Freelance Business Coaching — What is it & why should you care?

Freelance Business Coaching — What is it & why should you care?

JS, Medium

I get so many questions from new and aspiring freelancers — especially surrounding how to find and get clients, how to determine or raise prices, and how to “break up” with clients. Typically, I take the time to thoroughly write out an answer for each one, whether it’s on Quora, Facebook writing/freelancing groups, comments on my blog, or through email.

While I do still intend to write a guidebook of sorts for beginning freelancers with pitch examples, writing samples, scripts, contract templates, etc., I think doing one-on-one freelance business coaching is really helpful for people who want one-on-one help, advice, and accountability with a real person.

After all, having someone to answer questions, give direction and actionable steps to take, and hold you accountable may help you get more done!

I’ve been doing book coaching and free freelancing mentoring for several years now, and this felt like the perfect next step.

What is freelance coaching?

Great question! It’s basically interchangeable with career or business coaching — just focused specifically on freelancing.

It’s me as an expert, coach, and mentor to someone looking to start freelancing or for freelancers who want to level up and streamline their business.

Basically, if you want to start a side hustle as a freelancer selling your services or create a full-time freelance career, I can help!

Services include:

  • Deciding if you need a niche, and if so refining your niche
  • Marketing yourself and finding clients
  • Helping you pitch yourself to potential clients
  • How to determine your pricing/rates
  • How to negotiate rates with potential clients
  • How to raise your rates with existing clients
  • Time management and organization
  • Learning to identify “bad” clients/red flags and say no before ever starting to work with them
  • How to “break up” with a client you no longer want to work with
  • Helping you come up with copy for your website and write a bio
  • Free access to a contract template
  • Recommending free or low-cost tools and software that make your job easier (no affiliate links, no kickbacks, not required to use — just recommendations)

And more!

What do you think?

Are there services missing that you would find useful? Drop them in the comments and I can add them to the list!

Questions for YOU

Have you ever worked with a coach? What were your biggest positives and negatives when working with one?

Was there something that REALLY worked for you — or something that really, really didn’t and disappointed you?

I’d love to hear about YOUR experiences with coaches as the client and whether the coaching was “worth it” for you — or what would MAKE it worth it.

Thank you for your help!


Check out my book Concept to Conclusion: How to Write a Bookand learn everything you need to know to conceive of, outline, write, publish, and market a book!

Sign up for my mailing list for writing and freelancing news and information.


Other stories you may like:

The Tools That Run My Business

One Fast & Simple Way to Scale Your Freelance Business

Should You Start a Blog?

How to Expand Your Work With Existing Clients

How to Expand Your Work With Existing Clients

Copywriting, Entrepreneur, JS, Medium, Sales & Marketing

Marketing and looking for new clients is extremely important for small businesses, freelancers, and entrepreneurs. It’s how you grow and expand, right?

When you’re looking for ways to expand your business, the first thing most people do is look for new clients.

This is not a bad thing! In fact, I know that effective marketing and sales is imperative to the success of any freelancer.

But there are two key things many freelancers and entrepreneurs overlook when they are wanting new/expanded business and more money.

#1: Expand your work with existing clients.

It is easier and less expensive to keep a client than it is to get a new one. Both in terms of money (such as any marketing spending or other customer acquisition costs) and time (time spent maintaining a current client versus the time it takes to market and talk to and retain a new one).

That’s why strong customer service is so important for small businesses and freelancers. People want to work with freelancers who do a great job, stay organized, and are easy to work with. They continue working with you because you get stuff done and make it easy for them to keep the relationship going.

Price and rates are not generally the deciding factor in maintaining a client/freelancer relationship — or not usually the main factor (after all, they already agreed to your rates and hired you).

So, you have great customer service, are easy to work with, and your client likes you. What’s next?

Now, it’s time to expand the work you do for them. You already have a foot in the door — why not blow the door wide open?

Consider your offerings and what the client is currently getting and send them an email or, as I prefer to do for this, have a casual conversation.

I don’t make it into a big thing or make some formal announcement, I just take every opportunity to expand what I do with my clients.

For Example:

If I am already writing the text and story of a Kickstarter/Indiegogo campaign, I ask them if they also want me to write a script for the demo video, a press release, and/or an email marketing campaign, too.

Or if I am already ghostwriting blogs/articles for a client, I always ask if they want me to come up with topic ideas, source photos, upload the blogs to their site, and if they want me to write a couple of social media posts for each one (but not post, I do not like doing social media management).

Or if I am editing a book manuscript, I’ll ask if they are also interested in having me upload it to Amazon for them (if self-publishing) or help them write a query letter (if looking for a literary agent).

