How to Get Paid What You Are Worth!

How to Get Paid What You Are Worth!

Entrepreneur, JS, Medium

Even when you don’t have as many clients as you would like or if you’ve been working with someone for a long time, you deserve to get paid for your time and your skills.

As a freelancer, it is hard to keep this particular boundary in place.

It’s so damn easy to say, “Sure, it’s not THAT much less, and we’ve been working together for a long time…”

But you’re devaluing yourself and your brand.

It can be nervewracking or difficult to have the money conversation with potential clients and more so when you need to have it with people you’re already working with.

But it must happen.

Your time is your most important commodity. There are millions of writers out there, but you want to work with me.

Whether that is because I was referred to you by a trusted source, or you read my books, or we got on a call and we just clicked, there is a reason you’re interested in working with me specifically.

And yes, I am a damn good writer. I know it, you know it. It’s how I make a living and I know for a fact that I’m good at it. I am nothing if not confident in my skills.

If I am editing your book or helping you write one, it’ll be edited well. If I’m blogging for your company, they will be researched well-written posts.

I have had to have the money conversation with every client I’ve ever had.

Sometimes it is at the beginning of the process when we’re putting together contracts and agreeing on a price.

Sometimes it is after we’ve been working together for a while and my responsibilities or time commitment has increased.

Either way, I approach it professionally and politely.

And I approach it similarly to how I used to ask for a raise from a manager in my corporate days.

First, I look at how many hours per week I’m working for them, and divide my monthly retainer fee by the number of hours. If the result is less than I want to be making per hour or less than we originally agreed upon, I bring it up to them.

“Hey, it has been great working with you. In the last 4 weeks, the number of hours I’m working on stuff for you has increased to X, which is putting me Y dollars per hour. We need to discuss either me working less and what tasks you want to take off my plate or renegotiating my monthly fee.”

And then let them talk. They may have questions or may hem and haw or may put a hard boundary down and not be willing to discuss a higher rate.

That’s fine.

If that’s the case, I will work fewer hours and continue on at the same price.

If not, we’ll discuss what I want to be paid and come to a mutual decision.

Either way, I make more money. Because I either have free time to get a new client or make more from the one I already have.

You cannot be afraid to discuss money with clients. As a freelancer, you are your own advocate, your own salesperson, and your own biggest obstacle.

It doesn’t matter if it makes you uncomfortable to talk about money. These people are your clients. They are paying for your services. They understand the relationship. They are not your best friend for whom you’re doing a favor.

Buck up. You are running a business, not a charity.

I know, right? Truth bomb.


Are you picking up what I’m putting down? Check out my story and freelancing guide, “Write. Get Paid. Repeat.” with tons of practical info packed into a short book! I also created a writing course called “How to Write a Book in 3 Months.” Check it out here!

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How My Writing Has Evolved with Time

How My Writing Has Evolved with Time

JS, Medium, writing

Writing is so interesting because it is one of those things which is both a skill and a talent.

The difference between those two is that a skill is a buildable, progressive thing you can practice and work on and improve on over time and a talent (at its core) is more inherent. It’s something you have.

Those are my definitions. Let’s check in with Merriam-Webster for the official ones.

Skill: “1a: the ability to use one’s knowledge effectively and readily in execution or performance

b: dexterity or coordination especially in the execution of learned physical tasks

2: a learned power of doing something competently: a developed aptitude or ability. Language skills”

Talent: “1a: a special often athletic, creative, or artistic aptitude

b: general intelligence or mental power; ability

2: the natural endowments of a person”

Oh, good! Pretty similar. Feels good — and I love words and knowing and learning precise definitions and synonyms, antonyms. I am a proud word nerd.

Singing is another great example. You can be born with and grow up with a good or great singing voice, and you will still improve and learn to sing even better with practice and lessons.

My Writing Evolution

I was recently asked about how my writing has evolved or changed over the years and I was struck by how fantastic of a question it was.

