Tag Archives: freelance gigs

Books about Freelancing

Joe Wallace Vinyl Collector and authorby Joe Wallace

There seem to be quite a lot of books about freelancing. A quick look at Amazon.com shows a number of titles, some of which seem dangerously close to being outdated judging by dates alone. Why do I say that? Because things change so much in this electronic age that the book in 2008 or even 2010 that seemed relevant and on-target is quickly dated by the types of social media platforms and fads used to network, the always-shifting challenges when it comes to the quality and availability of freelance work, etc.

There are two basic types of books on the freelance lifestyle. One I personally have no use for–the ones with titles like, “How To Make Bizillions of Dollars In Freelancing” and “90 Days to Quitting Your Day Job Forever And Ever Amen Because You’re a Hotshot Freelancer Now”. Sure, saying there are only two basic types is a massive generalization, but a quick look at the books out there does tend to make one believe that generalization has legs. Or at least is growing them rather quickly.

The OTHER type of book about freelancing is far more valuable. These are the books with titles like, “How I Went From Being a Day Job Zombie To A Full Time Freelance Superstar”.

See the difference? One type of book is stopping just short of claiming it can help turn YOU into a full time freelancer in 90 days or less (or whatever), the other type is explaining “How I Did It”.

The value in the second type of book? There are NO PROMISES IMPLIED. Unlike the first kind where there’s the implication that if you just follow the magic formula, success can be yours. These selling points are fairly misleading even when they don’t set out to be; “How I Did It” is far more valuable, honest, and worthy of your hard-earned book buying dollars.

Sure, many will disagree. Some will tell me not to judge a book by its cover. But I’m NOT, I’m judging it by the title and any promises implied therein. Maybe it’s even more shallow to judge a book by its title…but I believe in the old idea about truth in advertising. And if your book’s title isn’t “ad one” for your work, what is?

–Joe Wallace

Joe Wallace sells vinyl on the internet, writes articles about personal finance and veterans issues, edits book manuscripts, and is an audio professional specializing in field recording, post production, and sound effects. Contact him: jwallace@freelance-zone.com

Stress Management or “How To Freak Out and Throw Things.”

lady-screams

A portrait of the author.

By Amanda Smyth Connor

We’ve all been there. Suddenly all of your deadline worlds collide, all of the stresses of the world unite and it all falls on your shoulders. No matter how carefully you maintain your deadlines, schedules and plans,  work stress can’t be helped.

I’m not talking about the day-to-day stress of maintaining your daily workload. I’m talking about the days when everything is on fire, all of the clients are calling and your inbox has hit its max. You find yourself spiraling out of control until you’re rocking in the corner and your productivity is shot.

Stress management is essential to the freelancer, particularly in an industry known for job flow that is feast-or-famine. As a freelancer, you may go weeks or, God forbid, months without a new client. This is a terrifying ordeal. What may be equally as terrifying is when all of the clients come calling at once.

There are only so many hours in a day and at least a precious few of those need to be dedicated to eating and sleeping (note: showering is always the first thing to go when the deadlines come calling.)

Stress management comes in various ways.

1. Prioritize the insanity to the best of your abilities. Is one project really on fire or is it merely smoldering? Can we de-prioritize it behind the project that is at “stage 5 inferno?” Which deadlines require immediate attention and which ones can be put off for a day with a simple email or phone call response.

2. You can’t work yourself to death. It’s counterproductive to be dead. When spiraling, I tend to forego sleep and I forget to eat regular meals. I run myself down quickly, I hit a wall and then I become useless to everyone.

Take breaks. Eat a meal during which you don’t check email, even if it’s for just 30-minutes. And try to get at least 6-hours of sleep, otherwise you’ll just crap out.

3. The worst thing you can do is to relieve stress by lashing out. Do not lash out at innocent bystanders who happen to get in the way of your rage-stroke. This won’t help you feel better.

 

How do you handle stress management when things get crazy? 

 

Amanda Smyth Connor is a social media manager for a major publishing company and has managed online communities and content development for many start-up and Fortune 500 companies.  She has been a professional editor for more years than she can remember.

