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Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Monthly Assessment - June

Oh yes it is that time again. Time for all of us to let the mothballs out of the Excel program and share how the month has been. Want me to start?

Where to start? How about at the beginning?

Queries -
I burned up the bandwidth this month. I put out at least 5 new queries a week, mostly to magazines. To date, I have one inquiry and it's a shaky one - I have no idea what they're paying. Sure, I hate those types of blind ads, but the subject matter interested me and the poster indicated competitive wages. We shall see. I'm tempted to avoid magazines, but honestly, someone is writing for them or they'd be empty or defunct, right?

Job postings -
I picked up the pace on these. Despite my ultra-picky ways (I examine those ads for any hint of nonpayment), I managed to find a number of acceptable possibilities. I've completely foregone Craig's List. I opt for Anne Wayman's hand-selected list instead, and that of Angie Hoy at Writer's Weekly. A few finds from my regular "rounds", but no work came of any of it. Time wasted.

Existing clients -
Two current clients handed me small projects. The good part is one of those is ongoing, so I've upped my income a smidgen for the remainder of this year. My regular gig is still going, though we're about to see the usual drop in business for the next two months. It rarely dries up completely, but it makes a huge dent in the income until September. I did get one referral that went belly up and I had a few potential collaborations that are still on hold waiting for buyers. I have one project that as of Friday is awaiting the completion of the contract. I'm eager to get going on that one.

Earnings -
Seriously? Aren't we supposed to earn something? I did, though only slightly over what I made last month. I'm nowhere near my monthly goal - sitting at about half of it - and naturally, the gigs I had that would cushion that blow disappeared early this month. It's been a month of catch-up trying to find more ongoing work.

Bottom line -
I'll be marketing in different areas. I won't abandon publications yet, but I'll be moving into networking face-to-face where I can. I made the brochures, but here they sit. I can't seem to get moving on that, mostly because of the time it consumes to make them, compile a mailing list, mail them, and follow up. I have to break this up into smaller tasks if I ever expect to get them out the door.

Time to locate new clients, and that means Lori has to go to marketing events and conferences. People relate to faces rather than emails. Time to give them a face to go with the name.

Please tell me your June was better than this. How'd it go? What's your July looking like?

Monday, June 29, 2009

New Week, New Perspective

If I could bottle last week, I'd secure it in indestructible plastic lined with asbestos, wrap it in material fit to withstand nuclear blasts, label it poisonous, and wail it off the tail end of a fast-moving jet from 30,000 feet. Yea, that bad. It seems the conflicts were everywhere. Home life was a lesson in readjustment after the once-empty house fills back up. Work life was full of stresses, unnecessary hassles, and projects dangling then disappearing like ghosts on the Sci-Fi channel. Between low-ballers, changed project parameters and scummy companies, I was dancing with the migraine threat all week.

This week is new. It can be better. It will be better. It only takes a turn in perspective and a new approach each morning to bring things around. Time to refocus and renew. Today is my New Year's Day - that time when things are full of promise, full of something other than the latest load of, well, dung.

As I sat writing this at the end of that nasty week (yes, sometimes I write these posts ahead), my mindset had already begun to shift. And almost simultaneously, new work came in. I'd think it's coincidence, but it's not the first time that's happened. I've visualized a better situation and there it is - projects and work coming in.

It's easy to get sidetracked when things are building to high-stress levels or when money isn't in your foreseeable future. But nothing is ever hopeless. With a little mental muscle flexing and some changes in your approach, things will improve.

Have you ever done that? Have you ever stood back and reaffirmed your beginning? Try it. Sometimes when the dung is raining down on you like it's monsoon season, stepping back, breathing, and walking in a different direction is a great way to put your mindset - and your work day - back on track.

Friday, June 26, 2009

The Return of the Low-ballers

A Twitter acquaintance got in touch with me recently to get some suggestions/feedback/potential help on a project. He and I hit it off and we were both excited about this potential new project. Then we gave the client the price, which was more than fair and probably a bit on the low side, gauging the amount of work that needed to be done.

The response is one we're all getting tired of hearing - your price is too high and here are sixteen justifications why you can't charge me that much. None of the justifications this client gave included information relevant to my acquaintance and me - the amount of work being less than we anticipated, the existence of pre-approved content, etc. No, the justifications were more of the why-is-that-my-problem-exactly variety - he can't see paying it because he'd have to sell his product X number of times to make up the cost of producing the product. He'd also have to pay us MORE for MORE content (imagine that!), and that would blow his business model out of the water. And since he's charging his customers a paltry sum, that won't work for him.

