Reviewing “The Crowdsourced Guide To Freelancing”

Picture copies from Amazon.com

By it today at Amazon.com or Smashwords.com.

I recently had the opportunity to answer a series of questions for a book, “The Crowdsourced Guide To Freelancing.” This fantastic guide includes the responses of several thriving freelancers to the same questions that I answered. What a way to introduce the truth about freelancing to individuals who are considering stepping out into this somewhat turbulent profession.

It was terrific to read the responses of others, some of whom I already knew, where others were quite new to me. This business is definitely expanding in numbers.

Daniel Hall, a highly regarded author, has written a number of very informative books over the years. He has a unique ability to coordinate, simplify, and tie together data in such a manner, without having to read a full novel.

The book provides a series of answers to very important questions, especially for newer freelancers. It provides responses from established freelancers focusing on how to keep clients happy, how to establish a good reputation among clients and the freelance community, as well as how to acquire good feedback from clients.

Of course, no true guide to freelancing would be complete without shedding the light on how freelancers would respond if a friend were considering entering the field.

I was quite impressed with how Mr. Hall pulled the book together and his choices in freelancers that he involved in the project (me included).

It was wonderful to share my views and experiences as I continue to build my freelance enterprise. I can’t help but suggest that potential freelancers (as well as established freelancers) take the time to purchase and read the book. I know I intend to buy a few copies to keep on hand for the next time someone asks me if they should try freelancing for a living.

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Taming the Dragon Client

Forrest ReadingOver the years, my clients have taught me so much about being the best freelance writer and editor I can be to them. As 2013 comes to a close, I take stock of all those lessons learned, some naturally, and some the hard way. The hardest lesson of all has been in taming the dragon client.

The one constant I have found in the freelance world, is that as freelancers, we must never assume that the client understands the basic “functionality” and “operational” aspects of our side of the business. More often than not, when a client becomes “troublesome,” it is because he is unaware that his actions are inappropriate.

If a client is new to hiring freelancers, or has had experience with freelancers that are not considered the professional freelancer, then he can pick up some very bad habits; habits that he is completely unaware are considered “bad” to the professional freelancer. The same can be said of the new freelancer as well.

Professional freelancers must be prepared to teach a client how to manage his contract freelancers in order to better serve his business. Not everything is cut and dry in the freelance world. In a brick and mortar situation, state and federal employment laws, not to mention corporate policy, govern employee relations. The relationship between freelancer and client is set by the agreement between the two.

Here are a few basic tips to taming the dragon client:

Contract-be sure you have a contractual agreement between you and your client. It should be one that delineates the expectation of both entities beyond the scope of the assignment:

  • It should clearly state the services that you will provide
  • The due date for the services
  • The compensation amount for the services
  • When the compensation is to be paid
  • How the compensation is to be paid
  • How long the contract will last
  • Notice to end the contract
    • This is something for both sides, just like giving notice in a regular working situation.
  • The grievance process
  • How the work is to be used
    • Work for hire is still a grey area-a client that puts their name on a piece you wrote is, no matter how the law in the U.S. may view it, committing plagiarism. The client did not write it, and as such, if they do not wish to give the freelancer byline credit, then the byline should be empty or simply list unnamed contributor
    • Can you use it in your portfolio?
    • Is the client going to sell the work to a 3rd source?
  • Will you be a 1099 contractor, thus needing the 1099 form filled out
    • This form should be filled out at the same time as the contract
    • If an agreement for the 1099 is not made prior to beginning the services, the freelancer is not obligated to sign the document. Address this in the forefront.

The Time-sucker-some clients simply do not realize that their constant interruptions, changes, “touch-base” communication is sucking up time faster than a Hoover sucks up dust.

  • Meetings should be scheduled in advance just as you would any other meeting, setting a time to begin and end
  • Come to the meeting with an agenda in place
  • Take notes
  • Give the client a warning that the time scheduled is coming to a close
  • Recap the meeting before closing out
  • Close out the meeting on a good note

Something to remember with the dragon client is that they have no concept of time, no concept of your commitment, no concept of your commitment to other clients, and no concept of your financial obligations to anyone other than to them. A client may not intend to come across selfish, but by-enlarge, they are. They have a business that they are trying to build and profit from while they are in the process.

