Tag Archives: freelance help

All About ME–Shameless Self Promotion and the Freelancer

joe wallaceI’ve been writing professionally in one form or another since 1987, and in all that time one of my biggest challenges has been getting comfortable with the idea of shameless self promotion.

Don’t get me wrong–today, I love it more than coffee. But in the early days of my writing career I wasn’t confident in my skills, and as a result I always felt like I was selling snake oil to people. The lack of confidence made me feel like I was getting away with something every time I landed a gig or got praise for something I worked on.

And that is a key issue in successful personal PR as a freelancer–believing in yourself enough to sell what you’re doing. I believe many people can detect that self-doubt even in the strongest of queries, sales pitches, etc. It’s almost as if they can smell the desperation coming through in the e-mails, the phone calls, and face-to-face meetings.

Is confidence in your own abilities what makes the sale?

I believe there’s no substitute for a well-written query, cover letter or resume…but I also think those are TOOLS, not the end itself. The query letter is just a sales pitch, after all. Ditto for the resume or proposal. What are these tools supposed to do? Sell YOU.

If confidence is the key, what does it take to get it? So many freelancers are afraid of making mistakes, of sending the wrong thing to the wrong people. I’ve been advising people to stop fussing so much over these issues and just get out there and DO IT. When I was a noob freelancer, I actually copied the format and presentation of successful query letters, not realizing that I would actually sell my ideas better in my own voice.

Today I’d rather shoot myself than copy someone else’s approach–but only because I’ve learned through trial and error that when I do things my own way, my confidence in my approach seems to be far more obvious. And I think in the end, that helps close the deal. Continue reading All About ME–Shameless Self Promotion and the Freelancer

The Freelancer’s Friend

pc magazine

Magazines like MacLife, PC, Wired, and other tech-oriented titles can be a freelancer’s best friend. How many times have you stared down the aisles at your local Best Buy or Apple Store, bewildered at the range of prices, models, and formats wondering how to make the leap?

It’s not just computers, either. External hard drives, wireless routers, even CD-R and DVD-Rs have so many choices it’s difficult to know where to start. That’s where the tech mags come in. There’s nothing better than reading a side-by-side comparison of the latest laptops, wi-fi gear, and software; the sections these mags provide on tweaking and upgrading your existing gear? Priceless.

MacLife is, for the Apple newcomer, one of the best you can buy. The magazine is NOT written for people who already know everything about their Mac. It assumes there are entry-level readers AND more experienced tech-heads in the subscriber list. If only more magazines followed this example!

PC Magazine is a great destination for the PC user, with “roundup” type comparisons and an excellent downloads section that can have you tweaked and running more efficiently in no time. Maximum PC comes a close second, valuable for how-tos for security, work-related issues, and just plain utilitarian things like recovering from a soda spill.

Freelancers who feel lost in the world of computer jargon, installation details and other issues will do themselves a big favor by adding these sites to their favorites list.

Almost Famous

Freelance-Zone.com is proud to welcome Jake Poinier, founder/owner of Boomvang Creative Group. We’re excited to have Jake sharing his wisdom here at FZ. When you’re done reading Almost Famous, be sure to check out his advice at Dr. Freelance, you’ll be glad you did.

pastedGraphicWhen my son Nick was seven or eight years old, he asked, “Dad, are you a famous writer?”

Knowing that his frame of reference was JK Rowling, I confessed that, no, I’m not a famous writer. I explained that I get paid to write for businesses, millions of people have read my magazine articles (some of them interviews with famous people), used web sites I’ve provided content for, and listened to radio ads or watched videos I’ve scripted.

The answer seemed to satisfy him, and it’s a moment I think about a lot. There are a thousand reasons and ways to be a freelance writer/editor, and surely fame is a long shot, particularly if that’s not what you set out to achieve. Basically, I went full-time freelance in 1999 to escape a soul-crushing 7-to-7 publishing job.

Supporting a mortgage, a stay-at-home wife, two toddlers and a bear-sized black Lab, on my own terms and time, was a revelation. More than a decade later, my wife has a job, the kids are in middle school, and we’re now on Lab #2—and I love what I do more than ever.

Which brings me to this: I’m thrilled and honored to step up from regular commenter to regular contributor here at Freelance-Zone.com. In two weeks, I’ll dig into the numbers from my annual Freelance Forecast (free download here: http://deardrfreelance.com), which surveys hundreds of freelancers and their clients about money, relationships, what works and what doesn’t. Till then, take a minute to share what motivates you most: fame, fortune, or something else entirely.

Don’t Overpromise

by Mike O’Mary

I remember a sales rep from a commercial printer who would never tell me what I wanted to hear. I’d say, “Is there any way we can get that printed by May 1?” And he’d say, “Ooh! I don’t know…that’s tight.” Never once would he say, “Yep, no problem.” Yet almost invariably, it was no problem. He never overcommitted and always delivered on time.