My writing has evolved over time from being more personal and for me (such as LiveJournal and my first Blogspot blog) to writing FOR and TO an audience and my readers.

I am much more focused on trying to give information or teach something than in just writing to myself. I can write to myself in a journal, and I sometimes do, but I now prefer my online writing to be useful and valuable to others.

I also write for my business. As a freelance writer, I am often writing for specific companies or people. I needed to learn how to write in different tones and styles in order to get their messages across while fitting their brand.

Even when I wrote my books, they are both so different in style, tone, messaging, and audience. The writing for each is different and distinct.

It’s extremely interesting to think of the changing, adapting, and evolving writing.

How has your writing changed over the years?

Are you picking up what I’m putting down? Check out my story and freelancing guide, “Write. Get Paid. Repeat.” with tons of practical info packed into a short book! I also have a brand new writing course called “How to Write a Book in 3 Months.” Go to the site to learn more!

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How To Be Confident in Your Entrepreneurial Journey

How To Be Confident in Your Entrepreneurial Journey

Entrepreneur, JS, Medium

What is the most important part of being an entrepreneur? Confidence. You have to believe with every fiber of your being that you‘re doing the right thing, on the right path, and that the hard work is totally worth it.

Sometimes I joke about working 14 hour days, so I must be a hustler, but it was true. I started my business while I still had a full-time day job, a sales career I’d built for almost 10 years, and have been successful in. I enjoyed my career and the opportunities I had within it.

I’ve met some of the most amazing people, learned from the best bosses, and gotten marketing, conference, travel, and training opportunities I would never have had otherwise. I appreciate what I accomplished, and in some ways, the transition to entrepreneurship has been bittersweet.

I’d been working nights and weekends for a few months building my own writing business. Every free moment was spent communicating with clients, research for articles, writing articles and copy for websites, editing, sending it to the client, posting it online, sharing, etc. And when I wasn’t doing that, my time needed to be spent marketing myself and my services and looking for additional clients, then following up with potential clients, proposals that are out, checking on invoices, and applying to additional writing gigs.

I was so busy, and it was exhausting, but it was also pretty amazing to see what I’m capable of. I may have been tired sometimes, but I was also invigorated and interested in my clients and what I was doing. I was building something from nothing, which is extremely exciting and also terrifying.

Interestingly, many of my clients are entrepreneurs themselves, so I’m also surrounded by incredibly smart, funny, interesting people who completely understand my journey and are excited to be a part of it.

I’ve also had the very interesting discovery of learning to utilize Instagram as best as I can. I’d never really used it at all but decided to give it a shot, and hey — free marketing. It’s been fantastic! I’ve gotten half of my client list from Instagram. I’ve been enjoying posting pictures, engaging with people, and really finding fascinating new people all over the world to follow. It’s a really cool visual platform.

As I got more clients, I took my leap of faith — in myself. I quit my day job to focus on writing and editing full-time.

That was over 18 months ago, now. And every day I am confident in my journey and my abilities and myself.

I’m busy, but I am supported and growing and learning and excited and some days I don’t know exactly what I’m doing, but I keep learning and researching and I will not stop. I will NOT STOP because I know I can do this.

What’s an important quality to being an entrepreneur? CONFIDENCE.

I am good at what I do, I deserve to do it, and I am bringing great value to my clients. I am completely confident in these things.

How can YOU be more confident?

Identify what you’re good at. What do you feel you are good at and like doing? What special skills do you have?

Once you know what you’re good at AND feel good doing, you’ll feel that spark of confidence — you KNOW this is something you’re great at, no matter what it is.

Body language. Act confident, walk with your shoulder back and head up. Project confidence.

Research if there is a way for you to use your skills in a career you’d find fulfilling. I am confident in my writing, and I found a way to be a writer.

I know it sounds a bit simplistic, but confidence boils down to how you FEEL about your skills and yourself. You don’t have to be confident in everything about yourself to be successful. That’s not realistic for most people.