And when they are interested or if they have questions, I let them know what my new/additional rate will be to add that service onto my existing contract.

“I’m happy to do that. It’s going to be $xx per month/total on top of your existing payment. I can just add it to the same invoice. Want me to get started on that now or wait until next month/billing cycle?”

If YOU make it into a big deal or sound nervous or you over-explain or you don’t sound confident, then the client may not want to expand your services with them — even if they love working with you already.

For me, it is always a super casual conversation. “Hey, I was thinking about how you’re going to market your blog/you said yesterday you were thinking about how to market your blog. I am happy to write up 3 social media posts for each blog post I write and include hashtags for you. It would be about $50 more. Let me know which social media platforms you get the most traction on and I’ll research appropriate keywords and hashtags.”

Or something like “I know you plan to do a marketing campaign for this. What’s the plan? [listen to plan] Sounds great. I can definitely do a press release and a series of marketing emails for that. Yes, it’ll be $xx and I’ll just add it to the next invoice.”

I try to not wait for a client to ASK if I do an additional service or specific thing. I bring it up as soon as I notice they need something and offer it to them before they even need to ask.

If they have to ask then they likely are already thinking about/pricing out/considering someone for the service. Part of my customer service and relationship management strategy is anticipating their needs.

This way, when I offer myself to expand my services, I am clearly looking out for their best interests, anticipating their next need, and proving my value over and over again. I know what comes next and am experienced enough to understand their upcoming needs sometimes before they’ve started thinking about them.

As the expert, this should be something you can do, too, and it will absolutely benefit you to verbalize it to the client as soon as you notice they’ll have another need soon. The longer you wait, the more likely they will find someone else or do it themselves.

It comes back to confidence and customer service. You must be confident in your own skills and that the work you do benefits and helps and is good for the client. And then sell it to them!

#2: Ask for referrals.

It might seem like a no-brainer, but you might be surprised at how many freelancers either forget to ask for referrals, feel it is too intrusive, and/or don’t follow up.

Here are the steps you should be following:

  • Every single time your wrap up a project, ask your client if they know of anyone who may need similar services. It can be as simple as: “Hey, it’s been great working with you! I currently have availability for 1–2 new clients, so if you know of anyone who needs writing or editing work please let me know.”
  • For monthly/retainer (not project-specific) clients, I just ask that same thing after the first month or so and again at the third and sixth month, and so on. Just every now and then mention that if anyone needs anything, I am happy to work with them.
  • Every 6 months or so, check in with former clients to ask how they are doing and if they need any work now AND if they know anyone who might need something. Try another simple/easy check-in like the above: “[name], Hi, I just wanted to check in briefly and see how you’re doing. I hope you’re well and that business is booming! It was great working with you on [XYZ] last year. Are you in need of any writing or editing services now? Or do you know of anyone who may need my services? Oh, and here are a couple of recent articles I wrote that you may find interesting — [link1] [linke2]. Thank you and have a great day!”

If a client had a good experience working with you, they will generally be happy to refer you to others. Plus, no minds a brief check-in to see how they’re doing. It keeps your name at the forefront of their mind and reminds them of the work you do. Plus you provided a couple of free resources or articles they might find interesting — heck, they might even share one of them with their network, giving you new exposure to their audience.

If you’re worried it is somehow intrusive to ask for referrals, then you are not thinking with the business in mind. Have you ever in your life felt intruded upon or offended by someone saying “Great working with you! If you know of anyone who could use my services please let me know.”?

It is not intrusive to ask for referrals. It is incredibly common and even expected to a certain degree. Besides, if a client enjoyed working with you and had a good experience, why wouldn’t they be open to referring others to work with you?

Referrals are the #1 way I get new clients these days. In the last 2 years, 90% of my new clients have been referrals from others.

Those are my two best tips for expanding services with current and former clients.

Are you already doing these two things? Or one of them? If not, do you plan to incorporate them into your process?

And if you do NOT do these things — why not? What is the block or why does it feel like you “shouldn’t” or “can’t”?


Check out my new book Concept to Conclusion: How to Write a Book and learn everything you need to know to conceive of, outline, write, publish, and market a book!

Sign up for my mailing list for writing and freelancing news and information.


