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 Important is “Exposure”?

How Important is “Exposure”?

Entrepreneur, JS, Medium, writing

What is it and how to (& not to) get it.

Merriam Webster defines exposure as “ the condition of being presented to view or made known” and “the condition of being subject to some effect or influence,”along with a couple other definitions.

Practically speaking, as a freelancer or entrepreneur, you need exposure.

It’s a fact of business.

People need to know you exist in order to buy your product or services.

How Can You Get Exposure?

There are many different ways to get exposure, like having a column in a major publication, but like Nicolas Cole learned, it may not be the best way (he shares some great insights in this article). You can start a blog, pay for ads, do work for free (but you shouldn’t!), you can pay social media influencers to feature you, you can use PR tactics like pitching to media outlets, and more.

You can become a top writer on Medium and Quora (I’mcurrently both), though those don’t necessarily mean more exposure, they certainly have the potential to do so.

You can also just be marketing yourself to individual clients and focus on building up your client base.

What Works Best?

That one is a bit harder. What works best for me — using social media to find clients and then selling myself on the phone — may not work best for you.

Most people and companies find that a combination of several tactics is best for them.

You have to figure out what works by judging cost versus benefit. Whether it’s costing you money or your time, it is costing you something.

If you boosted a Facebook ad or sponsored an Instagram ad, look at the stats and results. Did you get any new clients from it? Or inquiries? Did any more people subscribe to your mailing list or buy your book?

Testing different ideas is a great way to see what works for you with minimal risks. Don’t spend $200 on your first ad, start small and figure out your audience and then move up.

You Still Have to Pay the Bills!

Be careful not to do too much for the elusive “exposure.”

There are websitescomicstwitter accounts, and more showing just how often freelancers and craftspeople are asked to do things for free or “for the exposure.”

There are very few times when the exposure they are offering is actually going to be worth your time and energy. Amy Morinwrote a piece for Inc on this exact topic.

You can’t pay your rent/mortgage with exposure. Be very careful not to just do a bunch of free or vastly underpaid work in the HOPES it might get you some exposure. Your time will be far better spent looking for actual paying clients.

I found clients even when I had zero professional writing experience, using only my old personal blog as writing samples, simply by approaching people and asking if they would be interested in any writing or editing services.

Make your OWN exposure. Value your work and yourself very highly!

Of courses there are exceptions!

I am NOT saying to not do anything for free ever in your life! I am talking specifically in the context of potential clients and paid work. For example, there may be a charitable organization you choose to volunteer your time and skills for — of course, that’s wonderful and is also your own choice.

You also may find yourself in a HuffPost situation.

About a year before I ever even thought about looking for clients and being a paid writer, I started contributing to HuffPost for free. I loved it, it was something I chose to do knowing there was no payment. However, when I weighed the benefits I’d get (major publication byline, the marketability, write what I want) against the cost (my time), it made sense to me.

So of course, find what works best FOR YOU and don’t just trust every stranger on the internet!

Are you picking up what I’m putting down? Join my mailing list for more info (not spam!) or check out my story and freelancing guide, “Write. Get Paid. Repeat.” with tons of practical info packed into a short book!

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The Truth About Freelancing

The Truth About Freelancing

Entrepreneur, JS, Medium

And how to make money doing it!

The world of freelancing is swirling with myths and straight-up lies in between all of the great people and advice within the writing community.

It can also be confusing and can feel like every freelancer has specific rules they say are the only way to make money.

Sometimes it feels like no one makes money AS a freelancer, they are just selling their books and courses trying to teach others how to be a successful freelancer!

I’ve seen people upset about the lack of strong resources or how much tools can cost, and I’ve seen people put off starting to work simply because they felt overwhelmed with information.

