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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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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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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How to Be a Better Writer

How to Be a Better Writer

JS, Medium, writing

It mostly comes down to practice.

They say it takes 10,000 hours to master something, and at 31.5 years old, I have spent at least that long writing, scribbling out, rewriting, and editing my work over the years.

Working on my own writing and with other writers, here are a few ways I have collected to improve writing skills and exercises you can do to continue to practice.

  • Write a lot. Write daily. Write different things.
  • Get critiqued.

Exercises:

  • Go somewhere like Reddit, which has a whole sub for writing prompts (r/writingprompts) and get tons of different prompts and styles to try and get inspiration and ideas. You can even write a response to the prompt in the thread and get comments and critiques from other Reddit writers.Many of whom are quite good!
  • Try writing in different styles and from different perspectives. For example, write a short story however you want and then come back and write the SAME story, but from a different character’s perspective. An amazing example of this is how Gregory Maguire wrote Wicked from the wicked witch’s perspective in The Wizard of Oz. Long before it was a huge Broadway show, it was an extremely good book.
  • Write a story in the third person and come back and write the same story in the first person. Ask yourself: What does the character not know that the narrator knew? How does knowing her/his thoughts (but not the narration) change what the reader knows about her/his motivations?
  • A similar exercise is to rewrite a story you read somewhere (an existing story) from the perspective of a non-main character. Sometimes you see successful series authors adding additional books in a series this way. One example is Veronica Roth’s Divergent series. She came back and wrote from Four’s perspective, who ended up being a much loved (but was not the main) character from the original series.

If you are looking to improve nonfiction writing skills, one way to do this is to start a blog. You’ll write often and if you gain a following, they will often ask for additional information or clarifying questions, which will show you where you can improve.

Another way to improve nonfiction writing skills is to attempt to write a book.

Though I was already a profitable full-time writer, writing my nonfiction book truly helped me improve. Committing to writing a whole book is a huge undertaking and required me to really focus in on how I explained things, giving good examples, and making sure I truly understood the subject well enough to write it and teach others in the first place.

I also learned more in the editing process. I was able to see mistakes I made, she asked clarifying questions, which forced me to look at things from a reader’s perspective and write it in a way that made sense.

It was an incredible learning experience!

Even when writing comes naturally, learning and growing and improving and polishing your skills is a lifelong task. You should never stop growing and learning. I think if we stop learning or lose our curiosity, we die, or at least those skills stagnate and wither and die.


What has been a great learning experience for you? What do you do to improve your writing skills? Do you have any other interesting writing exercises? Share them with us so we all grow!

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