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Who’s Hiring?

By Amanda Smyth Connor1362732_happy_friends

In this crap economy, is anyone still hiring freelance writers?

Yes! Squee! Oh for joy, some wonderful companies are still hiring! And you might be surprised to hear which companies are in need of fabulous writers like yourself.

1. Gaming companies. Game development companies like Zynga and EA are in a state of fast growth and are pumping out games for various platforms faster that you can say “Alec Baldwin playing Words with Friends.” Look for jobs like “community manager” for social media positions and “content developers” for freelance writing positions.

2. Political campaigns. I’m not talking about writing speeches for Obama (although if you can get that gig, I’d ask that you put in a good word for me.) I’m talking about offering your services up to local politicians in need of bloggers, content managers and social media assistants. Just beware the skeletons in the closet.

3. Start-Ups! Keep a close eye on any start-up that you hear about. It may mean short-term gigs because funds are tight, but start-up companies notoriously need content created in large quantities very quickly as they work to build SEO and marketing campaigns. This will mean flexibility on your part when it comes to tight turnaround and jumping from one project to the next, but if you can get in good on the ground floor of a good start-up, you can position yourself for loads of steady freelance work. ps. Etsy is hiring bloggers right now. FYI.

4. Hit up my favorite industry job boardMediabistro.com. They have full-time, part-time and freelance job listings for the writing, editing and social media industries. Check it out.

Amanda Smyth Connor is a social media manager for a major publishing company, owns her own wedding planning business and has managed online communities and content development for many start-up and Fortune 500 companies.  She has been a professional editor for more years than she can remember.

Organization Shmorganization

By Amanda Smyth Connor

The writer's current filing system/day planner

The writer's current filing system. Pink=Top Priority

I’ve uttered these words more than once, thinking to myself that I would just tackle each task as it came. “First come, first served.”

Flash forward to an epic breakdown a week later when I’m overwhelmed with various stages of incomplete projects.

So I’ve once again adopted a new organizational strategy. We’ll see how this one works out.  Many strategies before have tried and failed. Essentially, I’ll be devoting half of my day to one client and half to another. Sure this sounds overly simplified and it may lead to certain disaster, but one thing I am finding is that there’s more than one path to organizational nirvana, so I’ve got to keep looking for the best ways to stay organized.

I am inherently a lazy creature with a mild case of A.D.D. I have every intention in the world of recording meeting notes properly, completing research for a project, keeping up with my Quickbooks and staying on top of emails to clients, but sometimes there’s a “Real Housewives of New Jersey Reunion Marathon Extravaganza” that needs watching and then I forget everything that needs doing until it pops into my head at 4am a week later. Damn you, Andy Cohen.

What works for some doesn’t work for others. It’s not as simple as buying a filing cabinet and some fun post-it notes (see photo insert.) You have to keep developing your organization strategy in order to stay on top of the ebbs and flows of an ongoing workload.

While others may be looking for the meaning of life, my life quest will continue to be a quest for perfect organization. Until then, I’ll thank you for not judging me on my current filing system (again, see photo insert.)

Amanda Smyth Connor is a social media manager for a major publishing company, owns her own wedding planning business, and has managed online communities and content development for many start-up and Fortune 500 companies.  She has been a professional editor for more years than she can remember.

Writer Etiquette: How Not to Get Hired

By Amanda Smyth Connor1133804_sign_success_and_failure

Let’s say you check your inbox and find that you have a query from a new client for writing services. Squee!

You set up a meeting, prepare for said meeting and go into it with enthusiasm. But what’s this? You have a sinking feeling about this client? Does the situation not feel right? Is your gut telling you that this is a bigger/tougher project that you can/want to take on? Does the client have needs that lie outside of what you normally deliver? If so, it’s easier to walk away right from the get-go than to stay onboard until it’s too late.

I interview every potential client as thoroughly as they interview me. Don’t forget that this is a 2-way street! Far too many times I’ve let myself get caught up in an assignment that was over my head or far too complicated/time consuming than I could handle. Had I not nipped these assignments in the bud as early as possible, it could have meant terrible things for my reputation as a writer. The world is a smaller place than you think and word of mouth travels quickly. It is better to cut out one ill-fitting client early on than to risk not getting hired in the future because you couldn’t complete an assignment.

How does one politely cut and run? Have several form responses ready to go, and if possible, reach out to other writers who may be a better fit to see if they would like to be recommended for this job.

For example, here is my polite “cut-and-run response”: Dear Client. Thank you for meeting with me. Your project sounds wonderful. While I would be honored to take on this assignment, my concern is that I may not be the best fit for your project. However, I do have a wonderful colleague by the name of “Colleague” who is available and has extensive experience with projects like the one we discussed. I would be more than happy to send Colleague your information if you are interested in speaking with them further.