Here are the truths I have discovered on my journey in writing and entrepreneurship:

  • You should not spend ANY money when you’re first starting. You can start a service-based (like writing) business for free.
  • You don’t need to know everything when you start. You can research and figure things out as you go along.
  • Even when you’re first looking for clients and feel so inexperienced, don’t ever work for free. Here’s how not to and why you shouldn’t.
  • Market yourself, especially using social media. Social media is free and, as a small business owner or freelancer, completely necessary. Here’s how I utilize social media.
  • Make sure to always be creating and maintaining your pipeline of future clients to fight the natural ebb and flow of sales and freelancing.
  • Figure out what you need to be making and use that for your pricing. Then stick to it. Pricing and sticking to it is so important as a freelancer. Clients want work for free, so never let them dictate what you’re worth.
  • Focus on your main objective or idea when starting your business. There is such a thing as too many ideas.
  • Network constantly. Whenever I go anywhere, I have my cards in my bag. When I meet new people, I give them my card, explain I’m a writer and let them know I’d be happy to discuss any writing or editing needs they have. Here are some tips on how to network successfully.
  • Even when you’re first starting, you’re allowed to say “no” to work! So many freelancers feel they need to take on anyone who comes to them, to gain experience, build a portfolio, whatever. You do NOT. Saying “no” to some work has made me more successful and profitable.
  • Make sure you deeply understand blogging and article writing. Here are 10 lessons I’ve learned on my journey as a blogger!
  • Learn from others who have come before you – but remember that your journey will be your own, so take things with a grain of salt – even my advice!
  • When working from home (or for yourself), staying organized and not procrastinating is the only way you can succeed.
  • Freelancing can be lonely. Make sure to maintain friendships and hobbies outside the home to keep your sanity!
  • Have a contract in place. This is super important. Your contract should dictate payments, deadlines, deliverables, and anything else having to do with the client/freelancer relationship. Both of you should sign this and a deposit paid before ANY work is done. There are many free contract templates available online and you’re welcome to use mine.
  • Keep an eye on the future. How will your business evolve and change? Think about what you enjoy doing most as you gain clients and learn new skills and see how you can incorporate more of it or move to different pricing models. Evolution is an important part of building and growing a business.

This is real information from a freelancer who has been where you are. You do not need to pay for any expensive courses or anything to get started. Just find one person willing to pay you fairly for your work and BAM! You’re a paid freelancer.

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How to Get Started & Write Your Book

How to Get Started & Write Your Book

Books, JS, Medium

Breaking down the process.

When it comes to writing a book, there are a lot of misconceptions.

Some people think it’s super easy (it’s not!), some think it’s too hard (nope!), others think it’s unnecessary or there are too many books in the world (never!), and still others just don’t know where to start.

And if you have a book in you but don’t know where to start, that is where a book coach comes in.

A book coach is a cross between an author, an accountability coach, a writing partner, an editor, and a therapist.

My book coaching focuses mostly on nonfiction works.

When I work with authors, our first couple of sessions really focus on creating an outline and coming up with a complete idea, a beginning, middle and end, and making sure the outline reflects what they want to say in the order they want to say it, in addition to hitting all the important takeaways they want the reader to get.

I’ve certainly spoken before about the importance of having an outline to when writing your book. And I will reiterate here: outlines are super important! They help you map out your book, keep you on track and focused, help you guard against writer’s block, and will allow you to finish your book much faster.

After putting together a cohesive outline, it’s time to start writing!

When it comes to actually writing a nonfiction book, there are dangers in being the expert!

Experts tend to want to write and discuss every little detail of their industry and experience and knowledge. After all, that’s why they are the expert writing the book!

But when it comes to putting it together into a book, you have to be able to step back and think about it from the reader’s perspective. Is this a beginner-level book? If so, that is entirely different from writing it for more advanced readers who are already very familiar with your topic, the lingo, the industry, and the background of it.

Beginners need all the acronyms explained, the concepts spelled out, and more examples given in different ways. The same way any newbie to an industry would. I have a plan for that.

