I’ve taken a table at the Brooklyn Book Festival on Sunday, September 21. I’ll be under the banner Books for Freelancers. If you happen to be in downtown Brooklyn that day, stop by and say hello.
My newest e-book, Freelance With Confidence: 50 Proven Tips for a Successful Freelance Career, is now available exclusively for Amazon Kindle readers. It will be free for three days starting Tuesday, February 18.
The tips are divided into five groups:
- 10 crucial things to remember about freelancing
- 10 start-up instructions for new freelancers
- 10 reminders about working alone and as part of a team
- 10 pointers for keeping up in a technology-driven world
- 10 insights about freelancing as a lifestyle
For more information or to order the booklet, go to http://www.amazon.com/Freelance-Confidence-Proven-Successful-Career-ebook/dp/B00I6K1K1Y/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1392062007&sr=1-1&keywords=freelance+with+confidence.
During the months that have elapsed since my last post, I have been examining where I am now and where I want to be in the next few years. This sort of self-examination was my intent during the current phase of my career, the transition after 25 years of full-time freelancing to part-time freelancing and pursuit of other interests.
I am currently in my fourth year of part-time freelance work. During this time, I have continued to do freelance medical writing and editing for paying clients. I also have published and marketed an award-winning book (What to Charge: Pricing Strategies for Freelancers and Consultants) and drafted other books for the same audience. In addition, I have ventured far from the world of writing and editing. One of my happiest diversions has been as a Central Park tour guide.
Earlier this year, I realized I had little enthusiasm for the paid writing and editing assignments that had been the mainstay of my freelance business for more than two decades. In part this was due to burnout, but it also was because of the low rates many clients are willing to pay these days when less experienced and less qualified help is available for beginners’ wages. I also was losing the creative energy that drove me, someone who always disliked marketing, to promote my book and to write other texts for freelancers. But the biggest energy drain came about because the program for which I have been giving tours is undergoing some ill-conceived changes that may well lead to its demise.
I finally put it all in perspective and came to the conclusion that I want to do more tours. I will continue to work as an independent writer and editor, for paying clients and on my own books. But I also will work toward getting a New York City tour guide license so I can give tours in addition to Central Park.
Having come to this conclusion, I have renewed energy for all my activities. I decided to go a different direction with my work-in-progress for freelancers and quickly drafted the revised text. I have entered with vigor into a new marketing campaign for What to Charge. I’ve responded with gusto to select calls for a freelance writer or editor on projects that appeal to me. Hours that used to be spent idly in front of the computer (and worse, in front of television) are now spent reading books about New York. I feel rejuvenated as a redefined self.
Pricing—and my book What to Charge: Pricing Strategies for Freelancers and Consultants—is the focus of my attention in April, with three scheduled events.
On Wednesday, April 17, I’ll be doing a live webinar for Writers’ Life Academy (www.writerslifeacademy.com). The topic is 10 Tips for Pricing Your Freelance Jobs. If you can’t attend the session, you can purchase a recording at the same site within a few days.
Then it’s off to Middletown, Connecticut, where I’ll be giving a presentation on pricing to the Connecticut chapter of the Editorial Freelancers Association on Monday, April 22. Learn more about this event at www.the-efa.com.
Finally, I’ll be selling books again at the annual American Society of Journalists and Authors (www.asja.org) meeting in New York on April 26 and 27. If you come to the meeting, be sure to stop by the table to say hello.
February is my anniversary month. Twenty-eight years ago this month, I began my freelance medical writing and editing business. Two years ago in February, the second edition of my award-winning book What to Charge: Pricing Strategies for Freelancers and Consultants was published. Last February, I followed that with the ebook Freelance Fee Setting: Quick Guide for When a Client Demands a Price NOW.
To celebrate these anniversaries, I have reduced the Kindle price of the most recent ebook to just 99 cents. Only for February, only for Kindle. Take advantage of the anniversary special at http://www.amazon.com/Freelance-Fee-Setting-Demands-ebook/dp/B0077STDEC/ref=pd_sim_kstore_1.
This was an unusual year for my freelance writing and editing business. It was the year that business almost wasn’t.
I began the year putting the finishing touches on my new ebook Freelance Fee Setting: Quick Guide for When a Client Demands a Price NOW. In February I made it available for most ereaders, and I watched Kindle sales skyrocket with the initial wave of publicity. It was a heady experience, and I thought of dozens of other ebooks I could produce if I feel so inclined.
I was not disappointed in the lack of work during the first quarter, because I needed the time to market my new ebook and to continue to promote last year’s prize-winner, What to Charge: Pricing Strategies for Freelancers and Consultants. Winning more awards offered more excuses for media contact but failed to show meaningful results in terms of book sales.