Nowhere in that argument did he even consider charging more for an obviously extensive amount of content, researched material, and required material for his audience. Nowhere did he show any concern for the fact that his business model wasn't fit for any type of collaboration except of the pay-for-slave-labor type. What he doesn't realize is that I know his sales figures are much higher than he's presenting - he's selling a required product, one he won't revise for at least five years. The low number of sales he quotes (three figures? Really?) didn't convince me at all. I've done this sort of work before. I know what these people rake in. We weren't asking for a large share in that - we were simply quoting a fair market rate.

He ended with a line that still has me seething - "We were hoping to hire people who already had this type of material in hand." Did you just say that? Did you just say if it's already written, my time spent writing it is less valuable than my time spent making the same damned product for you instead of for someone else? How does that make sense? And if it's not new material you want, why are you advertising for new material?

He actually wrote this - "In short your fee structure will not work."

No, in short, yours won't. You don't justify not paying a fair price with that kind of nonsense. And you don't end with "We're looking for someone who can put this together and charge a reasonable dollar." You were presented with reasonable. What you were looking for, in all honesty, was a free ride on the backs of some hard-working, knowledgeable people.

I think what makes this interaction a bit more disturbing is it is nearly identical to one I had about four months ago. The same type of project, a different story, but the same outcome. Can't afford to pay you what you're charging; I can only pay you a "fair" rate that's one-third that. Is it the same person? I can't say for sure. It's getting so that these offers are mimicking each other and these posters are learning how to creatively low-ball.

What's your low-ball story of the week?

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Free? Right.

On a client project recently I received a file that had to be opened via a program called eFax viewer. How to get this? Simple. Go to the eFax website and download it for free. Okay, I started to, got sidetracked and forgot. Wait! There came an email from the company reminding me to complete my info for their "free trial." Great! I clicked the link. It took me to a page asking for my credit card. Mind you, I don't just agree right away, so I poked around, located a street address, a local phone number, and was satisfied. Besides, a friend told me about it.

I typed in my card number, having that little box at the top of the page telling me that they collect that in case you decide to continue beyond the 30 days (or forget, right?). Fine. I downloaded the free viewer, then canceled the account.

Or at least I tried. See, you can't just push a button to cancel. Well, you do, but you have to push the "Chat" button and go through a rep. Fine. Whatever. After some delay and one disconnection (really? And you're based online?), my account was canceled. I mentioned that I'd seen they charged me $26.95 for the "free" service and that I would like that charge removed from my card.

Removed? Was I serious? No, that was the charge for your monthly service. A charge? For a free service? That I've had for a minute and a half? How's that again? No, I was told. You don't get that refunded because you didn't sign up for the free trial; you signed up for the plus package.

You who already know me know where it went from here. I'm a copier, a printer, and a filer. I already had all the evidence I needed. I sent them the link to the free offer. I showed them their own damned web page stating the free offer. I insisted the charges be removed. Eventually, they were - all but ten bucks.

Again, you know me. That's not going to wash. I signed up for a FREE trial, not a free trial, oh, except for this-we-didn't-tell-you-about-but-buried-on-page-30-of-our-customer-agreement stuff. So when the chat rep was tired of volleying my insistent shots, he/she referred me to their customer service number. Fine. Little did the chat folks know that I copied and pasted the entire conversation onto a Word document, just in case.

That just-in-case will come in handy. I got on the phone with a non-English speaker, who thought his insistence would stall my efforts. He quickly realized this one wasn't going away. His first response to my asking for a refund - "You didn't sign up for the correct service."

Yes I did. Would you like to see your company's email and the page I have printed for my records? He hesitated (evidence? he may have thought) and said to please send him the link, which he never received, he said (and I'm supposed to be shocked - BOTH my email addresses just stopped working simultaneously! Isn't that unfortunate?).

Then I heard this: "No ma'am. You signed up for the regular package."

No, dude. I signed up for the free one. Here it is. Oh wait! You don't have it there. How convenient.

"There is a nonrefundable charge of $10."

Yes, and where on the signup page does it say that?

"It's in the customer agreement, and the link is right under the signup button."

Yes it is. But why isn't that information on the signup page right beside the information that insists my card won't be charged until the 30-day trial is over? Why did you charge my card right there?

"Because you signed up for the wrong package."

No, no I didn't. I signed up for a FREE TRIAL from YOUR COMPANY'S email link.