As someone who used to do things like “commit” to being in downtown Chicago in 15 minutes when I was still 30 miles away, or “commit” to producing a draft of a 2,000-word article in two days when I knew it would take two weeks, I greatly admire that rep’s discipline. And I learned from him. It’s easy to tell people what they want to hear. And as a freelancer, you want to please your clients. But you will do them and yourself a favor if you are realistic when it comes to the commitments you make.

What is your track record as a freelancer? Do you deliver on time 100% of the time? Or is it more like 90%…or 75%…or 50%? If it’s less than 100% of the time, why is that? Is it because something unexpected came up, or were you just trying to do too much in too short a period of time?

Don’t fall victim to your desire to please clients by telling them what they want to hear. It’s better to please them by delivering on time. So set realistic deadlines and then meet them. If you can do those two things, you will always have repeat business–and your reputation will result in lots of referrals.

Mike O’Mary is founding dreamer of Dream of Things, an independent book publisher currently accepting creative nonfiction stories for anthologies on 15 topics.

Making Your Freelance Business Pay…Literally

This post is sponsored by Outright — Your Livelihood, Right Now.  Getting your taxes right with free bookkeeping.

There are plenty of ways to handle your freelance income, but once you start getting out of the 30K range it might be time to start thinking seriously about structuring your cash flow more like a business rather than as something you earn as an individual. One of the oldest maxims in the freelance book is to treat your freelance business AS a business; paying yourself a salary is a very good step in that direction.

Once you start making this kind of money as a freelancer, chances are you’re already being tempted to incorporate or set up an LLC–if you’re thinking along these lines it’s even more important to consider giving yourself a set salary even–if you haven’t drawn up the paperwork for the LLC or S-Corp.

There are two good reasons to do this, aside from goal setting and keeping yourself motivated. For starters, you’ll have a much cleaner paper trail between your business expenses, your pay, and other deductions. Anything you do that makes it clear to the IRS exactly how and where you paid expenses for your business is a good thing.


The second reason to pay yourself a salary even before you file your LLC or S-Corp papers? Discipline. Depending on which formal, legal arrangement you choose you may be required by law to pay a salary to yourself. S-Corp filers have a whole set of payroll concerns to deal with and while we won’t argue the merits of choosing an LLC over an S-Corp (or vice-versa) here, suffice it to say that getting in the habit of paying yourself as an employee is definitely a good thing if you want to go the S-Corp route.

Giving yourself a set paycheck also allows you to properly budget for the future. How much are you able to dedicate towards other tax-deductible expenses such as travel, equipment replacement, and insurance? Without a fixed paycheck to factor into your budget, deciding on those amounts may be more like guesswork than careful planning–and no serious business survives long on guessing.

This post on the business of freelancing is sponsored by Outright — Your Livelihood, Right Now.  Getting your taxes right with free bookkeeping.

Dear Freelance-Zone: What’s My Time Worth as a Freelancer?


by Joe Wallace

Last week I got asked a great question about how to set your hourly rates as a freelancer. I’ll let you in on a little freelancing secret–my own personal “secret sauce” if you will.

I don’t simply calculate how much my time is worth and set the fee. In fact, I think THAT practice short-changes the freelancer in many circumstances.

What I personally do is to create an equation that includes how much my time is worth, but also how valuable the freelance work is to the client. For example, if you were contracted to write a blog post about a low-key event, the actual value of that post over the long term probably isn’t equal to an editorial style guide for new freelancers or a Frequently Asked Questions list about an online business.

I determine how much the client will get out of my work and bill accordingly. My fees for what I call “legacy” material–work that will live on a website for a long time and give the client a lot of value–are much higher than for material that has short-term value for a client but no real longevity.

And I also try not to confuse short-term work with high value such as blog posts and social media posts with low-value work. I have learned that seemingly “low value” material like posting in forums or individual Twitter posts have FAR greater value over the long haul due to community building and creating goodwill.

In other words, a Twitter post might not “feel” like it should cost a lot, but it’s the net result you’re after, not the effect of one single post. When I do them, they cost more because of the strategy and skill behind the posts and HOW I execute them as much as what I say when I write them up.

And yes, I DO get paid to manage social media–some people are shocked to learn that freelance gigs doing this stuff exist. I don’t know why but I can’t tell you the number of times I hear people say, “You get PAID to do Facebook posts?”

Why yes, yes I do.

And you can too, but you have to decide what your time AND expertise is worth. It’s not just the act of typing the words down in a skillful way.

It’s the other stuff you bring to the table that make it worth more money. Naturally if I didn’t bring a PLAN and a STRATEGY, my work would be worth far less.

joe wallaceJoe Wallace is a freelance editor and writer. His current freelance gigs include working as the Global Enterprise Editor for Motorola.com, social media manager for VALoans.com, and he’s the founder and editor-in-chief of Turntabling.net.