Why I’m No Longer Fit for an Office Environment

I’m already several hours into my workday, and I’m still unshowered, wearing the pajama top that sometimes slips down so low I unintentionally flash my husband. My hair hangs in oily, unattractive clumps, and I sorta smell. I mean, I’d like to shower, but I’m pretty sure that as soon as I disrobe, that package I’m expecting will arrive.  This is what I get for not rolling out of bed until after 8 a.m., after my husband has already walked out the door to catch a bus into work.

So I’m sitting here at my computer, taking care of small tasks while my brain still lumbers into wakefulness. I’m tweeting and making my way through my inbox and feeling a bit resentful of all the conference calls I’ve had to be on over the past few weeks.

Because god forbid anyone tries to communicate with me via anything but email.

I have another conference call in under an hour, and I wonder what they’d think if they saw me now. Dirty. Barefoot. My slightly disgusting coffee mug at my side, litter underfoot like sand. [Read more…]

Bedazzle It! All the Extras Your Query Letter Needs

Query letters: They’re sort of my thing.

While many of my coaching clients seem to agonize over their query letters, perfectionism and fear keeping them from ever sending the damn things out, I actually enjoy writing them.

This nerd-tastic enjoyment is mostly thanks to some pretty fantastic teachers. Back in college, I took a professional writing class with Burton Klein, an adjunct professor at TCNJ who taught his students how to write cover letters that stood out. Later on, I took several continuing education classes with Susan Shapiro. She taught me everything I know about establishing a connection with editors.

Now, I’m someone who — according to my friends — “gives good email.”

Thank god. I’m pretty hopeless when it comes to in-person interaction.

I even offer a coaching package for those seeking out help with query letters in particular: Cover Letters: Quick, Easy & Awesome.

In the past, I’ve blogged about the basics of query letters: 1. Establish a connection. 2. Lay out your idea. 3. Sell yourself. 4. Wrap it all up. But is it really so simple?

Yes… and no.

To really set yourself apart, you should be adding in some extras. [Read more…]

One Simple Step To Landing More Work

As mentioned previously, December always leaves me with a nasty case of Holiday Brain. I’m easily distracted. By twinkle lights. And Christmas cookies. And the DVR. My work output? Not optimal.

January 1 always has me eager to get back to work. At the same time, I’m so damn used to being lazy, I need to ease my way back in. Cautiously dip a toe into the water. In slow motion.

This past couple of weeks, I’ve definitely been working in slow motion. I’ve been sitting with stacks of magazines, flipping through for story idea inspiration. I’ve done up a couple of Freelancedom posts. I sat down with a directory of literary agents and planned my next moves for pitching my book proposal. I sang a funeral.

But the one low-key thing that’s led to tangible progress?

Reconnecting with others. [Read more…]

How To Fish For (Those Completely Deserved) Compliments

Still trying to build up your freelance biz? There’s (probably) no need to drop your life savings on a slick advertising campaign, or on glossy, high-priced direct mail marketing. Over the years, time and experience have shown that word-of-mouth marketing is best.

Sure, I’ve broken into new markets by cold querying and social media marketing. But word-of-mouth marketing is still how I connect with the majority of my coaching clients. It led to my inclusion in the Young Entrepreneur Council’s inaugural group of members. It’s the primary reason I was asked to be a panelist on that ASJA sex writing panel in the spring. And it’s led to numerous writing and editing projects over the years.

You may believe that word-of-mouth marketing is out of your hands (and to some extent, it is). But if you’re looking to build legitimacy for your business, you can still use those satisfied clients to your advantage in a more deliberate way.

I’m talking testimonials, people. And all you have to do is ask for them. [Read more…]

Want To Work Remotely? How To Ask The Tough Questions

Not my pretty face, but the cleavage is similar...

About a year ago, I accepted an on-site, part-time position at YourTango, despite misgivings about resuming the dreaded NJ-NYC commute I had left behind several years before.

I was desperate, though. I needed some regular income to supplement the other work I was doing, and I was also badly in need of some quasi-regular human contact. Happily, I ended up enjoying my work at YourTango so much that the commute didn’t seem so bad. Plus, I loved the people I was working with.