Signs of a Dragon Client:

  • We don’t need a contract…run!
  • Consistently late to meetings or rescheduling meetings…this is a sign that they are completely unaware that you, too, are operating a business
  • Calls last minute meetings, or just simply calls out of the blue, without any notice
  • Late paying invoices
  • Says something to the effect of, “I’ve got so much going on, let’s put off writing (or whatever other component exists in the contract) for this week…they have no idea that your finances have just been thrown for a loop

Not all Dragon Clients can be trained to become great clients. There are going to be times, as a freelancer, you are just going to have to bite the bullet and send them back into the mystical land of finding the right freelancer.

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Catching Up With a Busy Freelance Writer

Forrest ReadingWow! I can hardly believe how long it has been since I have touched base with everyone. I have been a very busy freelance writer…LOVE my clients. First, let me apologize. It was never my intent to ignore my own websites while working with these wonderful clients. Yet, it did indeed happen. Let me catch all of you up, for those who are not part of my twitter, g+, or Pinterest. However, before I catch you up on what I have been doing, we need to pay tribute to our military forces and acknowledge Veterans Day.

THANK YOU AND YOUR FAMILIES FOR ALL THAT YOU HAVE SACRIFICED TO ENSURE OUR FREEDOM! We are all forever in your debt~

I know that many of you are aware that I write for brainblogger.com, a Biopsychosocial website. I had the opportunity to write a few pieces about PTSD including “Big Changes for Diagnosing PTSD” and “Fireworks-Not Always a Cause for Celebration.” You can find other articles I have written published on brain blogger by searching by author, Brenda Walker.

Okay, speaking of military forces, I am excited to announce that Tasha Cherry is settling in with her family in her new environment. I have missed working with her on her Children’s Books, The Alley Pop Girls and The Land of Sozo. We will be taking the first set of books from The Land of Sozo and converting them to 1st Grade Readers to go along with the 4th-6th Grade Level Readers.

Following along the same lines…Music that is, I have been working with a wonderful client through notemote.com. This website is all about music with loads of items for sale including instruments, records, books…pretty much anything that has to do with music. You can develop your own page within the notemote website and you can even sell your goodies (that have to do with music) on the website as well. I have a page (I call it my website within a website); take a look at my page, Brenda Walker. I have several articles written including: Dino Bradley; Chas Sandford; The Glade City Rounders; and D.W. Hollowell’s String Shop.

On the more serious side, I would like to introduce you to another new client the GrassRoot Journal. This is a great website that brings a new dimension to many of the ongoing issues facing American citizens each day. The website does not take a singular minded political approach to issues. Rather, it seeks to find independent minded writers who address issues from different perspectives. Some of the articles are, indeed, controversial. Keep an open mind and remember; the only way to move forward and affect change is by listening to the perspectives of others. I was asked to do a series on Google. You can find a list of articles that I have written for the grjournal.org, Brenda Walker.

Of course, I still have many other clients that I work with, but I wanted to let you know where you will find my work shown with a byline. Freelancing has provided me a wonderful outlet for my creative side, as well as my deep-rooted yearning for research. I am so fortunate to have a wide variety of clients who find my work worthy of “publishing.”

Thank you all for continuing to support my website and I look forward to bring you more interesting works as we move forward to the new year. Just in case you have not heard yet, I am offering a “pay-it-forward” promotion for military personnel who need a resume in order to find work in the public sector. Feel free to leave me a message and I will gladly get back to you…it is free of charge for military personnel.

Again, a special THANK YOU to our military service members. Everyone please have a safe Veterans Day.

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Celebration of Laborers

eagle1Author’s Note: Please be sure to visit me and many other fantastic writers on besthirefreelance.com, brainblogger.com, grjournal.org, and notemote.com

What does Labor Day mean to you? You might be surprised to learn that this historic celebration is designed to recognize the American workers’ economic and social achievements both past and present. It all began during 1885-1886 in an effort to pay tribute to the workers who have strengthened the United States, making it one of the strongest and most prosperous countries in the world.

