substandard, or just-barely-good-enough types. I’m talking to you, Mister and Miz Hardworking Freelance Person. Ask yourself–are you due for a pay increase? I bet the answer is “Yes”.

Joe Wallace writes music AND writes ABOUT music. He’s currently working on a video installation project for a gallery opening to be announced soon, sound design and ambiance for an art opening in Ohio, and polishing up his manuscript for WTF Records: The Turntabling.Net Guide To Weird and Wonderful Vinyl. Contact him: jwallace(at)turntabling(dot) net.

A Mini-Freelance Epidemic?

Joe Wallace Turntabling Rare RecordsA lot of freelancers I know are having a bit of an identity crisis at the moment. Some of them wouldn’t describe it quite like that, but I find it very interesting that some of the best ones I know are branching out into new territory, taking chances on new types of work, and generally mutating themselves into something rather different than what they started off to become.

One freelancer made the jump into racy fiction–a big switch from the comparatively dry, totally fact-based work she had been doing prior to adding a bit of steaminess to her repertoire. Another freelancer I know has taken up painting. And then there’s my own turn as a vinyl seller, DJ, and multi-media junkie. Is this an identity crisis, or simply diversifying?

For me, it was a bit of both in the beginning. Success in one area doesn’t necessarily come at the expense of success in another. But when I started, I wasn’t sure about that. How much time could I dedicate to my new income selling highly collectible vinyl records and DJing and still maintain my freelance writing and editing work? Turns out both work together just fine–it’s just a question of time management.

Others I know have put in enough time in one type of freelance trench and are ready to explore different options–they want to keep their hand on the till, so to speak, but move out of the heavy lifting part of freelancing into a more managerial role. And who can blame any of them for that? Writing isn’t easy work in spite of what our office-bound friends might think. Neither is editing. Or PR, photography, musicianship, etc. It’s WORK. Even when it’s fun.

But if you’re thinking about diversifying, chances are good that you’ve done one or two things in your head that have brought you to this point. Or maybe it’s safer to say that I have done this. Either way, have you caught yourself saying to yourself:

1. You don’t know how you can keep up the pace/lack of pace that your current work offers;

2. Your income is wonderful–when it’s actually there;

3. Your income is wonderfully consistent and plentiful, but you’re spending far too much time on projects for other people and not enough on your own;

4. Your work is great, yet not quite as satisfying as you’d like it to be;

5. Your freelance career has taken off, but headed into a direction you’d rather not be moving toward.

In my own case, I’ve had all five of those at various times in the last seven years. The real question I felt all these statements leading up to? What’s next? What choices do I have to make to answer these concerns? It’s not easy, and no blog post can answer that for you–but I find being aware that the “identity crisis” is happening is a good start toward resolving it. Recognizing the internal tug-of-war over these issues helps. You’re NOT going crazy, you’re not a flake for wanting to try new things. Most importantly of all, doubt is GOOD.

The supremely self-confident person can easily become the self-delusional dork with a misstep or two. Doubt keeps you honest, and sometimes leads you to take a few chances you might not have otherwise attempted. The key is–at least for me–to take a few calculated risks at first and see how things play out before making a full-blown commitment. One of the most important rules in marketing is to do market research before you try to launch a new venture. That sort of thinking can also apply to your freelance identity crisis if you’re having one. Give it a shot–whatever IT is–on a part-time basis and see how it feels.

Joe Wallace has been many things in his long and winding career. His first unsupervised job was as a janitor. He later ditched that for a job in radio, and eventually wrote his way into all sorts of fun, money, and trouble from Texas to Iceland. Today he’s head mischief maker at Turntabling.net, and blogs/writes/edits/DJs for fun and profit in Chicago.