Other stories you may like:

15 Ways for You to Market Your Business Right Now

How to Get and Keep Clients as a Freelancer

Why Celebrities Posting Good/Charitable Deeds Is a Double-Edged Sword

The #1 Thing You Must Do to Be a Successful Entrepreneur

The #1 Thing You Must Do to Be a Successful Entrepreneur

Entrepreneur, JS

When people ask me how I became profitable immediately when I started my business, I always answer the same way:

“I didn’t spend ANY money on websites, business cards, marketing, or software/tools. I started by going out and FINDING CLIENTS first. That was my top and only priority. I had to prove there was a viable market for my skills before investing in anything.”

I started by being proactive and marketing myself and directly messaging potential clients. I answered job ads, messaged people via Instagram, LinkedIn, and Facebook, and offered my services. My message told them I could provide value with updating their website copy/blogging for them/writing marketing copy/editing books, etc.

I attached 2–3 PDFs of writing samples I’d previously written and gave a link to my free online blog.

My first 4 clients: 1 was from a direct marketing email. 1 was from Reddit’s ForHire sub, I responded to a posted ad. 1 was a response to a free ad I’d posted on Craigslist looking for clients/work, and 1 was from LinkedIn, where I directly messaged some of my contacts who are business owners/founders/CEOs, etc.

And I still get clients via social media! (Here is an article showing how I use social media to find clients with examples!)

So, getting and having clients is obviously important to having a successful business. That makes sense. But this post is NOT about marketing, this is just background info.

So, what’s the #1 tip?

Sure, marketing yourself is really the top way to be finding and gaining new clients, but what is the tip I was talking about for being a successful entrepreneur?

The #1 thing you need to do to be successful in ANY business is to have GREAT CUSTOMER SERVICE.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I know I am a decent, even a good writer. Am I the best writer in the world? Heck NO.

BUT I am extremely easy to work with.

People LIKE me, and they like working with me.

I ask questions and dig in to really understand what they need and want. I take copious notes and remember their needs and questions. I am honest; if I don’t know the answer to something, I’ll always say “I’m not sure, let me find out and let you know.” I DELIVER on my promises. Overdeliver whenever possible (getting things done before a deadline, offering extra advice, sharing ideas, etc.). I update them on my progress on their projects, so they never wonder what I’m doing or if their work is getting done. I don’t charge extra fees on top of my stated and agreed-upon rates. I make sure I have a pretty flexible schedule so I can be available to jump on a call or respond to emailed questions. I RESPOND to emails and calls quickly.

I have made it my mission to be easy to work with.

And it has made a huge impact on my business. I get a ton of client referrals, more than some other writers and editors I know. I get clients who come back to ask to work with me on different projects or different types of work. They’ll say, “Hey, do you do XYZ? I know it’s not what you usually do but…”

I make sure to give them information for free on our first call. If they are an author, I talk about publishing options and comparisons and offer to introduce them to my cover designer, if they’d like (I get no kickback or referral fee from doing so). If they are a company looking for a blogger, I offer some free ideas for topics and ways we can use calls to action.

This is what makes ANY business successful, but especially an entrepreneur.

You don’t have to be the best, most perfect expert in the world.

You have to be good at what you do, of course.

But most of all, you have to be someone people WANT to work with.


Check out my brand new book Concept to Conclusion: How to Write a Bookand learn everything you need to know to conceive of, outline, write, publish, and market a book!

Sign up for my mailing list for writing and freelancing news and information.


Other articles you may like:

Become a Digital Nomad by Starting Your Own Business in Retirement

Become a Digital Nomad by Starting Your Own Business in Retirement

Entrepreneur

This article is a guest post by Carla Lopez, owner & CEO of Boomer Biz.

Some retirees want nothing more than to relax and enjoy not having any serious commitments. Others feel like something is missing when they stop working. In the past, the only options were to either find a job or get by without one. Thanks to digital technology, seniors now have a third option: you can start your own business from home.

Unlike traditional small businesses, home-based businesses are easy to start with very little capital. Plus, you have the flexibility to work from home if mobility is a challenge, but you can also be a digital nomad and work from anywhere your heart desires! Investopedia defines digital nomads as “people who are location-independent and use technology to perform their job.”

Brainstorm the Best Ideas

If this sounds like the kind of retirement business you’d like, the place to start is with an idea. One option is to turn a hobby into a business. According to Business.com, the most important thing is to make sure your hobby is marketable. Do you make something that you can sell through your own website or an online marketplace? Or, do you have a skill that’s in demand, such as photography, writing, or graphic design?

Of course, you don’t have to start with a hobby to form a business. As long as you’re willing to learn, anyone can start an e-commerce business without having a specific hobby or skill.

Research the Latest Technology

Once you narrow down an idea, the next step is to develop a business plan and research what it will take to run your business successfully. To be a digital nomad, the main things you need are the right digital tools and apps. These are just a few of our favorites for getting started.

