Category: Freelance Writing

Freelance Writing

How to Meet Your Deadlines Without Getting Burned Out

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Freelance work comes in cycles. You might be overbooked one week and have hardly anything the next. That’s why it’s so easy to get burned out — your workload changes so much. As a freelancer, you need to learn how to manage your time to meet your deadlines without getting overwhelmed or burned out. Take a look at these tips to help you do it.

Stay Organized

This one might sound like a no brainer, but creative types are notorious for being unorganized. This usually includes freelancers. However, there really is no excuse for it in this day and age. Computers help you avoid the stacks of paper on your desk. Plus, there are countless apps, day planners, and all sorts of other planning tools to help you track your to-do list and stay on top of your work.

Staying organized helps you meet your deadlines and monitor your workload so you don’t get burned out. Of course, overcoming your problem with procrastination is an entirely different matter. Procrastination is a major contributor to freelance burn out.

Don’t Take More Work than You Can Handle

Once you’ve gotten organized and stopped your bad procrastination habits, learn how much work you can handle in a given week or day. It’s hard as a freelancer to turn down work because you don’t always know when you’ll get more. However, you’re going to get burned out if you take too much. Before accepting a new assignment, make sure that you can easily fit it into your schedule without sacrificing quality.

Set Your Own Deadlines

When a client gives you a deadline, make sure that you set your own deadline ahead of your client’s schedule. Try to give yourself at least one or two days leeway in case something comes up or you run into questions that you need answered by the client before you continue. This helps you stay on top of your deadlines.

Plus, clients love when you turn work in early. So, setting your own deadlines helps you improve client relationships and get more work in the future.

For the most part, clients only care about two things — that you do quality work and that you meet your deadlines. So, those are the two things you should focus on.

Take a Day Off, or at Least the Weekend

If you work 10 hours a day, seven days a week, you’re going to get burned out. You need a day to yourself to unwind and take care of the chores in your personal life. It’s sometimes necessary to work through the weekend to meet your deadlines, but you should always make sure that you take some time for yourself away from your work.

As a freelancer, do you often get burned out? What do you do to avoid the problem? Leave a comment below.

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Does Being Young Give You a Disadvantage in the Freelance World?

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For the most part, I’d say no.

Most clients don’t care how old you are; all they care about is that you can do quality work and turn it in on time. That’s why you shouldn’t be scared to pitch your services to potential clients if you are young and new to the freelance world. After all, you have to start somewhere.

Experience Is More Important than Age

That being said, experience does help you get more work and at higher pay rates because you can show potential clients examples of your work and previous success. However, experience does not equal age and most clients understand this. Some people don’t become freelancers until much later in life. At age 25, you could have more experience in the writing field than someone who is 50+.

When you’re young, you should concentration on getting experience so that you can quickly earn more money and find better clients. Building an online portfolio of work is one of the best ways to show your experience to potential clients. Once you have some experience, being young won’t even be on your mind anymore.

When Age Does Matter

The only time age matters in the freelance world is when you meet a client face to face. People automatically get nervous when they see someone who looks too young to be a professional. It’s against the law to discriminate against people for race, religion, gender, or age, but that doesn’t stop people from doing it since there are relatively few ways to prove it actually happened. For example, I experienced some age discrimination when I was 25 and on my first business trip.

I worked for an information design firm on a project basis and was assigned to work on a business proposal that had a tight deadline. The client wanted me to fly out to Pennsylvania to work with the team face to face to make the project move quicker. I had worked for the client several times before the trip without any problems. However, when I got to Pennsylvania and met the client, I instantly lost trust and credibility because of my age. After that, the client started to get nervous about my abilities. Luckily, she turned out happy in the end when I did an awesome job and the project resulted in a three million dollar contract for her company.

This just goes to show that as long as you are confident and can deliver quality work, your age doesn’t matter in the freelance world. You just might have to prove that to your clients if you ever meet them face to face.

Clients Don’t Usually Know How Old You Are

Another thing to consider is that most of your clients will never see you face to face. This means you will be judged on your skills and abilities instead of preconceived ideas about your age. There’s really no reason to bring up your age with a potential client.

Ok, so you might be thinking, “What about online profiles?” Potential clients can see those.

Basically, you don’t want to make your age an issue. For instance, if you’re fresh out of college, I wouldn’t post a picture of yourself on your website that makes you look younger than you are. Make sure you always look professional. If you carefully choose all of your photos on social networks, you can avoid the “too young” scenario.

Have you been discriminated against because of your age in the freelance world? Share your experience in the comments below.

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Writer Beware: 10 Reasons to Turn Down Work from a Potential Client

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If you’re a new freelance writer, you’re probably eager to accept any, and all, new work. I’m here to tell you that’s a bad idea. Some clients will give you more headache than they’re worth. So, you need to be prepared to spot a difficult client. Take a look at these 10 red flags that you should turn down work from a potential client.

