Category Archives: Freelance writing

Chocolate Milk Comes From Brown Cows, and Freelance Writers– Write?


Maybe you heard the news. It’s a fact that 7% of American adults, roughly 17.3 million people, think that chocolate milk comes from brown cows. If you are among those 17.3 million, read no further . . .

You’re probably wondering how the brown cow theory relates to freelance writing. Well, let me tell you! A surprising number of adults have no idea what a freelance writer does, and trying to explain it to them is like digging one’s self into a deep, deep hole.

I cringe whenever someone introduces me: “This is my friend, Jean. She’s a writer.”

Here’s what happens next.

“What do you write?” someone asks.

450c2ca7a249674a727a02491d1e4d1c(I begin digging.)

“I’m a freelance writer.”

Blank stares.

(I’m up to my ankles now.)

“I write mostly nonfiction for Christian publishers.”

There’s a pregnant pause. Then someone asks, “What are your stories about?”

(I’m in up to my knees.) “I don’t often write stories. I mostly write nonfiction—devotionals, books of prayers, things like that . . .” (I’m up to my waist now, and the person who introduced me is long gone. I’m in this alone.)

“So, where do you get the ideas for what you write?”

(I return their blank stare, and I pause–pregnantly. ) “The editors I work for give me some ideas about they want me to write, and then I create a manuscript . . .”

(Ouch! I shouldn’t have gone there. I’ve dug myself in up to my neck.)

images“Oh, you write scripts! Do you write plays? Do you write scripts for movies? Have you written anything famous?”

(Good grief! I’m in over my head!)

“No. No . . . I’m kind of like a reporter. I get assignments to write something, and then I write it . . .”

(I’m dug in so deep now that I hear my voice echoing.)



Freelancers, does this sound familiar? What do you say when someone introduces you: “This is my friend. He/she is a writer”?


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12 Inspiring Idioms for Aspiring Freelancers


Whether you are new to freelancing, or just thinking about it, these idioms will help:

 1. Rise and Shine! Working from home is the best of freelance perks, but that doesn’t mean you should sleep in every day. Set a daily work schedule and stick to it.

2. Know the Ropes. The best way to get and keep clients is to understand the publishing industry. Read and learn about the publishing process (the steps to get a book from contract to print). Stay current with trends and what your clients’ companies are publishing.

3. You Can’t Judge a Book by Its Cover. Vet potential clients carefully, especially small or new publishers. Know exactly what is expected from you, the due date, how much you will be paid, and the payment terms. Always work with a contract.

When I began freelancing, I accepted an assignment from a promising, new company. The articles written about it were positive. But had I dug deeper, I would have discovered that this company was in serious financial trouble. Many employees had been let go, and the publisher was relying on freelancers to do the work. It went bankrupt, and I never received full payment for my invoice. A $5000 mistake on my part, and a reminder to you—do your homework.

dont-count-your-chickens4. Don’t Bite off More Than You Can Chew. As you add more clients to your list, there will be times when assignment offers overlap. It’s tempting to accept every offer, but remember that quality is more important than quantity. When faced with multiple offers, ask yourself: “How much of my best work can I deliver in the specified timeframe?” It’s better to turn down an assignment than to deliver less than your best or to miss a due date.

5. A Bird in the Hand is Worth Two in the Bush. There will be times when you need to weigh a “maybe” against a “sure thing”. For example, a client has told you that they might have a project for you in a month or so. Another client has approached you with a definite project due within the same time frame. Will you wait for the “maybe” project, or will you accept the sure thing? Sometimes it’s a difficult choice.

I did some work for an educational publisher, writing questions for standardized tests. The work was fun, and it paid well; however, the lead times (the time to complete the work by deadline) were short and the work was sporadic. The client would let me know that they might have work for me in a month or two. Often, if the work materialized, I would already have taken on a “sure thing” assignment and couldn’t fit their tight deadlines into my schedule. I ended up losing that client, but still, I feel that I made the right choice. The income I received from the sure assignments was, likely, greater than if I had waited.

6. Get Down to Brass Tacks. Freelancing is a job, just as if you were sitting at a desk in the publisher’s workplace. You need a home office, or designated workspace, free from distractions and interruption. Sometimes, you might need to get out of the house and write someplace else. Think about places you might go to write.