When and How To Find Freelance Jobs

By Amanda Smyth Connor

social-media

By now, you’ve come to learn that I have a deeply passionate fondness for social media – bordering on unhealthy obsession – and this week we’ll explore one more reason why I believe  social media is the greatest invention since #slicedbread.

Now that you are on Twitter (you are, aren’t you?) and you’re fully entrenched into following, conversing with, and RTing your favorite freelancers, writers, authors, etc, you should also be following all of the companies you are most interested in working with.

Nearly every major company has a social media presence, and the smartest of the bunch have Twitter feeds/Facebook accounts/LinkedIn pages dedicated to talent acquisition, i.e. job postings. Companies are currently in their first quarter (Q1) during which the majority of hiring takes place for the year, as Q1 occurs directly following budget approvals. What does this all mean? It means that you have the best chance of getting hired for awesome freelance gigs during Q1, and maybe Q2. Chances are also low that you’ll get hired during Q3 and most hiring is NOT done during Q4, since this is the time of year that companies have expended their budgets and need to wait for new budget approval (Q1.) And thus we come full circle.

Pop Quiz!

1. When do you have the highest chance of finding a freelance gig with a company? (A. Q1)

2. Where should you look for company jobs? (A. Aside from freelance job boards, follow the company talent acquisition Twitter feeds, Facebook pages, LinkedIn pages and RSS feeds on the career pages of their websites.)

3. When are you least likely to get a call back about that awesome freelance gig you applied for? (A. Q4)


Amanda Smyth Connor is a social media manager for a major publishing company and has managed online communities and content development for many start-up and Fortune 500 companies.  She has been a professional editor for more years than she can remember.

Need global exposure? Reach for Tumblr

by Helen Gallagher

tumblr

I confess I paid little attention to Tumblr until I needed to find more article resources. It is described as a cross between a blog platform and social media. You can use it like a blog filter to find relevant material for the stories you are researching.

Now I’ve read there are reasons you might consider spending time with Tumblr, and I’ll share them here, from what I learned at Journalism.co.uk.  They analyzed how various news source are using Tumbler, and found some interesting concepts.

Examples:

  1. The Washington Post, is using it for a project with  twelve students covering the U.S. presidential election.
  2. The New York Times put its historic photo archive on Tumblr at http://livelymorgue.tumblr.com/ and sells prints of the photos there.
  3. In the U.K., the Guardian newspaper is segmenting its content on Tumblr into areas of Food, Art and Fashion.
  4. During the recent South by Southwest conference (SXSW), Journalism.co.uk reports that The Guardian “created a Tumblr blog, which they could update from their iPhone or Android phone, and then they used the Tumblr API to pull those posts from the seven blogs back to the main Guardian website as a way to collect all the reporting and then give it back to Guardian readers in a central space on their site.”

Between sleep and paying assignments, freelancers always need to find hot ideas, news, fresh sources and current research.  Instead of scrubbing the web, Tumblr might be a faster way to find what you need.

If you’d like to see how other journalists are using it, take a look here. If people can find journalists by publication, beat, geography and through keyword searches, it makes me think we should all be aware of it.

Dig a little deeper and learn how Tumblr can help you expand your reach as a freelance journalist too. Muck Rack, a site that tracks what journalists are talking about offers a free database, allowing journalists to build a portfolio and link to their work. If you want more exposure for your work, and a wider research base for story ideas and networking, take a look at these resources.

Tell me, do you know and use Tumblr? Does it benefit you?

Helen Gallagher writes and blogs at releaseyourwriting.com

Want Better People-Skills?

Here’s another bit of advice from Robert Bly’s book: “Make Every Second Count.” discussed last week.

This list is even easier than his ideas to gain ten percent productivity.

A long long time ago, BF (Before Facebook) there was a concept known as “people skills.” Bly’s suggestions for better people skills are worth reading, and can be distilled down to a few basics that can carry you far when working with others.

