Tag Archives: freelance writers

The Realities of Travel Writing

Omega Music Dayton Ohioby Joe Wallace

I just read a blog post on a blog that shall remain nameless that stated “travel writing is as exciting a career as it is glamorous”. Having recently finished driving cross-country as part of my Vinyl Road Rage blogging trip writing about indie record stores across the USA for Turntabling.net, I feel uniquely qualified to both agree with (slightly) and make fun of this sentiment.

Really, travel writing is NOT sparkly fun. I hate when people try to gloss over the hard work involved with this type of freelancing by saying how glamorous and exciting it can be. It’s every bit as glamorous as you think it is–as long as your idea of glamour is a 16 hour day.

On my cross-country blogging spree, in its third year now, I’d think nothing at all about touring, photographing, and writing notes on six record stores in a day. Only once did I have the pleasure of hitting those six shops in the same city. New York was cool that way, but I spent a lot of highway time getting to the rest. So many little country roads, so little time.

Then there’s the challenge of finding a place to work and post, keeping freelance clients happy while I juggled them and the travel writing. And I think I managed to eat twice a day. I’m sure of it. Snacking in the car doesn’t count as dining, in my book anyway. But I did manage to eat the free hotel breakfast and find decent places to eat somewhere near the breaking point when I just…couldn’t…drive…anymore.

But it WAS exciting, I’ll give you that. There is something about hitting the open road all by yourself, nothing but your self-imposed deadlines and client demands standing in your way. But GLAMOROUS? Well, maybe if you like the smell of your own dirty laundry as it festers away in the back seat.

And we haven’t even come to the part where you review the notes and photographs and try to remember everything that you did.

That, folks, usually comes at the end of the day after your body tells you it’s time to sleep, either behind the wheel or in the hotel bed. Sit there bleary-eyed with Jon Stewart on in the background and just try to recall which places you saw that day and the funny thing that one guy said about his craziest vintage vinyl collector customers. Was that Provo? Or Box Elder? Maybe it was back down near Woman Hollering Creek?

Honestly, the toughest part about doing that type of travel writing–as opposed to the kind where you jet off to foreign lands and such–is having to explain to the family and friends you might have scattered across the route why you can’t really spare the time for a visit. They already think we don’t have jobs, now they see us doing this glamorous and exciting travel stuff and they want us to play with the kiddies and eat barbecue, cuz we’re not THAT busy.

If only.

Joe Wallace writes about and sells rare and obscure vinyl records at Turntabling.net. He also writes for a variety of finance websites and covers military topics as a 13-year Air Force veteran. Contact him: jwallace (at) turntabling (dot) net.

Cupcake Wars and Careers – It’s Funny Where Life Takes You

cupcake-wars-logoBy Amanda Connor

I assume you read this blog because you are serious about being a freelance writer. I try (humbly) to write each post for an audience of serious freelancers, such as yourself. However, we here at FZ have lives that extend beyond the realm of freelancing. We all have families, and colorful personalities, and hobbies (like turntabling!)

Everyone needs to fly their freak flag. My freak flag comes in the form of wedding planning. I am a hard-nosed editor at heart, but by day, I wear a cape of a different color. I own a wedding planning business, but this by no means makes me silly girl who loves unicorns and sparkles. I take my career(s) very seriously.

Two months ago, I was invited by a friend to audition for a Food Network Show called Cupcake Wars. While I have no professional baking background, lucky for me, neither did my friend, who chose to open her cupcake business on a total whim.

“Let’s try out for the show,” she said. “We’ll make total fools of ourselves! It will be fun!” Continue reading Cupcake Wars and Careers – It’s Funny Where Life Takes You

Setting Your Freelance Rates

Paisley Babylon Blogby Joe Wallace

I’ve been writing a lot lately about setting freelance pay rates. There are several tactics you can use to arrive at a good rate for your time, but new freelancers are sometimes afraid to use some of the more aggressive ones.

Here is a list a tactics I have successfully used to arrive at a fair rate in the end. At least one of them I used THIS WEEK, the others I’ve used in the last year:

Be Direct.  The freelance game is a lot like playing poker. You have to feel out the client to see which approach works best. Sometimes, just asking “What’s your budget for this project” is a good way to get things rolling.

