Tag Archives: freelance lifestyle

Freelance Multitasking From Hell: The Blog?

Joe-Wallace-Vinyl-Collector-and-authorby Joe Wallace

Sigrid Macdonald’s post this week about multi-tasking resonated with me in a major way because I’m about to dive headfirst into multi-tasking hell. Earlier this year I went round and round with a decision about going back to school and finally decided to take the plunge and dive into the Recording Arts For Film program at Tribeca Flashpoint Media Academy in Chicago.

The TFA program features an immersive, hands-on approach, and it’s not your traditional pick-your-classes-and-attend-when-it’s-convenient schoolhouse. Instead, your schedule is chosen for you based on your career choices and you put in an eight hour day. Which necessitates me having a night shift for freelance work.

Yes, I decided to stay freelance with my current work load, keeping all my current clients, shifting my work to the evening hours instead of first thing in the morning the way I’m used to working.

I won’t accept any new projects after Saturday, when the first official TFA event happens (a student/faculty mixer, but official nonetheless), but my current clients will never notice any difference in deliverables, quality of work, etc.

How do I know? Well, it’s simple really–I’ve done all this before. AND worked a second job on top of it. None of my clients ever realized I was doing anything BUT working on their projects. And that is the way I like it. It’s as it should be.

All this is terribly self-promotional–or at least it sounds it–but there’s a reason why I share any/all of this. I’m going to be blogging about the whole experience here as it unfolds. I may have done this before, but there are always new lessons to be learned, especially when you’re multi-tasking at such a type-A workaholic level. It can be done. In my case, it WILL be done…and I’ll write about it all here on top of everything else.

A freelancer’s most important asset is his or her flexibility. If you can’t bend with the circumstances, your skills are pretty much useless in terms of earning a decent living. You might be able to scrape by with a rigid, uncompromising approach to your work, but you’ll never get off the treadmill unless you can master the Judo of freelancing.

And that’s what I intend to explore once again in my experiences at TFA, in addition to all the film audio work I’ll be doing and learning. Foley, field recording, sound effects, game audio design, dialogue looping, post-production…a whole universe of sound and plenty of opportunities for a freelancer to move ahead in a different–but related–field.

In fact, even before classes start, I’ve found some interesting freelance fodder in the textbooks. One entire textbook is a guide for audio engineers on how to carve out a career as a self-employed person. Substitute your discipline of choice–writing, editing, marketing, coding–and this book still resonates. I’ll be running a review of it in the near future, but for now, suffice it to say that my journey begins here, on the threshold. I’m happy to bring you along for the ride.

Joe Wallace is a writer, editor, multi-media visual artist, and now a student again. He may be the only one in his classes outside the faculty who remembers Gerald Ford as President, but at least he still has most of his knee cartilage. For now. Wallace blogs about multi-media production and indie film making at www.now-sound.com and vinyl records at www.turntabling.net.

Seth Godin: on reality

I don’t know what it takes to become a ‘guru’ anymore, in this age of overnight sensations. But Seth Godin is indeed a freelancer’s guru. Author of many powerful books, some of which he gives away, Godin gets to the point of making money as a writer. He reminds us that it requires patience to succeed, to build a career, to make good money. He should know: He’s written a dozen best-selling books, now translated into 33 languages!


We read all about ways to work smarter, save money, do faster research,  get more assignments, but we don’t all have the sense of commitment required to stick to our genius plans. We might rev up for a few days and then get distracted, waste time reading, cafe hopping, and fall back into the idle time waiting for the next assignment to fall from the sky. If you want someone you can turn to in a flash, visit Seth Godin’s blogs, download his ebooks, learn from him, and find a simple path to staying focused and getting ahead without falling backwards again, time after time.

He believe that if you’re patient, success comes, but it is drip, drip, drip, and then the last drip proves once and for all that you were doing the right thing all along.

It still takes ten years to become a success, web or no web. The frustrating part is that you see your tactics fail right away. The good news is that over time, you get the satisfaction of watching those tactics succeed right away.

Get a free copy of some of Seth Godin’s books here. Some of his minimalist wisdom is meant for speed reading, other notions will stay with you forever, such as this piece on getting things done,

The key to the reinvention of who you are, then, is to become someone who ships (as in ‘get the work out’). The goal is to have the rare skill of actually getting things done, making them happen and creating outcomes that people seek out.

If you are in need of immediate motivation, download the PDF of his Bootstrapper’s Bible here.  It includes a manifesto you can tape to your bathroom mirror. Feel better now?

BIO: Helen Gallagher blogs at Freelance-Zone.com to share her thoughts on small business and technology. She writes 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, and several great Chicago-area writing groups.

Quality Sleep = Freelance Productivity

Freelancers and Sleep ApneaIt’s no secret that a poorly rested freelancer is tired, cranky, and probably less productive than he or she would be with a decent night’s sleep. There are plenty of observations about this, among them the blog post 10+ Ways To Get a Better Night’s Sleep. But staying away from caffeine, alcohol, and an inactive lifestyle aren’t going to help some people enough to change the game.


Between 30 and 50 percent of the U.S. population snores, “at some time or another” according to data from the University of California, Irvine. Snoring itself is not the problem, but sleep apnea can be for between four and 13 percent of snoring U.S. citizens, as many as 18 million people depending on which data you read. Sleep apnea is essentially a type of breathing interruption during sleep. Symptoms include “excessive daytime sleepiness”, a feeling of being mentally dull or not up to 100% effectiveness. Headache, sore throats, and even hypertension can be linked to sleep Sleep apneaapnea.

