Tag Archives: freelance work

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.

The Vanishing Freelance Client

Freelance Switch Vanishing Client

by Joe Wallace

Freelance Switch had an excellent article recently on the phenomenon known as the “magical client”. You know the ones–they show up with work from time to time, pad out your coffers for a bit, then fade away for ages. Later, they reappear to throw some more work your way, like magic.

I can hear some new-to-freelancing grumbles now; “I wish I HAD some magically appearing clients!” Here’s how I cultivated some of mine:

Be William Shatner

Sounds absurd, I know. Remember Rescue 911? Shatner walking us through emergency after emergency, with those calm and reassuring tones. What a new freelancer can do to bring in repeat clients is be the go-to person in somebody else’s crisis. Over-deliver, make yourself completely available in an hour of need, and watch the loyalty grow.

Be Leonard Nimoy

This is starting to read like a sci-fi nerd dating column, but so be it. Leonard Nimoy, as Spock on Star Trek, was always the font of helpful advice and useful stats. Find a way to apply your freelance street skills to the benefit of a client and you’ll see that sometimes dispensing some free advice can increase your stature.

But beware–make sure you don’t come off as condescending or like a know-it-all, but if you see a client heading into a mistake, it’s good to diplomatically point out a better alternative.

The way I do it is just to relate my past experience. “You know, in the past when I’ve worked on other projects, I learned that Google tends to frown on key words it considers spammy. Too many keywords stuffed into an article is bad enough, but adding XYZ to the mix has, in my experience, really hurt any website those words appears on.”

Continue reading The Vanishing Freelance Client

Assume At Your Own Risk

apple store logoby Joe Wallace

I try not to run excessively negative pieces here on FZ. Once upon a time I really let things rip, whenever I felt the urge. But I’ve been leaning toward more constructive writing and less towards venting my spleen, thinking of the value added and time invested rather than self-gratification in print at the expense of whatever bozo has been irritating me at the moment.

But rules are made to be broken.

Today I had to venture out of my Lincoln Square writer’s hideout into downtown Chicago to hit the Apple Store. I needed a replacement battery for my 15-inch Macbook Pro and didn’t feel like waiting out a delivery time of an online order.

I was tired, not quite caffeinated and unwilling to search the store for replacement batteries, so when I got to the Michigan Avenue Apple Store, I went right to an Apple-shirted employee and aksed for a 15-inch Macbook battery.

She promptly reached into a shelving unit and pulled out a box that was far too long and skinny to be the 15-inch Macbook Pro battery I needed. The box clearly said “15-inch replacement battery” but it was the NEW one, not the OLD SCHOOL version I needed for the model I purchased in 2007.

I asked if that was the right one and the rep looked at the box. It never occurred to this person to ask if I had an OLD Macbook or a NEW one.

I realize this is grousing over a mistake any barely trained McJob zombie could make, but my real point is that it’s never safe to assume people who are SUPPOSED to be in the know actually know what they’re doing. Continue reading Assume At Your Own Risk

Blogger Beware: The Schedule Function in WordPress

compby Joe Wallace

Freelance productivity tools are supposed to help you get things done while you’re busy on other tasks. But sometimes the very tools you’re using to help you can come back to haunt you in ways you never expected.

In the freelance game, as in life, perception is often more important than reality. Here’s a puzzler for you–could your freelance tools actually lend the impression that you’re stealing company time from one client to service your other clients or your own freelance blog?

I run another blog, Turntabling.net. It’s a site for vinyl junkies, soundtrack collectors, and drive-in movie lovers. Part of the reason I’m able to do Turntabling is because I write the blog posts two and three at a time in my off hours, and use the WordPress Schedule function to add the posts in over time during the day. Continue reading Blogger Beware: The Schedule Function in WordPress

Holiday Guilt?

freelance writing advice 3Yo Prinzel wrote a great blog entry aimed at all of us who felt slightly guilty for taking a glorious four-day weekend off for the holidays. Adding my own two cents to this blog post, I’ll just say that one way you can offset the guilts for taking time off to stuff your face full of turkey is to pre-position some content or work for submission during your down time. If you’re running a blog or a for-pay website and have content that shows up over the holidays, you can feel confident that you’re feeding the audience while still giving yourself some much-needed down time.
Continue reading Holiday Guilt?

Top Ten Ways To Find Freelance Work

find freelance jobs background check

One thing about this list: you’ll notice that Craigslist is nowhere to be found. That’s because A) the goofball quotient on CL is very high and while you may find a decent gig on CL, you’ll have to waste too much time finding the diamond in all that sludge. B) With the over-abundance of freelance sites all scraping CL job ads, Craigslist is now flooded with responses to any ad–good luck getting your clips reviewed since every “day one” writer from here to the Atlantic ocean will clog up a poor editor’s inbox with replies.

10. Ask a friend or colleague. Surely one of your other writer friends knows someone who needs some writing help.

9. Check the Careers section of big sites such as AOL.com, Verizon Wireless, Tribune Broadcasting, etc. Contract jobs are often listed side by side with full-time gigs. Or who knows, maybe you’re ready for some steady paychecks? You might be surprised at what’s out there for writers in the regular gig department…not that we’re advocating you go back to working for THE MAN, but sometimes it’s good to get a reminder of why you went freelance in the first place.

8. Look at the news section of your favorite magazine/publishing/advertising mags. See those listings of new magazine announcements? New publications need HELP.

7. Look in your local online phone directory for non-profits. The money isn’t huge with non-profits, but you may find an opening for a wordsmith, however temporary.

6. Call your local churches. Times are hard, staffs are shrinking daily–do local churches and charitable organizations need a freelancer to handle newsletters, bulletins and other material? You might find a secret market lurking in your own back yard.

5. Join your Chamber of Commerce. I can’t tell you how valuable this can be for networking and making friends on the local economy. It takes time to discover new writing opportunities this way, but it is often well worth the investment.

4. Call your Mom. That’s right, your Mom. The right parent who knows the right people just might have a foot in the door someplace you might not otherwise get access to—in today’s economy can you afford to pass up any opportunity to land another writing gig?

3. Use LinkedIn to spread the word that you are for hire. Maybe your direct contacts can’t help, but what about your friends and their contact lists? Find out who is doing what and whether your skill sets apply–you could find an excellent match somewhere in the local business community.

2. Make yourself more discoverable–don’t just use Twitter to stay in touch with your friends, add professionals in your area of expertise to your Following list and put a link to your resume site. Don’t use Twitter JUST for job hunting, but consider it an extra avenue that could come in handy when other gigs become scarce.

1. Forget all the freelance job boards and just pick five companies you’d like to write for. Research them, put custom resume and published clip packages together for each one, and make your presence known. Target each company individually and be persistent without being a pain.