By April I was tiring of book promotion and wanted to sink my teeth into some meaty editing and writing assignments. When none materialized, I began, somewhat half-heartedly, writing my next book for freelancers. Only when I gave myself deadlines did I make progress. The first draft is almost done, my goal for this year.
The summer solstice passed without any paying work. I began to refer to myself with a term I had been avoiding, although it describes my business approach in the past several years: semi-retired. I wondered if the “semi” part was accurate, given the dearth of clients.
And then the work began. I was busy with several new clients and one old one for most of the fourth quarter. The returning client is a long-time favorite. The new clients are ones I might not have taken on a few years back, when business was strong and I could afford to be choosy. One is a graduate student to whom I am giving a steep discount because she needs the editing help but cannot afford fees my corporate clients readily pay. Another is a magazine for an ethnic audience, a stretch because I am not a member of that ethnic group. The third is a publisher of nonfiction for young adults. I took on each of these assignments because the work was interesting, the projects had some social merit, and, frankly, I wanted to be working. None of these new clients pays a lot, but they pay adequately for today’s world.
When I get philosophical, I realize I am ending my freelance career the way I began: taking on as many new clients as possible because the work is interesting if not lucrative. I know that many freelancers have been working for years for the rates these new clients pay. For more than twenty years I had turned away such assignments because I could make so much more money from clients with deep pockets. In some ways, it’s good to be home again.
My phone didn’t stop ringing for days when Hurricane Sandy hit New York. Friends and family saw pictures of the devastation and called to see if I was okay. They didn’t realize that New York topography is highly variable. I am at a relatively high point, and I was spared the storm surge. Although the streets were dark just a few miles away, my area never lost power.
That’s not to say that the neighborhood was unaffected. With the subway system shut down and many businesses without electricity, most people stayed home for a week. They became bored and went out to find something to do. Stuck in the neighborhood because of the limited transportation, these residents flocked to the restaurants and the stores where employees managed to arrive. My normally quiet neighborhood looked like Times Square in rush hour!
On the weekend after the storm, the neighborhood transformed once again. The local fire station and several pubs joined forces to collect donations for an area hard-hit by Sandy’s wrath. Within a few hours after signs appeared on street corners announcing the collection drop-off point, everyone was flocking to that location. The organizers did a great job posting what was needed and where to deposit it. After reading the signs, I went to the nearest grocery store and returned in the steady stream of shoppers, carrying four bags of canned food, cleaning supplies, and toiletries. I went home and emptied my cupboards and returned for a third time on Sunday with a winter coat, shawl, and shoes. The pace at the donation center never slackened, and it was often difficult to walk on the sidewalk because so many people were getting involved.
It warmed my heart and made me proud of my neighbors. We were spared the devastation, but we shared the pain. Whoever thinks New Yorkers are unfeeling should have seen that scene.
Do you know how to track sales of your books in real time using Amazon. com? That’s the topic of an article I wrote for WOW-womenonwriting.com. (It’s OK, men; you can read it too!) Find the article here: http://www.wow-womenonwriting.com/51-How2-TrackBookSales.html
On Wednesday, August 15, I will be a guest on Jackie Peterson’s Internet radio show Better, Smarter, Richer. The show airs at 10 AM Pacific time (1 PM Eastern time) at www.w4wn.com.
Jackie is the author of a book by the same name as her radio show. I met her last year at the Creative Freelancers Conference in Chicago, and I look forward to reconnecting with her on the air.
I’ve never been an early adapter. In fact, I’m just the opposite. I tend to wait so long that the bandwagon has almost left before I finally jump on.
I also am averse to the interconnectedness that characterizes the modern world. Social media—why bother? If it weren’t for NAIWE, I wouldn’t even have a blog.
Yet I have been hearing over and over about the value of LinkedIn. So I finally jumped on that bandwagon—long after LinkedIn became popular as a way to connect with other freelance writers and editors and potential clients.
I’ve been on LinkedIn for about 6 weeks now—too early to come to firm conclusions. I will say, though, that I don’t hate it. I appreciate the way seasoned freelancers share their knowledge and experience, especially with those who have less experience. I like the concept of being able to pose a question and, possibly, get responses in a matter of hours.
Several people have mentioned my books in LinkedIn groups, and I’ve seen immediate increases in sales. When I post a comment about my books, nothing happens. Clearly, members want to hear unbiased opinions before they take the next step. That makes me wonder if anyone can actually succeed in self-promotion using social media.
With so many people participating in the same forums, I can’t see how job opportunities arise. I’m not actively looking for work on LinkedIn, however, so I am only guessing.
The one thing I most appreciate about the discussions is the lack of time pressure. Some threads have been open for months, and people are still talking about the topic. I imagine that the delay in some postings is because work takes precedence. That’t a good thing. I’d hate to think that people are connecting through social media rather than making a living.