Aim High. In situations where I feel the client is likely to haggle, I throw out an introductory offer that’s higher than I expect to get. This give the client some room to talk me down a bit without me compromising the value I put on my time. I set a high and a low threshold for myself. Below a certain point, I can’t go. If I start out with my actual rate–what I feel my time is really worth, the client will still try to talk me down…

Quote Per-Project Rates. Hourly rates are quite frankly a pain to deal with. By quoting per-project rates instead, you don’t get forced to do a lot of extra bookkeeping–AND you subtly tell the client they are paying for your TALENT and not just your time.

Special Rates for Reasonable People. Freelancing is a two-way street. I do give better rates to clients who are reasonable, friendly and good communicators. As bad as it may sound, clients who start off the conversation as pushy, unreasonable or otherwise unpleasant get charged according to the amount of grief–and additional labor as a result– I feel I’m likely to experience. Continue reading Setting Your Freelance Rates

Pro Invoicing With Billing Boss

Today we have a post from Billing Boss, an online invoicing system that is designed to streamline the process. Peter Liao, the Director of Product Management for the company was kind enough to share some of the facts with us so that writers can get a better idea of what this tool is all about: 

1. What is Billing Boss and why should freelance writers use it?

Billing Boss is an online invoicing tool that lets users create, send and manage their invoices. It helps them keep track of paid and unpaid invoices, outstanding invoices and record payments so that the user can have a centralized view of their incoming cash flow and outstanding balances. 

Users of Billing Boss are able have all their customer information in one place and, if they have a merchant account, they can process payments online in order to reduce collection time.

Billing Boss offers advanced features such as recurring invoices and quotes (for free) as part of the basic plan. Users are able to send unlimited invoices and quotes—to unlimited customers.

 2. How much does it cost?

Billing Boss is free. There are no hidden fees or charges after X number of invoices or users. 

3. What are some of the add-ons you can get if you upgrade?

Users of Billing Boss can use Sage Payment Solutions or PayPal Basic to get paid online for free. If the user has a Cybersource, Moneris, Authorize.net, E-xact or Beanstream merchant account, they can choose to upgrade to Payment Plus for $5.00 a month and use their existing merchant account to get paid.


 4. How does Billing Boss make sure the information people input is secure?  

Billing Boss uses 256K military grade encryption to secure our data.

5. Where can freelance writers sign up for this?

Users can visit Billing Boss directly at www.billingboss.com to sign up.

Billing Boss is a new Freelance-Zone.com sponsor. We welcome them to these pages and invite you to check out their services. Freelance-Zone.com is selective about our clients and sponsors, learn more about our transparency policy and how we evaluate potential clients and advertisers.

Writers Groups By State

Writers Groups By State

You might have noticed the little section in the upper right toolbar portion of our site titled Writers Groups By State. We’re nearly halfway done with the initial phase of this ambitious project, but we need your help to fill in the blanks. If you browse your state in the pulldown menu and don’t find your favorite writer’s group, we’d love to know about it. Please feel free to drop us a line and let us know what groups we missed! You can get in touch by writing editor (at) freelance (dash) zone (dotcom).

When the project is “finished” we’ll have all 50 states represented, but this work is truly never done as old groups retire and new ones spring up. Don’t miss the chance to promote yours here!

Getting Ahead in the Officepla…wait a tick

By Amanda Smyth Connor

1235996_pencil-pusherThat “Mike O’Mary” and his *expletive* blog posts. Well Mike, hats off to you. You scooped me.

I had an amazingly well mapped-out plan of action regarding ways in which “one can get ahead in the office.” I even had some snarky yet optimistic ideas for freelancers in the office place,  yet you’ve addressed many of these this topics splendidly well in your blog post, “How to Get Ahead in the Office.”

Thanks, Mike. I’m going to give you a sarcastic slow clap.  “Clap.     Clap.      Clap.”

Actually, I’m glad we are addressing this topic. (And thank you, Mike, for bringing this up.) It’s easy to overlook how many freelance writers and editors do have desk jobs and are looking for ways in which they can get noticed and get ahead in the work place.

Tip #1 – Be an opportunist. Always be looking for that next chance to stand out in the office place, whether you agree to take on a big project or you simply agree to watch the boss’ dog while s/he is out of town, any chance to stand out and be seen is a good chance. Grab it. Otherwise, the old adage “out of sight, out of mind” applies. Don’t let yourself be a silent worker. Continue reading Getting Ahead in the Officepla…wait a tick