Today, in 2013, it is hard to imagine that so many of us, citizens and politicians alike, once came together to recognize that this country is built on the backs of its hard working citizens. That without the American worker, there would not be industry, corporations, and markets to argue over as we do today. Yet, here we are, arguing over whether or not every worker deserves health insurance. Seriously? Is this what we have come to?

Across the United States, businesses are closed, politicians are off vacationing somewhere, enjoying their family and friends, just as many hard working American’s are celebrating. My concern is that we have lost sight of what it is we are celebrating. I worry this country has become complacent in its ability to give credit where credit is due. That the times have become so hard, that we no longer have the capacity to pat each other on the back and say “good job.” Rather, we are more eager to pat our own selves on the back and say, “I did this, it was all me…look how good I am.”

I do argue that no company is successful without the support of its hard working labor force. Yes, the owner of a company and its administrative staff should enjoy those pats on the backs, as it was their concept, their money, and their drive that brought the company up, much like a child. Yet, the reality is, unless it is a one-man operation, there were many hands in creating a successful business endeavor. As such, I do believe that all of a company’s labor force should enjoy the fruits of their labor; they all should enjoy the benefits of this successful business venture, and each of them is entitled to be recognized for their contribution in strengthening the organization’s prosperity.

There will always be the “haves” and the “have nots” in this world. I believe this country has opportunities for everyone, but not all opportunities are equal. This country struggles with the concept of equality on the most basic of levels, despite the simplicity of its nature. Equality is not about money, although if you lack money, you will likely lack the opportunities that money tends to bring. However, it does not imply that there are not opportunities for those without money, merely, that there are fewer of them.

The mere fact that we must have a discussion surrounding providing health care to every citizen of this country proves that we struggle with the concept of equality. The availability of health care, the ability to become healthy, the opportunity to remain healthy, these are all necessities in life. That the very people we elect and pay to represent us feel that they are more “worthy” than anyone else to receive better health care or better options of health care, defies everything this country stands for. If there is not enough money in the coffers to feed your citizens, to clothe your citizens, to house your citizens, then there is not enough money in the coffers to pay you, my dear elected official.

Today we celebrate the achievements of hard working American’s, some of whom are hungry, homeless, and destitute…while our politicians enjoy the freedom provided through their elected position and the financial security that comes with it.

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A Freelancer’s Dilemma: To Write for Money or Pleasure

Forrest ReadingAs you have no doubt noticed, I have been quite remiss in carrying for my websites as of late. It is not for lack of desire, but more for lack of time. This could be a good thing for a freelancer, if it is due to making money. In my case, it would be considered a good thing, for I have been very busy making money doing what I love to do…write and edit.

Never the less, I also have a responsibility to provide new and fresh content for my personal websites…don’t I? Now we come to the dilemma…to write for pleasure or for money…that is the question. We writers love what we do, well, that would go without saying or why would we do it? Of course, for me, I love to edit as well, primarily because I love to read. It is just so exciting to be part of a great writing project, to be able to assist a writer in achieving their desired goal.

There is also that little issue of…eating…I like to eat…I like to eat and drink…I also like to sleep indoors when at all possible. As such, I must also make a living. The more successful a freelancer becomes, the more difficult the balancing act becomes. This is where I find myself these days. I have to learn to balance a successful freelancing career with my own desires to write and to impart knowledge and experiences on my own websites.

I love my blogs, my children’s books, and my novels…all of which are waiting patiently for me to return. So, I have been doing a little investigating of my own…prior to jumping off in forming my own publishing company (yes, can we say “too many irons in the fire?”). What I found was quite disturbing…there is no real information out there about balancing freelancing with a desire to write and publish your own work. I have to wonder if all freelance writers have given up on their hopes and dreams of becoming a published author (of more than articles).

So, beginning this week I will begin investigating different methods of time management. I thought I would start by setting aside one day a week that is dedicated to working on my own personal projects…those that I am not paid to write or edit. Since I start my day early and tend to work into the evening, usually working a minimum of 10 hours a day, and usually working more like 12-15 hours a day. I will give myself at the minimum, a half of a day as a relaxing period…but my goal is to have an entire day (that has yet to work out for me, but it is something worth setting a goal for).

