Tag Archives: freelance writer

Summer Temptations

Catherineby Catherine L. Tully

It’s 74 degrees outside. I”m tempted to blow off my tweeting and blogging and go for a nice, long walk.

Anybody else been there?

Being a freelance writer takes a tremendous amount of discipline, and this is a fact that goes double in the summer months–especially if you live in a four-season climate.

The sunshine and fresh air make for a tempting playmate. So how can you stay on track and still take advantage of the weather? Here are my tips for keeping up with your workload and enjoying the best days of the year-

+ Work ahead on “iffy” days. Not every day is balmy and breezy. If it rains, or is otherwise a “so-so” day outside, do some extra work. The more work you bank on days like that, the easier it will be to take a day off if you want. So schedule some tweets on Hootsuite, write a few blog posts and finish an assignment early. You’ll thank yourself.

+ Get up earlier. I know. This one hurts. I’m trying it this summer–and so far, so good. I hate the morning, but am using it to finish off menial tasks that require precious little thinking power. Even an hour can make a difference. Answer e-mail, delete spam comments on your blog, update your social media accounts and get your invoices in order.

+ Take a working lunch. Bring your laptop to an outdoor cafe and edit some copy. Brown bag it and go to the park to brainstorm query ideas. If you are outside and working, it’s a win/win.

+ Schedule yourself. One of the benefits of freelancing is the ability to do things pretty much whenever you’d like. Even so, if you schedule your week out, you’ll probably wind up with more time to play hookie. Just sayin’. Plus, this is a good habit to get into for the rest of the year…

Do you have any tips you can share for staying on-target despite the increasingly beautiful weather? Please share!

Freelancer Friday

Catherine L. TullyToday, Joe from Freelance-Zone.com is having what I refer to as a “Freelancer Friday”. He got up, hit the work trail hard, and is then going to go out shopping with his lady.

This truly is one of the perks of having a freelance lifestyle. Having a bad day? Take off and go see a movie. Aren’t feeling the muse? Go out to lunch and linger a bit–see what happens. It really is a terrific deal overall.

That said, freelance writers also experience another phenomenon–the magical disappearing weekend. While we can take days off here and there to suit us, we also have deadlines. Sometimes that means working all day on a Saturday instead of going to your buddy’s barbecue or having lunch with your best pal.

It’s a tradeoff for sure, but I do know this–exchanging it for a 40 hour work week is just not an option for me. I’ve lived this lifestyle for so long now that the mere thought of going to work early in the morning and staying there all day, 5 days a week, actually freaks me out. No, I’ll take those weekends where I’m shut in the house. I’ll suffer through the missed lunches. And I’ll do it all so that I have the freedom to blow off an entire day and go for a drive or do my grocery shopping when nobody is there in the middle of the afternoon.

What about you?

What Would You Do If Your Computer Crashed?

The question above is one I don’t even like to type out. It horrifies me to even think about my computer crashing. While this is a nightmare for most people–for the writer, it is a disaster of epic proportions. Articles you could re-sell, invoices, work in progress…gone…just like that.

I’m a huge fan of backup, and so today we are offering Freelance-Zone readers a peek at an online backup option–Mozy. Here with us today is Brent Bird, the Marketing Manager for Mozy, to share a bit about what the service is like.

(And be sure to check out the special coupon/code they gave us below–just for Freelance-Zone readers! If you aren’t ready for that, try it out for free first and see what you think.)

generic-backup-plan-125x1251. What is Mozy and how would it be useful to a freelance writer?

Mozy provides secure, online backup for all of the files stored on your computer. As a freelance writer, your career and oftentimes years of hard work can be stored on your system’s hard drive. Mozy makes sure you’re protected in case your hard drive crashes, your computer gets a virus or if you accidentally leave your laptop in a taxi or on a plane. Once you’re backed up, all of your most important files are stored in Mozy’s secure datacenters, available to be restored to your new machine, anytime you choose.  

