Tag Archives: Joe Wallace

Setting Your Hourly Rates

I haven’t done any resource posting in a while, so I thought I’d throw up some links to different articles and blog posts that might give you a bit of perspective on setting a fair hourly rate for your work. As always, NONE of these pages should be taken as the final word on the subject–differences of opinion vary greatly. This collection should be viewed as a way for you to form your own notions about what your time is worth as a writer:

Payscale.com has a handy chart listing hourly rates by amount of experience. I disagree with the first entry on that chart, if for no other reason than it is pretty tough to earn that amount of money in the first six-nine months. This chart is for technical writers, but even you tech writers might agree that it’s going to be a tough sell in the opening months of your career to earn $20+ an hour unless you have something you can put on a resume to sweeten the deal.

E-WritingJobs.com gives some food for thought on the difference between WORKING hours and BILLABLE hours.

Debra Jason wrote this one for The How-To Catalog on WriteDirection.com, a nicely detailed breakdown of fees vs. expenses and overhead.

Writing-World.com’s “How Much Should a Freelancer Charge?” by Moira Allen is required reading AND has a list of other resources (not listed here) to help you set your fees.

This one might not help you set your CURRENT fees, but is definitely inspirational. As someone who is only about 10K shy of being a literal six-figure freelancer this year, I can vouch for both the encouragement AND the criticism found in Michael Kwan’s blog post, How to Earn Six Figures as a Freelance Writer.

A great article giving you some perspective on what your clients are reading: Linda Alexander’s Working With Freelance Writers.

These are only SOME of the resources out there that can help you set fees and determine a realistic price structure, but in the end it is up to you to determine what your time is worth. The most important thing you can do is avoid the freelance newcomer’s mistake of undervaluing your time. If you don’t feel comfortable charging higher fees, perhaps you should ask yourself WHY. If you struggle with the notion that you are giving value for the money, consider taking some time with a writing coach or attending classes that will help you hone your skills and give you additional confidence that you CAN give the right value for your rates.

Stepping Stones: Building a Web Presence Part II

One of the most important things any freelancer can do is establish an effective web presence. Some freelancers need two or three individual sites to promote what they do, especially if they are multi-disciplined. In my own particular case, I started off with a single web page, but as I branch out creatively I find that my needs demand multiple sites.

My current web presence, Joe-Wallace.com, is effective at telling the world that I have a LOT of experience, but if I were to start seriously marketing myself in my other skill sets (voiceovers, video, radio, television production, and photography) I’d need to create specific websites to showcase each of those talents.

My background as a military reporter for Air Force News Agency, the Navy Media Center, the Pentagon Channel and other networks is enough to give me some serious clout as a writer, but if I wanted to promote myself as a television reporter/anchor again, I’d need to do far more than what I’ve got listed at my current site. For writing, it’s enough for me to brag on my former life as a globe-hopping journalist. Continue reading Stepping Stones: Building a Web Presence Part II

Confessions of an Editor: My Take on Associated Content

Looks like my last post stirred a little tempest in a teapot, so I thought I’d address the Associated Content issue from an editor’s perspective. It would be easy to assume from my last post that I don’t think you should ever use Associated Content. Quite the contrary.

Should you use Associated Content posts as writing samples? As evidence that you are a published writer? HELL NO. Not for any serious publication, anyway. Do you want to know the secret? What makes editors (not just me) turn their nose up at this?

Two words–editorial review.

As in, there isn’t much doing at Associated Content, and good editors know that. The simple fact is, posts on Associated Content have value to a writer, but not quite in the way most people assume when they start publishing there. Editors know that there’s no real motivation to edit someone’s posts on AC because they are NOT in the business of publishing in the same manner as Travel + Leisure, Poets and Writers, or Spin Magazine. Associated Content is a completely different business model, and doesn’t require the same kind of editorial rigor you’d get from somebody behind the desk at Fangoria or Scottish Life. Continue reading Confessions of an Editor: My Take on Associated Content

Confessions of an Editor: Top 10 “Don’t Hire Me” Traits

I spotted the above sign while driving back to Chicago from Toledo, Ohio and was inspired to write something for new editors who are about to put out a call for freelancers or writing staff. Writers, you should read this and take notes–knowing the mind of a potential editor is important to your survival in this business. As I am about to put out a call for new freelancers, this list is definitely top of mind. I dread posting those “freelancers wanted” ads, because I’ll get a flood of responses from people who belong in clown college rather than behind the keyboard. The three to five good results I get are worth the hassle, but when I am reading the slop, I don’t believe it.

I don’t view this so much as advice as sharing about how I personally do business. For some editors, this top ten won’t work, and that’s the nature of the biz, but I’m willing to bet at least 75% of those new to the editing game can find something useful here:

Top Ten Writer Traits Which Scream, “Don’t Hire Me”:

10. Misguided Cover Letters. Don’t tell me anything unrelated to the job ad–and don’t bother replying to an ad which seeks a specific type of writer unless you fit the bill. I once put out a job ad requesting replies only from writers who were also musicians. One cover letter in my inbox started out, “I am a voiceover artist.” That’s nice, buddy, but that’s NOT what I asked for. In case you’re wondering, the rest of the ad made it perfectly clear I was seeking musicians only, no other type of performers. The respondant clearly couldn’t follow instructions.