"You cannot use another website's link or anything from Google, ma'am. That takes you to the premium services page."

I read the email to him. It's from YOUR company - EFAX.COM. I clicked on YOUR COMPANY'S LINK. I went to YOUR COMPANY'S SITE. I'm reading everything you're asking me to at the SAME SITE. The mistake, sir, is not mine.

Then he grew weary of my insistence. "Ma'am, what if I send you a response once I receive the link in email? Will that work?"

Fine, I said, for it was obvious he wasn't going to do anything beyond repeating the same tired arguments. I hung up, surfed the Internet, looked up the California Attorney General's office, and I sent them my complaint. I'll be damned. It's ten bucks, but it's called deceptive business practices. If you're going to charge me, tell me so at the outset. Don't bury it in some massive tome and then lean on customers and keep insisting they screwed up. And don't think you'll wear me down. Honey, when it's my cash, I have plenty of energy. The question is - do you?

Nice company, huh?

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Bonus!

All this talk this week about the lack of perks and stationary pay rates comes with a little good news - two writers I've talked with this month have reported getting bonuses. Can you imagine that? Someone actually paid these folks more than they were billed because they were pleased with the results.

As Paula Hendrickson's article pointed out on Monday, there's stagnant thinking when it comes to freelancer pay. What's also missing is the obvious perks I mentioned yesterday. Given our contractor status, do we even have a right to expect bonuses?

I'd like to think so. Two clients this month have thought so. You tip the waiter/waitress for good service (and sometimes even for adequate or marginal service). Why not tip your writer? Wait staff make a lousy minimum wage - my daughter is earning a whopping $2.85/hour plus tips. If it weren't for tips, she'd never survive.

How is that different from writing? The pays we're offered are sometimes much lower than that $2.85. While I still contend those jobs are useless wastes of time, other employers have begun seeing the lower "wages" as bargaining tools when contracting writers. Mind you, if I were ever face-to-face with someone who said, "But why are you charging $100 an hour when I can get someone for $1 an article?" I'd have to be held down. When faced with a degradation of my talents and worth, I tend toward the can of Whup Ass.

It would be nice if we could work the option of a tip into our contracts. Nice, but unlikely. Clients are used to dealing with writers at X price for Y work. I'm great with that, too. I'm not great with clients who think the best writer for the job is the cheapest writer. In cases where pay is barely adequate, I think it should be a standard practice - if the writer delivers something that exceeds or meets expectations, leave a tip. Yes, that will go over just as well as our contract negotiations with low-ballers, won't it?

Have you received any bonuses? What percentage of your pay did they equal?

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Perks Are More Than Just Coffee

Working off Paula Hendrickson's post yesterday, I want ask: when you left that 9-to-5 or opted to leap straight from school into freelancing, how well did you weigh that decision? If you were leaving a full-time job, you probably spent more time considering the things you'd lose - 401(k), paid vacations, paid health care, paid sick days. I bet you didn't even consider that you'd be leaving behind raises and bonuses, did you? No, neither did I. While a few writers have reported the happy news that they've received bonuses, it's a pretty rare commodity. Yet what's most disturbing to me is the set-in-stone pay scale.

Paula's post yesterday said this:

"One magazine I’ve been a regular contributor to for over six years started out paying writers an okay 25-cents per word. Now they assign me 800-1,000 word stories for $200, and they encourage me to “write long.” So six years later, I’m making the same if not LESS that I did in 1991, and that’s only after I berated them to upping my pay from $175 to $200 per article! (And now I’m submitting articles electronically, so they save time not having to key in my work.)

...It’s true some publishers believe writers are a dime a dozen (and at 10-cents a word, they may be right). One editor even admitted so much to me when I was bold enough to ask why I hadn’t been paid for $1,000 worth of already published articles.
Unfortunately this is perhaps the one industry where 'you get what you pay for' doesn’t ring true; even writers with several years’ experience and numerous national clips often get below-poverty-level pay. Since 1991 I’ve sold over 140 articles, most of them to national publications, yet less than two months ago I had an editor tell me she pays 10-15-cents per word, depending on her budget, but it usually comes out to be 13-cents per word. Oh yeah, no by-line either. And they want professionals."


For me personally, pays have not increased, and in some cases have decreased. Employers may argue we have no overhead, we get to work in our pajamas, we save commute time and dollars, but that was so 50 years ago, too. The only difference is we work in our pajamas because now we can't afford actual clothes thanks to cost-of-living increases that are not offset by pay increases.