2. Can you explain a bit about how the backup works and what you can store?

When you download Mozy, you are asked to select the files that you’d like to backup. Mozy makes this easy for you by pre-selecting “backup sets” of the most popular file types that customers typically choose to protect—documents, music files, photos, etc. Select what you would like to be backed up on your own hard drive, then choose your backup schedule. You can backup once a week, once a day, or even as often as every two hours. The initial backup can take some time, depending on the amount you’re backing up and your connection speed. However, once all of your information is securely in the cloud, Mozy then searches for changes to existing files or new files, so each subsequent backup is very fast.

3. How do you protect the stored data?

Mozy encrypts all of the data on your computer, in transit and at rest in our datacenters. We use 256-bit AES encryption technology which is the same encryption system used by the military. When you select files for backup, Mozy encrypts them on your computer, and then transports them over the Internet to our datacenters. In transit, the files are encrypted with 128-bit SSL encryption, which is the same technology used by financial institutions to send and receive financial transactions. All of your data is then stored in our datacenters in an encrypted state. You can even choose your own personal encryption key which only you will have access to. Your information cannot be decrypted without this key, so you can have ultimate control. Your data has never been safer.

4. What is the advantage of doing backup this way as opposed to more traditional media, such as DVDs or external hard drives?

Using external hard drives or DVDs to backup your data is a good idea, as any backup method is important. However, Mozy is automatic and secure, so that once you set it up, you’ll never have to think about it again. Your information is also securely encrypted, so your information is protected. With an external hard drive, you’ll need to manually move information to the hard drive on a regular basis or remember to upload your photos or your most recent work. That hard drive can also fail or crash without warning. With Mozy, you can set it and forget it and know that all new and important data is being backed up automatically.

5. What else can you tell freelance writers about Mozy?

Mozy wants to make sure that all freelance writers are protected by offering a 15% discount off of our normal rates. Simply enter promo code FREELANCE15 at purchase to receive the discount. Mozy also gives everyone 2GB for free, so you can try it out and see how it works for you. Need more than 2GB? MozyHome is only $4.95 a month for unlimited storage. Purchase an annual subscription and get a month free or purchase a biennial subscription and get 3 months for free. Whatever you choose, make sure you’re backing up your work somehow.

Pandora Radio

pandoraby Catherine L. Tully

As a freelance writer, one of the perks of the job is that you can take your laptop and hit a coffee shop for a few hours to write and relax. I like going to Panera. Love the atmosphere and the tea–but I hate the music. The style of jazz they play is just too noisy for me when I’m trying to write.

My quick fix? Pandora Radio. I simply pop on my headphones, plug them into my iPhone and hit some sort of ambient, new age music for the duration. I have to keep it on low, and I can’t use it if what I’m doing requires a lot of actual thinking, but for rote tasks or revisions it works perfectly. (And you can get it on your laptop as well.)

Pandora is free and it has some pretty cool features.  I highly recommend trying it out.

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.

Don’t Overpromise

by Mike O’Mary

I remember a sales rep from a commercial printer who would never tell me what I wanted to hear. I’d say, “Is there any way we can get that printed by May 1?” And he’d say, “Ooh! I don’t know…that’s tight.” Never once would he say, “Yep, no problem.” Yet almost invariably, it was no problem. He never overcommitted and always delivered on time.

As someone who used to do things like “commit” to being in downtown Chicago in 15 minutes when I was still 30 miles away, or “commit” to producing a draft of a 2,000-word article in two days when I knew it would take two weeks, I greatly admire that rep’s discipline. And I learned from him. It’s easy to tell people what they want to hear. And as a freelancer, you want to please your clients. But you will do them and yourself a favor if you are realistic when it comes to the commitments you make.

What is your track record as a freelancer? Do you deliver on time 100% of the time? Or is it more like 90%…or 75%…or 50%? If it’s less than 100% of the time, why is that? Is it because something unexpected came up, or were you just trying to do too much in too short a period of time?

Don’t fall victim to your desire to please clients by telling them what they want to hear. It’s better to please them by delivering on time. So set realistic deadlines and then meet them. If you can do those two things, you will always have repeat business–and your reputation will result in lots of referrals.

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