Archive for December, 2012

Year in Review

Wednesday, December 19th, 2012

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.