Tag Archives: freelance jobs

My Freelancing Motto

book and script editor for hire Joe Wallaceby Joe Wallace

My freelance philosophy is pretty simple. I don’t over-commit, but I do wake up at 5:30 every morning wondering how I’m going to get everything done. It all gets done, on time.

That sounds like I am a total workaholic, spending every waking moment of my day on projects, gigs, and with clients. But that’s not true. I spend plenty of time learning and attending classes. I also travel. But my workload is respectable and actually causes fear in the minds of less-busy people.

I’m happy with that.

The key is that I combine my interests with my work. I love collecting vinyl records, so I sell them online. This gives me a great excuse to buy more records. I love the internet, and a great deal of my work involves online research. I am addicted to cinema, recording, making music, and editing.

So I started working on independent film and video game projects in the Chicago area, doing location audio, sound effects capture, post-production and dialog editing.

To be fair, I have a background in these things. I didn’t start from scratch in media. But it’s not hard to learn what it takes and the world is full of independent film producers now. You can find a way in if you look hard enough. But having the persistence to stick out the lean times in that industry is the same as any other. A true freelancer finds a way to keep at it.

One of the most important things you can do as a freelancer is determine what kind of work you DO NOT want to be doing, and move away from it as soon as it’s financially possible. For some, that isn’t realistic for a variety of reasons. But you CAN work TOWARD doing that. It’s a financial tightrope, but as you become more skilled and confident in your work (and have results to show for it) you can make a determined move towards combining your interests and your work routine.

Joe Wallace is a freelance social media writer and audio professional based in Chicago. His recent projects include video game sound effects and music composition for Shedd Aquarium, location audio, dialog editing, and post-production for the web series Family Values, and location audio for the indie thriller Still. Wallace is set to release his own short independent film, 45 RPM, in early 2014.

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

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.

Today’s Writing Tip: Clarity

sig2010

You know what you want to say but sometimes it’s hard to express.

Try to imagine your reader. Could anything you’ve written be ambiguous? Could it be confusing? Don’t assume that the reader knows what you are thinking. Step back and fill in certain details or clarify to be as precise as possible.

Take this sentence: “That ended her short life in Shadow Lakes.”

What ended her life there? Did she die or simply move? Or did she stay but she never had a decent quality of life afterward?

Think like a reporter and ask yourself all the W’s: who, where, what and why (and, of course, the non-W, how). Once you’re clear about those, convey them to the reader.

“Marrying Stephen ended her short life in Shadow Lakes because they moved into the city right after their honeymoon.”

Sigrid Macdonald is an editor and the author of three books. This is an excerpt from her last book, Be Your Own Editor, available on Amazon: http://tinyurl.com/c3az54r

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.

A Totally Non-Scientific Look at Books On Freelancing

book and script editor for hire Joe Wallaceby Joe Wallace

I was browsing through Amazon.com today looking at all the books on Freelancing, wondering what the market for “teaching people about freelance work” is like these days. Full disclosure–I have an Amazon Affiliates account and the links here take you to Amazon where if you click and buy, I do get a wee cut for referring you.

That said, it was interesting to see all the different titles. Some looked good, some books seem out of date, and some seem like snake oil. I won’t really go into which I thought was which…but I do urge careful attention to titles, implied promises, and caution.

Is it really possible to take some of these book titles at face value? “How To Earn A Bizillion Dollars Freelance Writing In 90 Seconds Or Less” and similar titles just seem off-putting to me. The exception to this rule is a book titled Break into The World Of Freelance Writing: How I Went From $0 to $1,100 In One Month With No Experience.

Written by Megan Kutchman, this book (which I have never read) has a title I very much respect.

Kutchman doesn’t make ANY promises with this title. I love “How I Did It” books, and the title of this says it all. She doesn’t say YOU will do this, and doesn’t say “And YOU CAN TOO” in her title. This book has earned my respect…

One book I won’t mention by name DOES imply a promise in its title, basically saying YOU can earn THOUSANDS per month–not as a freelance writer, but as a professional BLOGGER. This is a bit more misleading. Yes, you may be able to do this. Hell, I myself do this. But it’s getting into sticky territory to write a how-to book about something as nebulous as pro blogging unless your advice itself is fairly nebulous. (Update: I welcome anyone to contradict that statement…as I like to say, “Tell me I’m wrong and I’ll believe you”. But please be sure to tell me WHY I’m wrong!)

Again, full disclosure–I HAVE NOT read that book, either. But I’m talking about first impression factors here and “should I buy this book” things. If it were my money on the line, I would gravitate more toward “how I did it” titles and farther away from “YOU can earn ZILLIONS By Freelance Whatevering”.

In the end, it’s your call…but setting and getting realistic expectations are important. Sure, marketing hype sells copies, but at the end of the day if you don’t sell some steak with your sizzle, you’ve failed as a writer. Some people are better marketers than writers, a fact of life in this biz…so let the reader beware.

–Joe Wallace