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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A Social Media Primer

I recently blogged about the power of social media. Today I want to skim the surface of how you can adopt a social media campaign.

The first step in adopting a social media strategy is to develop a clear goal of what you are trying to accomplish. For example, one of the organizations I help has a three-pronged goal:

  • Promote the organization’s services
  • Educate people about legislative issues that affect the organization’s mission
  • Activate supporters to become donors and volunteers

This straightforward approach is a guide that I refer back to with every blog post that I write, every tweet that I send, and every item I post on Facebook. Having a clearly defined goal helps ensure that social media doesn’t become a time suck, and sticking to your goal also ensures that your messaging is consistent with your organization’s mission. Whether you are a nonprofit, a business, or an independent trying to establish your professional reputation, having a clearly defined social media strategy is a must, especially if you plan on outsourcing the task to someone else (more on that later).

The second thing you need to ask yourself is “who is my target audience?”  You can answer that question several ways (i.e. potential customers, voters, legislators, media), and you may have several answers to the same question.  However, your answer will help give you a clue about the best social media outlet you should be using.  I won’t get into the nuts and bolts of social media demographics, but in a nutshell, aim for blogs, Facebook, and Twitter as your primary social media outlets, since they have the broadest reach.  [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: 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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