Find something you ARE confident in and build from there.

And remember — you can fake it ’til you make it. When you project confidence and act confident, you will internalize that feeling and the reactions and will continue to act that way, which eventually becomes a real part of you.

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How Saying “No” Has Made Me Successful

How Saying “No” Has Made Me Successful

Entrepreneur, JS, Medium

You are allowed to say no to work you don’t want to do.

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 know how to do half the things I said yes to. But I kept saying yes.

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 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 also 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, over a year and a half 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! 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 recently wrote about what I learned in my 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.

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 really was not wanting 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.

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 really 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 like 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 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 allowed to choose who you do and DO NOT want to work with. If someone treats you badly, or 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.

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 like writing and publishing my first book 6 months ago or putting together my second book, where I have been able to put together an anthology based on the #metoo movement.

Allowing myself more space in my business to do the work I want and the projects I love has been perfect for me and allows me to continue to be creative while also 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?

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Relationship Building for Freelancers: How to Get & Keep Clients

Relationship Building for Freelancers: How to Get & Keep Clients

Entrepreneur, JS, Medium, Sales & Marketing

Apparently, most writers aren’t good at marketing and many salespeople aren’t the best at writing. Or at least that is what people keep telling me.

I am lucky enough to be both, which has been extremely successful for me. It has truly been my superpower, which allowed me to be my own boss and get my business up and running very quickly.

Relationship building is an extremely important skill. Many people who consider themselves extroverted or a ‘people person’ may also find that they are strong at job interviews and good at networking in group settings.

However, more introverted people may find themselves at a surprising advantage in the one-on-one relationships and phone calls which freelancing often requires.

95% of my work and communication is done via email, text, slack, Facebook messenger, etc. And while I am an outgoing, talkative person, this mode of communication is fast, easy, and best of all — does not require pants. But there are ways to be great at phone calls and written communication.

Phone Calls & Relationships

When it comes to winning over potential clients, I believe in the power of a great conversation.

When a prospect is asking me about pricing and information, I don’t just shove my website in their face and tra-la-la away to my next task.

I ask them for a time to jump on a phone call. Instead of giving them a straight-up price, I explain that prices depend on needs and scope of projects, and that monthly retainers are often less expensive than paying per project, per word, or per hour. I say:

“The price depends on your exact needs and can also be impacted by how long we plan to work together. Are you available this afternoon or tomorrow to jump on a short call with me? I can do 3pm EST today or 1pm-4pm tomorrow.”

What I have done here is set them up to expect individual, customized attention and pricing for their needs, and after mentioning the call, instead of leaving it open-ended, I have provided specific time frames.

People are psychologically more likely to respond to the specific timeframes than just a general request for a phone call. It also shows my professionalism. I am available right away, but at specific times. I know my schedule and keep it. I am also punctual.

Once I get them on the phone, I’m golden. I love talking to people and it shows. I smile while I talk to them, I ask and answer questions. I show them my value by giving free information. For example, if we are discussing blogging, I’ll throw out a couple of facts and statistics about SEO and content marketing. If they want book coaching, I tell them what the process looks like and give them information on general lengths of books in different genres and discuss pros and cons of traditional versus self-publishing.

Another thing I do is weekly phone calls with each of my clients. It is a chance for us to check in, update them on my work and progress, and sets and manages expectations on both sides for the week ahead. It also serves to continue to build and solidify our working relationship.

Email & Relationships

Because most communication is done over email, I make sure to let them know what I am up to or ask questions when I need. I am professional but personable over email, saying “hey” and using their first name, unless they have specified not to or are much more formal.

My clients never need to ask what I am working on or where I am at with their work because I make sure to let them know.

I offer free email support to my book coaching clients and make sure to respond to people in a timely manner.

