Do you occasionally long for the opportunity to hash things out with a group of colleagues? Whether it’s an upcoming sports game or a great new iphone app, that casual back-and-forth banter is usually absent when you’re a solo worker.
Joining in a twitter chat is one way that freelancers can replicate this. A Twitter chat – also called a party - is when a group of individuals meet on Twitter at a set time to discuss a planned topic. A moderator usually organizes the event. They’ll start things off, welcome the attendees, and keep the conversation going.
Aside from enjoying some interaction with your peers, attending a chat is a great way to grow your Twitter presence. Continue Reading
I’ve had some funny and weird things happen to me lately that concern freelancers. I don’t know if the moon is full or what, but I have gotten some great examples of how NOT to pitch an editor that I thought I would share with you.
A month or so ago I got an email from a university student who was looking for an internship for the summer. I get a lot of such emails from students in the spring, and, unfortunately, we don’t have the space or equipment to take on an intern at this time. But that’s not the funny part.
This young woman did not spell check her email to me and misspelled the word “opportunity” to say “pooportunity.” This struck our art director and I as so funny we are still laughing about it at this poor student’s expense. Continue Reading
Here’s the situation: You are a successful freelancer who has a hard time turning down work. And you’re busy.
Too busy, in fact, to do much of anything but work. Because you work by yourself, you are not only bogged down with the projects you owe your clients, you are buried under phone messages, emails, bills that need to be paid, invoices that need to go out, and don’t even mention updating your blog and website. Facebook, Twitter, and Google+? Please. You don’t have the time.
Does this sound familiar? It doesn’t have to be this way, you know.
Hiring an employee might not be in the cards for you for a number of reasons. If you work from home, maybe you don’t have room for someone else. Or maybe you just don’t want someone working out of your house. Maybe you live in a rural area where there isn’t a large talent pool to choose from. Maybe you’re a total slob.
The thought of hiring someone and paying them a salary might be overwhelming—and what if you have to fire them? There are lots of reasons why hiring someone to work alongside you doesn’t make sense. But you don’t have to sacrifice getting the help you need because of it.
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
The fact that you can learn anything from John Mayer might surprise you, but I learned a lot about how you can ruin your reputation through social media and interviews in this NPR interview with the musician on All Things Considered this afternoon.
I have to admit, I am not a John Mayer fan. He bothers me. I can’t stand to watch him sing. And after a couple of nitty gritty interviews in 2010—one for Rolling Stone and one for Playboy—I didn’t like what I heard, either.
In Mayer’s interview with Playboy, he made racial comments, talked about his sex life with his famous exes, and made homosexual comments—all of which made the public scream Too Much Information! Continue Reading
There have been many blog posts here about how you, as a freelancer, can give your clients great customer service and why it’s important. Let’s turn the tables for a minute and focus on how you, as a freelancer, can get better customer service.
When you are a freelancer, you don’t have a boss you can go complain to when something has happened to you. Maybe you were double charged when ordering something online or you had a terrible experience flying business class. As a freelancer, you run your own business, which means dealing with your own vendors.
As someone who owns a company, I have a lot of people I have to pay and deal with on a regular basis, including: my internet service provider, phone company, the lenders who let me borrow money for my small business, my credit and debit card companies, the web design team, and the woman hired to manage the distribution of our magazine.
Other people I deal with on a less frequent basis include the tech dude who helps with computer problems and issues with our printer/copier/fax machine. I also have a bookkeeper who manages the books and helps with the taxes. There’s also a lawyer thrown in there for good measure.
When you think about it—that’s a lot of people! And I’m not even mentioning the car repair guy (I drive a lot), the United States Postal Service (I mail a lot of stuff), and the stores where I buy supplies.
A freelancer’s life is stressful (look at all these bills!) and we have to deal with lots and lots of people. So what can you do when you feel like you aren’t getting the customer service you deserve and expect? Below are some tips on how you, as a customer, can get better customer service to make running your business a little easier. Continue Reading
I got a telephone call today at the office from the wife of a certified public accountant. She was pitching me on a story that her husband had just written about the benefits of creating an LLC versus an S-Corp. I listened politely, then told her why I couldn’t run her husband’s obviously wonderful story.