There is also a tendency to write EVERYTHING YOU KNOW in your book, forgetting the audience and forgetting that you can always write a second book or start a blog or create a more detailed course, etc. You don’t have to get all of your knowledge out in one book! It’s also hard to sell a beginner on a book on a new topic if it’s 400 pages long and looks super complicated.

And no matter what, just start writing! It’s easier to fix bad writing than it is to start from a blank page over and over. Trust yourself and your knowledge and get started!

You have a book coach to help you — take advantage of that. Write and give the coach something to critique!

Next, I’ll be talking about the best way to break down the actual writing process.

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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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Some Freelancers Pitch to Publications, I Pitch to People

Some Freelancers Pitch to Publications, I Pitch to People

JS

Grinding It Out versus Growing A Business

There were two separate stories about pitches on my main Medium feed this morning. One about pitching to journalists and writers about THEIR clients for publicity purposes and the other one was about pitching your article to online publications.

They both had some excellent points — keep it about the person you’re pitching to. How does it benefit them? Don’t get bogged down in filler words and useless information. Provide a draft/additional information if needed.

But the pitch article I see missing is the one for full-time writers and editors who don’t want to do one-by-one blogs and articles.

I decided at the very beginning of my writing career that I was not going to spend the bulk of my time trying to get individual articles into major publications.

The main reason for me is the time and effort required versus the results or money.

When you look at people who talk about the money they make pitching individual original pieces to Forbes, Business Insider, Inc, etc, they are often making very little money — or even doing it for free for exposure.

Now, the exposure is awesome, and when I happen to have a perfectly well-suited article, I sometimes take 5 minutes to email a pitch to a magazine.

But the grind of putting out separate individual pieces in the HOPES that one of them will take it, and if they do, then waiting 4–8 weeks for publication and even longer for potential payment is not something I want to do.

That is just me, personally.

There are a million lists online of websites who pay for articles. Here is one from Carol Ticeanother from Bamidele Onibalusi, a long one on Freelance Writing Gigs, one from the Penny Hoarder, and this one by David Trounce.

This is not a BAD way to go about making money. Clearly, there are plenty of websites willing to pay for articles.

But let’s break it down:

If each site pays on average $50 per article and you want to make $5000 per month (a $60,000 annual salary), you need to write, pitch, get accepted, and get paid for 100 articles each month.

If you only want to work Monday through Friday, that is 5 articles per day you need to research, write, find publications if you don’t have one in mind, and pitch. This does not include following up on payment or the ones who don’t pay until it has been up for a month, or any other restrictions.

In contrast, I made $8,000 last month with 6 clients.

Instead of pitching myself to individual publications or writing one article per website, I went directly to clients.

I pitched myself to small companies and entrepreneurs. Right now, my 6 clients are:

  • An online publisher (monthly blogging, book editing)
  • An entrepreneur and business coach (email marketing, web copy)
  • A global public speaker (monthly blogging, email marketing)
  • A startup technology company (blogging, managing blog)
  • A medicinal cannabis business (weekly blogging, managing blog)
  • A small digital marketing agency (weekly blogging, press releases)

As they come and if I have time, I also take on editing books, ghostwriting, and book coaching.

I work Monday through Friday and only on the weekends if I have a special project or major deadline coming up.

All of my clients are longer-term. We have contracts, I charge one monthly retainer, and they pay every month. I have built a relationship with these clients, meaning we work together even better over time, they rely on me and trust me, and I know what they need on an ongoing basis.

For me, this is a reliable, more stable income, without having to grind out a bunch of articles every day.

It also means I can really build a rapport with these people. By doing so and focusing on maintaining a real relationship, it has resulted in all of my current clients being referrals from previous ones.

This is how I have built my freelance writing into a business. A real, thriving, stable business built on clients, not pitches to individual publications.

Now, this is simply what worked best FOR ME. I am under no illusion that my way is the only way or even the best way. It’s just what works for me and MY business and my life.

What have you found works best for you? Is it all one or the other, a mix of both, something I didn’t even mention? I’d love to hear and learn from you!