Once they are my clients, I stop selling them. They know what my services are and if they want additional ones, they always let me know. I don’t try to promote my other services or upsell them anymore unless they ask. I might say offhandedly, “Hey, you may not have thought about it, but some social media management would work really well with what we are doing now and would promote your company faster and better. Here are a couple of examples ___. Let me know if you want to discuss it further, and I am also happy to recommend a couple of other fantastic people.”

Because that shows it’s not about ME. It is about what is best for THEM and their company. I’m not saying it just to make more money, I even offered to refer them to someone else!

That is because honesty, trustworthiness, and transparency are the pillars on which I have built my business. I am not afraid to say “I don’t know,” and then go find the answer. I am not so self-centered as to think I’m the only person who can do what I do or even the best at it.

I am selling prospects on working with me, specifically, not with a writer in general. They don’t only need to know the benefits of writing, they need to see what working with me will be like. How well do I communicate? Do I remember information from previous conversations (I do, I take notes)? Do I listen to them and understand their pain points and have ways to solve those problems? Do I talk more about them than myself?

Clients & Relationships

You should be approaching a client relationship in a similar way to a new friendship. You want them to like you and you don’t want to scare them off.

Sales is not about just getting that dollar amount. It is about getting someone who WANTS to work with you and KEEP paying you that dollar amount.

But it’s more than sales. As a solo entrepreneur, how I represent myself to anyone is literally the face of my business. I am myself, but professional. I am knowledgeable, able to show strong writing samples, and deeply understand the process and the business of writing.

Being nice, kind, a good listener, asking the right questions, showing your value — that is how you get and KEEP a client.

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Freelancers & No Paid Time Off

Freelancers & No Paid Time Off

JS, Medium

If I don’t work, I don’t get paid.

This has never been something that bothered me, as I have long been the type to work more than necessary and then bring my laptop on vacation and do an hour or two a day while we relaxed.

I have no problem doing a bit of work. After all, I still get the vacation — I sleep in, eat great food, don’t work out, and explore new places. I have fun with my husband and enjoy the trip. I also get a small amount of work done.

But this week.

This has been the toughest week of my life so far.

My grandfather was hospitalized, and he had been sick for a while.

I flew down on the day of Thanksgiving. We canceled the family get-together at my brother’s house and my brother and I booked last-minute flights to go see Grandpa.

We all assumed he’d get better. He spent 2 weeks in the hospital before he went to hospice and died peacefully, in his sleep, while surrounded by all his children and grandchildren. That was the Saturday after Thanksgiving.

He was lucid just 2 days before.

It’s been horrendous.

My grandpa was larger than life. He was a builder, a fixer, and a creator. For as long as I’ve been alive, one of my most vivid memories of him has been seeing him out on the mower or the tractor or any other of the heavy machinery littering his garages and driveway.

He was always under a car, tinkering. Or building something. He would pretend to be reluctant, but he adored helping any of us 3 grandkids fix things. He picked out my first car. He built us a treehouse when we were 8 or 9, then handed us nails and some wood and tried to teach us how to make furniture for it.

He was a self-made man who lived the true American Dream. He started with nothing and created a business of used truck parts and a junkyard, and grew it into an empire. He and my grandma got to live the retirement they wanted, traveled often, and loved us all.

He and Gramma were married for 61 years since they were 18 and 21. I can’t even imagine that type of relationship.

The funeral was Tuesday.

He would have hated the funeral. He didn’t like being the center of attention or religious ceremony. He would have hated seeing people get so emotional and cry over him.

But I guess the funeral isn’t meant for the dead, but for the living. To say goodbye, to pay respects, to have something to see, to hold on to.

I’ve never lost anyone so close to me before.

It has been a blur of family, tears, and yes, even some laughter.

When all the cousins get together, we enjoy it. We love hanging out and haven’t gotten the chance to see each other much as we got older and moved away and started new traditions.

We played Grandpa’s favorite game — poker — with his own poker chips.

We drank his favorite whiskey and we shared our funniest stories of him.

