Monday, May 25, 2009

eBook Review: "The Freelance Mom: A Low-Risk Plan to Escape 9-5 and Launch a Flexible (And Lucrative) Solo Career"

I spent time over the weekend reading Noelle Abaralli and Ed Gandia's ebook,

"The Freelance Mom: A Low-Risk Plan to Escape 9-5 and Launch a Flexible (And Lucrative) Solo Career." I had been noticing it for a while on Noelle's site, The Freelance Mom. Noelle offers helpful tips and coaching services for moms ready to leave the 9-5 grind behind and create successful freelance careers.

I have to admit, I was expecting a little more than I got; but maybe it's because I've been at this business for almost two years. Ed and Noelle's book seems geared toward those either planning to become freelancers or are brand new and in need of basic direction.

Advising newbie freelancers

Both authors discuss the fact that there are many opportunities to establish a successful freelance business in this economy. Admittedly they also cover areas frequently overlooked by many newbie freelancers like taking the time to honestly figure out if this career is the right choice. It's no secret that some view freelance writing as an easy, carefree lifestyle of getting up late, working in pajamas, etc.

True, the beauty of a freelance career is flexibility, but that's also the very thing that can get you into trouble without establishing some sort of discipline. Noelle and Ed address this issue in the section of their book titled, "Why Freelance Businesses Fail."

Launching a successful freelance business

Noelle and Ed encourage new freelancers create a transition plan that will help them make the move from traditional job to a thriving freelance business. They write about many other important points including:

• Setting goals
• Getting finances in order BEFORE making the switch
• Marketing and other promotional strategies
• Choosing a specialty
• Handling the administrative and business side of thing

Is it worth it?

Although this book may not benefit "veteran" freelancers who have been at it for some time, it could be a worthy investment for newbies ready to make the leap. The book covers many important aspects of the freelancing business, but fails to get in-depth in some important sections like marketing your services.

Personally I found the advice in this ebook to be pretty general. Not to mention that it's certainly no cheap read at $49. Still, there is helpful advice for those who are really ready to take action but need some direction. But if you're only casually thinking about whether or not freelance writing is for you, save your $49 and do some free research online.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Web Writing Rocks!

One of my "bread and butter" clients (aka: a client that accounts for a big chunk of your income) informed me last week that he and his business will be relocating from Atlanta to Texas by the end of summer.

Thank you world wide web!

In this day and age, the Internet makes everything so simple that he was able to tell me that the move meant nothing as far as our working relationship was concerned. And what a relief for me! See, this is why virtual businesses, like freelance writing, rock!

I have only met with a couple of clients in person so far. In fact, the majority of my clients are located in other states. I have been talking with a client in Switzerland too. If all goes well they will be my first international client.

More opportunity

There is definitely more competition out there, but the Internet makes it so much easier to access a wider target market globally. Plan your marketing strategy and cast your net. You're sure to get something in return. It's one of many reasons why I love this gig.

Friday, May 15, 2009

In Honor of Writer's Worth Day

Have you noticed the lovely, little logo to the left with the caption that reads, "Talent is Priceless?" Well, Lori Widmer, a writer I admire, has officially declared today Writers Appreciation Day. Today is a day for us to take a moment to consider everything that we put into writing for our clients. Whether you write articles, whitepapers, brochures or expertly crafted sales letters and landing pages, the process you go through to create the final product has worth.

The low rate writing cycle

I started freelancing online back in September of 2007. I knew very little about web writing, so I went from writer's forum to writer's forum learning as much as I could about which projects were in demand, getting clients and figuring out what to charge.

While I didn't start off writing $5 articles, I was certainly guilty of accepting low pay gigs. I was spending much more of my time networking with other writers who considered those rates typical. As I did my research, I discovered I wasn't even charging average industry rates on many projects. It took me some time to realize that I really had two problems: not charging enough and a clientele that expected low rates.

Setting goals

It's not easy to raise rates on existing clients. I learned that the key to getting better rates was finding clients that knew the value of the service I provided and were willing to pay well. This meant I needed to focus on a completely different target market. I also tried to learn as much as possible from veteran writers, like Lori, who were already doing what I wanted to do.

