Tag Archives: freelance

Books about Freelancing

Joe Wallace Vinyl Collector and authorby Joe Wallace

There seem to be quite a lot of books about freelancing. A quick look at Amazon.com shows a number of titles, some of which seem dangerously close to being outdated judging by dates alone. Why do I say that? Because things change so much in this electronic age that the book in 2008 or even 2010 that seemed relevant and on-target is quickly dated by the types of social media platforms and fads used to network, the always-shifting challenges when it comes to the quality and availability of freelance work, etc.

There are two basic types of books on the freelance lifestyle. One I personally have no use for–the ones with titles like, “How To Make Bizillions of Dollars In Freelancing” and “90 Days to Quitting Your Day Job Forever And Ever Amen Because You’re a Hotshot Freelancer Now”. Sure, saying there are only two basic types is a massive generalization, but a quick look at the books out there does tend to make one believe that generalization has legs. Or at least is growing them rather quickly.

The OTHER type of book about freelancing is far more valuable. These are the books with titles like, “How I Went From Being a Day Job Zombie To A Full Time Freelance Superstar”.

See the difference? One type of book is stopping just short of claiming it can help turn YOU into a full time freelancer in 90 days or less (or whatever), the other type is explaining “How I Did It”.

The value in the second type of book? There are NO PROMISES IMPLIED. Unlike the first kind where there’s the implication that if you just follow the magic formula, success can be yours. These selling points are fairly misleading even when they don’t set out to be; “How I Did It” is far more valuable, honest, and worthy of your hard-earned book buying dollars.

Sure, many will disagree. Some will tell me not to judge a book by its cover. But I’m NOT, I’m judging it by the title and any promises implied therein. Maybe it’s even more shallow to judge a book by its title…but I believe in the old idea about truth in advertising. And if your book’s title isn’t “ad one” for your work, what is?

–Joe Wallace

Joe Wallace sells vinyl on the internet, writes articles about personal finance and veterans issues, edits book manuscripts, and is an audio professional specializing in field recording, post production, and sound effects. Contact him: jwallace@freelance-zone.com

Today’s Writing Tip: When to Use Can or Could

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It’s easy to determine when to use the word can and when to use could. Can indicates ability. I can type a letter. I can run 10 miles. I can write a fan letter to Jon Hamm, although he probably won’t answer. Can denotes certainty. Could denotes uncertainty.

I could go to visit my sick neighbor if I don’t have to work on Thursday night. My neighbor could die from pneumonia if her immune system is not strong. My son’ s car could last another five years if he’s lucky. The most significant word in the last three sentences is “if” because the first part of every sentence depends on another factor.

It could happen, but maybe it won’t. Whereas when we use can, something will generally happen or at least the person has the ability to make it happen.

Parents used to teach children table manners by differentiating between the words can and may. A child would say, “Can I go now?” after dessert, and the parent would retort, “May I go.” Because clearly the child can go by simply getting up and leaving the table. Using may is a way of asking permission.

Sigrid Macdonald is the author of three books and two short stories, and is also a manuscript editor. Find her at http://sigridmacdonald.blogspot.com/.

 

Freelancing, Working From Home, Yahoo

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

In recent years it seemed like everyone was going freelance, working from home, doing the thirty-second commute. But in more recent times it looks like the rubber band, so to speak, of freelancing is snapping back the other way. Consider the latest news about Yahoo and its new CEO’s policy bringing in work-from-home staff back into the office. Is this a trend you can watch spreading to other companies who suddenly decide that working in your jammies is bad for productivity?

Not yet. But keep watching those headlines and you might see plenty of “me too” stories about others, inspired by Yahoo, who want to yank their employees back into the land of the cubicles.

This is good news, and bad news for freelancers. The good news is that the reality check has finally arrived. It’s not, as many websites want us all to believe, EASY to be a freelancer or work-from-home guru. It takes discipline, dedication, and the ability to resist all of your regular time-waster distractions you indulge in when you’re not sitting in front of the computer. It also requires more transparency and accountability to make things work properly.

Some just don’t have what it takes, some are total overacheivers. But it’s not EASY, whatever the outcome.

The good news is that these kinds of reality checks are GREAT for our freelance businesses–those who continue to thrive as freelancers have an additional–and totally subjective–air of achievement. We still succeed where Yahoo “failed”. We are trustworthy enough to remain in our jammies, keep turning things in on time and on target. We rule.

