There very well may come a time in your freelance career where you need to hire a freelance contractor to help you out on a project. Perhaps your expertise doesn’t quite match what your client needs, or you are so busy you need someone else to help you reach your deadline. No matter the reason, you need to think carefully about who you hire to help you out.
Asking for a resume and checking references is an important thing to do whether you know the freelance contractor or not. I would do this before hiring anyone—especially friends or people you know well outside of a business relationship.
“If this person can’t name a few people they’ve worked with who can say good things about them, it’s not someone I should gamble on financially,” says Nicole Ouellette of Breaking Even Communications.
Know that when you do call people about the freelance contractor in question, they aren’t always allowed by law to tell you everything about that person. One good question to ask is, “Would you hire this person again?” If they say no, that’s a huge red flag. Continue Reading
To many designers, “revisions” can be a dirty word.
I think the reason for this is the fact that these three little syllables can have so many radically different meanings from project to project. It’s unpredictable. Revisions are normal, even expected in virtually every project. The trick is to be smart and proactive from the very beginning of each project in order to streamline and get the most out of the revision process. Because if you don’t properly plan, you can end up on a never-ending logo revision merry-go-round. I don’t know about you, but I just don’t have the stomach for that.
While it is rare to nail what the client is going for in round one, it’s gratifying to be able to get it right by round two or three. There are several things you can do to stack those odds in your favor from the very beginning. Continue Reading
I recently wrote a blog post sharing the news that The Times-Picayune out of New Orleans, Louisiana, will cease to produce a daily newspaper. Instead, the company will be printing three days a week and ramping up their online news gathering for their website. New Orleans will be the largest city in the U.S. without a daily newspaper.
There’s been a big shake-up at a couple of other national newspapers as well.
The Denver Post has decided to do away with its copy desk, spreading the copy-editing duties throughout the newsroom. The pros to this model? Stories can be published to the web faster because they don’t need to be read and edited by so many people. The cons? Stories have a greater chance of being printed with errors. Continue Reading
I’ve been spending a lot of time working out of coworking spaces lately. I’m a big fan of having a place I can just drop into and work from, especially if I’m going to be away from my home office anyhow.
I’ve noticed a trend: many coworking spaces are launched by freelancers. Often, there’s a freelancer who wants to work anywhere but in her own home, so she gets a couple of other people together and rents a space. I’ve seen both incredibly successful versions of this model and some dismal failures.
Coworking Spaces are Businesses, Too
There’s a common complaint among the freelancers who also operate coworking spaces: “I didn’t realize it was going to be so much work!” It’s not an uncommon thought for a freelancer in general — considering many of us start out as some sort of creative professional without as much business training as we’d like. Opening a coworking space is just as much a business as freelancing, even if you operate as a non-profit.
Opening a coworking space is just as much a business as freelancing, even if you operate as a non-profit.
There are considerations far beyond a freelance business, too: rent, physical location and insurance all play major roles. It’s these details that can trip up someone not used to renting out office space. They take time to sort out and time is a precious commodity for many freelancers.
Unless we’re getting paid for our time, it can be tough to dedicate so much effort to building a coworking space, rather than spending those same hours on client work.
But there are payoffs to taking the lead on creating a coworking space. Continue Reading
Part guesswork, part experience, part number crunching – how ever you look at it, determining your price is a difficult task. Here are nine factors to take into consideration when pricing your services:
1. Your Costs
If your rate doesn’t include enough just to break-even, you’re heading for trouble. The best thing to do is sum up all your costs and divide by the number of hours you think you can bill a year. Whatever you do, DON’T think you can bill every hour. You must account for sick days, holidays, hours working on the business, hours with no work and so on.
Also make sure you factor in all the hidden costs of your business like insurance, invoices that never get paid for one reason or another, and everyone’s favourite – taxes.
2. Your Profit
Somewhat related to your costs, you should always consider how much money you are trying to make above breaking even. This is business after all.
3. Market Demand
If what you do is in high demand, then you should be aiming to make your services more expensive. Conversely if there’s hardly any work around, you’ll need to cheapen up if you hope to compete.
Signs that demand is high include too much work coming in, other freelancers being overloaded and people telling you they’ve been struggling to find someone to do the job. Signs that demand is low include finding yourself competing to win jobs, a shortage of work and fellow freelancers reentering the workforce. Continue Reading
This fall, New Orleans will be the largest U.S. city without a daily newspaper. The Times-Picayune, with a weekday circulation of 134,000 and Sunday circulation of 155,000, will be published only on Wednesdays, Fridays, and Sundays.
