Have you lost yours yet? Maybe you just used it as a coaster for your morning coffee or to wipe your windows on a writing-procrastination cleaning binge (we’ve all been there.) Whether you bemoaned the pages full of adverts or enjoyed the old school approach to romance in the classifieds, research from the Press Gazette found 40 local print newspapers closed in the UK in 2017. The local newspaper for my home town – a clipping of me holding a certificate was cut from this paper and remains to this day on my mother’s fridge – has just announced its end. [Read more…]
Landing new gigs – whether by actively pursuing clients or letting your website do the work – can be a tricky thing. A myriad of factors come into play, and sometimes, we can’t even identify all of those factors. It’s not like acquiring clients is a one-size-fits-all deal.
While there are strategies that increase your chances of getting new jobs, I believe that the bottom line is being able to establish a connection from the get-go. A genuine, solid connection.
That’s what I’m going to talk about in this post – how to effectively attract clients by creating a genuine connection. [Read more…]
It’s an established fact that freelancing became more popular after the 2008 financial crash, and the US self-employed population reaches 15.5 million today. This trend was led by Generation X (also known as the people who got stuck between the Baby Boomers and the Millennials). As it was shown in a Toptal survey recently, a significant proportion of those who are new in freelancing, followed this route almost entirely for their children.
This would also end the notion that people choose freelancing simply to be their own bosses. The freelance community is being increasingly overrun by family. But what leads to this change of motivation while the freelance economy grows? [Read more…]
As freelance writers, we encounter many different types of assignments; and while some leave no room for creative personal narratives, there are other cases when your stories could be a centerpiece or valuable example for readers.
Personal stories are also a great way to plant a hook at the beginning of a story, something to grab the readers’ interest. When it comes to the sharing personal details, however, there are a few things we need to take into account, particularly the privacy of others who may be involved in our stories. [Read more…]
Every writer has complained about procrastination at some point. I could be wrong, but even the most prolific writers have had to deal with the urge to put things off. If you think about it, there’s nothing wrong with that as long as you don’t make it a habit.
Additionally, there are ways to procrastinate productively. You can read about that in an article I wrote last year.
Believing that procrastination won’t go away – it will keep coming back – I think that it can be beaten if you prepare yourself for it. So, how do you beat writing procrastination?
“A children’s story that can only be enjoyed by children is not a good children’s story in the slightest.” ― C.S. Lewis
I may be biased since C.S. Lewis is one of my favorite authors, but when it comes to children’s books, no truer words have been spoken. I believe that if there is one thing children’s books authors should always remember, it is this quote.
While the children’s book market is shifting, with sales numbers going up and down, the market is still strong. Factors such as reading an eBook instead of a paperback, parents choosing a personalised children’s book instead of a mass-published one, and preferring hardcovers bought in brick-and-mortar bookstores all come together to continue boosting the children’s book industry. [Read more…]
Working at home has tons of advantages, especially if you’re like me who doesn’t like going out much. While we may not literally wear pajamas while working, not having to always dress up is awesome in my book. There’s also the added advantage of a one-minute commute to work (depending on how far your “office” is from the bedroom).
But there is something to be said about a coworking space.
What is coworking?
A formal definition from Whatiscoworking.com: “coworking” or “co-working,” with a lower-case ‘c’, is a generic word that’s generally used to describe any situation in which two or more people are working in the same place together, but not for the same company.
In essence, you go to a building or office space to do your work with other people around you, whom you may or may not know. These people may be freelancers like you, or they can be people working for the same company renting out a room for a certain period.
With coworking spaces sprouting up all around the country – here’s a list of the top 100 coworking spaces in the US – you may want to consider coworking now and then.
The pros of coworking
- It’s less risky than renting an external office space. Some remote workers rent a small room in a commercial building so they have somewhere to go to when they want to get out of the home office. This can be a risky move – financial issues (rent) and legal issues (contracts and safety) being the foremost concerns.
- It hones your time management skills. You pay to spend time at the coworking space. That gives you an incentive to make the most of that time. One result is that you manage your time better. You focus more on your tasks.
- It gives you some social interaction. With other people around you, social interaction is inevitable. While some may see this as a negative (and indeed, it can be if there’s too much interaction that it takes away from your focus), we’ve already covered the topic of needing at least a bit of face-to-face interaction.
- It offers the opportunity to learn from others. Along with social interaction comes the benefit of learning from others. The chances are you’ll meet other freelancers from whom you can learn new ideas and practices.
- It provides chances to meet new clients. Freelance writers are not the only ones who use coworking spaces. You may meet designers, startup founders, and other professionals who may be in need of a writer.
The downsides of coworking
- It can be noisy. Depending on the setup of the coworking space, the area may be noisy, thus taking away from your focus.
- It is not conducive to phone or Skype calls. Whether the space is noisy or not, an open coworking environment is not conducive to calls, and if you have to engage in calls with clients a lot, then this is a huge negative.
- It is an extra expense. It’s the stark reality – using a coworking space costs money. Some charge monthly, others charge per day. There are also others that offer both options. If you’re not in a financial position to spend extra for a coworking space but you want to work elsewhere, you’re better off at your local coffee shop.
- It offers less privacy. Open space. People all around you. Definitely less privacy.
- It often doesn’t offer fixed desks/spaces. A coworking space, by its core definition, doesn’t operate like a normal office. As such, most coworking spaces are set up in such a way that desks or working areas cannot be claimed by one person. You may have a preferred nook, but you can’t say it’s yours. If someone else is using it when you arrive, you can’t just hop over and say, “Hey, you’re in my seat.”