1. The Client Asks You to Work for Less than You’re Worth

The number one reason to turn down work from a potential client is if he is unwilling to pay you a fair rate. Some negotiation is acceptable, but you shouldn’t compromise your worth.

Content mills are often the worst offenders. I’m not saying you should avoid them entirely, but make sure that your hourly wage is justifiable. For instance, I don’t think you can even make minimum wage writing for two or three cents a word, even if you’re a really fast and efficient writer.

2. The Client Doesn’t Want to Sign a Contract

Once you’ve agreed on a wage, you should get a contract before completing any work for a new client. It ensures that you will actually get paid. A verbal agreement is not good enough — you need to have it in writing. If a client is not willing to sign a contract, you should turn down work from him or you might find yourself working for free.

Also, be careful of clients that only pay if they decide to use your work. This is called working “on spec.” If this is the case, make sure you have a clause built into your contract that confirms a kill fee, which means you’ll get paid no matter what.

3. The Client’s Business or Website Seems Fishy

Freelance writers are often victims of scams because scammers target people that work from home. That’s why you should thoroughly research potential clients before agreeing to do work for them. Make sure the potential client has a good reputation with the Better Business Bureau and his website looks professional and reputable.

Watch out for clients that want you to pay start-up fees to access a job board or to do your work. There are a few exceptions, but real clients won’t make you buy anything to get started. Also, be careful when giving out your personal information because you don’t want to fall victim to a phishing scam.

4. The Client Doesn’t Really Know What He Wants

Another thing to watch out for is a client that can’t tell you exactly what he wants. You might end up doing more work than you originally negotiated to do because the requirements will keep changing on you. The same is true if you come across a client that keeps asking for revision after revision. If that happens, you shouldn’t take further work from the client because it isn’t worth the hassle.

If the project is unclear, doesn’t have a specific set of requirements, or leaves you with too many questions, you should turn down the work. Of course, this isn’t always clear cut because if the compensation is high enough, you might not mind dealing with a little extra work.

5. The Client Asks You to Write a Sample

It’s perfectly acceptable for a client to ask to see samples of your work, but you shouldn’t be required to write something new on a specific topic in order to get a job. When this happens, the client is often looking for free work. He knows you will do your best in hopes of getting the job, but he also knows he doesn’t have to pay you for the sample.

This happened to me once and I won’t let it happen again. The potential client published my article with my name attached and I never heard from him again. I tried contacting him, but never got a response. I think this is just as bad as when someone steals your online content.

6. The Client Asks You to Write for Exposure

For some reasons, new freelance writers think that they need to work for free to build their portfolios and get actual paying clients. This is not the case at all. If you’re a new freelancer, you can’t charge as much money as an experienced freelancer, but there is no reason you need to work for free. So, think twice before doing work for a client with only exposure as compensation.

With this in mind, there are certain situations when writing simply for exposure can be a good thing. For instance, it’s good when you’re trying to build backlinks to a blog or website. Many online marketers do this as common practice, it’s called guest blogging.

7. The Client Promises Equity or a Percentage of Profits Instead of Pay

Start-up companies don’t typically have a lot of money to spend on freelancers, which is why they sometimes try to offer other types of compensation, such as equity. Yes, there’s a small chance that the client could make it big and pay you, but it’s usually not worth the risk. Politely decline the work and let the client know that you are willing to work once he has the money to pay you what you’re worth.

8. The Client Wants a Fast Turnaround Time

If a client comes to you with a huge amount of work but wants it done really fast, you should probably turn him down, unless you are sure you can complete all the work without compromising on quality. Clients that want a fast turnaround are usually difficult to work with. They don’t realize that you have work coming in from multiple places, and you can’t focus all of your time on them. If you take more work than you are able to handle, you’ll get burned out.

9. The Client Is Rude or Disrespectful

As a freelancer, you don’t have to deal with clients that are rude and unreasonable — you can simply turn down work from them. In the corporate world you might have to put up with a rude boss, but that is not the case when you run your own business. You get to choose who you work with and when.

Additionally, if a potential client tells you that the project will be really easy, you might want to think about turning him down because the client doesn’t realize how much time and effort goes into writing and editing. He probably won’t respect or value your work.

10. The Client Is a Friend or Family Member

It’s never a good idea to take work from friends or family because it can ruin the relationship. Firstly, you’ll be expected to give your friend or family member a good deal on price, and then there is no guarantee that you’ll actually get paid. Even if you’re really desperate for work, you should make it a rule to avoid any situation that could complicate your personal life. I learned this the hard way. Please, keep your work life and personal life separate.