I’m distilling them down to the essence, so you can tweet or  put ‘em on your phone and carry them with you today:

  1. Make a conscious effort to be positive.
  2. Answer emails and phone calls promptly.
  3. Take an interest in people’s lives.
  4. Meet people halfway.
  5. Listen before speaking, maintain eye contact, and admit when you’re wrong.

Read more in Bly’s book if that list doesn’t turn you into a charmer. He explores the psychology behind these traits. People tend to want to work with you if you communicate well and can keep impatience or annoyance off your face.

If you want to be on the ‘preferred vendor’ list in your world, it couldn’t hurt to apply these few principles.

BIO: Helen Gallagher blogs at Freelance-Zone.com to share her thoughts on small business and technology. She writes about, coaches and speaks on publishing. Her blogs and books are accessible through www.releaseyourwriting.com. Helen is a member of ASJA, Small Publishers Artists & Writers Network (SPAWN.org), and several great Chicago-area writing groups.

5 Tips For Navigating Freelance Job Ads and Interviews

Joe-Wallace-Vinyl-Collector-and-authorI can’t speak for all hiring managers, editors, or managing editors, but I will speak from my own set of experiences hiring (and in some cases, firing) freelancers. If you’re looking for a freelance gig and feel intimidated by those job requirements, here’s what I personally think you should know.

1. Nothing Is Set In Stone

When I’ve listed calls for writers and other creatives in the past, I always put a laundry list of things I wanted my applicants to bring to the table. Some of them I included because those were the skills I wanted, others I threw in there just to test an applicant’s ability to read and understand the job ad. Whenever I had an educational requirement, I listed it with the idea that experience outweighs diplomas. A lack of a piece of paper doesn’t equal “no talent”. My insistence on degrees and such? Practically non-existent for the right candidate.

2. Ability To Follow Instructions Is Key

Whenever I put instructions in the job ad such as “Reply to job@jobsmart.com with ‘Freelance Job’ in the subject line”, it was always to weed out people who couldn’t follow simple directions. Hell, if you can’t do it before I even interview you, why bother hiring you? You won’t bother listening to a word I say…and you’ve just told me so by not following the instructions in the job ad. On the positive side, people who were able to do the simple things asked of them in the ad AND had good resumes got shortlisted quickly.

3. Marginal Resumes Require Good Interviewing Skills

If your resume isn’t as strong as you’d like, you can score major points by giving a really good interview. And by that I mean, come prepared. Research the company online, and find ways to let your interviewer know you’ve been doing your homework. I can’t tell you how great it is to have someone in an interview reference a month-old blog post or article. “I really thought that piece on the Photography Camp For Kids in October was a great example of doing your job at the same time you’re supporting the local community.” You can overcome a weaker resume with being a good people person and letting the interviewer know you’re ready to learn on the run.

4. Great Resumes Don’t Equal Automatic Job Preference

I once passed over a really strong candidate for a freelance gig simply because he was a drip on the phone. I had just interviewed someone I was on the fence about–he admitted to me his self-editing skills did NOT match his writing strengths, basically telling me up front I’d probably spend more time on his writing than on others in the office–but I pretty much hired him after talking to Mister Wet Blanket With A Great Resume on the phone. Why?

I liked the personality of the guy with the self-editing skills and felt we’d work really well together. I knew the other guy had talent out the wazoo, but I hated the idea of having to spend a lot of time dealing with his crap personality. The trade-off was worth it to me. A bit of extra work, sure. But you gotta stay sane.

5. Dealing With The Unexpected Can Get You Hired

I once hired someone based partly on their reaction to a very weird situation in the office that occurred just before the interview started. We were all reeling from a bizarre incident across the street that we had witnessed from the office windows when an interviewee turned up. She wound up getting the full story and by the time we had all finished laughing about it, she kind of already felt like one of the team–AND the interview went really well.

The lesson here is identical to a jokey old military saying: Semper Gumby. As in, “Always Flexible”. If you can roll with the punches, handle the unusual or be willing to take on odd requirements…you could be worth your wieght in gold.

–Joe Wallace