Have you tried out a coworking space? Are you using one now? Why not share your experiences?
Make sure you read this before heading out:
The topic of work-life balance is a real problem, for both regular employees and freelancers. It is such a huge issue that countless studies have been done about it.
It’s easy enough to say that a freelancer can achieve a good work-life balance better than those who have day jobs, but that may not be the case. Due to the flexibility that freelancers have, the line between work and personal life becomes blurred. Some people may have problems working too much, while others become too lax when it comes to work.
Usually, however, the problem is that the imbalance is due to spending more time on work and neglecting personal life. As you may have experienced, this can have disastrous results.
What are some adverse effect of work-life imbalance?
- Health issues. You get more stressed as the workload piles up, and stress has been known to have negative effects on your body, your mind, and behavior. This will only lead to more problems.
- Absence. This can be physical and/or emotional. You may become the “flake” in your social and family circles, always being absent during get-togethers. Being disconnected may also result in relationship breakdowns. Many a psychologist or divorce attorney will tell you that absence is one of the most common reasons for serious relationship rifts.
- Financial problems. You may think that working longer and harder benefits your business, but if you get physically sick, then your finances will suffer. If you lose friends, you may go down the path of depression.
These three points are umbrella effects that can be broken down into so many other problems that point to one thing: there is nothing positive about having work-life imbalance.
How do you know if your work-life balance is askew?
Asking yourself a few questions can help you determine your situation.
- Do you have trouble sleeping at night because you keep thinking of the work that needs to be done?
- Do you wake up in the morning dreading the day because of your workload?
- Are you more irritable than usual, with little things ticking you off?
- Do you feel like you little or no control over your life?
- Do you see your life as “wash, rinse, repeat”?
If your answer to these questions is yes, then your work-life balance needs some fixing.
You can also ask the people closest to you what they think. They have an outsider’s point of view, which can discern behaviors that you may not realize.
What can you do?
Short answer: work less.
But it’s never that easy, is it? You need to come up with a plan with a specific goal and concrete actions to reach that goal.
Here are some ideas.
- Set boundaries. You can do this by:
- Tracking your time. Set how much time you spend on tasks and how much time you spend on personal activities.
- Take note of social activities. By this, I mean writing them down in you calendar and make sure you go. Clear your schedule ahead of time so you have no excuses not to go.
- Say no. It’s tempting to keep taking on work from your clients. It will make them happy. You’ll get more money. But that’s bound to lead to imbalance, so learn to say no.
- Love yourself. This means taking care of yourself by:
- Paying yourself. Set aside some money to do what you love, whether it’s going to a spa, getting your hair done, or buying something nice.
- Get enough sleep. Different people have different needs, but here’s a good resource from the National Sleep Foundation that will help you determine the best number of hours for you.
- Make more effort to connect. Whether it’s spending more time with your partner and children or going out once in a while with friends, engaging in face-to-face human interaction will do wonders for you.
- Seek help if necessary. Sometimes, we can reach a point where everything seems to be totally out of your control. If you think you cannot cope anymore, don’t hesitate to seek help – from a friend, a family member, or even a professional.
So, have you assessed your work-life balance lately? How is it?
You may also find this useful: Have you Hit the Wall of Freelance Writer Burnout? How to Deal with It
Freelancers have passionate feelings both for and against ghostwriting. Some say that ghostwriting is dishonest, and they suggest it will sink your career. Others take great pride in their ghostwriting work and in the relationships they build with high-quality clients.
Ghostwriting can be a good source of income, especially in your early freelancing days. Whether you continue as a ghostwriter depends on your goals for your writing career. In the end, whether or not you take ghostwriting work is a highly personal choice. Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of ghostwriting work. [Read more…]
Christmas is only a couple of weeks away, and you may have gotten everyone in your circle of family and friends presents by now. But have you thought about sending Christmas greeting cards to your clients?
To send or not to send Christmas greeting cards to clients is not a new question. In fact, we’ve talked about it before on FWJ. (See: Do You Send Holiday Greetings to Clients?)
It’s been several years since then. Have things changed? Should you still consider sending Christmas greeting cards to your clients as a must?
This could very well be one person’s opinion (mine), but I think that it is the only proper thing to do. My reasons are simple:
- It is a way of saying thank you to your client. After all, they “give” you money – even if you do work for it. Without that client, you lose income.
- It is a way of building your relationship with a new client and nurturing your relationship with a long-time client. In many cases, it’s not even about the financial aspect. There are some clients with whom you actually become friends over time.
- It is Christmas! Spreading cheer and showing appreciation is what the season’s all about, isn’t it?
However, you before you go on a Christmas card sending spree, you have to make sure that your client observes Christmas. You wouldn’t want to offend your client if his religious affiliation does not celebrate Christmas, would you?
Here’s another consideration. Should you send electronic greeting cards, or should you go the good old snail mail way?
It’s really up to you, although sending traditional paper greeting cards do exude a more personal touch. You can go to the bookstore to find cards, or you can order them to suit your particular preferences. You can check out sites like Cards Direct and Minted for this.
That doesn’t mean you can’t use electronic greeting cards, though. You can even send an email if your relationship is close enough to allow that. For electronic greeting cards, there are many choices, but it is better to use a platform that allows you to customize your cards. Some options:
One last thing: be mindful of the message and images you choose. While some clients may celebrate Christmas, they may not do so in a spiritual or religious manner.
Are you sending Christmas greeting cards to your clients this year?