Still, it eventually began to wear me out. It ate up my time. It was expensive. And, after almost a year of doing it, I began to resent it.

So at the tail end of September, I requested a new, remote working arrangement and, several weeks later, they approved it. Now, I work with my three cats laying in a semicircle around me. I sleep in a little bit more. I dabble in yoga and take daily walks. I have extra time to work on my other projects and extra time to make plans with… well… other human beings. Once again, I feel like I’ve achieved a healthy balance.

Maybe some of you are a little bit like me. Maybe you have full-time jobs, and squeeze in your freelance work in the evenings and on weekends. Or perhaps, like me, you have a part-time gig, and have to commute in to an office. Maybe you often think to yourself, man, I could totally do this job from home, and it would totally free up some extra time for my personal projects! But you’re afraid to ask permission.

How do you go about proposing such a fan-flippin’-tastic work arrangement to your big-time scary boss?*

[Read more…]

How To Pitch: The Basics

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I don’t typically write about writing here. Or at least I try not to. Not directly.

I try to keep my content inclusive to all freelancers, despite how obvious it is that I’m a total booktard, and a slave to producing content.

But this past Monday marked the beginning of the FLX Query Challenge, a friendly, biannual competition in which teams rack up points depending upon how many queries they send out each week, and how many assignments they land. I’ve been on a pitching hiatus for awhile now — due to my new job at YourTango, my career coaching certification program, and an ongoing copywriting project — but I’m excited to start putting out feelers again … especially since I’m a team leader this time around.

So for all those writers out there — writers who are trying to get back into the pitching rhythm, writers who have been pitching all along (show-offs), and writers who are just starting out — I thought I’d put up a refresher on the pitch process.

[Read more…]

This Is Not Goodbye: The Right Way To Say Sayonara

farewell letter

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We already know that I’m a raging commitment-phobe. As such, I’ve had a lot of practice saying goodbye.

Somehow, however, I still end up singing at exes’ weddings (yes, I’m a church choir geek), and getting job leads and projects from former colleagues. How do I do it? By writing a killer resignation letter (and, um, being awesome).

While a post on resignation letters might be better suited for those embroiled in full-time office work, being able to master one of these babies is key for those who are a) making the leap into full-time freelancing, but who still want to continue doing work for their former employer on a freelance basis (or who, heck, want to avoid burning bridges), b) resigning from a regular freelance gig, or c) trying to shake a problem client without sullying their professional reputation. So please, read on for my resignation letter formula:

[Read more…]

Step Up or Stand Down?


I left publishing because I needed a creative outlet. I missed writing and, due to my full-time job — plus my long commute — I never seemed to have the energy at the end of the day to brainstorm and send out pitches, or even string together words coherently.

But that’s not the only reason I left.

I was also worn down by verbally abusive authors: those who thought they were my only responsibility, and who consistently treated me both rudely and unprofessionally. [Read more…]

Resource Roundup: Sample Contracts

A week ago, I posted here about an invoicing error I had made, mentioning that I was lucky to have covered my ass in the service agreement I had drawn up.

Because I hate to bring up a problem without providing a concrete solution (and because my contract advice probably leaves much to be desired), here is a roundup of sites that offer sample contracts and contract-related advice:

Guest Posting: Pitch Like It’s the Glossiest Glossy Mag Out There


Earlier today, my first guest post ever went live at Darren Rowse’s Twitip, on taking Twitter-based networking from online to in-the-flesh. (Welcome tweeple!)

I’ve already mentioned in the past why guest posting is a good idea, so we won’t go into that again. What I would like to touch upon is how guest posting at someone else’s blog should be treated as seriously as if you were writing an article for New York (or, um, Marie Claire). More specifically, I’d like to focus on how to approach pitching a blog editor.

You already know that I worry about the deterioration of professional decorum due to Web 2.0 practices. I find that bad business practices run especially rampant when it comes to online correspondence.

Show that blog editor your pitching the same respect you would any major magazine or newspaper editor. After the jump, how to go about pitching your guest post:

[Read more…]