A Current Smartphone

You may need a laptop or tablet to do some work, but digital nomads also use their smartphones to get all kinds of business tasks done. This includes communication basics such as making calls and sending texts and emails. It also includes being able to run the latest apps for tasks like marketing and updating your website. In order to use your phone effectively, make sure you have a good data plan too. We suggest finding a provider that offers flexible or unlimited plans so you don’t run into costly overage charges.

Apps for Efficiency

When you start your own home-based business, it’s likely that you’ll be running a one-person show. This is why apps that increase efficiency are ideal because they help you get more done. One type of service we recommend is to use voice recording software. These services are easy to access online, and most provide free audio recordings for whatever you need. You can record podcasts for your marketing efforts or meetings you have with collaborators. While recording services are typically free, you can often pay a small fee to get your recordings transcribed.

We also love apps that increase efficiency by solving some of mundane but annoying parts of running a business. For example, Forbes recommends the app 1Password to keep track of passwords without compromising security, as well as the app Todoist for keeping up with everything you need to accomplish.

Cloud Storage Solutions

Of course, in order to get work done from any location, you need access to your files from wherever you are. According to Business News Daily, online data storage is one of the most important tech tools small businesses need to get started. There are lots of options out there, so compare the different services on the market to find the one that best fits your needs.

Running any business, even a home-based business in retirement, always takes work. The great thing about digital technology, though, is that it makes your work easier and more productive. This means all you really need are the right tools, and you can work from the comfort of your couch, a corner coffee shop, or a country halfway around the world!

Carla Lopez retired a couple of years ago, but she didn’t lose her entrepreneurial spirit. She created Boomer Biz for retirees like herself who still have a desire to work and achieve. The site is a resource for people in their golden years who want to start their own business or go back to work doing what they love. 

Where To Start When Writing a Book

Where To Start When Writing a Book

JS

The idea of “I am going to write a book” feels huge.

And overwhelming and hard.

And sure, it can be…if you let it.

One of the biggest mistakes first-time authors make is overthinking, overanalyzing, and just not getting started.

It’s easy to look at writing a book as one whole BIG step instead of as a series of smaller tasks and to-dos.

But here’s the fun part: You don’t have to start at the introduction or even at the beginning if you don’t want to.

If you have a comprehensive and complete outline, then you already know the order everything will be in for the entire book.

So, you can pick a topic or section which feels inspiring at that moment and just start writing.

If you spend so much time agonizing over that opening line that you never actually write it, what have you accomplished?

Just put words down on the page.

You can change it, edit, revise later. You can fix or change or delete anything.

But there have to be words to change.

It’s easier to fix bad writing than to start from a blank page every time.

I know that sounds silly, simple, maybe even stupid — but it’s true. You can always edit your work but there must first be work to edit.

You can do one, two, or seven drafts and change as much as you need to until it’s exactly what you want it to be.

You have to start somewhere!

Start with an outline

Create a solid outline and roadmap for your book. You’ll always know how to get there if you know exactly the path you plan to take.

Use your outline as the place to change the order, add topics, decide the structure, and identify if you’re missing important information or have some information that doesn’t really fit with the rest.

Treat your outline as the first draft of your book.

Then it won’t feel as hard to start writing — because hey, the first draft is done, now it’s just about fleshing it out!

How do I know?

Well, because I’ve written books. More than that, I’ve helped a bunch of OTHER people write books, from really refining their concept to breaking down the writing process to putting the manuscript in order, publishing, and even using their books as marketing tools for their businesses.

I love books.

I admit it, I’m a huge book nerd. Book nerds unite!

I’ve written 3 of my own books, did book coaching for dozens of authors to help them start and finish their books, and even ghostwritten a few books!

I edit book manuscripts as a big part of my business….and I also still read books for fun!

See? Book nerd.

And I just wrote my third book. It’s freaking awesome and I’m super excited. It’s coming out Tuesday, November 26th because I might be an idiot and want to release it right before the holidays.

It’s an easy read and a great reference to walk ANY author through the writing process, and it is geared specifically toward nonfiction authors (though part two has some really awesome information on the editing process, publishing, and marketing which will help fiction authors, too!).

You don’t have to read it, I won’t make you.

But I am extremely proud of it and if you do read it, I know for a FACT it will be useful and give you straightforward no-BS knowledge to break down the writing process and learn step-by-step how to get that book out of your head and out into the world.

Concept to Conclusion: How to Write a Book comes out TOMORROW! It will be FREE for 48 hours ONLY starting tomorrow morning (November 26)!


