Tag Archives: freelance career

What You Can Learn About Freelancing From Vinyl Records

Josie and the Pussycatsby Joe Wallace

When I am not freelancing, I sell vinyl records on Etsy, Discogs.com, and on my vinyl blog Turntabling. Vinyl records is a passion of mine and also an additional revenue stream for me, helping me stay in business as a freelancer and remain generally self-employed.

Believe it or not, the two worlds have a LOT in common. The whole reason I turned to vinyl in the first place, years ago, was because of the freelancer’s need for diverse income sources. Clients come, clients go. Some pay on time, some never do.

So diversifying the income portfolio, as it were, is a must–you want to eat every day? Make sure you have three or more checks arriving at various times in the month. Save up a cushion to deflect the problems created by those late-payers. That’s the message the freelance life has consistently given me since I started in 2002.

But the most fascinating things I’ve learned about freelancing from vinyl records can really be summed up by that Josie and the Pussycats vinyl record you see here. Look at this thing! You probably laughed when you spotted it, right? But here’s a fascinating little piece of data–that record is, at the time of this writing, up for sale on Ebay (not by me) for TWO HUNDRED DOLLARS.

It’s sealed, very hard to find, and somebody might actually pay that $200 to get it. MAYBE NOT–but there’s actually a chance, because of that tricky combination of nostalgia, impulse buying, and the near-eternal appeal of vinyl records for some.

The lessons I take away from this for the freelance life? Pretty simple but very important:

1. Like the vinyl record, your services are worth what people are willing to pay for them. I have been paid $200 an hour or more for my work. I’ve given it away for free, I’ve bartered, I’ve cut people deals. But at the end of the day, you get paid because a client was willing to pay and you were willing to do the work. It can be counter-productive–at least for me–to view freelance work in terms of fixed, unchanging price tags.

2. There is a market for expensive services, and it’s harder to find. In the vinyl market, I have customers willing to pay large dollars for rare, near impossible-to-find records. But I have just as many who simply want good, decently priced vinyl they don’t have to scour the earth to purchase. Balancing the high-paying hard-to-find commodities with lower-priced volume income is key. When it comes to my writing work, some writing has much greater inherent value, and therefore costs more. Some is intended to keep Google’s attention focused properly through steady posting and dependable content. This lower-priced work is not the same research-intensive stuff as the high-priced material, not should there be an expectation that it be anything more than what it is.

3. Go where the market is. I’ve tried selling on Amazon, at fan conventions, on Etsy, eBay, Bonanza, and many other places. When one avenue isn’t working over time, I ditch it and move on to something else. If you’re pounding your head against the proverbial wall in one area of your freelance career, it may be time to look elsewhere for better results. This is a notion that has served me very well since 2002.

There’s more, there’s SO much more…but the last lesson I can impart from my experience selling and collecting vinyl records is knowing when you’re in danger of overstaying your welcome.

Joe Wallace sells vinyl records, writes about military issues and finance, and runs several blogs and social media concerns. Since 2002, he’s written for acres for magazines and the Internet. His credits include American Fitness, Indie Slate, HorrorHound Magazine, and is one of the many essayists featured in a forthcoming book about obscure and under-appreciated horror films. You can reach him by email at jwallace242 @ gmail.

Becoming A Writer: Should You Quit Your Day Job?

by Catherine L. Tully

Freelance-Zone Editor, Catherine L. Tully
Freelance-Zone Editor, Catherine L. Tully

I have been asked this question many, many times and my answer has not changed. Aspiring writers often want to know if they should quit their day job and go full time into freelance writing.

My answer is no. A solid no.

Freelance writing is an extraordinarily difficult career field. It’s tough for even those of us who have been doing it full-time for a long while. And it’s one field that ‘taking the plunge” so to speak, is not advisable.

But let me be more specific…there is a why to this. Here are my top four reasons to transition slowly to the freelance lifestyle…

  • The money is unreliable. You are depending on a variety of clients to pay you, which means that checks may or may not be on time. Or, they may not pay you at all. Do you want to bet your rent (or worse yet, house payment) on that? Once you are more established you’ll get a better feel for how to budget like this–but I’m here to tell you that it isn’t easy. Going from a regular paycheck to this type of income is an adjustment.
  • You need regular clients. Despite the idea of freelancing for all different kinds of publications, a lot of us freelancers have a cache of regular clients that we work for to pay the bills. This takes time to build.
  • Habit changes are hard. Are you used to working for yourself? Do you have the discipline to get up and get to it in the morning…or are you more likely to watch some television? How are you going to do errands like banking and grocery shopping, but still make sure you are on deadline? Give yourself some wiggle room and build toward all of this slowly.
  • Having a savings helps. If you can sock away a few bucks to help get you through the lean times at the beginning of a freelance career (or as an emergency fund for times when a client is late paying), your life will feel a lot better.

For you seasoned freelancers out there–do you have anything to add to this list? Feel free to share!

Why Freelance Writing Is Like Waterskiing


by Catherine L. Tully

Goofy name for a post?

Not really, when you think about it.

Have you ever been waterskiing–or, if not, have you seen it? If so, you’ll be able to relate to the similarities once I’m made them plain here:

Similarity #1 – Getting up on the skis is not as easy as it looks.

Starting a freelance writing career usually takes time, practice and patience. You don’t get it right away, and more often than not, your mistakes are pretty big in the beginning. You crash a lot.

Similarity #2 – Staying up on the skis requires strength and technique.

Once you learn how to get work and avoid common pitfalls as a writer, it takes time to make a living at it. You need to perfect your voice, your technique and your approach. You have to build strong relationships that will help you stay in this career field for the long haul, rather than going back to a day job or waiting tables on the side. Continue reading Why Freelance Writing Is Like Waterskiing

Things I Learned About Writing From Record Stores and Whole Foods

what I learned about writing from Waterloo Records in Austin Texas

By Joe Wallace

As I drive across America travel writing and blogging about my adventures, I keep seeing these little parables about the writing life. Today’s discovery came after a morning drive from Dallas to Austin, Texas. (The day before I was in Springfield, Missouri so I probably come off a bit punchy in these recent posts).

One of my travel blogging stops in Austin was Waterloo Records–a local fixture in the indie music scene for many years. Waterloo began its stay in its current location as one of several tenants–it shared the building with two other shops. But now, the others have moved out and it looks as though Waterloo Records is poised to take over the entire building. Not sure if that will happen, but it did get my gears turning. Operating a writing business successfully should happen much the way Waterloo’s success did. Continue reading Things I Learned About Writing From Record Stores and Whole Foods

If I Had To Start Freelance Writing All Over Again…

editor jobs editor writerby Joe Wallace

I was looking at a post at FreelanceSwitch about active listening, and for some reason it made me think about this type of advice and where people are at when they get it and put it into practice. I am always grateful for sites like FreelanceSwitch for dispensing targeted, specific advice like this that newcomers can use in the earliest days of their career.

There was no FreelanceSwitch when I started freelancing. What effect would that article have had on my early days as a freelancer? That’s what I was thinking when I realized that if I had to go back and do things all over again, I’d do them a LOT differently if I knew just a couple of really critical things. Continue reading If I Had To Start Freelance Writing All Over Again…