The Times-Picayune, which has published since 1837, was bought by the Newhouse family in 1962 and later merged with the afternoon daily. Up to now, the paper has avoided some of the deeper cuts in the industry, in part because the newspaper played such a critical role in the coverage of Katrina and its aftermath. —NYTimes
Poynter.org points out that before Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans and its population, the paper had a weekday circulation of 257,000 and 285,000 on Sundays.
“I think this is a big blow,” said Poynter business analyst Rick Edmonds. “Yes, it’s happened in a few places, but Saginaw and New Orleans are not the same thing. You’re talking about a major-league city.” —Poynter.org
Last week I had a brilliant idea: I would teach my 3-year-old son to use the digital camera! Then he would learn a valuable skill! And become a famous photographer!
As you can tell, I was pretty excited.
So I showed T-Rex how to hold the camera, and look through the viewfinder at what he wanted to take a picture of, and press the button. I wrapped the carry cord around his wrist so he wouldn’t drop the camera and let him loose, first inside and then outside. Continue Reading
It’s that time of year when thousands upon thousands of twentysomethings don caps and gowns of every sort of color and graduate from colleges and universities around the world. They have a spring in their step and stars in their eyes. Or at least they will until they have to find a job.
I had the luck of graduating twice, earning my bachelor’s degree and master’s degree during two recessions. The first was the dotcom bubble, the second was the start of the current recession in 2006. I have impeccable timing!
But I ended up landing on my feet—it just took a little longer than I had expected. I always worked, whether it was waiting tables at a restaurant outside of Fenway Park in Boston (where, admittedly, I made boatloads of money in tips) or working my way up from a receptionist to becoming the sole marketing person at a mid-sized staffing agency. I bided my time, worked hard, and kept my eyes open for other great opportunities.
When I felt uninspired, I started freelance writing, which led me to enrolling in NYU’s journalism school for my graduate degree. Graduating in another economic slump, I didn’t wait so long to start freelancing, and eventually landed an editing job at a great magazine.
A true professional understands that you can never stop learning. Keeping up with the current industry trends is an important way to maintain marketability in ever-changing creative professions.
Freelancers should understand they are no different from any other professional, and continuing education is an optimal way to stay on the cutting edge of content production. Doing so will you to earn optimal rates for your services. Here are four key ways for freelancers to pursue continued education: Continue Reading
While freelance writing is my main job, I also do some part-time work as a freelance photographer. Working from home and living in a tight space gets a bit hectic when I have cameras, bags, chargers, tripods, SD cards, DVD’s, hard drives, and more.
Some equipment is tiny (the SD cards for instance) and can get lost easily. Some of these items belong to specific equipment and cannot be separated from this set. “Okay, so this charger is for this camera…and this cable goes to that hard drive…”
A lot of freelancers I know (especially other photographers) get so passionate and involved in their work, that organizing their equipment is the last thing on their mind.
But, the thing is…if we don’t organize ourselves as freelancers, we can never get on to the next assignment without having a sizable mess of stuff follow us. And that sure isn’t professional, is it?
Whether you’re a writer, designer, or developer, here are some tips on keeping your equipment organized and ready for the next project. Continue Reading
I have a lot of mom friends who have decided to leave the typical workforce after having children.
With daycare being as expensive as it is these days, many of these moms didn’t make enough money in their jobs (a couple of them were teachers) to make daycare worth it. Working just to put your child (or children) in daycare can be frustrating—but many moms don’t want to quit their careers to stay home with their kids. I hear that!
But sometimes the numbers don’t add up, and many 9-5 working mothers are left feeling as if they are spinning their wheels. Starting a freelance career suddenly sounds like the best way to keep a healthy work-life balance. And sometimes having kids is just the thing a mom needs in order to make the leap.
There was a recent blog post on The New York Times that asked “Is There a ‘Right’ Time for a Mom to Start a Business?” The author interviewed a mother, Laura Kelly, in Pennsylvania who had opened a shop that offered sewing and knitting classes for children. Kelly always knew she wanted to run her own business, and wanting to provide crafts for her kids gave her the edge she needed to start her own company.
Here are a couple of questions from the blog that I particularly liked:
Q. Do you think that women business owners face different challenges than men?
A. I think women feel like they need to take care of everything in the family; the kids, husband, groceries, cooking, cleaning, birthday gifts, paying bills, etc. I’m not sure that men with families feel the same way.
Q. Does it bother you that women tend to get asked about work-life balance more than men do?
A. No, it doesn’t bother me, but I have a husband that does laundry and dishes — and so much more — so I have nothing to be bitter about. I just feel fortunate.
When asked if there was a “right” time for a mom to start a business, Kelly replied that what worked for her might not work for other moms. She started slowly, when the kids were small, and her business grew as they did.
This interview got me thinking about what sorts of things moms need to consider before starting their own freelancing business. Here’s what I came up with: Continue Reading