Sign up for my mailing list for writing and freelancing news and information.

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month

JS, Medium

It’s horrible to think about, terrifying to live through, and needs to be talked about.

As you well know, I do NOT shy away from talking openly about difficult subjects.

The University of Utah is holding SafeU Month, where there will be dozens of opportunities to engage in safety awareness, education and training opportunities on campus. See what’s happening throughout the month here.

They are stating that “safety is a culture” and they are right.

They launched the month by publishing a list of resources, trainings, actions, and library book list for students, faculty, and the general public.

On it, they included You Are Not Alone, my collection of 56 deeply personal stories from women and men around the world of their experiences with sexual assault, abuse, and harassment.

I am honored and grateful that the University of Utah stocks my book and encourages it as a resource for those who need it.

If you are experiencing domestic violence, there are help and resources at both the state and federal levels in the U.S.

Federal:

State:

Each state is different as to what they offer in resources.

Signs of an abusive relationship:

If your partner is isolating you from family and friends, has anger issues, is controlling, or physically harms you or threatens to harm you or the people/things you love, please get help and get away safely. Here is a list of signs to look for to determine if you are in an abusive relationship.

And remember, physical violence is never “just one time.” It will get worse. Be strong.

  • Tells you that you can never do anything right
  • Shows extreme jealousy of your friends and time spent away
  • Keeps you or discourages you from seeing friends or family members (isolation)
  • Insults, demeans, or shames you with put-downs
  • Controls every penny spent in the household
  • Takes your money or refuses to give you money for necessary expenses
  • Looks at you or acts in ways that scare you
  • Controls who you see, where you go, or what you do
  • Tells you what to wear and how you should look
  • Prevents you from making your own decisions
  • Tells you that you are a bad parent or threatens to harm or take away your children
  • Prevents you from working or attending school (isolating you)
  • Destroys your property or threatens to hurt or kill your pets
  • Intimidates you with guns, knives or other weapons
  • Pressures you to have sex when you don’t want to or do things sexually you’re not comfortable with
  • Pressures you to use drugs or alcohol
  • Threatens to kill you or someone close to you
  • Throws things or punches walls when angry
  • Yells at you and makes you feel small
  • Keeps you from eating, sleeping, or getting medical care
  • Locks you in or out of your home

Be safe, always.

How Saying “No” Has Made Me Successful

How Saying “No” Has Made Me Successful

Entrepreneur, JS, Medium

When I first started my business, I said yes to everything. You need a press release? Sure! You want help with a sales strategy? Of course! Oh, you need me to design the information architecture for your new website? Why not?

I didn’t always know exactly how to do some of the things I said yes to. But I kept saying yes.

And I learned. I researched and figured it out, and the clients had no idea it was the first time. Confidence comes in handy!

Remember, being an expert doesn’t mean you know everything, being an expert means knowing that you DON’T know something are not afraid to go find the answer. Being an expert is knowing how to find those answers.

I said yes to everything because I was at the very beginning of building my business. I didn’t have any long-term clients yet, and I was doing what I could to make money but was not completely sure what direction my business would eventually take.

I thought I needed to say yes to everything so that I could make money.

In fact, looking back now, there is no way I could have predicted where I would be now, almost three years later. My business has evolved, I have cultivated relationships and have clients I adore, and my focus has shifted significantly from where I started.

And saying yes to everything helped with that! At least, at first. I was able to try new things and discover I was good at them and enjoyed doing them. I was able to come to the realization that some things were not what I wanted to spend my time on and focus on. I even wrote about what I learned in that first year freelancing, and it has been amazing to see the growth.

I’ve spoken before about how what happens when you’re working on things you don’t want to do, and how to break up with clients. This was something I had to learn.

There was one time when I was telling my husband about how one of my clients paid well but was really pushing me into working entirely on sales and marketing projects. Things I didn’t want to spend so much time on. But the money was good and I felt like I couldn’t turn away guaranteed income.

He looked me in the eye and said, “Isn’t the biggest perk of being an entrepreneur getting to do the work you want?”

It was like a light bulb turned on in my head. Of course, it is. That is why I became an entrepreneur in the first place!

The next day, I spoke with that client and broke up with them. It was the best decision for me and opened me up to other new possibilities.

Saying No

As I continue to re-frame and evolve my business and discover new things I love to do, I am finally saying no to work. I still often say yes to interesting new things that I want to learn, but I have given myself permission to turn down paying work that I don’t want to do.

I am making good money now, and am in a position where I am able to be aligning everything with what I WANT to be doing. I don’t need to take low-paying projects to make ends meet anymore, and I don’t want to.

