Tag Archives: freelance lifestyle

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.

Delaying the Battle Against Procrastination

iStock_000012465994XSmallby Mike O’Mary

Like a lot of people, I tend to procrastinate:

  • It took me five years to complete a two-year graduate program.
  • When I first started working, the stock market was at 800. (Yes, I know…that was a long time ago.) I finally got in at around 8,000 — right before the dot.com crash earlier this decade. (Hmmm…maybe I rushed things there.)
  • I’ve put off buying a new life insurance policy for over a year now because I know I’ll get a better rate as soon as I lose a little weight — which should happen pretty fast once I start exercising.
  • And I’m on track to die with more unwritten novels than any other writer in history.

It’s easy to say, “I’ve got too much to do,” but there’s usually more to it than that. For some, it’s fear of failure. For others, fear of success. Sometimes it’s a control thing. Sometimes, we procrastinate because we’ve never really made up our minds on the big issues…things like “What I want to do with my life.”

Oprah Winfrey once interviewed the late Scott Peck, author of The Road Less Traveled and other books. She noted that he was a prolific writer, traveled all over the country giving lectures, maintained a psychotherapy practice, and still managed to spend time with his family.

“How do you find the time to do all of this?” Oprah asked.

“I spend two hours a day thinking about what is important in my life and what is not,” said Peck. “I tell people I am praying so they will not interrupt. I do not spend any time on activities that are not important to my life. And, I don’t watch your show.”

I like that answer so much, I think I’ll give it a try. But it will have to wait til tomorrow. I’ve got too much to do today.

Mike O’Mary is founding dreamer of Dream of Things, an independent book publisher currently accepting creative nonfiction stories for anthologies on 15 topics, including an anthology titled “Advice You’d Like to Pass on to Others.”

Poll: What’s On Your Mind?

ask the freelance pros

by Joe Wallace

After much discussion today about all things freelance, Catherine and I realized that there’s an important part of the freelance puzzle we’d like to spend a lot more time on in these posts.

While most freelancers know it’s far better to work for yourself then somebody else, there’s always a nagging doubt in the minds of even the best freelancers out there. “Can I really make it?” or “Will I really find enough work to justify going freelance full time?”

Cath and I say yes to both of these questions, but it’s obvious that there are plenty of unknowns out there for those still part-timing it in the freelance world. And that’s why we are asking you, dear reader, to send us your questions about the freelance life. We want to know what we can do to help.What is it you want to know? What’s your burning question about freelancing? What do you want to see given more coverage on here?

Send your questions about any and all aspects of the freelance life to:


We’re soliciting questions for two reasons–we want to know what’s on your mind, and we want to use your questions to guide future content here on FZ. It does us no good to endlessly pontificate on subjects that don’t mean anything to you personally–consider this your open invitation to influence future posts here–we won’t hold back on the answers, either. Sharing is a good thing.

If you’ve read this blog for any amount of time, you know Cath and I have many years of experience in this business, and we’ve come as far as we have via trial and error, calculated risks, wild speculation and every tactic in between. How can we help you? Drop us a line and we’ll do our level best.

We don’t promise to have all the answers, and in the end what worked for us might not work for you–but we can at least share what we have. We look forward to the first round.

Avoiding the Paper Bin

iStock_000009310130XSmallby Mike O’Mary

Dream of Things has a Fan Page on Facebook, and a while back, somebody left a message for me on the Dream of Things wall: “Ever time try write storys use go in paper bin because stoys not at good.”

At first, I didn’t know what to say. But I thought about it, and then I wrote back: “I think I understand. I have days like that, too.”

Actually, I have a lot of days like that, and recently I kind of hit a wall. Which is why this post is about taking care of yourself and making sure you get plenty of rest and relaxation.

I hit a wall mentally and physically after four months of working 70-80 hours a week. I launched a new publishing company and online bookstore, published two books, started soliciting submissions for 15 anthologies of creative nonfiction, recruited and retained seven editors to edit those 15 anthologies, started contributing to The Freelance Zone, and began editing two book-length manuscripts. And that was in my spare time because I also have a day job. This past weekend, I couldn’t think any more. So I took the weekend off. I went for a walk on Saturday, then spent the afternoon cleaning out my closets, trying on old pants (I had somehow accummulated about 40 pairs of pants) and setting aside anything that didn’t fit for donation to charity. Then Sunday afternoon, I went to the Green Mill in Chicago for some live jazz and to celebrate my girlfriend’s birthday. It was a much-needed break.

When I was freelancing, one of the things I found most challenging was battling the feeling that I could never completely relax. I always felt I needed to be looking for the next assignment, and I never told a client “no” because I never knew when the client might call again. But relaxation is critical to your well-being. Otherwise, it is very difficult to do the very demanding work of writing and editing. So turn off that laptop, put on some music and try on some pants (or try on whatever you like to try on to relax), and live today so you can write again tomorrow.

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

What You Can Learn About Freelancing From Your Phone Bill

query-letter-adviceIt’s tough to know when to cut your losses. Deadbeat clients, those who ask for never-ending rewrites, clients who pay later and later, the list goes on and on. How long do you give them the benefit of the doubt?

That’s a question for another article. This post is about something completely different–those situations where the client is nice, friendly, reasonable…but you still find yourself getting the short end of the stick.

Example–the writer I know who has to make international phone calls to get his articles written. Calls that aren’t always reimbursed by his editors. This writer decided to start cutting out the companies that wouldn’t pay his phone expenses (which are regular and fairly predictable). He was shocked to learn he saved himself $200 in one month doing so. One of his publication credits wound up costing him half his fee in phone calls–clearly a losing option. Continue reading What You Can Learn About Freelancing From Your Phone Bill

What I Learned About Freelance Marketing from Flashback Weekend

family guy corn mazeOctober means the harvest, Halloween season, and best of all there are a massive load of horror movie conventions all over the country celebrating the scariest time of the year. I’m attending Chicago’s legendary Flashback Weekend this weekend (Oct 23-25 ’09) to promote my vinyl collector/DJ blog Turntabling.net, and wouldn’t you know it, I found a way to tie it in to Freelance-Zone.

I like to take lessons on the freelance game wherever I find ’em, and this morning while Googling directions to the event (at the Wyndham Hotel in Rosemont) I noticed that the official site for Flashback didn’t have the hours listed in a prominent place. In fact, I wasted several minutes searching for the hours (I finally located them buried deep on the schedule page–it’s too early in the morning for such a bug-hunt).

Here’s a lesson in marketing freelancers can learn:

Continue reading What I Learned About Freelance Marketing from Flashback Weekend