Why low rate writers are bad for business

A lot of writers are becoming frustrated at the number of potential clients out there seeking writing services for peanuts. At first it was easy to ignore. You figured that if another writer wanted to write a 500 word article for $2.50 so be it. But in the end it really does affect us all.

It may seem like a good idea to charge clients bargain basement prices in this economy, but when things recover where can you really go from there? You'll have a tough time raising rates if you start low. You'll eventually burn out trying to get enough low pay work to pay the bills. A writer deserves to at least make more than minimum wage.

Figuring out what to charge

Setting rates can be tricky when you're first getting started, but there are a lot of pricing guides out there to help you get started. Try this one and this one. Sure, you might start out on the low end when you get started, but your value increases as you get more experience. Take the time to find clients that appreciate what you do and will pay accordingly.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

PR 101 for Freelance Writers: The Value of a Press Release

You may think press releases are just for big companies, but they can benefit freelance writers too. They can help you become more visible to potential clients online. Many of us are constantly writing press releases for others. Why not take the time to create one for your own business?

Tell the world

A press release doesn't have to be about anything fancy, but it does need to be interesting enough to grab the reader's attention. It can contain general information about the writing services you provide, highlight a new service (e.g. 'ghost" blogging) or product (e.g. ebook, special report, etc.).


Press releases allow you to reach a large audience of people who regularly read online news. They also provide valuable back links and can even result a nice search engine ranking boost. The biggest benefit is the possibility of being contacted by a print or broadcast representative for an interview. Hey, it could happen.

Writing your press release

One of the best resources for learning to write an effective press release is available online for FREE. PR expert Jennifer Mattern's ebook, "Press Releases Made Easy," has all the information you'll need to craft a professional press release.


Knowing how and where to distribute your release is just as important as making sure the content is interesting and newsworthy. You can submit it offline, online or both.

If you choose to submit it offline, be sure to send it to any newspaper or magazine you'd like to have contact you for an interview. Make sure to find out how they prefer receiving the information (snail mail, fax or email).

Online submission is much easier. There are a variety of free and paid submission sites. Paid sites tend to reach the most people. Here are a few submission sites to consider:

There are so many different ways to market your freelance writing services. Press release distribution can potentially bring you a lot more visibility.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Working Your LinkedIn Account

It's not unusual for freelance writers to go round and round about whether or not social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook are worth joining. But I've noticed that writers using LinkedIn are usually quite happy. I hesitate to say unanimously because I'm sure there's someone out there with a bone to pick, but for the most part the experience is a good one.

Potential clients find you

One thing I like about Linked in is that prospects go there looking for YOU. A refreshing change considering the amount of time we spend marketing our services and trolling job boards, don't you think? I've only had my profile up for a few months, but I've had several inquiries from prospects who have reviewed my LinkedIn account. Local and international.

You get to position yourself as an expert

Here's a little tip I was completely unaware of until recently. I have never paid much attention to the groups I'd joined on LinkedIn. I found out from a fellow writer that I was told that I was missing out on a golden opportunity to find clients. Every so often someone from a group posts a question related to writing or marketing. My writer friend explained that she takes the time to answer these questions because it not only helps someone out, but it also helps others view her as an expert and brings attention to her writing services. She has gotten a few gigs this way.

Are you a LinkedIn member? What is your experience with this and other social networking sites?

Friday, May 8, 2009

How saying "No" to Clients Can Earn You Respect

Sometimes you just have to say "no." In business, it can be especially important. As your freelance writing business grows, you will undoubtedly encounter situations where saying "no" to your client is the best thing.

You can't do it all

Even if you are a generalist, a freelance writer who routinely handles a variety of different writing assignments (e.g. web copy, press releases, feature articles, etc.), there are some areas of writing you might prefer to pass on.

It's tempting to take on every assignment a client throws at you, but not always the wisest choice. Those dollar signs can be blinding. Sometimes its best to be honest and let your client know that a certain assignment is not within your area of expertise. Then you can offer to refer them to another writer better equipped to handle it. Doing so could boost your credibility significantly in their eyes. You become a viable resource they can trust.

