Category Archives: Business

Business Networking

This post is sponsored by Outright — Your Livelihood, Right Now. Getting your taxes right with free bookkeeping.

business networkingby Joe Wallace

Networking is one of the most important thing you can do as a freelancer. It goes against the stereotype of the lone scribbler, locked away in a writer’s garret for days on end, coming out to blink in the sun only when the lastest masterpiece is done–and that’s exactly why you need to do it.

Nobody writes in a vacuum. Not you, not me, not Stephen King. There’s an army of trained professionals all working together in this game we call freelancing, from the people who make sure your blog can still be viewed on the ‘net to the fact checker responsible for annoying you for one last detail before that magazine article goes to press.

But how does a new freelancer make some inroads in the networking game? Newcomers rarely know people in the business, and the few they do know can only help so much…but networking isn’t quite the daunting task it seems when you’re just starting out if you can remember a few simple concepts:

1. A newcomer’s enthusiasm and drive is a huge plus in any undertaking. You may not have much experience, but your willingness to throw your lot in for a common cause–a charity, a benefit, a volunteer project, whatever–earns you more than just the experience of doing it. You’ll also be remembered as that high-energy person so willing to devote themselves to the project. Who will the people you worked with think of first when asked if they know any good quality people for something that pays in your line of work?

2. Your skills in other areas may be more valuable than your writing skills…at first. Networking sometimes means taking a side journey that leads you to more direct opportunities as a freelancer. I volunteered to help someone run a table at a horror convention last year, which led to a direct opportunity to write for a newsstand magazine later on. The power of being in the right place at the right time shouldn’t be underestimated.

FreeSmall_300X3003. Networking doesn’t have to be strictly business. Sometimes just making friends with your fellow freelancers on social media or via local mixers or meet-and-greets is a great idea–your new friends might not have anything going but their own projects, but what happens when one of them decides to move on, cut down a client list to a more manageable size, or change specialties?

Speaking for myself, I’ve always given my friends and freelance colleagues the first shot at things I knew would be opportunities. Nepotism? Sure. But why not, when you have people you trust that you can recommend? Friends first, networking potential second…but that is definitely there for the people in my life. I’ve shared plenty, and if the day ever comes that I’m in a fix, I know a select group of people who would only be too happy to lend a hand.

4. Network your own life. That’s a play on the old computer geek saying, “Hack your own life.” Know somebody who needs a writer? Maybe you don’t right now…but you will. Never be shy about offering your services in non-obnoxious ways in your existing circle. Here’s a hint–“friend prices” and deep discounts are never bad thing in this context, but always offer with a caveat along the lines of this:

“I don’t normally offer rates this low (or free), but I’m a big believer in ‘friend prices’. Everybody else pays the going rate, so please don’t share the details of our arrangement or I’ll be swamped with offers that can’t help me pay the rent.”

5. You can start networking TODAY. Just go to where the pros congregate on Twitter, Facebook, and anywhere else where comments, advice, and resources are shared. Introduce yourself, be friendly, and meet people.

This post is sponsored by Outright — Your Livelihood, Right Now. Getting your taxes right with free bookkeeping.

Writer’s Residence

Monica Shaw
Monica Shaw

Today we have a Q & A with Monica Shaw of Writer’s Residence, a site where writers can build an online presence; including a portfolio of their work.

But first a little background on Ms. Shaw…

Monica Shaw is an internationally published freelance writer who has been building Web sites since the early days of the Web. In addition to Writer’s Residence, she also writes a popular health and fitness blog at You can visit her own writing portfolio at

1. What is Writer’s Residence and who should consider using it?

Writer’s Residence is a website that lets writers create a beautiful website, writing portfolio and resume/CV quickly and easily through their web browser. The service is ideal for any writer who wants an easy way to create a professional website where they can showcase their work. This goes for freelance writers, journalists, authors, copywriters, and pretty much anyone who wants to make a living through writing.

2. How can having an online portfolio benefit writers?

An online porfolio is an invaluable marketing tool for writers. Like a printed portfolio, a website helps you promote your work, particularly when sending queries to editors and agents. You can also use your website to gain exposure to your writing by linking to your website in emails, on business cards and on social media sites such as LinkedIn and Twitter. It’s all about marketing. In fact, there’s a great interview on my blog with marketing expert Penny Sansevieri that addresses this specifically and I encourage you to check it out.

3. How difficult is it for people to set up a portfolio on Writer’s Residence? Is HTML knowledge required?

Writer’s Residence is designed to be easy. You can have a beautiful website up and running in 30 minutes or less by filling in a few simple forms through your web browser. No downloads are necessary. No HTML is required. We host it all so no technical knowledge is needed. All of the features are tailored for writers, which means you won’t spend time or money customizing a website with a bunch of features you don’t really need.