We try to combat this by setting our own rates. That works well until you get to magazines. Magazines don't necessarily accept your rates - they tell you theirs. We've accepted that business model much too long, but with print publications heading toward extinction, we don't have much bargaining power.

One thing Paula says that sticks out to me: "...even writers with several years’ experience and numerous national clips often get below-poverty-level pay." There's the problem. Writers look on this pay as something they get not something they earn. Meaning this: if instead they saw the pay and said, "No way" how would that change the pricing structure? Too often writers will take what's offered with minimal thought or negotiation. That has to stop.

So how can we stop it?

Monday, June 22, 2009

The Good Old Days?

Remember when you first started freelancing, when 10 cents a word was the first offer of payment, when writing something for the local newspaper meant an extra 20 bucks in your pocket? It's too bad that here you are, years, decades later, making the exact same amount.

Writer Paula Hendrickson penned an article 11 years ago that still holds true. With her permission, I've included it in its entirety here.

Cheap at Twice the Price

by Paula Hendrickson

(Author's note: Originally published in the January 9, 1998 edition of the newsletter, “Writing for Money.” Amazing how little has changed in more than ten years since this piece was first written.)

“The sentiment comes easy at fifty cents a word,” Waldo Lydecker, the acerbic columnist in the old movie Laura, said from my TV screen a few weeks ago.

My initial response was, “Fifty cents. Not bad.” Then it struck me: this movie was filmed in 1944! Sure, Waldo Lydecker was a fictional character, supposedly at the top of his game when he made this remark. Still, I don’t think screenwriters today would have a character earning $10 a word — unless it was set in the future. Way in the future, given the imperceptibly slow rate at which most magazines increase their price per word.

I had a similar reaction upon reading Eleanor Lanahan’s biography of her mother, Scottie: The Daughter of… (HarperCollins, 1995). Frances Scott Fitzgerald Lanahan Smith, F. Scott and Zelda’s only child, was a writer, too. The account of Scottie’s staff position on a regional newspaper caught my eye: “The staff of the Northern Virginia Sun was young and underpaid, earning about thirty-five cents per word.” That was in 1957, and it was reality. When I first read the book over a year ago, I called a friend who’s also a freelancer and read her the passage. We howled at the idea of 35-cents a word being low pay, even by today’s standards.

Fifty Cents After 50 Years
I understand the Golden Age of Television was a terrible blow to the publishing industry, especially to magazines that suddenly had to compete with both radio and television for advertising dollars. Many titles folded, others began publishing less frequently, yet some managed to survive. Even some that Scottie wrote for, like The New Yorker. But do you see any of these magazines charging their current advertisers the same ad rates they charged 40 or 50 years ago? I don’t think so.

So why do the majority of magazines today get away with paying their writers the same, and in some cases probably even less, than their counterparts did half a century ago? Haven’t publishers heard of a little thing called a cost of living increase? How about inflation? When 50 years can pass with hardly any increase in per word prices, no one can accuse writers of being greedy! Can you name any other industry where people earn the same as their predecessors did five decades earlier? How about one decade earlier?

One magazine I’ve been a regular contributor to for over six years started out paying writers an okay 25-cents per word. Now they assign me 800-1,000 word stories for $200, and they encourage me to “write long.” So six years later, I’m making the same if not LESS that I did in 1991, and that’s only after I berated them to upping my pay from $175 to $200 per article! (And now I’m submitting articles electronically, so they save time not having to key in my work.)

Paying for What You Get
Don’t get me wrong. I’ve written a few 50-cents a word articles, and even one that paid over $1 per word (naturally, it was also the shortest piece I’ve ever had published). A nationally distributed small business magazine paid me $250 for a 200-word profile of a successful small company. The catch was they needed it by the end of the day. I added a couple good quotes to the information in my query and had it faxed in well before the close of business. My point is, these markets are the exception rather than the rule.

During a quick perusal of the 1997 Writer’s Market, I noticed only a handful of consumer or trade magazines that paid 50-cents or more per word. A couple (but not many) paid $1 per word. The same held true when I checked the back issues of Writing for Money. (The editor notes the well-paying markets because she knows how rare they are.)

Another setback to the bank accounts of freelancers today is a lot of markets have gone from monthly to bi-monthly. Sure, I write regularly for three national publications, but two of them are bi-monthly. While I have at least one article per issue, per magazine, I’d be better off if they were monthlies. (Even if it’s bi-monthly, I still appreciate the steady work — in case any of you editors happen to be reading!)