Medical writing, business and finance topics and technical writing are just a few examples of writing services that require specialization.

You're all booked up

Don't you just love it when you're completely swamped with work? Well, sometimes it can become overwhelming, but it's a lot better going through the feast than dealing with famine. Of course these are also the times when every client you've ever worked with (along with a couple of new ones) comes out of the woodwork needing your skills.

When your plate is overflowing and you still try to take on more work, you run the risk of delivering a final product that is subpar. You not only risk disappointing your client, and possibly losing them, you're also risking your reputation. Learn to access the amount of work you can handle at one time. When clients continue approaching you, offer to do the work at a later date. If the client can't wait, have one or two trusted writers you can refer them to instead.

Am I giving away my clients?

Some writers balk at this worrying that by sending clients to someone else they will end up losing them. Actually, I hear more writers saying that their clients come back to them appreciating the fact that you had their best interest at heart enough to make sure their project got done correctly. You become a trusted resource that they return to knowing that you won't steer them wrong.

Setting up alliances with other freelance writers means that when they're busy they will occasionally send clients your way as well. This is a good way to build credibility with your clients and fellow freelancers, so why not?

Monday, May 4, 2009

My Freelance Writing Schedule

It's not exactly a set schedule – mainly because I conduct business each day with a two-year old under foot. Still, I try to create enough routine so that I actually accomplish something. I have chatted on forums with other freelancing moms. Some have scheduling down to a scary science. Every single second of the day is scheduled and accounted for. I guess we all have to do whatever helps us meet our goals.

I've had a few writers asking how I manage with four kids under the age of nine. My answer is sheer determination. The alternative, working for someone else, is not an option for me so I have to make this work.

Some days all goes according to plan, and on other days I just patiently wait for the end to come so that I can wake up in the morning and get a do-over. The unexpected usually occurs, but that's where the flexibility of being a freelance writer really becomes a benefit. Nevertheless, here is my daily schedule - of sorts:

5:00am-6:00am: Check email and write for an hour before getting kids up for school. I usually try to write my blog posts or proof and edit projects that are due one last time.

Wake kids to get ready for school. Wake husband for work. This includes making breakfast. By 7:30am we should be walking out the door to drop off kids at school and hubby at train station.

8:00am-9:00am: Return home. Snack and Mazy video for two-year old (yes, I still have a VCR/DVD player). Return emails, work on projects, update blogs (hopefully), and send out a few queries to businesses.

9:00am-10:00am: Workout. With two-year-old right beside me. Not easy, but essential since I sit at my desk all day. Sometimes I put him in a stroller and we take an hour long walk.

10:00am-12:00pm: Shower, change clothes and write while two-year old plays.

12:00pm-2:00pm: Thirty minutes for lunch, then two year old naps and I write like crazy. If he doesn't nap, he's usually content to lay quietly on the sofa with his pillow and blanket listening to music (no TV time) until he dozes off.

Off to get in car line to pick up kids from school (10 minutes away). Sometimes I bring along a notebook to write, or I'll bring my Alpha Neo Smart to work on a project, and then upload it to my computer once I return to my office.

3:00pm-4:00pm: Return home. Kids change clothes, wash up, get snacks and get ready to do homework. The two-year old colors quietly (sometimes). I am still working, but they know I'm available if there are questions about homework.

4:00pm-5:00pm: An hour of TV or playing outside (I take my Alpha Smart).

5:00pm-6:00pm: prepare and cook dinner. While dinner cooks, I sit with each kindergartener (twins) and take turns listening to them read their books the teacher sends home. Check eight-year old's homework.

Some days I'm completely done by this time, but most days I still have a few loose ends to tie up before bed. The kids are all in bed by 8:30pm. I get on the computer, check messages and sometimes write until around 10:00pm (if I'm on deadline, or have personal projects that need to get done). Otherwise I enjoy the evening spending time and watching television with my husband. I usually go to bed between 11:30pm and midnight. Lather, rinse, repeat. Care to share your schedule?
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