9. Clips From “Content” Websites. Sorry, kids, but if I see Associated Content, HubPages, or any other content mill material used as writing clips, it sends big warning flares off in my head. I’d rather see an unpublished clip directly related to my publication’s focus than some generalized crapola you took five minutes to write and edit before posting to the content mill. Submitting content clips screams “amateur” to me.

8. Clips From Blogs. If I am LOOKING for a blogger, I’ll ask for blog clips. If I need ARTICLES, blog clips don’t do me a damn bit of good when trying to evaluate the appropriate skills. Blogging is NOT article writing, and vice versa.

7. Submitting Fiction. Unless specifically asked for fiction clips, never include your short stories or novel excerpts when replying to a job ad. This is among the worst judgement errors you can make as it shows a fundamental lack of understanding about how the game is played. I have plenty of time for noobs and beginners as long as they show initiative and at least TRY to respond properly to a job ad or call for writers. Continue reading Confessions of an Editor: Top 10 “Don’t Hire Me” Traits

Confessions of an Editor: Karma For Freelancers

There are two kinds of karma a freelancer can earn. In the earliest days of my career as a writer/producer for radio and television, I had three people who took the time to pass on some genuine wisdom about how to survive and grow in the craft. One was exceptionally generous–even monetarily. I was in my early 20s at the time and had a lot to learn, so for anybody to take a snotnosed, know-it-all punk in tow had to have a great deal of patience.

Especially with ME.

One thing that my three mentors passed on to me was the notion that I didn’t owe them anything except one thing: when I had the opportunity to do the same for someone else, I’d be obligated to do so.

Many years later I find that opportunity again and again. Every time I have an opportunity, I feel obligated to at least try to do SOMETHING. It’s the only way I can pay back the people who took the time and energy to help polish my rough edges off.

The thing is, freelancer karma works both ways.

Once upon a time in a galaxy far, far away I had to let a freelancer go. It was someone I had tried to work with, giving a lot of advice, fine tuning, trying to work with someone who clearly needed some guidance. The problem was, this was a writer in the early stages of a career and didn’t a lot of polish. In fact, the skills were really quite basic, but I took a chance on this person anyway. I thought I saw some potential, but when the going got tough, the effort just wasn’t there and we had to part ways.

The business relationship didn’t last a terribly long time, just long enough for an editor to figure out what the writing on the wall was saying and terminate things before they got truly awful. Unfortunately, when it came time to part ways, the writer didn’t take it very well. This person did not go gentle into that good night. In fact, with apologies to Dylan Thomas, Continue reading Confessions of an Editor: Karma For Freelancers

Anatomy of a Craigslist Freelance Writing Job Scam

I’ve debated the merits of using Craigslist to find freelance writing gigs, but for those of you who still use CL, it’s important to avoid wasting time on the sort of idiotic scams that pop up on CL with annoying regularity. I myself fell prey to a few of these in my less informed days, so I pass along the benefit of my experiences on to you.

The following is reprinted verbatim from a recent post to the Writing Jobs section of Craigslist:

“A media blog is seeking review writers. You will be reviewing hot products of the new age and writing 500-700 word articles on them. For the application, we will require sample reviews to be written. We have 4 openings. If you are selected as a writer, work will be part-time and 20-25 jobs per week. Will be paying $100/article. Please send your request for more information (no resumes, please) to our email. Thank you.”

Now let’s dissect this ad and see why you should avoid posts like these at all costs.

1. Nomenclature written by the cluelesss. The ad is for a “media blog”. It then goes on to say that you are expected to review ‘hot products’. We’re already off to a bad start here as a media blog would, by implication, be reviewing media. Sure, it’s possible they want you to review downloads, DVDs, or other media, but in my experience, “media blogs” are commenting on either the media itself or streaming content as opposed to disc-based material. Another warning sign here is the phrase “of the new age”. What the writer MEANS to say is “hot new products of the Internet age” or some other such nonsense. As New Age pertains to a religious movement rather than technology, my bullshit detector on this tells me that the writer is a barely-literate scam artist who is throwing around terms they don’t really understand. Again, I could be TOTALLY WRONG. But we know I’m not, don’t we?

2. Confused (and confusing) expectations. The ad starts out saying they are a blog. Then the ad states that 500-700 word articles are needed. Is this a blog or a magazine? If the “blog” is paying $100 per post, the people running this are either on the scam or are the most clueless blog owners on the planet. No blog pays $100 for a blog entry. The ad says they want to fire FOUR PEOPLE at around $2500 a month each. What kind of new blog has this type of budget? Why, a non-existent one, of course! They want to shell out $10 K a month just for writers? Are you laughing yet?

3. They want you to work for free. ” For the application, we will require sample reviews to be written”. Continue reading Anatomy of a Craigslist Freelance Writing Job Scam