Tag Archives: freelance pay

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 Some looked good, some books seem out of date, and some seem like snake oil.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

This Is a Sort of Writing Tip

sig2010Lately I’ve been seeing the phrases “kind of” and “sort of” in print, and hearing them far too often on podcasts and radio. When is it appropriate to use these terms and when should we leave them at home?

If you have a task at work that is slightly difficult, you can say that it is kind of a pain. What you don’t want to say is this: “I have a sort of project that needs to be finished by Friday.”

The first sentence has “kind of” modifying the word pain, which makes sense. The second sentence has the adjective modifying the word project, which doesn’t make any sense, because we’re not going to have a “sort of” project. We either have a project or we don’t!

Here’s another one. “It’s kind of important for me to show up at the party.” That sentence is fine. If I change it to this, it’s grammatically incorrect: “It’s important for me to kind of be at the party.”

You either show up or you don’t. Kind of and sort of are filler words akin to “like…” (I was, like, so busy.) They seem to be the modern equivalent of saying “um” or “ah,” but you don’t want to discard them altogether, because there are a number of instances where they are the best words of choice.

Sigrid Macdonald is a book coach, a manuscript editor, and the author of three books including Be Your Own Editor. BYOE is available on Amazon in soft cover (http://tinyurl.com/3xkoths) and on Kindle (http://tinyurl.com/3y3nuzb). Or get 20% off the regular price by writing directly to the author.

Negotiating Freelance Rates? Give Yourself a Raise

Joe Wallace Turntabling Rare RecordsIt’s easy to forget that the whole world is NOT paying attention to your every move–especially if you freelance online. But who really IS paying attention?

I don’t write that to be insulting. I write that to be ENCOURAGING. As in, who really knows what  you’ve been charging for your freelance services in the last year or two? Sure, if you publish a rate card online you’ll need to be a bit careful when adjusting your fee structure, but when it’s time to talk fees with a new client it may be a good time to ask yourself if it’s time for a raise.

Even a small one.

One of the most difficult parts of the freelance game for many is staying motivated in the tough times. Getting compensated what you feel you’re worth–or at least within spitting distance–is part of that motivation. Have you been working for peanuts? Working too long for peanuts? Have you been working at a reasonable, but somehow still not quite satisfying rate? When you’re the boss, the only person to ask for a raise is YOU.

I struggled with that concept for ages…how could I justify charging my new client more when I was still working at a lower rate for others? When I realized that I wasn’t cheating, but offering my older clients a longevity discount, that’s when it occurred to me that I could indeed up my fee when warranted, and not worry at all about the idea that I might be fudging numbers, shortchanging a newcomer or asking for something I didn’t really earn.

The more experience you get as a freelancer, the more your inherent value as a freelancer goes up…unless you do shoddy work, of course. But this post isn’t aimed at the half-hearted, substandard, or just-barely-good-enough types. I’m talking to you, Mister and Miz Hardworking Freelance Person. Ask yourself–are you due for a pay increase? I bet the answer is “Yes”.

Joe Wallace writes music AND writes ABOUT music. He’s currently working on a video installation project for a gallery opening to be announced soon, sound design and ambiance for an art opening in Ohio, and polishing up his manuscript for WTF Records: The Turntabling.Net Guide To Weird and Wonderful Vinyl. Contact him: jwallace(at)turntabling(dot) net.

Freelance Pay Delay

Joe Wallace Vinyl Collector and authorby Joe Wallace

Last year I had a six-week period where none of my clients paid on time. As a result I naturally had to scramble to get my bills paid, and the fact that I had just dropped a large investment in some vinyl records to sell at an upcoming convention didn’t help matters–I was counting on getting paid to insure the rent check didn’t bounce.

Instead, I found myself hustling my vinyl very hard at that convention and managed somehow to squeak by thanks to the generosity of my record buying friends and followers online.

You read it right–my “side income” suddenly became the main event for me for nearly two months.

There was an unexpected side effect of my pay issues as a result–I feel like I have some financial stress issues that come from constantly second-guessing when that perfect storm of late paying clients might happen again. So now more than ever I’m trying to take steps to shore up my cash reserves and boost my side income activities. The more solid my non-writing side income can get, the better off I’ll be in the long run.

But really, those cash reserves are the most important part–having a cushion to fall back on is very important since it’s never clear when there might be a work slowdown or outright stop. Late payment is bad enough, but a paycheck that gets cut in half due to a lack of work is an emergency for many freelancers I know, including ME.

Some writers I know have taken side jobs in non-writing capacities, but I wasn’t smart enough to do that. My side income comes from my own business, which takes additional money to run. Last year when I had some extra money to invest in the biz, I took the initiative and bought some extra supplies and things to sell so that if times get lean here, there’s more “here and now” profit I could use to get through the hard times if they arise.

Not ideal to be sure, but let’s call it limping towards financial stability. Sooner or later, I’ll be forced to pay the piper and start socking money away for that rainy day that we all know might come tomorrow or the next day. Here’s hoping it’s next week year instead. For now, I’m putting as much aside as I can afford, but it ain’t much. Rain, rain, go away.

Joe Wallace writes about and sells vinyl records. He recently finished writing the book WTF Records: The Turntabling Guide To Weird and Wonderful Vinyl and currently seeks a publisher who is amused by awful album covers and records put out by karate-chopping preachers. Wallace runs the blog Turntabling.net and watches a lot of Italian crime movies on Netflix.

Setting Your Freelance Rates

Paisley Babylon Blogby Joe Wallace

I’ve been writing a lot lately about setting freelance pay rates. There are several tactics you can use to arrive at a good rate for your time, but new freelancers are sometimes afraid to use some of the more aggressive ones.

Here is a list a tactics I have successfully used to arrive at a fair rate in the end. At least one of them I used THIS WEEK, the others I’ve used in the last year:

Be Direct.  The freelance game is a lot like playing poker. You have to feel out the client to see which approach works best. Sometimes, just asking “What’s your budget for this project” is a good way to get things rolling.

Aim High. In situations where I feel the client is likely to haggle, I throw out an introductory offer that’s higher than I expect to get. This give the client some room to talk me down a bit without me compromising the value I put on my time. I set a high and a low threshold for myself. Below a certain point, I can’t go. If I start out with my actual rate–what I feel my time is really worth, the client will still try to talk me down…

Quote Per-Project Rates. Hourly rates are quite frankly a pain to deal with. By quoting per-project rates instead, you don’t get forced to do a lot of extra bookkeeping–AND you subtly tell the client they are paying for your TALENT and not just your time.

Special Rates for Reasonable People. Freelancing is a two-way street. I do give better rates to clients who are reasonable, friendly and good communicators. As bad as it may sound, clients who start off the conversation as pushy, unreasonable or otherwise unpleasant get charged according to the amount of grief–and additional labor as a result– I feel I’m likely to experience. Continue reading Setting Your Freelance Rates

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.