But with that it’s realistic to expect a higher standard. If you can do what Yahoo wouldn’t dream of letting you do (now), working from home, it’s likely that expectations will increase. After all, there MUST be a reason why Yahoo’s CEO is so bent on yanking employees back under the glare of the florescent bulbs, right? RIGHT? Don’t be surprised if the bar gets raised in the wake of all this…even if it’s just a little bit.

But the pros need not worry–we’re used to this sort of thing. Occupational hazards include a wee bit of jealousy that we’re still wearing what we went to bed in when we deliver that product. It’s only right to expect to be scrutinized a bit closer when things like the Yahoo story pop up. The mantra? It all goes back to Gloria Gaynor; “I Will Survive”.

Expanding Your Freelance Network

freelance networkCatherine’s post yesterday, “Helping Another Writer = Good Karma,” was a timely one for me, and I wanted to expand on her thoughts—because it’s even better for your freelance business if you expand your freelance network beyond just referrals for other writers.

Some examples from the past week:

  • I received a referral from a client for a PR project that was really outside my expertise, so I sub-referred it to someone I know who’s capable of pulling it off.
  • I referred a long-time graphic designer colleague, who’s recently gone freelance, to a client who needs some high-end talent.
  • And while editing a white paper for another client, it occurred to me that another client (a professional speaker and author) might find the content useful for her audiences, so I introduced and connected them, too.

None of these will result in direct business for me, and I don’t know for sure if it will mean additional business for any of the people I’ve introduced to each other. And as Catherine pointed out, my motives for doing it were a blend of unselfish and selfish. Sure, I might help some folks generate some additional revenue. Sure, if my matchmaking works, I’m going to cultivate some good karma with clients and potential clients as well as fellow freelancers…and maybe some additional business or referrals will come back my way down the road. There’s nothing wrong with that, eh?

From a bigger-picture perspective, I think we often fool ourselves into thinking that participation in social media means we’re being social. It doesn’t. Real business means picking up the phone or sending a thoughtful email, personally connecting partners, clients, colleagues or friends in ways that improve their own networks and results.

In the comments, share your matchmaking tips or anecdotes. What do you do to expand your freelance network and influence?

Jake Poinier dispenses freelancing advice at DearDrFreelance.com and runs a Phoenix-based editorial services firm, Boomvang Creative Group.

Photo courtesy of Nate Brelsford.

Today’s Writing Tip: Establishing Authority

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Often writers want to sound modest, so they say things like “I’m not an authority,” or “I could be wrong.”

This may work well in general conversation or on a message board, but it doesn’t fly in a book, blog post, or an article. Why not? Well, if you’re not an authority, why should I care what you write?

Let’s say you’re discussing bullying. If you preface your remarks by saying that this is just your humble opinion and you may not be right, readers have no reason to give your words any credibility.

Take the time and the effort to establish and substantiate your position; then don’t undermine yourself by saying that you’re not an authority.

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 at sigridmac@rogers.com. Read more at http://beyourowneditor.blogspot.com.

Your Freelance Lifestyle

by Catherine L. Tully

photoFreelancing can mean a hectic schedule–which can then translate into unhealthy living patterns if you aren’t careful. Scheduling interviews, juggling deadlines and trying to run errands in-between may mean skipping meals, grabbing fast food and passing on exercise.

But it doesn’t have to.

Here are five top tips for staying healthy despite feeling the crunch of freelance time-management:

  • Always have a few fruit pieces on hand in case you are hungry and don’t have time to make a healthy meal or prepare a good snack. Great examples are apples, bananas–even frozen fruit works in a pinch. Mix in a teaspoon of peanut butter and it should be enough to hold you for a while.
  • Run errands on foot or on your bicycle when you can. This may not work in the winter, but fall, spring and summer are all good candidates for this.
  • Remember that sleep is sacred. Don’t push yourself to push and stay up to get extra work finished–or if you do–take a nap the following day. Sleep keeps you on your toes mentally and healthy physically. It’s not worth the risk to skimp on it.
  • Pre-make a couple of healthy meals for busy weeks. Low-sodium broth soups, turkey chili and whole grain pasta are all good examples of healthy foods that keep well.
  • Stay hydrated. Don’t just drink endless cups of coffee to stay sharp–make sure you are getting enough water as well. Dehydration can seriously hamper your physical ability to stay on top of things.

Do you have any good, healthy tips for your fellow freelancers? If so, please do share below!