Visit your local coffee houses, and you’ll find people wearing headphones and working on laptops. Noise blocking headphones, or even playing classical music through earphones, can help concentration and block noise. Bonus—coffee houses are great places to meet other freelancers.

eligiblemagazine-com_7. Actions Speak Louder Than Words. Deliver what you promise. Always submit your best work, in the best format, and on time.

8. It’s a Race Against Time. The publishing industry is deadline driven. Schedules are created to meet a specific print date. If that date is missed, it costs the publisher money. Another idiom: Time is Money. If you miss your deadlines, it is almost certain that you won’t get more assignments.

9. Drastic Times Call for Drastic Measures. Sometimes you will be overwhelmed by work and deadlines. It’s important to remember that work comes first. It’s not like you can peek over the wall of your work cubbie and ask a co-worker for help. This is all on you! Plan for how you will handle freelance stress.

Prayer and meditating on God’s Word helps me during stressful work times. I also listen to quieting music. Pandora Radio is a great resource for finding soothing music to listen to while you work.

10. Go the Extra Mile. Do more than what is expected. Turn assignments in before the due date. Help your editor as much as possible by submitting a well-formatted manuscript (Spacing, paragraph indents, etc.).

11. Don’t Look a Gift Horse in the Mouth. Your clients don’t have to choose you for their assignments. When they do, it’s a gift and a testament to your good work! Be grateful, humble, and giving.

When a book I’ve worked on is published, I like to put a link to it on my Facebook business page. I always link to the publisher’s web site, and I thank them for inviting me to work on the project. This is one way to show appreciation.


12. Be the Apple of Their Eye! Simply be the best you can be with a healthy dose of friendliness and humility.


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Filed under Freelance writing, The Business of Writing, Uncategorized, work for hire, working with editors, Writer's responsibility

Freelancing. Is It Right for You?

1320170763_freelancer_life_by_asuka111Two decades ago, the publishing company I worked for relocated. I was out of a job, and I decided then to freelance. The decision wasn’t easy. I faced a sluggish economy. If freelance statistics were correct, I was setting myself up to fail. Still, I decided to try. Here I am, twenty years later, still freelancing! It hasn’t always been easy, but it has been worth it.

If you are thinking about freelancing, here are some pros and cons.


PROS . . .

You are the boss (most of the time). You own your business; you are responsible for every aspect. Still, you need to remember that yours is a service business. In that way you work for your clients.

You can pursue your passion. If writing is your thing, you can write. Maybe you love editing or consulting. Freelancing allows you to pursue what you love.

You control when you work. No more 9-to-5 job. You choose when you work; however, this comes with a hitch—you need to be self-disciplined and manage yourself to make the most of your work time.

You control where you work. All you need is a laptop and you can take your office anywhere. Using Skype or Facetime, you can even meet with faraway clients in your home, a coffee house, or wherever.

You get to choose. Maybe you want to specialize in an area that suits you, or maybe you want a lot of variety. You get to choose the kinds of projects you work on.



CONS . . .

You wear many hats. Freelancing means that you do all the creative work as well as sales and marketing, invoicing, signing contracts, troubleshooting technology, keeping track of tax deductible business expenses, making estimated tax payments, and so on.

Your salary is unpredictable. You can’t control when projects come or how much you might earn in any given month. Often, you can’t control when you get paid. Some clients pay 50% when the contract is signed and 50% on the project’s completion. Others pay 100% on completion. Most pay within 30 days and others 60 or even 90 days.

Your schedule is unpredictable. You never know when a client will contact you with a project. All projects have deadlines. You need to decide how much work you can take on and still meet those deadlines. Sometimes, your calendar will be wide open. Other times, you will be juggling several projects at once and even have to turn projects down.

You worry about job security. There will be times when work is slow. Maybe you lost a big client. The publishing industry might be in a slump. There are many reasons to be concerned when you have no work for weeks or even months. It’s important to expect and to plan ahead for those times.

You feel isolated. Freelancing comes with independence and that can lead to isolation. You are the boss, but you have no employees. Your partners are your clients, but your relationship with them exists only in emails and occasional phone calls. Unless you make a real effort to take your office to other venues, you will be working at home all the time.

Weigh the pros and cons. Then ask yourself, “Is this for me?” If your answer is, “Yes,” then get going. Dive in. See where the journey takes you.


Are you on Facebook? Check out my page where I post daily articles
and inspiration for writers.


*NOTE: Any ads appearing in this post were not put there by me nor do I endorse them. WordPress sometimes posts ads in exchange for hosting this free blog.

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