I can’t tell you the number of times I get pitches that we would never publish—not because it’s a bad idea but because it just doesn’t fit in the pattern we have already created.
The magazine I edit is a regional publication that has a pretty narrow focus. We only publish stories that fall within our already established sections. I can’t tell you the number of times I get pitches that we would never publish—not because it’s a bad idea but because it just doesn’t fit in the pattern we have already created.
I often get advance copies of novels and CDs from publishers, authors, and musicians, asking us to please consider reviewing them in our magazine. We have never, in the six years we have been in print, reviewed a book or CD. Never. Yet I keep getting these lovely gifts in the mail on a monthly basis. And I always feel badly—these publishers and public relations people are clearly wasting money on sending me stuff.
In the case of this lovely woman who called me on the phone, I explained to her that we currently don’t have a place in the magazine where such a feature would appear and that we decide upon our editorial calendar 8 months to a year in advance. She proceeded to tell me how it would be a benefit to our readers. I didn’t argue that point—it very well might—but I can’t reinvent the wheel. I suggested that she contact the local daily and weekly newspaper, as they have much more flexibility to publish articles than I do.
Our company also does not accept unsolicited manuscripts—but I didn’t feel like I needed to get into that with her. She was clearly not used to pitching story ideas to the media.
What I wanted to tell her was that if she was going to pitch people her husband’s already-written story, to take a look at some back issues of said publications to see if it’s a good fit or not. If she had looked at ours, she would have seen that we don’t publish stories of that nature. I also wanted to tell her to not introduce herself as the wife of the CPA who wrote this wonderful article that I should publish in our magazine. It’s unprofessional—and of COURSE she thinks it’s a great article…her husband wrote it! Continue Reading
There’s a reason you see a smattering of women in red business suits in the crowd when you watch the State of the Union address on TV. Red is a power color, and these are powerful women!
The colors you choose to wear and even brand yourself with say a lot about you—individually and as a business.
I have very few business suits. My absolute favorite one is a gorgeous tangerine and hot pink brocade with a mandarin collar. It’s hot. It stands out from the crowd. It is not conservative. Whenever I wear it, I get lots of compliments. It’s sooooooo me!
But I’m not trying to blend in with everyone else around me. That’s not my M.O. I’m a freelance writer, editor, and entrepreneur. I like to have fun with color. I know what colors look good on me and I wear them as often as possible. Does that mean I have an abnormally large collection of bright green shirts? Yes, it does.
I really enjoyed reading this article on Inc.com about being color conscious. Wearing bold, brash colors might not be a great idea for someone who makes a living managing other peoples’ money. You don’t want your financial adviser to look quirky and brash. You want someone who presents themselves in a polished, even conservative manner. That’s why black, gray, and khaki are such popular, classic colors.
But what if you were creating an ad marketing campaign from scratch, or designing a new website? What would you want your designer to look like? I’m guessing the word “boring” doesn’t instantly come to mind. Which is why creative professionals need to be cognizant of color, whether it’s what they wear on their bodies or what is used on their websites.
Take a peek into your closet and at your website or marketing materials and notice what colors are most prevalent. Lets take a look at what those colors might say about you, according to the psychology of color: Continue Reading
I’m a sucker for a good study, and a team of Asian researchers have come out with one about how your social networking sites can accurately predict your personality—something you may (or may not) want to do if you run your own business.
There is a theory out there, which emerged on the scene in 1992, called the Five Factor Model (FFM) that states that human personality can be divided into five categories: openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism. Here’s what they mean:
- Openness: inventive and curious. This person has a strong intellectual curiosity and is likely to be able to think outside the box.
- Conscientiousness: efficient and organized. This person is disciplined, organized, and achievement-oriented. They exhibit planned rather than spontaneous behavior.