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You Definitely Need An Editor

You Definitely Need An Editor

Editing, JS, Medium

Even great writers need editors. Here’s why.

When it comes to writing a book, it can feel like you’re climbing a mountain, slogging through each step. When you reach the summit and the book is complete, it is easy to feel like you’re done.

DONE!

While your original manuscript is done, you are now ready to begin the editing process.

There are a ton of reasons why you need an editor, but it truly boils down to this: An unedited book is not professional.

It is very difficult to self-edit to the standards of a professionally finished book.

For one thing, your brain will often read what you think you wrote or fill in details which either aren’t there or aren’t fully explained.

For another, you simply may not notice if you’ve switched perspectives or from active to passive voice or use a lot of repetitive words.

I am a professional writer and editor as my career — and I still get my books edited by a professional who is not me.

Editing is absolutely necessary for a finished, professional, polished book.

The Job of an editor:

  • Fix all grammar and punctuation mistakes.
  • Identify inconsistencies, missing information or plot holes.
  • Identify areas where more information or explanations are needed.
  • Readability and flow — making sure it all makes sense in order and is a cohesive full story.
  • Look for repetitiveness, such as using “very” or “big” to describe most things, when a different word would have a bigger impact or flow better.

Working With An Editor

It can be scary or frustrating to hand your baby, your book, a piece of your soul over to an editor.

Some editors take it and then disappear and a month later reappear with your book with all of the edits made and everything fixed.

In some cases with some authors, this is how they prefer to be edited. Have the book taken and made even better and then returned in completed form. Some authors find this frustrating, as they are not in the loop of any changes and may get upset that their book was changed more than they wanted, especially if any major restructuring was done.

I personally am a fan of editing books in a more collaborative way. I put the book in a Google doc and give the author commenting permission. This way, they are able to see the progress being made, see changes, answer any questions I may have (which I put in comments), and make changes they need to.

We share the document and are able to polish the book together. My clients have told me they love this process, as they feel more engaged in it and that they still have a sense of control.

Writer/Editor Relationship

When you are looking for an editor, you want to work with someone you feel comfortable with, who understands your voice and messaging, and who you feel understands you. Someone you vibe with.

Before making a choice of an editor, make sure to get quotes from a couple different ones. Don’t go with the lowest or highest bidder on numbers alone. TALK to each of them. Ask about their editing process, deadlines, timelines, and payment options. Make sure you like the person and feel comfortable giving them your book.

Discuss exactly what type of editing you want and the different costs of each.

Above all, work with someone you WANT to work with. As with all successful relationships, if you like the person and understand each other, the entire process will be easier.

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8 Lessons I Learned in My First Year of Freelancing

8 Lessons I Learned in My First Year of Freelancing

Entrepreneur, JS, Medium, Sales & Marketing, writing

I got my first freelancing clients almost on a whim, on October 31st, 2016. I began working with clients in the evenings and weekends for November, December, and January.

Once I realized that being a writer was a viable career for me and people were willing to pay me, I made plans to quit my day job as a Director of Business Development at a recruiting firm.

Friday, January 27, 2017 was my last full-time day at my day job.

I was a freelancer.

Though I did a lot of research and asked many questions, I had a lot to learn. Now that I am at a year of freelancing, here are some things I have learned. Use this and make new mistakes and learn new lessons, instead of the ones I’ve made for you.

1. If someone is willing to pay you, then you are skilled enough.

When it comes to freelancing, especially something as subjective as writing, many potential freelancers question their abilities and whether or not their writing is “good enough” for them to be a writer as a full-time career.

Instead of trying to find a way to judge your writing, use your clients as a barometer. If people look at your writing samples and are willing to pay you, then you are definitely good enough.

Pack away the insecurity and focus on improving and on the work for your clients. There is no point in questioning yourself so much, and that insecurity can lead you to not marketing yourself or not having the confidence to attract new clients.

