Tag Archives: Joe Wallace

Holiday Slump? Ten Cash Flow Kickstart Ideas

Holiday time is often slow-down time for freelancers, especially in this craptacular economy we’re in. Are you having trouble scaring up new gigs? Here are some things you can do in the meantime to help you get some cash flow going–even if you have to wait til the warm weather starts to cash in.

10.  Start cold calling. Try to get yourself hooked up with some local businesses who need your writing skills for press releases, ad copy, web copy or other commercial writing.

9. Pro bloggers, start checking out your fellow bloggers to do more guest posts. Driving traffic to your site can help you with your Google Adsense and any affiliate programs you’re signed up for. What’s that? You aren’t signed up for any affiliate programs? See #8.

8. Add affiliate programs to your blog. Many writers have a bad taste in their mouths about using affiliate programs, but if you do it tastefully and don’t go overboard you may find your readers responding to your affiliate links–especially if you have personal experience with the items you place on your site. Affiliate programs include Commission Junction and Amazon Associates.

7. HIt Craigslist. Yes, I know there’s a large amount of crap on CL, but if you wade through the nonsense to find that one gig that’s worth looking at, you may find yourself with some good cash flow coming in to tide you over in the leanest time of the year. HINT: Don’t search just in YOUR AREA on CL. Look in other cities including the overseas listings.

6. Call your local radio station and see if they are hurting for script writers for local commercial spots. You can do the same for television and production houses. If you have any experience in media at all, you could find yourself looking at an opportunity you never even considered before as a writer.

5. Write seasonal articles for your local newsweeklies and alternative magazines.

4. Hit up your old contacts at magazines, blogs and other places–when was the last time you asked for or called in a favor from a friend in the biz? If you need the money, don’t be ashamed! Tell your friends you’re looking for work. Pride keeps many people from going back to the well, so to speak…don’t be one of them.

3. Call your local arts district and ask if they need a PR writer or any help with their next newsletter or special publication. You’d be surprised at the opportunities here for a writer who can sell themselves well. Artists know a lot about visual communication but often have a real problem with the actual writing of show proposals, grants, press releases, etc.

2. Write an e-book and sell it on your site. Hey, if you are struggling in a time where there’s no work coming in, the least you can do is create a product you can try to sell yourself!

1. Start writing seasonal articles for spring and summer. Pitch them now and set yourself up some good income for later. You can’t go wrong getting a head start on those editorial calenadars!

Freelancer Jargon 2.0: My Top 10 Suggestions

If you are new to freelancing, you’re probably already struggling to learn new phrases and concepts. Words like “invoice” and “kill fee” probably meant nothing to you until you dived right in to the nutty world of self-employment. Now here comes a jerk like me suggesting you learn even MORE new phrases. But it goes without saying that the freelancer lexicon needs a bit of an update–industry jargon 2.0, you might say. Here is a handy list of new phrases we should all be adding to our vocabularies. Take with one grain of salt and use as directed.

10. The device pictured above should no longer be referred to as a phone. It should be called a LEASH.

9. Sleep is not a word freelancers should be using. Replace immediately with the word nap.

8. Sick is a word to be used only when you need to justify a three day weekend. If you need to take a vacation, you should be telling people you have a two-week onsite project.

7.  You did NOT just spend $1500 on a new laptop. You took a strategic tactical tax deduction. You also took a strategic tax deduction (STAD for short) on that Playstation 3 you just purchased, but only if you write a review on it for your monetized blog.

6. A magazine that goes bankrupt before paying you is a deadbeat dad. A high-paying magazine that gave you regular assigments that goes bankrupt is called a deadbeat sugar daddy.

5. An editor who won’t return your e-mails is a zombie. When you terminate the relationship with an editor who won’t return your e-mails, you George Romero‘d him. (Romero is the guy who brought zombie lore–including the requirement to shoot a zombie in the head to kill it–to pop culture.)

4. Deadlines should be reclassified. In the military, a deadline is called a suspense. While this seems to be bad usage, it does make sense, as you’ll be keeping the editor in suspense until you actually turn in your work. Will you or won’t you? Maybe we should start using this goofy term instead.

3. Freelance opportunities are often called markets, but are really meal tickets. A magazine that regularly publishes freelancers in our current economy should be known as Daddy Warbucks.