I have a wonderful client base that provides me plenty of work. They are also really great clients that require very little upkeep and maintenance. I love working with them, which makes the hours go by very quickly…another reason I have been ignoring my own personal work…they make it so easy. On occasion, I pick up a little extra work, if the project sounds interesting. I have had very few problems out of those clients. Although, I have run across that “time-sucker” once or twice when taking on extra work, I have learned from experience how to recognize them early on and run like the wind.

All in all, I am enjoying the success and comfort that comes along with having a steady group of clients who are consistent in their needs and desires. I suppose I should have been prepared for the other side of that success. I apologize for not taking the time to update my sites and keep you all abreast of the variety of information I come across each week.

Perhaps, we would all be better served if I take a slight step back, posting only once or twice a month, rather than what I had attempted in the early beginnings of my career…once a week.

I will keep you all informed of my progress in this new attempt to balance my freelancing with the pleasure of working on my projects. If any of you have advice…please, please, please share it with us all.

Remember…eat, drink, laugh, read, and most of all…write!

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The “Changing Mind” Client

Forrest ReadingAs a freelance writer and editor, I have had the luxury of working with a variety of clients ranging from the well established to the just getting started. Each client comes with its own set of pros and cons, needs, time constraints, and idiosyncrasies. But none is more frustrating than the client that is unsure of what it is that he wants.

As a professional freelancer, I provide services based upon a contract that outlines my responsibilities and how I will be paid for them. Rarely is it ever as simple as I just stated, especially in the forefront of working with a new client. It takes time to get to know each other and build the level of relationship where I just immediately recognize what a client is comfortable with and what is going to set him off.

The most difficult situation to handle as a freelancer, is a client who constantly changes his mind. Most often, it is because he has no real conception of what it is that he is seeking or what is entailed in providing him the end product that he seeks. This is why I always ask for a summary of what my client wants when it is all said and done. I’m talking about the “big picture,” not just the part of it that I will be participating in.

By having the client provide me with a summary of the “big picture” I have a better idea of how to fit my little part into it. Here are a few examples of what I am talking about here:

Example #1

“I am looking for a professional editor to edit my book”

Okay, we all know it isn’t as simple as that. There are many levels of editing…

“I only need light editing”

From there, I always ask how many times the manuscript has been edited prior to sending it to me.

“Oh, well none, I just want you to check for spelling and grammar,” the

Let me be clear on what the outcome of taking that contract will be. Unless this writer has published before, it is more likely that the “editing” required will be much more than just your simple spelling and grammar check. So I clarify with the client that at this point, he is only interested in getting the manuscript ready for major editing by another individual prior to submission or self-publishing.

“Why, no, this is the only editing that I thought I would need”

Guess what, no it is NOT the only editing this manuscript will need before either of these situations occur. Frankly, I have had a few clients that have published on multiple occasions that publish in this manner and wonder why it is there books aren’t selling. Sometimes a writer gets it in his head that he is the best judge of how the book flows, that the choice of words are the best ever, but somehow, he is just not a good speller and manages to get his “tenses” wrong. This is why the manuscript only needs a one stage editing process.

One of two things happens with this client, you take on the job (not me) and end up doing multiple editing stages for a single contract price far below what you should have charged. The client is unhappy because it took too long and you just cost yourself money for time that you cannot get back.

Solution to this problem: Ask for the first 5 pages of the manuscript and the last 5 pages of the manuscript before you commit.

Example #2

“I need a writer to make me a business brochure”

Okay, again, we all know that it is not that simple. What kind of brochure, bi-fold, tri-fold…, whose providing the pictures, is it a mail-out brochure that he wants to use as a counter brochure as well, and so on.

“Oh, I need pictures? Does it cost extra for the brochure to fold differently? What difference does it make if I want to mail them out?”

This is a common misunderstanding among businesses, that there is a simple “standard one-size-fits-all” approach to creating a quality brochure. Let me assure you, he has a picture in his mind of how that brochure is suppose to look when you get done with it.