4. Is it expensive to set up a portfolio?

No, Writer’s Residence is not expensive at all. You can set up a portfolio for free with our 30-day trial. This gives you risk-free access to all of Writer’s Residence including a hosted website, support for your own domain, and unlimited uploads. After that, we charge $8.99 per month, which is cheaper than most website hosting services and has the added benefit of being specifically tailored for writers. There are no hidden fees and you can cancel at any time.

5. Is there any help or advice available if people have questions?

Yes. We love our customers and are always on hand to help with questions. You can contact us through e-mail or phone (we have both UK and US support numbers) and are guaranteed a personal response within 24 hours from either me or my partner, Tim. Since we created Writer’s Residence, you’ll get support directly from the people who built the site. 

6. What else can you tell me about the portfolio, and where can people go for more information?

Writer’s Residence grew out of my own freelance writing career and I continue to use the site to host my own online writing portfolio at As a user and developer of Writer’s Residence, I have a vested interest in making sure it’s the easiest, most hassle-free service out there for writers wanting a website. I love it when our customers tell us that their websites helped them land writing gigs. It’s one of the reasons why we created Writer’s Residence in the first place.

For more info, people can visit our website at or contact me personally at I also write a blog about freelance writing with loads of useful tips and interviews at

Writers: Up Your Income–Add Photography

This post is sponsored by Outright — Your Livelihood, Right Now.  Getting your taxes right with free bookkeeping.

home_photoNewPMby Catherine L. Tully

If you are looking for ways to up your income as a writer you may want to think about adding photography to your skill set. These days digital pics are the popular choice and if you are somewhat “tech-savvy”, you can make some extra dough.

I’m not saying this is a totally simple thing to do, but if you already own a decent digital camera or have interest in learning, it’s well worth it. I have made good money sending in pictures with an article. What a magazine will pay for it varies, and that is where this handy book comes in–Photographer’s Market.


Photographer’s Market is full of listings where you can sell your pictures, and th 2010 version has all the latest and greatest markets. It is set up similar to Writer’s Market, so for most writers it will feel familiar.

If you don’t want to get into doing the photography yourself, perhaps you may want to team up with someone who does. Check into a local photography club to see if there is anyone who may be interested. While this will mean they will make the extra money, it will also help endear you to editors. Most of them love it if you can provide pictures to go with a piece you have written.

This post was sponsored by Outright — Your Livelihood, Right Now.  Getting your taxes right with free bookkeeping.

My Secret Freelance Business Resource

This post is sponsored by FiledBy – where authors can claim their free website and build their online marketing platform.


by Joe Wallace

An espresso machine as a business resource? Not directly, but yes. I can think of two recent examples of how sitting down with people over coffee has resulted in long-term value for my freelance work-even though those people have never paid me for my services. In fact, I did some work for at least one of my coffeeshop meetups for free just because they needed the help at a crucial time.

Let’s examine this idea in a different way–one that seems totally obvious to some, but will come as a revelation to others simply because it’s easy to lose sight of this stuff in the frenzy to get things done day-in and day out on the freelance front lines.

Everybody loves social media for freelance work. You can find jobs, make new connections, catch up with old friends and even old clients via Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, you name it. Social media is awesome.

But the key word in the phrase “social media” is the word SOCIAL.

With that in mind, my secret freelance business resources include the in-person meetup, the phone call followup to e-mail discussions about freelance projects, ad sales for FZ, planning for the future, you name it.

When I think about making connections with people, I try to find ways to use my tried-and-true social media resources in ways that bring me in actual personal contact with people. Facebook is great for this–the local writer’s group is an obvious resource for the freelance writer. But what about using Facebook Marketplace to advertise your services? Or your latest e-book? It’s currently an under-utilized tool for freelancers.

Twitter can be used to spur impromptu meetups in the local area if you’ve got a circle of followers in your zip code. What could be better than a freelance writing group that formed spontaneously through existing social media connections?

One thing I’ve been meaning to do for some time now, but haven’t quite gotten it together to do? Take a stroll down the street in my neighborhood to the local Chamber of Commerce and introduce myself. As a business and finance writer (just one of my specialties) it makes perfect sense to get involved at the Chamber, even if it’s just to drop by and say hello every once in a while and see what events are coming up.

The idea of social media is wonderful, as long as there’s some social interaction to go along with the online discussions. Every time I leave the house to be social, without the media, I find it has lasting benefits–sometimes they’re financial, other times they’re about PR, and some are just about meeting good people…but they all have a positive effect on what I do for a living.

This post was sponsored by FiledBy – where authors can claim their free website and build their online marketing platform.

Peter Bowerman Interview

peter bowerman

Peter Bowerman is the author of The Well-Fed Writer, a book we believe most freelancers–especially those at the beginning of their careers–should read. That’s not just because WE read it at the start of ours, but it’s definitely a volume we deem worthy of keeping in the library, even all these years later. Freelance-Zone caught up with Peter Bowerman to get a bit of history on the book and some advice for those who haven’t read it…yet.

–Joe Wallace

What’s your background in writing?