2. Starbucks should simply be rebranded as the Alternate Conference Room.

1.  Time-wasting blog entries like this should be called brain candy.  In our current economy, freelance blogs themselves could be considered like lifeboats, as in, “You’re a survivor, too?” But then again, most freelancers I know are doing better than the cubicle zombies I know, so maybe there’s a better analogy. Feel free to suggest your own freelancer jargon 2.0 in the comments section.

Burned! The Awful Truth About the Rotten Economy and Print Mags

This is a new one for me. A while back I landed a nice assignment writing for a buck-a-word health magazine. I was excited because the payoff was nice, the market is one I’ve been trying to get more clips in and it was based on research I’d already done. In short, an easy score for yours truly.

There were a couple of revisions and when the piece was finally done, I got wrapped up in other work and wound up sending the invoice out a bit later than I should have. No worries though, it happens all the time in the print world. Sometimes the accountant is a bit late cutting your check, and sometimes you get so caught up in other deadlines that you get delayed getting one into the post–especially when it’s outside your normal billing schedule. I fired off the invoice and forgot all about it.

Until today, when an official-looking piece of snail mail showed up warning me of bankruptcy proceedings for the magazine I’d done the work for. Now I was double-screwed. I lost a nice paycheck AND a repeat market for my work in a new topic. Damn it all.

The moral of this story in our sad economy is obvious. Invoice the second you get the piece approved. You never know when your favorite print publisher is going to go belly up. In the case of THIS particular publisher, it wasn’t so much a case of “belly up” as it was “eaten by zombies”. You get the picture.

I will never fail to invoice immediately again. So says I.

Freelancer-to-Freelancer Marketing

See all those empty office chairs? Offices like these could get even more empty if freelancers take my new bright idea and run with it. Let me state for the record that I should NOT be telling you this right now, I SHOULD be developing it MYSELF and making a cottage industry out of it. But I’m obviously not as smart as I should be, since I’m going to spill it now… Continue reading Freelancer-to-Freelancer Marketing

Selling Your Seasonal Freelance Articles

If you are trying to sell articles for print publication (as opposed to the web, naturally),  the accepted wisdom found in every book about freelance writing and how to get your articles published in magazines is pretty basic. Many publications want your Christmas, Thanksgiving, and New Year’s-themed pieces well in advance. Usually when there is still suntan lotion being passed around.

It’s pretty common in the magazine publishing world to have an editorial calendar worked up six months in advance, but those who are just now starting to think about writing seasonal stuff do have an option for writing and publishing now. Last year Catherine and I sold a holiday piece to an alternative news weekly only weeks away from the Thanksgiving holiday.

Alternative news weeklies are often starved for good material from local writers and you may find yourself able to sell your holiday stuff now if you act quickly. With Turkey day so close at the time of this writing, you’re better off trying to hit the December holidays now, but don’t hesitate to try out your local newsprint options and see what you come up with.

How to Go Full Time as a Freelancer: Five Painful Steps

Note: After a few horrified responses to this post, I should point out that I am wearing the pointy hat for much of this screed…that is to say I may have actually DONE this, but remember that all editors are slightly crazy and I’d never expect anyone to seriously take this advice unless they are as much of a rabid workaholic and certified nutter as I am.

There is no one tried and true way to make the jump from part time to fulltime…except possibly ONE method, the one I tried myself with great success. (How egotistical is THAT? There’s no way to make it except MY way, HAH!) Yet, when I think about it, this is the only method I know that makes any sense at all IF you have a day job you need to dump with extreme prejudice, and want to get yourself into a freelance situation where you wake up and tell yourself that your job is getting in the way of your career.

Naturally it’s a painful, isolating and downright masochistic path to follow to fulltime freelance success, which is why many people shy away from it. And who can blame them? Do you really want to suffer for your dream? You’ll find out just how committed you are when you contemplate doing “the Crazy Joe Wallace Method”. Also known as “Leaving Las Vegas, For Writers.”

What you do is decide, sort of like Nicholas Cage in that uber-depressing movie, that you’re going to write yourself to death.

Well, not quite. The actual trick is to write so hard that you WISH you were dead, but manage to take care of yourself in the meantime enough to maintain your madness. What madness would that be? Continue reading How to Go Full Time as a Freelancer: Five Painful Steps