Solution to this problem: provide this client with a variety of examples. This will give you a much better idea of what is going to make him happy. It will save you countless hours of changing and rewriting content. There is a big difference in writing content for a brochure and actually creating the entire brochure. Many clients are unaware of this…not to mention new freelancers.

If you are new to freelancing and want to write marketing content, be sure you know what you are getting into. Not all marketing content is created equally. This is a very diversified field and you should ask a lot of questions before you sign on as a freelance contractor.

Both potential clients and freelancers need to realize that neither of you is a mind-reader. Take the time to communicate openly and clearly. If you have any question, ask it…don’t wait for the issue to arise and then say to yourself “I knew that was going to happen.” Time is money, if you are not clear on what it is the client wants and the freelancer is unclear on what the service considerations are that they are providing, then it can be recipe for disaster.

Be sure to take a look at my other website http://www.besthirefreelance.com/ and remember, eat, laugh, love, and write!

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A Freelancer’s Thanks to Our Military Personnel

eagle1As a writer, I am seldom at a loss for words, today is one of those times. For I have no words that can even express my gratitude to the men and women who have served, continue to serve, and who will serve this country in support of my freedom. You put your lives on hold in order for me to live out my dreams as a writer and editor. How can I begin to thank you for this tremendous gift that you have bestowed upon a complete stranger?

You chose to take valuable time away from your own dreams in pursuit of an even greater cause. You chose to spend valuable time away from your family in the pursuit to ensure their future and their freedom. You chose to put yourself in harms way in pursuit of protecting those whom you have never even met. You chose to serve your country, despite the cost to you and your family.

You would think, as a writer, that I would be able to provide the most eloquent of words to convey the deep feelings of gratitude that I have. Yet, I can not. I can only rant against the disappointing political machine that fails to provide you with the honor and respect that you so deserve. For this political machine I speak of has failed to recognize that you deserve more than just words for your service. You deserve financial as well.

Parades and flowers do not pay the bills. Thanks does not put food on the table for you and your family. Verbal recognition does not keep the roof over your head. None of these things can keep the home fires burning while you are away. None of these things can ease the fears of your family that you may be put in danger in order to ensure the safety and sanctity of the United States of America.

Though I am sure that you appreciate these kind gestures of gratitude, I cannot help but feel that it is just not enough. That we, as a nation, owe you so much more than our simple gratitude. I feel that I owe you so much more than mere words written that barely scratch the surface of the emotions that I feel.

I am but one woman, a child of a career military man whom I adore and hold the highest level of respect. He has proven himself the highest caliber of a man, a husband, a father, a serviceman, and a human being. His love for his country resonates daily as he ages before my eyes. His concern for those who served after him and for those who serve now knows no bounds. He weeps for those who are lost in battle, as he also weeps for those that are left behind. He worries for your families and feels impotent that he is unable to make your world better.

He served his country by serving the families of those who lost loved ones during times of war. He served his fellow comrades in arms by supporting their families as you mended your mind and your body so you could return home. He served his family by exhibiting the true nature of being an American.

His kindness evidences the truth of his heart. The tears he sheds each time he sees a member of the military forces return home, reminds me of the times I watched him leave. When I see him sleeping in his reclining chair, his brow furrowed from his dreams, I am grateful that I was one of the lucky ones. That my father came home. That my father remains that honorable man I have known my whole life. That I know what a hero looks like and how a hero behaves. I know what a hero represents.

He seldom speaks of those times overseas during wars. He says those things are of the past and that he did what he did, saw what he saw, and lived to come home so that I would never know the evils of war. Instead he speaks of the times that he spent with the families who suffered great loss during times of war. He speaks of their bravery, of their compassion, of their strength to endure. He speaks of their everlasting loyalty to the country their loved one served.

He speaks of the men and women who had more battles to fight once they came home. How they suffered from the guilt of surviving where their brothers in arms did not. He speaks of the moments when these men and women realized that they were finally winning their battles at home. The look in their eyes when they finally held their families in their arms. The smiles that he saw when they were able to go home to their families after a long hard battle in the military hospital.