- Extraversion: outgoing and energetic. This person is social, assertive, and talkative. They seek stimulation in the company of other people.
- Agreeableness: friendly and compassionate. This is a compassionate and cooperative person. They like to be helpful.
- Neuroticism: sensitive and nervous. This person experiences unpleasant emotions, like anger, anxiety, depression, or vulnerability, quite easily.
As a freelancer, I want to be perceived as open, conscientious, outgoing, and friendly. I do not want to be seen as neurotic. Continue Reading
Have you ever been stiffed by a client? Many freelancers have—and it sucks. More often than not, the cost to take the client to court is frequently much more expensive than the unpaid invoice. So what’s a freelancer to do?
One thing they can do is join forces in a new civic action campaign created and sponsored by the Freelancers Union.
On April 26, the Union launched a web-based tool called The World’s Longest Invoice, where freelancers can come together and share their horror stories. You can add your unpaid invoices to the list at worldslongestinvoice.com.
Some of the unpaid invoices already listed include:
- $200 for violin performance on Busta Rhymes 2008 album, “Back on My B.S.”, submitted by Andrew.
- $7,000 for published children’s book illustration, submitted by Linda.
- $1,300 for marketing strategy, brand development, event planning, and copy writing, submitted by Allison B.
- $1,500 for environmental graphic design concepts for Rascal Flatt’s Tour, submitted by Adam J.
- $2,700 for WordPress development. Client cancelled the job two days before deadline and refused to pay for it because they didn’t use it, submitted by Sarah.
- $2,800 for iPhone application development, submitted by Charles G.
- $15,000 for 8 videos, filmed and edited, 5 minutes in length each, submitted by Ross F.
There are invoices listed for everything from pet sitting to web-related services, and everything in between. Continue Reading
I couldn’t help but chuckle at this recent story from The Boston Globe on the overuse of exclamation points.
Remember when email first came into prevalence? I do. Suddenly writing in all caps meant you were virtually yelling at someone. Typing made it easier to EMPHASIZE YOUR WORDS in a way that handwriting just couldn’t. With a quick touch of command + b, u, or i your words could be bolded, underlined, and italicized. Fancy!
Christopher Muther, the author of the piece I read in The Boston Globe, blames two men with the overuse of exclamation points in society today.
In 2008, they wrote a book called “Send: The Essential Guide to Email for Office and Home.” It created a minor sensation, partially because the authors condoned the use of exclamation points.
“ ‘I’ll see you at the conference,’ is a simple statement of fact,” they wrote. “ ‘I’ll see you at the conference!’ lets your fellow conferee know that you’re excited and pleased about the event.” –Christopher Muther
One Boston University psycholinguist quoted in the story says that exclamation points can “mitigate the brusqueness of a brief reply by indicating the writer’s enthusiasm, sincerity, surprise…”
I recently wrote a blog post on the perils of email communication where I was involved in a situation where my brief email replies were misconstrued as rude by the recipient. I wonder, now, if I had included a bunch of exclamation points, or, heaven forbid, smiley face emoticons, at the end of my sentences if they would have softened my message. I’ll never know.
I run a blog where I publish stories about weddings in Maine. Photographers submit photos of a particular wedding, and the bride fills out a questionnaire about their big day for their blog post. These questionnaires are consistently dripping in exclamation points.
I get it. Your wedding day is exciting! You’re marrying the man of your dreams! It really is a dream come true! But I omit most of these exclamation points in the blog posts because, well, all the excitement is kind of hard to swallow. Continue Reading
You just finished a six week long project. You thought it came out great, so you didn’t expect their email, telling you they just weren’t happy with it. Now what?
Park your emotions. It’s easy to get worked up from negative feedback, particularly for a freelancer who is naturally quite tied to their work. But separating business and emotion are key to success anywhere. It’s okay to get heated up, but just give yourself some time to simmer down before you react. Go for a run, sleep on it, or vent to a friend until you feel more level headed. Continue Reading