Peter Bowerman: When I started my commercial writing business in 1994, I had no writing background, no writing training, no paid writing experience and no industry contacts. And I was paying all my bills through writing inside of four months. I had taken exactly one journalism course in high school and one in college, and that was it. I came from a sales background, which many people point to to say, “Well, no wonder you were so successful.”

And while I’m not going to argue that it wasn’t helpful, I have to remind them that I had no WRITING experience, and certainly could have used that lack of experience as an excuse not to pursue the business, but I didn’t. So, my success, while perhaps due in part to a basic level of comfort with the marketing process, also points to the relative accessibility of this field for writers with good skills and a willingness to let the world know they’re out there.

How did you come up with the idea for The Well-Fed Writer? What’s the book about?

Before I wrote the original version in 2000, I had thought I’d like to do seminars, and was in the process of chronicling my experiences, and when I saw I’d collected 80+ pages worth of stuff, I realized I had enough to write a book. And at that point, I knew I had a pretty great life in terms of income and lifestyle benefits, and figured there were plenty of the others out there who’d want to know about this field, and who would be just as interested in carving out a similar life and lifestyle for themselves.

Who should be reading The Well-Fed Writer?

Anyone who knows they’re a good writer and would love to make a good living at it (i.e., $50-125+ an hour). Which incidentally, are the only two things I assume on the part of a reader. Any writer – whether aspiring or seasoned (but not making the kind of money they’d like to make – perhaps in magazines, newspapers or online content. The business world has constant needs and they pay far better than most other arenas of writing – hence the title of the book…;)

You also do mentoring for those interested in commercial writing….tell us a bit about that.

Sure. I offer both one-on-one and group coaching for those starting a writing business. I just started the group program last November and it’s been a big hit. I’m in the midst of my fourth series and have a fifth scheduled for June. It’s designed for those starting out (or very early on in their businesses), so everyone’s pretty much starting out on the same page, and as a result, have a lot of the same concerns.

The one-on-one version is for those wanting more personal, dedicated attention and that’s really for anyone, regardless of their experience level (or lack thereof), though I seem, again, to draw the newer startup folks. I invite people to check out both programs (where they’ll find details and testimonials) at (see icons on left side of the home page).

Any thoughts you want to leave us with?

Just that the commercial writing field offers a bona fide opportunity to make a handsome living with your writing ability, and be well-respected in the process of being well-compensated.

All that said, I always make sure people understand it’s NOT a get-rich-quick proposition. You’re mother was right: If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is! But if you work hard and stick to it, you may just get to a point where you have to pinch yourself to remind yourself that you are in fact, making a solid living doing something you love to do and doing it in your sweats, on your schedule and your terms. And it doesn’t get a whole lot better than that. And I invite people to subscribe to my e-zine and blog (no charge) at, and check out the other great resources (some free, some fairly priced…) there as well.

the Well Fed Writer(2)

The Freelance Business Tax Break You Didn’t Know You Had

money This post is sponsored by Outright — Your Livelihood, Right Now.  Getting your taxes right with free bookkeeping.

by Joe Wallace

Some bloggers and freelance writers like me who specialize in finance writing are afraid to go on the record about giving tax advice. They issue these disclaimers saying, “this is not tax advice”.

And while I am not a tax professional, I do believe a writer should stand by their words or don’t write them at all–I’ve got the guts to say this is tax advice, plain and simple. It’s advice, it’s about taxes, and I’m giving it. And there’s no possible way to get into trouble taking this advice–in fact you might get the exact opposite effect. The IRS may actually like you better for doing it.

And yeah, transparency alert, I’ve given the “this is not advice” disclaimer myself in the past, but I’m done with all that. Let’s live like crazy people and really go out on a limb here. Woohoo!

I talk a good game, but this isn’t some kind of nutty tax protester advice I’m handing out here. Instead, I’m telling you to find ways to love the IRS. The IRS is your friend. Keep saying that to yourself long enough to get past April 15th, mkay? Be dilligent, rely on good records, and all that. But that’s not the “wisdom” I need to impart today.

Here’s my earth-shattering tax advice. NEVER ROUND YOUR NUMBERS on deductions and related details. Use exact figures.


Do it the hard way and write in exact figures right down to the dollars and cents for your expenses  and deductions. Same goes for when you calculate them–why cheat yourself out of those extra cents? They add up. Five cents here, ten cents there…if you have over 100 receipts, 500, a thousand, well, you get the idea. No, it’s not a fortune. But add that to your SEP IRA, your mileage, your legitimate business expenses for meals and incidentals…and there’s also this other thing.

The headline of this post implies that not rounding your freelance deductions is a tax break you didn’t know you had. That’s true about getting a more exact figure to put in your Schedule C income tax forms, but it’s also possible, according to Business Week writer Karen E. Klein, who says putting in exact figures looks more like you’re using your actual records instead of guessing, which the IRS is inclined to take a dim view of.

Avoiding an audit sounds like one hell of a tax break to me.

This post is sponsored by Outright — Your Livelihood, Right Now. Getting your taxes right with free bookkeeping.