These are the things that he chooses share with me. But I know, when it is quiet, and I am long asleep, that the memories of the things he saw, the things he heard…they are back with him. But these are the things that keeps buried, deep within, so that they can only be used as weapons of strength and fortitude.

So I say to all those who have served, are serving, plan to serve in this great nations military forces; and I say to all of your families…THANK YOU AND GOD BLESS YOU.

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Managing Your Freelancer

Forrest ReadingIn an effort to provide consistency within the freelance market, it is only fair to provide potential clients with some insight into managing their freelance contractors. By its very name, freelancing implies a level of “freedom” in comparison to the average 8:00 am to 5:00 pm traditional style job. As such, it is important to understand that as a client, you may or may not be that contractor’s only client. It is also important to understand that not all contractors are created equal.

If you have worked with freelancers before, then you have probably run across that “flighty” freelancer. The one that operates as a free-spirit, never to be tied down by the confines of structure…or a due date. Personally, I have always wondered how these freelancers manage to make a decent living. As a client, you would most likely be wondering when and if you will ever get a finished product.

Free-spirit freelancers may be able to do good work and even provide you with a great finished product. The question is, can you count on that? Are you willing to risk the implications of a free-spirit for a freelancer?

The choice is yours. The majority of professional freelancers require a set of guidelines to work with. The more experienced the freelancer, the more stringent the guidelines are likely to be. Here are a few examples of what most freelancers require in order to be productive, efficient, and effective in their work:

  • A clear, defined outline of the project and your expectation of the result
  • A time-frame for production
  • Regular communication
  • Regular feedback
  • A clear contract that outlines not only how much the freelance contractor will be paid, but when they will be paid, along with how and what the payment is based upon
  • Is there a non-disclosure agreement involved and if so, who is providing it
  • Who the freelancer will be working with, including all contact information, job title, who they report to, and what their contribution to the project will be
  • Who the freelancer is ultimately responsible to, including contact information, job title, and what their contribution to the project will be
  • To whom does the contractor submit issues of concern
  • What to do with the remaining documents that were used to perform and complete the project

Every contract is different. There is truly no “written in stone” method to working with your freelance contractor. For a client that is new to working with freelancers and freelance contractors, it will be more advantageous to work with someone that has experience. Of course, you are probably going to pay a higher rate for a more experienced freelancer. This stands to reason as the experienced freelancer has a reputation to draw upon and will be able to guide you through the process.

For those of you who have already ventured into the world of freelance contractors, then you may be comfortable enough to hire someone new to the industry. As you are probably already aware, just because your potential contractor is new to freelancing, does not necessarily mean that they are inexperienced in what it is that they do. Every freelance contractor had their very first freelance job.

Hiring a freelancer is very similar to hiring a traditional employee, with the exception that they should come with a portfolio that evidences the caliber of their work. Even a new freelancer, if they are truly dedicated to crafting a freelance career, will have created a portfolio of examples of the work that they can do.

Frankly, much of my own portfolio is a display of my own personal work, rather than that of a client. This is due, in large part, to privacy issues. Many clients that I have worked with and continue to work with, require an NDA. Privacy and security is a huge part of a freelance contractor’s world, not to mention the business world as a whole.

In essence, when you are working with a freelance contractor, be clear in what it is you desire from them. Be prepared for and remain diligent in your communication and feedback. You don’t have to speak daily, but you should not go two weeks without some type of communication taking place. Be sure the rest of your team is on the same page as you and your contractor. If your contractor is receiving conflicted message from your team, then you will lose your contractor.

If you are hiring a freelance contractor for a long-term assignment, then be prepared to sign a contract that clearly defines what happens if you or the contractor desires to terminate the contract prior to completion. Remember, a professional freelancer’s financial stability relies upon how much work is coming in and out of the door. If you fail to perform the contract as directed, then that freelancer is left scrambling to fill the financial gap you have left them. The same must be considered for you if your contractor pulls out before finishing the job.

