How To Be Open To All (the Right) Opportunities

Several weeks ago, I shadowed one of my OMies as she taught kids yoga as part of the Newark Yoga Movement.

It seemed like a fantastic program. The children were adorable. My friend was brilliant. But in the end — remembering how ineffective I’d been when doing volunteer work with kids in the past — I decided I didn’t really have it in me. It just wasn’t the right path for me.

Still, I wondered: Shouldn’t I be open to every opportunity that came my way?

My friend had made a post-teacher training vow to say yes to every opportunity that came her way and, because of that, she was now making a decent amount of money from yoga alone, between the NYM, and the teaching she did at two different studios.

Should I go about things in the same way?  [Read more…]

How To Think Outside the Box When Developing Multiple Revenue Streams

certificationBefore I went full-time freelance nearly six years ago, I secured a permalance copyediting gig, an internship at a web magazine, and freelance publicity work from my former employer. I figured that — beyond that — I would just frolic about, getting assignments at a variety of magazines and magically paying my bills.

And it worked.

For about a year and a half.

Then the newspaper where I was copyediting folded. The blogging gig that had grown out of my internship shrunk. And I was suddenly struggling.

This is when I realized I had to hustle. And diversify. And apply a liberal amount of elbow grease.

I’ve tried a number of things over the years. And most of these things have been in some way connected to my writing and publishing background. I’ve done editing work for authors, publishers, and both print and online magazines. I’ve co-authored and and ghostwritten ebooks and blog posts. I’ve done social media management.

Even my coaching has been connected. After earning my career coaching certification, I ran an e-course, threw a speed networking event, and did one-on-one coaching, all for beginning publishing professionals and freelance writers.

But I’ve learned that you shouldn’t feel limited by one industry, or one, particular skill. There’s no need to. [Read more…]

A Continuing Education in Drawing Up Contracts

iStock_000004854876_ExtraSmallThings I Am Good At:

Writing about sex.

Banging out listicles.

Line editing.

Connecting with other writers and editors.

Making lemon pound cake.

Singing in the shower.

Mimicking the sounds my cats make.

Things I Am Not Good At:

Covering my ass when I draw up and/or sign a contract.

I’ve been a full-time freelancer for about five and a half years now, yet with every new client I take on, I learn of yet another new clause I should have included in our contract.

For example, in drawing up a description of the project scope, I’ve learned to include hard-and-fast dates for when things are due — on both ends. I’ve learned to ask for a portion of my project fee up-front, and also to lay out a payment plan that gets me moolah at different stages of a project. I’ve learned to start including mention of a late fee in my contract… and to also reiterate this on my invoices (because invoices often go through an accounting department that may not be familiar with all the terms of the initial contract). I’ve learned to add in wording that wards off scope creep without an addendum to the original contract. I’ve learned to include a section that allows either myself or my client to terminate the contract if the other side doesn’t deliver (and, in one case, was relieved to be able to use it).

In fact, I thought I’d covered everything I possibly could until this past week, when a delinquent client tried to convince me that he shouldn’t have to pay me the full fee we’d agreed upon. [Read more…]

Create the Life You Want… Not the One You Think You Should Want

Almost two weeks ago, I was on the phone with a reporter from a national magazine, talking about solopreneurship and personal branding. We were having a lovely chat — though I felt like a bit of a spaz; that’s why I’m a writer, you guys — when he asked me about my income.

“I make about $30k a year,” I told him.

“You can live on that!?” he asked.

I mentioned that I was lucky enough to have a husband who made way more money than me, so that I could create a life in which I only worked part-time hours. I told him I was building a career in which I could stay home with my future (as-yet-unconceived) children and not take a huge, unprepared-for blow to my paycheck. And if I needed more money, I said, I could always hustle a helluva lot more instead of sitting back and letting the work come to me (which is my current, lazy-ass m.o.).

He asked me what I’d do if a media company offered me a staff position at $75k.

“I’d turn it down,” I said. “No question.”

“What about $100k?” he asked.

“Nope,” I said. “I never want to give this up.”

Two days later, my bread-winning husband lost his job. [Read more…]

Why You Should Change Your Definition of Success

I started freelancing full-time almost five years ago. At the time, success meant matching my previous income, and saying yes to every project that came my way. As a result, I found myself working nights and weekends, skipping meals, and pushing exercise to the very bottom of my to-do list, where it never got done.

These days, success means being pickier about projects, preparing home-cooked meals with my husband, and having time for both my personal book project and my daily yoga classes. I have the potential to make more money… but the other stuff comes first.