Some cases aren’t severe, some are more serious. But the freelancer who snores or suffers from sleep apnea is likely not getting good rest, and suffering from that lack of rest more than people who simply have to watch the coffee intake after lunchtime or adopt a healthier lifestyle. Do you snore? Are you tired and washed out reading this blog post? Looking for something to do about it before it seriously affects (or continues to affect) your freelance career?

A personal sleep study may be a good idea to consider, but there are a few things you can try to reduce your snoring first. Avoiding alcohol close to bed time is a no-brainer, but using “breathing strips” such as Breathe Right to open your nasal passages could have surprising results.

Don’t take that as encouragement to avoid seeing a doctor, getting an expert opinion or trying a sleep study. Sleep apnea can be a major problem for some sufferers and expert medical advice is crucial in such cases. But for those who snore, suspect they might have a sleep interruption because of it, and want to try a low-cost solution could find the breathing strips in combination with other suggested healthy sleep steps like avoiding caffeine and alcohol to be a very good move toward more healthy sleep.

I write all this to say that in my own case, being one of those four to 13 percenters who likely have snoring and/or sleep apnea related issues, the breathing strips really do work. I notice a remarkable difference in the quality of sleep with them, especially in combination with allergy meds during the hay fever season, plus diet and exercise changes. These things, working together, make my daytime hours much more productive. Learn more about sleep apnea at the University of California Irvine official site.

Joe Wallace is a writer, editor, social media addict, and rabid audio consumer. He is currently working on his book WTF Records: The Turntabling Guide To Weird and Wonderful Vinyl and blogs about all things vinyl-related at Turntabling.net

What Writing Blogs Do You Read?

freelance-zone com business cards side one (10)

by Catherine L. Tully

Here’s the chance to promote a writing blog that you love, one that you write–or one that you have just recently discovered. I’m putting a call out here for people to check in and list some of the writing blogs that they keep up with. What are your faves?

Blogs about freelance writing, fiction, non-fiction and any others that deal with writing are welcome. From time-to-time I like to go out there and try and find something new on the web. Some writer’s blog that I haven’t seen yet. And I’m hoping you can help direct me to some of them…

So with that in mind, let’s start a big list here in the comments section, shall we? Who are you reading these days? What sites do you find offer the most helpful advice about writing as a career? There are so many out there–I know I haven’t come across them all! Here are a few that I check in with on a regular basis: Continue reading What Writing Blogs Do You Read?

Welcome to Crazytown!

By Amanda Smyth Connor

Plan for the Week:coffee cups

  • Host obligatory Memorial Day BBQ (prep for 1 week prior, clean for 2 weeks after – whose shoe is this?)!
  • Complete three freelance projects!
  • Begin next freelance projects!
  • Run charity 5k that you agreed to run! (Why did you do that?!)
  • Schedule meetings with future clients!
  • Schedule meetings with current clients who are only available from 3:57-3:58pm!
  • Attend weekend wedding for which you have no gift or dress purchased!
  • Answer emails! Phone calls! Texts/IMs!
  • Be creative!
  • Dance, monkey! Dance!
  • Eat
  • Sleep
  • Maintain marriage with extremely understanding spouse

Oh I know, cry me a river. This is life. But the question remains, when you are your own boss and your boss is overworking you, how do you call a timeout before you burnout?

Not that I’m anywhere close to a burnout, mind you. When I do burnout, I intend to go out in a blaze of burnout glory, running through the streets with my pants on my head. My life is heavily comprised of uppers (CAFFEINE!) and downers (WINE!) and somehow I manage to make the most of the hours in between, but every once in awhile I stop and think – I don’t have kids. I don’t yet have a mortgage (apartment dweller in the city,) heck, I don’t even have a dog. I actually have very few life responsibilities (hello parents out there!) and I struggle to maintain the professional/life balance. That being said, if you try to take this 72oz coffee away from me, I will bite you.

We’re all looking for that piece of golden advice that will inspire us to keep our lives running smoothly. What golden piece of life advice do you live by and how, as your own boss, do you keep from overworking yourself?

Amanda Smyth Connor is a community manager for a major publishing company, owns her own wedding planning business, 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.

The Not-So-Lavish Lifestyle and the Printers Row Lit Fest

First things first…I recently asked folks to take a one-question survey to share what they like about freelancing (see “The Lavish Lifestyle of a Freelancer” on May 18).

Here are the top five answers:

#1 answer (a tie): “I’m my own boss” and “Ability to set my own schedule”

#3: “Variety of work”

#4 (tie): “Working from home” and “Satisfies my inner entrepeneur”

The least selected answer? “The lavish lifestyle!” Go figure.


Printers Row Lit Fest June 4-5

If you happen to be in the Chicago area this weekend, check out the Printers Row Lit Fest, formerly known as the Printers Row Book Fair. It is the largest free outdoor literary event in the Midwest. More than 125,000 book lovers are expected to attend the two-day showcase. And if you happen to be at Lit Fest on Sunday afternoon between 2:00 – 4:00, please stop by the Chicago Writers Association tent, where I will be signing copies of The Note, and talking with folks about the Note Project. (Tell me you read about Lit Fest on Freelance Zone and I’ll give you a free DVD!)

Mike O’Mary is author of The Note, a book about the power of appreciation and how a simple note can change a person’s life. He is also founder of the Note Project, and of Dream of Things, a book publisher and online bookstore.