As a potential client seeking a freelance contractor, there is really no need to be leery, just be diligent. At the very least, put in as much time and research as you would if you were hiring this person as an employee. Be sure they are who they say they are. Remember, you are opening up your business, to some degree, to a total stranger that you will not be seeing on a daily basis, and, for all intent purposes, will be working on their own, unsupervised by you. Better to err on the side of caution then regret the decision later.

One last thing I want to mention, reputation is a two way street. Freelancers have their own “grapevine.” This means that if you are not an honorable client, then the word will spread. Just as you will give a poor review if your freelance contractor was not up to par, the same will be done to you. It is very important to ensure that all parties understand every part of the contract before moving forward.

I live by this saying by Theodore Roosevelt, ““If you could kick the person in the pants responsible for most of your trouble, you wouldn’t sit for a month.”

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How to Choose a Freelancer

Forrest ReadingChoosing a freelancer can be a mind-boggling experience.  With the current economic status, many people are choosing to work in non-traditional methods, including freelancing.  This can leave potential clients at a loss when choosing the best contractor for their work.

There are a few key issues that a client may want to consider before even beginning their quest.  First and foremost, not all freelancers are made alike.  Freelancer’s are just like the people you hire to work within the confines of your company, except, you do not have the luxury of looking over their shoulder to ensure the work is being completed as you desire.  Second, you get what you pay for…

Of course you want to get the best deal possible, doesn’t everyone?  You also know that when a deal sounds too good, it probably is, so keep this in mind when you are searching the masses for your perfect freelance contractor.

What Kind of Jobs Can Freelancers Do?

Freelancers come in all shapes, sizes, styles, and abilities.  Some work from home and others work from an office.  Some freelancers have experience as a freelancer, where there are many who lack this experience.  Either way, a professional freelancer should be able to provide you with proof of what they can do for you.

  • Virtual Administrative Assistant
  • Freelance Copywriter
  • Freelance Copy-editor
  • Freelance Journalist
  • Freelance Marketing Creator
  • Freelance Web Designer
  • Freelance CSR
  • Freelance Social Media Expert
  • Freelance Writer
  • Freelance Editor

So, you can see, it is not as simple as hiring a freelance writer or a freelance editor.  You can hone in on the freelancer with the greatest amount of experience and expertise in your desired area.  Not all freelancers are created equally.  Some freelance writers are great at health related topics and politics, others are great at creating SEO article content to drive more readers to your website.  It all depends on what it is you are looking for.

Tips for Choosing a Freelancer

There are a lot of opinions on how to choose the best freelancer for your project.  It is going to depend on the type of project, but there are some basic guidelines to follow.

  • Have a clear vision of what it is you need from your freelancer
  • Look at their portfolio (almost every type of freelancer is going to have a portfolio and a resume.  If they are a Virtual Administrative Professional, they may only have a resume, but ask for examples of excel spreadsheets and other types of documents that you may require in your project)
  • If at all possible, get a referral
  • Follow-up on their references-don’t just get a list, call them or email them to find out how the project went
  • Look through their personal website
  • If you are hiring a freelance editor, as for specific examples of their work.  If they are willing, send them a “test” piece of one or two pages for them to edit for free.  If you need more than one or two “double-spaced” pages to use as an example, be prepared to pay a fair rate for those pages
  • Be sure that your freelancer is clear on delivery times
  • Be clear on the pricing and expectation of the contract

Let me just add this, I, like many freelance writers and editors, do not do “test for free” sample projects…at least I tend to steer clear of them.  Rarely do I break this rule and provide a “test” sample.  My portfolio and resume speak for themselves.  If there is a particular type of work you would like to see that is not included in my portfolio, then I am happy to provide it to you.  If I do not have a reference piece that fits your criteria, then I will do a “test” piece…a small test piece.

Also, bear in mind, when you are looking for a ghostwriter, many times we are prohibited by NDA from providing you any reference material or contact information.  This is where it can get a little sticky for the client as well.  Just because a freelance “ghoster” states that they are “published” doesn’t make it so.  Once again, their portfolio should be able to reflect the caliber of their work.