When a prospective client says to me, “Well, that is too much money for this.” Instead of negotiating as I did at the beginning, I simply say, “Ok, what is your budget?” And if there is no compromise to be made (less work to fit within their budget) then I walk away.

You are allowed to say no to doing things that do not fit within your business model.

You are allowed to say no to someone who wants to pay you far less than what you are worth.

You are allowed to say to people you don’t want to work with — for any reason. You are allowed to choose who you do and DO NOT want to work with. If someone treats you badly, yells at you, or does not appreciate you, guess what? You have the power and authority to hop on the Nope Train and not work with them. Chug right along to the next one.

And I know that this can be easier said than done. Trust me, I get it. When you’re not making the money you want, you feel like you need to say yes to just make more money. But the truth is that by saying yes to things you DON’T want, you’re stealing that time from focusing on marketing and finding the right clients, the right projects, the ones you are best at and want to do.

Evolving

As my business continues to evolve, I am able to continuously find new and interesting ways to stretch my talent and grow as a person and as a business owner.

Most importantly, I continue to find things I love to do, say no to things I don’t want to do, and work with amazing people.

This allows me to also be able to work on passion projects outside of my client work, such as writing and publishing my first book in 2017 and then my second book in 2018, creating a book writing mastermind last year, and now working on my third nonfiction book.

Giving myself more space in my business to do the work I want and the projects I love has been great for me and allows me to be creative while still continuing to grow my business.

How did you learn to say no to work? Has this been beneficial to you and your business? If you have never said no to working with someone or on something — why not?

Self-Publishing vs. Vanity Publishers vs. Trade Publishers

JS

Photo by Debby Hudson on Unsplash

I came across this question on Quora: “ Why do publishing companies charge authors for publishing their books when the publishing companies make their money from a percentage of book sales?

Here is the answer:

They don’t. What you’re referring to are “vanity publishers,” which are companies that help authors SELF-PUBLISH their books. They charge for editing, formatting, cover design, and often marketing and promotions to help your book get exposure.

They are typically far more expensive than simply self-publishing your own book. They also typically require an upfront payment and do NOT take royalties from book sales.

Traditional publishers do NOT charge the authors any money and take care of editing, formatting, cover, publishing, distribution, and promotions and DO share royalties with the author for all book sales.

If you are a big enough author, they may offer an advance payment on future royalties, however, most trade publishers these days do not pay first-time authors an advance and instead start paying royalties from the first book sale.

Why Do People Use Vanity Publishers?

There are a few reasons why someone would use these online vanity publishers.

  1. They don’t know how to or are intimidated by self-publishing. (Or do not know how to find professional editors, designers, and formatters and want help.)
  2. They don’t know how to market or promote their self-published book.
  3. They do not know the difference between vanity and traditional publishing.

These are the main reasons I have seen. I’ve worked with several vanity publishers as an editor and have had a good experience with most of them.

While I, personally, believe that most vanity publishers overcharge for their services, I also know that many authors are happy with these services and get to realize their dreams of being published authors without having to find, interview, and retain professionals for editing, formatting, and their cover, and can hand over that responsibility to people who know what they are doing.

The marketing and promotions aspect is something many vanity publishers do well. They know how to use social media, ads, and blogs and podcasts to get their authors exposure the authors may not know how to get themselves.

These promotions often lead to book sales, which is what the author wants.

Upfront Payments

The payments are the main difference between vanity publishers and traditional publishers. While most vanity publishers are NOT promoting themselves as trade publishers, many people not familiar with the publishing industry simply don’t know the difference and may feel duped.

As an author, it is really your responsibility to do your research and identify if the company you’re working with is really what you want.

A simple breakdown is this:

  • Vanity publishers require upfront payments for their services, do not usually distribute your physical books to bookstores and libraries, and the publishing is done under the author’s Amazon account. There are generally NO SHARED ROYALTIES on book sales. [Note: If you’re talking to a vanity publisher and they want to split royalties, run away. It’s YOUR Amazon account. How will they know the book sales or how much you owe them? How long will they want royalties? You are already pre-paying for their services.]
  • Trade publishers do not cost the author any money. They take on the risk of paying for everything with the assumption your book will sell enough copies to make a profit for both them and the author. The publishing is done under the company name and not your personal Amazon account. They distribute to many physical and electronic locations.
  • Self-publishing is truly doing it yourself without the help of marketing or people who know editing and formatting vendors. You find those people yourself, pay them for their services, and upload your own book to Amazon.