Which is why I love Laura Vanderkam‘s work. In both 168 Hours and her most recent book, All the Money in the World, she shows readers that they don’t necessarily need more time or money to achieve a successful and fulfilling life. They just need to know how to spend what they already have.

In this Q+A, Laura shows us how we should redefine success. [Read more…]

How to Avoid Homelessness and Starvation When the Checks Aren’t Regular

This self-portrait, by William A. Clark, is both brilliant and eerily familiar. (Whatever. I love ramen noodles.)

My writer-buddy Stacy Lipson recently moved to NYC to pursue her word-nerdy dreams. Stacy is a hard worker. She has a lot of drive and determination. And I’m pretty sure she doesn’t get enough sleep. Still, the city life is proving a bit tougher than she expected. Especially considering how wishy-washy clients can be when sending out paychecks. So she asked me to do up a post on surviving in the city as a freelance writer.

I was happy to comply. There was just one… small… thing…

Though I once worked at the Feminist Press, volunteered my time to a sex-positive feminist mag for sex workers, and declared that I would never be dependent upon a man, I’m now living in a condo in the suburbs, sponging off my husband’s health insurance and his considerably larger income.

God I hate myself.

Still, I’ve learned a thing or two about best business practices and, for everything I don’t know, I’ve provided tips from freelancer friends of mine living in the city. So yeah. I’ve got you covered.

[Read more…]

Why It Took Me Four Years To Become A Freelance Hard-Ass

My new dress code. ... Okay. Not really. I'm wearing a sundress sans bra right now.

It can be tough to be tough with clients when you’re first starting out as a freelancer.

After all, you’re new to all of this: the self-promotion… the self-discipline… the hustle… the rates-setting. You’re unsure of yourself: unsure of what you’re worth… whether or not you’ll fail or succeed… whether or not you have what it takes.

Because of all this, you end up saying yes to every damn project, out of both desperation and fear. You end up lowballing yourself when setting rates. You end up working nights and weekends, with nothing to show for it.

After three years, I still had nothing to show for it.

Don’t get me wrong. After three years, the work was coming to me. My professional network was vast. My portfolio and resume looked a thousand times better than they once did.

But I was still struggling to pay the bills, and my work/life balance was seriously out of whack.

It took me four years to finally become a freelance hard-ass. What finally clicked?

[Read more…]

Permalancing: The Good, The Bad, And The Mildly Horrific

The other month, fellow freelancer Stacy Lipson interviewed me for a story on permalancing in The Fiscal Times.* An interesting piece, to be sure, but I felt a bit put off by the fact that the Times portrayed permalancers as disposable victim-types.

Because, in my opinion, it goes both ways.

I’ve had several permalance-style gigs in the past four years. All of them were pursued as a means to an end. Most of them were taken on because I wanted some sort of financial safety net while still having the time to pursue the projects that mattered most to me. None of them were meant to be permanent.

I suppose you could say that I was taking advantage of them.

Still, Stacy’s right. A permalance situation is far from perfect. Which is why I think it’s about time I touch upon the good, the bad, and the mildly horrific when it comes to permalancing.

[Read more…]

Is Your Business Flailing? Your Rates Aren’t The Problem

I'm so awesome they're throwing money at me.

Is business so slow you’ve considered lowering your rates?

I’ve considered taking similar measures in the past but, chances are, your rates ain’t the problem.

(And pushing non-stop contests and discount coupons will only cheapen your business, and make you seem desperate, so why don’t you dial that down, too?)

When I first launched my coaching business, I struggled with setting my rates.  Why? I was afraid. Would coaching rates turn off those who were used to consulting rates? Would my target client have the money to hire me? And if they did have the money, would they want to pay professional rates for someone who was such a n00b? Would I pay that much for me?

[Read more…]

Bring In New Projects Without Lifting a Finger

Things have been awesomer than usual lately, and that’s a relief.

Because 2009 was a rough one.

This time last year, it seemed that — no matter how desperately I looked — it was impossible to find paying work.

But then, at the end of 2009, shortly after I had started a new part-time job at YourTango, Ian Kerner contacted me about co-writing an ebook with him for his new Good In Bed web project. Several months later, I was contacted by someone at AOL’s Patch about copy editing. The other month, an editor at The Frisky asked me if I’d be interested in writing a regular sex column for them. And then, the other week, someone at Psych Central e-mailed me, asking if I would be interested in writing for their site, as one of their editors had seen my LoveMom piece on depression, and had been impressed.

I’m not trying to gloat (though sometimes I like to point at my husband and say neener-neener). I’m just sayin’… it’s totally possible to bring in new projects without lifting a finger. How?

[Read more…]