Back to Freelancing

I was diagnosed with a brain tumor in February of 2012. The past three years have been interesting. I am an independent person. I chose the name “Freewomyn” on purpose. I love working with others, but I also enjoy working for myself. Research and writing are two of the skills that are a core part of my personality. I ventured out as a freelancer in 2007 because I wanted to have flexibility in what kind of clients I would like to work with, and I have never regretted that decision.

My brain tumor is located in my cerebral cortex, which is in the left frontal lobe of the brain. The cerebral cortex controls speech and reading comprehension.

Radiation treatment in 2012 caused some serious swelling in my brain. Brain swelling impeded my ability to communicate. I often lost track of what I was saying or stumbled around to find the words that I needed. I had to stop using public transportation because there were many times when I forgot where I was supposed to be going. I used to be an avid blogger and tweeter before my brain cancer diagnosis. I had to put that on pause until I regained my voice.

Some folks might view this as a negative situation. I don’t. I admit that I have been frustrated by some of my limitations. I took a break from being self-employed so that I could focus on healing. Now that I have regained my ability to communicate, I’m ready to revive my sense of independence.

This blog is big part of that declaration. [Read more…]

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Notes from the Life of a Freelancer

Freelancing can be a blessing and a curse. Many of us became freelancers because we wanted to leave office life behind. We like controlling our schedule. We like determining which projects we will accept. And we like having a limited commute, from the coffee pot to the home office. All those things are great. But freelancing has its challenges, too.

Consistency is the biggest challenge that I face as a freelancer: consistency in billing, consistency in workload, and consistency in getting paid.

Here are some articles that I wrote for Queercents about my life as a freelancer. I hope you find them helpful. And if you’ve got your own tips for making it on your own, I’d love to hear from you in the comments section.
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Freelancing Tips: How to Write a Query Letter

One of the things I enjoy the most about freelance work is the thrill of the chase. I might have a great idea for an article, but unless I’m willing to get out there and sell my wares, those ideas don’t amount to much. That’s where a good query letter comes in handy.

Before we get into the nuts and bolts of how to write a query letter, we need to talk about a very important item: Does the publication you want to write for accept submissions from freelancers?  If they don’t, you’ll be wasting you time, as well as the editor’s, if you send them a pitch.  Most publications have information on their websites about the submissions process.  You should also be able to find out if the publication pays for submissions, and what their standard pay rate is.  So be sure to look on the website before you draft the letter.

Think of your query letter as a sales pitch. You are essentially selling your skills to a potential buyer. You will need to capture the person’s attention, pitch what you are selling, and give the buyer a sense that you’re the most qualified person to be selling this product. Here’s a basic outline that will help you sell your ideas. [Read more…]

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Freelancing Tips: Will You Work for Free?

Do you ever feel like people don’t respect your time, or that you’ve been duped into providing a client consult under the guise of a social visit? I know I do! Let me give you an example.

Last week I went over to a friend’s house for beers and chit chat. My friend works for a local nonprofit that is looking for ways to raise visibility about the agency. Since I’m a writer, my friend asked me how I typically find writing gigs, and how much I typically get paid for work. I told her about some freelancing job boards, and told that in general, good gigs pay about 10 cents a word. Everything depends on the publication, and the length of the article. I got the feeling that she was trying to assess if I would pitch some articles about the nonprofit to different publications, with the hopes that the newspaper or magazine would pick up the tab. And while I support my friend’s effort to employ every medium to pinch a penny, I also know that I need to protect my own bottom line as a freelancer.

What can we learn from this case study? [Read more…]

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Freelancing Tips: Effective Time Management

Dost thou love life? Then do not squander time, for that is the stuff life is made of.
~Benjamin Franklin

Time is money.
~Bejamin Franklin

One of the best things about freelance work is that you set your own schedule, and you work at your own pace. Some of us are early birds, while some of us are night owls. If you prefer to spend your time burning the midnight oil, that is totally up to you. At the end of the day (or night), however, freelancers need to be very diligent about budgeting their time in order to ensure that they get paid. Here are a few tips to help you manage your time wisely.

Set a billing quota for yourself. One of the best pieces of budgeting advice I ever got came from the novel Diary of a Manhattan Call Girl, by Tracy Quan. As you might have guessed, the novel’s protagonist is a call girl named Nancy Chan. Nancy doesn’t understand fellow sex workers who struggle to make ends meet. After all, Nancy sets a quota of the number of clients she needs to service in order to make and invest her money. By sticking to her quota, Nancy lives pretty flush as an escort, who works via referral only – no street walking or internet porn for her! Who knew that a hooker could provide such sound financial advice?

In order for a quota system to work, freelancers need to set a realistic number for themselves. [Read more…]

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Freelancing Tips: Get it All in Writing

Let me start out today’s post with another case study in freelancing do’s and don’ts. A friend of mine accepted a freelance job at the beginning of the summer that involved writing press releases, blogging, and social networking, as well as basic admin work like updating contact lists, and designing promotional materials. Although the duties for this particular job were very specific, my friend never got anything in writing. She also had a verbal agreement with her client that she would work a set number of hours per month, but given the work that she was assigned to do, she ended up exceeding that monthly time allotment four months in a row. Since she didn’t have anything in writing about how she was to be compensated for her time, the client ended up majorly underpaying my friend for her work.

There are several lessons to be learned here. [Read more…]

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Freelancing Tips: Ask Questions

Like all jobs, freelancing has its pluses and minuses. The biggest advantage about working for yourself is that you set the pace, and you get to determine which jobs you will accept. The biggest downside, however, is that when something goes wrong, you only have yourself to blame.

One of the biggest challenges for new freelancers is knowing how to screen potential clients – but sometimes even seasoned freelancers struggle with this aspect, especially when bills need to be paid. Asking questions is the single most important thing that you can do to assess whether you and a potential client are a good fit for each other. Here’s a case study from my own freelancing career to illustrate the point.

I recently booked my biggest client to date. The job involved redesigning the client’s website, providing ongoing technical support through the end of the year, and ghost writing on the client’s blog. Before I accepted the job, I determined what the client’s deadline was, what all of the components of the project would be, and what our communication process would be like. Completing the initial website build in 30 days seemed like a realistic project, although it meant that I wouldn’t be able to accept any other jobs during that time period, and it also meant that I wouldn’t have time to write my own articles for publication. However, this was a project worth prioritizing, so I gave the client a price quote, and I accepted the job.

The biggest mistake I made when I accepted this job was that I didn’t ask enough questions on the front end. Part of the website design involved consolidating five different blogs into one archive. I should have asked more questions about how many blog articles were involved, since each of them would have to be moved over individually. The blog consolidation was defined as part of the initial website build, so I am not able to bill on an hourly basis for this work – it was all grouped into the flat rate that I billed the client for the website design. As a result, a lot of my time will never be financially compensated. A hard lesson learned. [Read more…]

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