Choosing a freelancer is crucial to the success of your project.  Personality is still a part of the overall process.  As much as I despise Skyping, it does provide you with the opportunity to meet “almost” face-to-face with your potential freelancer.  If you are hiring someone to work customer service, you do want to make sure that they speak clearly and have a pleasant tone to their voice.  If you are hiring a writer, how they look and how they talk is of little consequence.  Yet, you will be working with this person, so you will want to make sure that your personalities mesh.

Let me reiterate, the cheapest freelancer is not necessarily the best choice.  Nor would the most expensive freelancer necessarily be the best option.  There are a number of freelancer for hire websites where you can have them bid on your project.  There are also a lot of writing and editing websites, just like the National Association of Independent Writers and Editors, that have a list of freelance professionals you can contact.  You can visit my profile and portfolio, right here on NAIWE.

Okay, so look for my next post where we will cover some basics in managing your freelancer and how to ensure you get what you pay for.  We will also discuss non-disclosure agreements and how they apply to copyright law.

Until next time, eat, drink, read, and write…you will be happier for it.

 

 

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Surviving Competition for Freelance Writers and Editors

Freelancing freedom for writers2As a freelance writer, I receive many opportunities to write, edit, and ghostwrite on a number of different topics. The issue is seldom that there is not enough work to go around. More, it is an issue of what a writer feels their talent is worth.

Of course, we all feel that we deserve fair compensation for our work and our talent. What is “fair” in this economy? The cost of living varies from state to state, not to mention from country to country. So how does a writer compete with others who are willing to work for less than a penny a word?

A Google search of “average freelance charges” in the literary vein provides quite an array of choices. Frankly, every time I do a search for average charges, I feel as though I am under-cutting myself. More often than not, I find myself charging less than what the market supposedly calls for.

Perhaps a more realistic view of “average charges” can be derived from searching through those “freelance” connection sites that offer an array of contractors for clients to pick and choose from. A contractor bids on a perspective client’s project, and the rest is history.

My favorite source for pricing my work comes from writersmarket.com (http://www.writersmarket.com/assets/pdf/How_Much_Should_I_Charge.pdf). This organization takes a great deal of time to put together a reference for various freelance services. Yet, there is a wide gap between the rates listed in the pdf file and the rates many freelancer’s are charging on freelance work-for-hire websites.

When I began my quest to work full-time as a freelance writer and editor, I swore by the information provided in the Writer’s Market guide. Then reality set in. The simple fact was, I wasn’t getting much work. I wasn’t winning those bids. I was, however, becoming quite discouraged.

Alas, I found myself giving in to the need to feed the monster. I began adjusting my rate to more of a middle ground between the ridiculous 0.001 cents per word often bid by those freelancers residing in third world countries and the lowest charge in the Writer’s Market guide of .25 cents per word. I was devastated.

The fact remains, there are always going to be those companies that fail to recognize the adage “you get what you pay for.” Now, when I lose a bid to someone who did the “ridiculous” bid, I tell myself, we’ll see that client back looking for an editor. And most of the time I am correct in that assumption.

I suppose the lesson here is that it takes time to build a reputation as a freelancer. It takes even more time to build a pool of reputable clients that recognize the value of quality work and are willing to pay for that quality. Even more important, it takes a long time to learn what to do and what not to do when bidding for freelance jobs.

Here is my advice for the day:

  • Build your portfolio
  • Decide what you can live with for pay (how much you hope for and how much you can get by on), start in the middle.
  • Bid on jobs that the content is something you already know about and already of the necessary source material to refer to
  • If the pay sounds too good to be true…it is
  • Never do a “free trial” sample…that is what your portfolio is for. If you do not have an example that fits that type of job, make one up
  • Check your copy scape often to make sure that your work is not being copied
  • Self-Brand
  • Self-Promote
  • Network
  • Be flexible
  • DON’T GIVE UP

I am by no means an expert on freelance writing and editing. I am, however, and expert on surviving to make my dreams come true. I have fumbled, dropped the ball, been sacked, and even crossed the finish line a few times. It is an amazing journey to self-fulfillment and accomplishing your goals.

Slowly, I am finding the path to ensuring that writing remains my passion, while making it my living as well. You can too!

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