I do apologize for not being able to move forward with your assignment, but I wish you all the best and please keep me in mind for future services. Until then, if I can be of any assistance at all, please don’t hesitate to ask.

All the best, Amanda Smyth Connor

Do you have a plan of action for a cut-and-run that won’t insult a potential client? If so, please share with the group.

Amanda Smyth Connor is a social media manager for a major publishing company, owns her own wedding planning business, and has managed online communities and content development for many start-up and Fortune 500 companies.  She has been a professional editor for more years than she can remember.

Determing Your Worth

By Amanda Smyth Connor1269975_coins_in_hand

More than once I have undercharged for a project. It can be incredibly difficult to create the perfect quote for a job, particularly if you are working with a new client. Obvious concerns include the danger of overcharging and never hearing from said client again versus undercharging and hating your life for the next two months.

Determining your worth as a writer is the first step in negotiating with clients.

Important Questions that Need to be Answered

  1. How long have I been in the professional writing field? Am I new to this or is this old hat?
  2. What is my level of experience with projects similar to the one being discussed?
  3. Have I worked with this client before and am I comfortable with their standard pay rates or should I push for more?
  4. How comfortable am I with the subject matter/how much time will be devoted to research?
  5. Will I be dealing directly with the client or will I have an editorial liaison as a go-between?
  6. How many writers are working on this project? Am I worked as a team or am I working on this project solo?
  7. What is the turnaround time? Is it appropriate or “pedal to the metal?”

This is merely a basic list to jump from but what other questions would you ask yourself before putting together a project quote?

Amanda Smyth Connor is a community manager for a major publishing company, owns her own wedding planning business, and has managed online communities and content development for many start-up and Fortune 500 companies.  She has been a professional editor for more years than she can remember.

Freelance Writing – Best Job Ever?

493816_number_oneBy Amanda Smyth Connor

Every other week I like to spread my cautionary tales and doom and gloom across the Freelance-Zone blog as a means of keeping things “real” for anyone who is on the fence about getting into freelance writing. I am the Debbie Downer of the freelance world and I accept this fact.

However, with summer comes a time for reflection, and every once in awhile I take a moment to think about how lucky we are to be freelance writers. Freelancing is pretty much the best job in the world, if done properly.

Yes, you can make your own hours (you just have to stick to them!) Yes, you can write from anywhere (but you have to finish your work, even during your vacation time.) Yes, you can pick and choose which clients you want to work with and which projects you want to take on (but you have to pay your bills too.)

Long story short, yes, being a freelance writer is quite possibly one of the best, most empowering and most liberating jobs anyone can hold. For any writers out there who are simply killing it in the freelance world, I’m throwing up a high five to you right now. *High five.*

But for anyone who is just considering it and may still be getting their feet wet, be aware that with a great job comes great responsibility.

Amanda Smyth Connor is a community manager for a major publishing company, owns her own wedding planning business, and has managed online communities and content development for many start-up and Fortune 500 companies.  She has been a professional editor for more years than she can remember.

Welcome to Crazytown!

By Amanda Smyth Connor

Plan for the Week:coffee cups

  • Host obligatory Memorial Day BBQ (prep for 1 week prior, clean for 2 weeks after – whose shoe is this?)!
  • Complete three freelance projects!
  • Begin next freelance projects!
  • Run charity 5k that you agreed to run! (Why did you do that?!)
  • Schedule meetings with future clients!
  • Schedule meetings with current clients who are only available from 3:57-3:58pm!
  • Attend weekend wedding for which you have no gift or dress purchased!
  • Answer emails! Phone calls! Texts/IMs!
  • Be creative!
  • Dance, monkey! Dance!
    Optional:
  • Eat
  • Sleep
  • Maintain marriage with extremely understanding spouse

Oh I know, cry me a river. This is life. But the question remains, when you are your own boss and your boss is overworking you, how do you call a timeout before you burnout?

Not that I’m anywhere close to a burnout, mind you. When I do burnout, I intend to go out in a blaze of burnout glory, running through the streets with my pants on my head. My life is heavily comprised of uppers (CAFFEINE!) and downers (WINE!) and somehow I manage to make the most of the hours in between, but every once in awhile I stop and think – I don’t have kids. I don’t yet have a mortgage (apartment dweller in the city,) heck, I don’t even have a dog. I actually have very few life responsibilities (hello parents out there!) and I struggle to maintain the professional/life balance. That being said, if you try to take this 72oz coffee away from me, I will bite you.

We’re all looking for that piece of golden advice that will inspire us to keep our lives running smoothly. What golden piece of life advice do you live by and how, as your own boss, do you keep from overworking yourself?

Amanda Smyth Connor is a community manager for a major publishing company, owns her own wedding planning business, and has managed online communities and content development for many start-up and Fortune 500 companies.  She has been a professional editor for more years than she can remember.