Self-Publishing vs. Vanity Publishers

The end result is the same. Whether you do it yourself or a vanity press does it for you, your book will be self-published under your personal Amazon account and royalties will be sent directly to you, and you’ll be able to track book sales on KDP.

It’s the process of getting your book ready for publishing and then promoting it which the vanity press addresses. Some people simply don’t have the time or inclination to do it themselves and prefer someone who knows what they are doing to just take care of it. This is where vanity publishers shine. They understand the process, have the vendors, and know what books need to be ready for publishing.

It is up to the author to decide what is right for them and how they prefer to publish.

Just remember — being self-published does not preclude you from being picked up by a traditional publisher later. I know, it happened to me. Some people think it does and blame self-publishing, but that is truly not the case. Self-publishing is a great way to get your work out there, get book sales and exposure, and be a published author while retaining full creative control.

What are your thoughts on the different ways to publish?

Self-employed vs. Employed: Pros & Cons

JS

Which is better??


Photo by Martin Shreder on Unsplash

This is not going to be some deeply controversial rant about why one way of making a salary is better or worse than the other.

This is not a verbose way to toot my own horn and make you spend your time and energy reading about how great I am.

This is not an article filled with cat pictures (sorry).

Because the question of “Which is better?” is an unfair question. The “right” answer is completely subjective.

I am currently self-employed and I love it, though of course there are drawbacks.

I previously worked for 10 years in corporate America and it was also both good and bad.

There are “dream jobs,” of course, but the reality is that even your dream job has drawbacks and days that suck sometimes.

Both self-employment and traditional employment have advantages and disadvantages, it is truly about what is best FOR YOU as an individual and for your family.

As Quora user Kelven Swords points out:

Pros:

  • YOU make the decisions, no one else… and you thus reap the rewards.
  • YOU control the finances, no one else… and you thus reap the profits.
  • YOU determine who is on staff, no one else… and you thus control the social structure.

Cons:

  • You make the decisions… thus have no one else to blame for your errors.
  • You control the finances… thus have no one else to blame for any wasted money.
  • You determine who is on staff… thus you have no one else to blame for any parasitic staff members who poison the well.

Let’s take it a step further than what Kelven has described above.

There are obvious advantages to working for yourself.

  • You can set your own working hours.
  • You choose who to work with…and who NOT to work with.
  • You have significantly more control over processes, contracts, clients, work, time, and everything else.
  • You can work in your pajamas — and even sleep in!
  • You get to build great relationships with your clients because you’re steering the ship and choosing how to cultivate those relationships.

There are some obvious disadvantages, as well.

  • You have no one else to rely on.
  • You do not have a manager setting tasks or deadlines, so all deadlines are self-imposed, which can be difficult for some to manage and stick to.
  • Time management becomes extremely important, which is hard for many.
  • No company insurance or other benefits.
  • No sick time, paid vacation time, or maternity leave.
  • Less stability in terms of income.
  • You will find yourself working far more than 40 hours most weeks.
  • You do not have coworkers and it can be sometimes lonely and isolating.
  • You are probably not an expert in every single thing a business needs: processes, sales, closing sales, marketing, website building and maintenance, creative stuff, contracts, organization, admin work, etc.
  • Higher potential for burnout/overworking.
  • Doing your taxes is harder.

When it comes to working for a company, you are getting some very specific advantages, in terms of a stable, dependable income, medical and other benefits, having people to ask when you need help, and being told what you should be doing.

Something people rarely think about when dreaming of being self-employed is the lack of structure and organization.

You have to create your own schedule, keep yourself on task, make sure work gets done, track deadlines, invoices, payments, all business expenses, and create a structure to your day.

It is incredibly easy to lose track of time or lose focus and end up spending half your day on social media when no one is watching!

There are many tools out there to help you get organized and create a structure for your day. Some are free and some cost money — which you need to keep track of so that you can make sure to deduct it on your taxes as a business expense.

Taxes are different and a bit more difficult when you work for yourself, and you have to save some of your income to pay it, and it WILL be a difficult check to write.

If you have personal assets, you’ll need to consider if it makes more sense for you to be a sole proprietor, LLC, S-Corp, or several other options, each with their own benefits and drawbacks. There is much research involved in starting your own business!

For Me

Being my own boss has been fun, challenging, interesting, and lonely. I love being a writer and being able to choose what I write and who I work with, and I created a business model which works well for me.

I also continuously refine and evolve my business offerings, update my own website, look for clients, maintain my social media accounts, and blog regularly. All of which is part of running my business, but is ultimately unpaid work.