It won’t get easier for a while, but it will someday. He continues to live in my heart and his name will leap off my tongue at the oddest moments. “You know, your great-grandpa used to love this…” to my niece and nephew and to my own hypothetical children.

And while I mourned and grieved and ate bagels with my family, I still had to pull out my computer and do some work here and there. Do the tasks that I do daily to keep my business running and my clients happy. I let them all know what was going on so that they could cut me some slack for this week.

But the stress of this week, the anxiety of the flights, the breaking of my meticulous routine, and the worry over not doing work for my clients has been a bit overwhelming.

I smoked some cigarettes even though I quit over a year ago. I drank even though I’m not a big drinker.

And I didn’t write. This is he first thing I’ve written since it happened.

I will remember Grandpa as the Godfather of our family, I will continue his legacy by living by his teachings and by telling his stories.

Hey, have I told you about the time he took me fishing and we caught a shark…?

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How To: Write a Book in 3 Months

How To: Write a Book in 3 Months

JS, Medium, writing

The 5 Steps to Writing A Book

Have you always thought about writing a book, but it just seems so daunting and impossible?

This is one of those times that you really have to think past the big picture. Much like every difficult journey, writing a book starts with a single step.

Breaking down the book writing process into more manageable, or at least more realistic and approachable steps is key to actually writing one. You don’t just come up with an idea and start writing, because your idea will peter out, or you’ll come up against a dead end, or any other of a million excuses to stop writing.

If you are looking at a nonfiction book, perhaps in entrepreneurship, business advice, self-help, or more, you’re going to want to write a book that is 30,000–45,000 words maximum. Which definitely sounds like a lot, but when you realize that a 45,000-word book is about 180 pages, that already sounds more doable!

So let’s take a number from the middle there and say that your book will be approximately 37,000 words, or about 148 pages. Broken down further, you are looking at writing about 3,000 words per week.

The 5 Steps To Writing A Book

When approaching a book idea, your first step should be to create an outline. Make it as detailed as you want, and think of it as a living document that can change and grow. Create a full outline, and include all of your ideas and plans and then work with it until the order makes sense, it says what you want to say, and you make sure that topics are grouped correctly. You will also be able to see where you plan to break it into chapters, and it will help you stay on topic.

Your outline is your first draft.

Your actual book will be an incredibly fleshed out version of your outline.

When you think about writing a book in 3 months, it sounds crazy! But 3,000 words per week is very doable! It can be 440 words per day, which is less than that click bait article you just read on Facebook, or about the number of words in two average length emails.

By putting time in your schedule and making writing a part of your routine, you will be able to write 3,000 words per week easily. Even an hour every third day or 15 minutes daily, however, you make writing a habit.

Make yourself accountable. Tell people you’re writing a book, or put money down on a publisher, or in advertising, or have a friend text you every other day asking how much you have written. Hold yourself accountable for writing every week.

Don’t get hung up on word count, though. Keep in mind the general length of your book as you continue to write, but don’t force yourself to stop because you hit a certain length, or force yourself to continue after the book is finished just because you want a specific length. It’s not about length, it’s about the story itself, and you don’t want to cheapen it needlessly. Word count is more for you to have a general starting point and to know how word count translates to book pages.

Write. Once you have the outline and you’re being held accountable, sit down every day, every week, and write. It is easier to delete poor writing than it is to have nothing on a page and start from scratch. Read over your outline, think about what you are trying to say, and just write.

At the end of 12 weeks, you will have a book. You may need revisions, you may want more time, but if you start now, in 3 months, you will have enough for a book.

It’s all about breaking down the process into manageable steps, which sounds completely reasonable and logical, but is difficult to do when you’ve been thinking about writing a book since forever, and you’ve never really started because it is a huge project, and who has the time?

You do.

You have the time and the ability to start right now. Start with 1 page, start with 100 words. Start now, and surprise yourself.

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