2. You are definitely not charging enough.

Pricing yourself is an exercise in frustration sometimes. You do tons of research on what other people are charging, you try to undercut them, but then you may find that the lower price makes it not worth your time.

As a freelancer, time is your commodity.

Whatever you’re charging, it’s too low. I have seen it time and again from freelancers, including myself, where we are charging one price, but then the actual time the project takes is more than we thought, or there is more research involved or the project is longer, and suddenly your “decent prices” are only getting you $20 an hour.

Charge more. The good clients will pay you for your skills.

And remember: Just because writing comes easily to you does not mean it should be cheap. If clients could do it themselves, they wouldn’t need to hire you. Your skill is valuable.

3. Learn to identify “bad” clients.

The clients who email you at 3 am expecting an immediate response, or who are constantly changing the specs of the project. The ones who are never happy.

The ones who harass you about your prices over and over until you offer a discount.

Just say no. It’s difficult to turn away clients, especially when you are new to freelancing, but the hassle and difficulty in dealing with them and the extra time it takes for you, on top of the lower rate, will bring you down. Not only that, but they take away from the clients who would be paying your regular rate and be great to work with and appreciate you.

Here is a piece I recently wrote about how to identify the bad or negative clients before you start work.

4. Your business will continue to evolve.

When I first started freelancing, I was doing almost entirely one-off articles and blogs for clients and charging per-word prices.

A year later, I have evolved and changed the work I do as I learned more what I enjoyed and how it makes sense for me. Now, I focus on monthly retainer clients and having long-term relationships with them instead of one-time projects, have developed a book coaching service, and have been able to try things I never thought I would — like writing a comic book!

Be open to new experiences and allow yourself to evolve and grow and change as the work you enjoy evolves. Do not force yourself to stick to just one type of work. Try new things, get creative, stay interested.

5. You don’t HAVE to have a niche.

One piece of advice I saw a lot of at the beginning of freelancing was to “just pick a niche and specialize!”

I prefer significant diversity in what I work on, so instead of focusing on one industry or type of client, I chose to be a generalist. This has allowed me to have a ton of experiences and learn new things.

I have blogged for law firms, medical cannabis companies, business consultants, life coaches, real estate investors, cryptocurrency and blockchain companies, professional speakers, and more. I’ve edited fiction, nonfiction, and even a children’s book.

As a self-described jack of all trades, I have gotten to explore opportunities I would never have if I’d just stuck to sales, marketing, and career coaching, which my 10 years of corporate experience prepared me for.

Don’t be afraid to try something new and to be a generalist! It’s so much fun having a diverse client base and getting to work on something different each day!

6. Building good relationships is the backbone of my business.

I like to know my clients. Who are they? Why do they love what they do? What are they hoping to get out of the writing services?

Creating a monthly retainer business model has allowed me to have longer relationships and really get to know my clients as people.

I have weekly calls with each of my clients to manage expectations, discuss the tasks and work for the week, and stay connected.

Having been in corporate business development for so long, I deeply acknowledge and understand the strength and use of a great relationship with the people you’re selling to.

Really make a point to get to know your clients as people. Ask questions and be kind and genuine. That relationship is so important! Nurture it!

7. You don’t need a portfolio.

Portfolios are not a bad thing, you CAN have one. But you don’t NEED one to get started as a writer.

As long as you have writing samples, you are good to go. You can publish those samples on a blog or site, or you can just have them as PDFs you attach to emails.

Much of my work is ghostwritten, so even though I have tons of published blogs and articles, none of them would be able to go into a portfolio.

When I first started, I grabbed pieces from my personal blog and wrote a couple samples, and that is all I had to show. These days I direct people here to my Medium blog!

8. Just write. Get started now.

The best thing I learned through my freelancing journey so far is that you don’t need to be super prepared or have a website and business cards and a fancy briefcase.

You can just go out and find ONE client. As soon as you have one, find another.

Figure out the rest as you go. You can research contracts and build a WordPress site later. For now, go out with your writing samples and find a client. The rest will come after.

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