I love my business and what I do, but I also enjoyed my work as a Business Development Director in the recruitment industry. I had a great boss, cool coworkers, a stable and dependable paycheck, and a set end time to my workday, none of which I now have.

However, I have the freedom to do the work I want, charge the rates I want, and am much more flexible with my schedule. I can go to the gym in the middle of the day, run errands whenever I want, work in the middle of the night if I am so inclined, and pet my cat all day.

For You

It’s about what works best for you. Don’t put pressure on yourself to be one way or the other or let people tell you one is “better” or more “right” for you than the other.

Make plans, do research, interview people, and figure out what is best for youand make sure you have a clear idea of both the advantages and disadvantages so you are well informed!

Top 3 Myths of Freelancing Debunked

Top 3 Myths of Freelancing Debunked

Entrepreneur, JS, writing

There are a few overriding myths when it comes to freelancing as a writer. I see these all the time and want to address the top 3.

  1. 1. You have to work for free or at a very low price to get “experience.”

2. You have to specialize in one niche to make decent money.

3. You should do stuff for free or little money to build a “portfolio.”

You have to work for free or at a very low price to get “experience.”

I have been very clear that you should never ever work for free. Never. There is NO REASON anyone would ever need you to work for free to “prove yourself” or as a “trial.” That is what writing samples are for, and your time is worth money. Your skills are valuable. Any potential client who asks you to work for free — even on just one piece — is scamming and taking advantage of you.

Pricing yourself appropriately is understanding that you and your skills have value and not compromising that. It took me some time to learn that just because writing comes easier to me does not mean it is WORTH LESS than writing from someone who struggles.

In fact, it is worth more and is more valuable because writing does not come easily to all people. Which is why they hire you. If they could do it themselves, they wouldn’t need to hire someone.

Also, as a side note, all freelancers will tell you that the clients who negotiate and dicker and force you down to the lowest possible price are the most demanding and negative “bad” clients and always looking for something for free.

You have to specialize in one niche to make decent money.

When it comes to this second myth, it could not be more wrong. It is also not the only or necessarily “best” way to do it. Specializing is just ONE way to be a writer, and it drives me up a wall that writers preach like this is gospel. Yes, specializing could make searching for clients slightly easier, but I have gone in-depth explaining how choosing to be open and work in many different topics has allowed me to have more clients, more diversity in my work, make more money, and market myself to ANYONE instead of just those within a small niche.

Sometimes people say that because they are bad at (or don’t like) selling themselves or marketing their business. They find it easier to market themselves when they are only going after one type of business, so they can say “See? I only work on your topic, hire me!” They may even claim you can get paid more for specializing.

I like to market myself and see everyone as a potential client, so I have a lot of clients. While you may be able to charge more for super-technical or specialized topics (“I only write about drones and understand all technical aspects!”), most general topics like business, law, beauty, fashion, medical marijuana, entrepreneurship, etc., are fairly general and require little research to create a great article.

It has been my observation that deciding not to go into a specific niche has made for more successful and well-rounded writers.

In addition, being a generalist has given me a lot of knowledge on many different topics and I find my clients like that I am a jack-of-all-trades because it means I can help them with more types of things.

You should do stuff for free or little money to build a “portfolio.”

You don’t need a freaking portfolio. You don’t even actually need a website to get started. Not many people really go to my website, but I knew I “should” have one eventually.

You need writing samples.

That’s it. I have been completely profitable and sustainable as a freelance writer for almost a year and when potential clients ask for writing samples, I send them here to my Medium so they see various posts and styles and topics. Before I had a Medium blog, I sent prospects a couple of PDFs of articles I have written.

That’s it.

Just examples of your writing. If you are just starting out, do what I did. Go to your blog and grab a couple of pieces you like, re-edit them and then throw them into a PDF. You can also write up 2–3 new articles if you want some new pieces or more diversity. In total, you should have about 3 well-written writing samples of 500–700 words.

Potential clients don’t care about a beautiful website or a perfect portfolio. They just need to know you can write well.


When you are first starting as a freelancer, don’t waste your time trying to make the perfect website or write ads or any other of the million excuses there are to NOT reach out and find a paying client. And there are so many ways to find clients!

I’ve written before about finding clients and how they are everywhere! And about how being open to new opportunities is what allowed me to have such diversity in my clientele. I’ve spoken about how important it is to be confident in yourself and your writing.

Build a business you are excited about and interested in. Work with people you like, writing things you enjoy and learn from.

Be interested, confident, excited, and happy!

But Christ on a cracker, you do not need a freaking portfolio.

Check out my new YouTube channel!