If you have any doubts about the client at all, just say, “No.” It’s better not to deal with the hassle later. You don’t always have to accept every assignment presented to you. I believe that if more freelancers were to think like this, overall pay rates and respect for freelancers would increase. Too bad this will never happen since there are so many people willing to work for pennies and take crap from clients.

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Never Work for Friends or Family

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I’m always looking for more work, but I will never work for friends or family again. I suggest you do the same.

Don’t get me wrong; I will do writing/editing favors for friends and family, such as editing a school paper. I just won’t enter into a work relationship that involves compensation. That pretty much means no major projects that require tons of time.

Let me tell you why…

  • It Ruins Relationships
  • You May Never Get Paid
  • You Can’t Charge What You Want

How I Learned the Hard Way

My neighbor lost his job, which prompted him to take a break from the corporate grind and try something different. He decided to launch a coaching website where he would help people build their resume and find work. He wrote an entire motivational course about how to market your skills to employers and land an awesome job. The plan was to sell a subscription to the motivational course.

After writing the course, my neighbor needed an editor and solicited my services. I gave him a great deal since his wife was my friend ($0.01/ word). I edited the entire course and was compensated as we had agreed.

My neighbor loved my work and decided to pull me onto another one of his endeavors. It was another website, but service oriented instead of subscription based. I obliged since the first project went so well and I didn’t think there would be any problems with the second one… I was wrong.

I edited some website content for him and then never heard back. I sent follow-up emails for three consecutive weeks and he entirely ignored them. My phone calls were also being screened. My neighbor practically disappeared — he didn’t show up to church, I never saw him outside, and I lost all communication with him. Eventually, he ended up moving to another state, and I can’t help but wonder if it was partially because he was avoiding me.

I only ended up losing about $300 on the project, but that’s enough to make me upset.

The weird thing was that my neighbor’s wife still acted completely normal to me. I’m assuming she had no idea what was happening. I guess I could have been vocal to her in hopes of getting compensated, but I didn’t want to ruin that relationship, too. Plus, I knew her family was having a hard time financially while my neighbor was getting his business going. That’s what makes working for friends and family so hard — you feel bad about taking their money, but at the same time it hurts your business.

Have you had any bad experiences working for friends or family? Share them in the comments below.

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How the Affordable Care Act Affects Freelancers

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Disclaimer: I am not expressing my opinion about whether I agree with the Affordable Care Act or not. I am simply outlining what it is supposed to do and how this affects freelancers.

Health insurance is important because it protects you from costly hospital bills if you need extensive medical care. Despite this fact, many freelancers have chosen not to get health care coverage because the monthly costs are hard to manage. That is no longer an option since the Affordable Care Act (ACA) went into effect on January 1, 2014. All U.S. legal residents are now required under the law to have health care coverage or pay a penalty.

Why the U.S. Was Overdue for Health Care Reform

Before the ACA went into effect, people with health insurance had to pay high premiums to cover health care costs for people who were uninsured. This was partially because the Emergency Treatment and Labor Act prevented hospitals from turning anyone away that needed acute care and hospitals had to recoup the costs somewhere. The ACA attempts to even out the costs among all legal residents and get rid of the distributive injustice. The main goal of the ACA is to give all legal residents access to health care at a fair price.

Of course, the ACA also acknowledges that it is unlawful and unethical to require citizens to purchase something that is unaffordable. This is supported by the U.S. Constitution in Article 1, Section 8, Clause 3. Therefore, insurance costs are now based on individual earning levels. This means that if you have a low income, you’ll pay less for health care coverage. This is good news for many freelancers.

What Changes Are Made to Health Care Under the ACA?

The ACA doesn’t just make health care coverage affordable for everyone; there are several other significant changes. For instance, insurance companies are no longer able to deny coverage to people with pre-existing conditions and no maximum annual or lifetime limit can be placed on health insurance. There are also clauses that make preventative care free and allow people under the age of 26 to remain on their parents’ health insurance. These are just the highlights; you can read about the other changes on Healthcare.gov.

What Does the ACA Mean for Freelancers?

The ACA attempts to put freelancers, and all legal residents, back in charge of their health care. It does this by giving access to health care exchanges where everyone can purchase affordable health care coverage. There are HMO options and many other cost-saving options. Whether freelancers like it or not, they are required to get health care coverage.

People who are uninsured in 2014 are subject to a penalty. It is currently set at $95 for each adult or one percent of a family’s income, whichever is higher. Additionally, the penalty will go up every year. However, freelancers are eligible for a special tax credit if their income is under 400 percent of the Federal Poverty Level. This helps many freelancers who were previously uninsured.

The ACA has been the cause of a lot of debate, but everyone must comply since it is now law. As a freelancer, do you think the ACA helps you or hurts you? Leave a comment below.

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