Nickel and diming
It’s true some publishers believe writers are a dime a dozen (and at 10-cents a word, they may be right). One editor even admitted so much to me when I was bold enough to ask why I hadn’t been paid for $1,000 worth of already published articles.

Unfortunately this is perhaps the one industry where “you get what you pay for” doesn’t ring true; even writers with several years’ experience and numerous national clips often get below-poverty-level pay. Since 1991 I’ve sold over 140 articles, most of them to national publications, yet less than two months ago I had an editor tell me she pays 10-15-cents per word, depending on her budget, but it usually comes out to be 13-cents per word. Oh yeah, no by-line either. And they want professionals. I know babysitters to earn more!

Maybe it’s time for there to be a Freelance Writers’ Minimum Wage. Then we’d need rules about pay increases, too. Suggestions, anyone?


Update: Paula has now lost count of how many articles she’s sold, but it’s well over 500. She no longer works for any of the places mentioned above (most have folded), and is happy to be a regular contributor to two publications that pay between 50-cents and $1 per word. Hmm, ten years later, and there’s still no discernable increase in what freelance writers earn – meanwhile SEO and content “publishers” are driving per-word prices down to fractions of a penny; low enough to make that last editor sound generous.

Writing used to be a noble profession….what happened? And how can we reverse the trend?

© Paula Hendrickson, 1997, 2009

So how about it, folks? Any ideas?

Friday, June 19, 2009

UFOs and Vacations

I woke this morning to the strangest sight - the sun. It's what they call a UFO in Scotland, it happens so rarely. Yes, I can still see it. I had forgotten what it looked like! I'm sure it's short-lived, but I'll take it, humidity and all.

I can't help getting that uneasy feeling that this week's waiting for the ink to dry on a few project contracts is going to give way to an overabundance of work right when I'm heading out for vacation. I'm expecting it. It happens nearly every year. No matter how much I prepare, I'm never quite ready for it.

Last year, my slow period (or should I say "no" period?) was July. Nothing measurable came through. I sat idle, staring at a computer for 8 hours, not wanting to pry myself away for a minute in case work came in. I spent those hours searching for more clients, but mostly thankful I'd had a very busy winter and spring. This year, that busy spring never materialized. And of course my major clients have lost budgets, so these impending projects are welcome no matter when they arrive. I'll take the laptop on vacation. Lord knows I've sat here long enough doing nothing this past week or so to be well rested.

Have you had work that you've had to schedule around (or during) a vacation? Of course you have. But how did you manage it, and how do you complete the work on time and accurately while still honoring your need to decompress?

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Getting Motivated

Has anyone else started construction on an ark? It's rained here in southeastern PA for so long I'm beginning to see the animals pairing up. I planted seeds on one of the sunny mornings (which of course turned into maelstrom afternoons). I'm sure they're either rotting in the excess water or floating down near Delaware by now. It's wet here again this morning, with a forecast through Tuesday of more of the same.

How do you motivate yourself to do anything in this weather? There have been times I wished for a cloudy or wet day so I could stop lamenting not being out playing in the sun, but come on! I even waxed the floor of the study yesterday - I think I could stand some sunshine! We're taking that trip to Scotland in August - the land of everyday drizzles and showers. Tell me, why aren't we headed to Phoenix or Las Vegas where it's hot and dry? Time to adapt to wellies and rain gear.

The good news is I have two projects coming in this week and next. That's motivation enough to snap out of this rain-induced funk. A change in work perspective does it for me.

What does it for you? How's the weather where you are?

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Is Talent Enough?

Had an encounter recently - no other way to put it - with an admin at a local company. Let me just say here and now had I walked into that office myself without a referral, without my better half standing there, I'd have walked right out. I made a simple request - I wanted to compare this business's prices with that of my current company. So I walked in and asked for a price comparison.

The admin's response, which was loud and edgy (while looking at my husband, not me): "But I just gave you that a few weeks ago!"

Me: "Yes, you did. However, I want to compare your rates to mine based on an identical comparison. What you gave was..."

Admin, still looking at my husband: "That IS what I gave you! Here's the price, right here!"

Me: "Yes, but that's not identical to what I have currently. I want to compare..."

Admin, getting really steamed at my husband, who hadn't said anything yet: "But that's less service than what we're offering! Why would you want that?"

Husband, seeing my blood pressure rising: "She knows that. She just wants to see an apples-to-apples comparison."

Admin: "I'm going to have to change this up! You'll be getting less service! Why do you want that?"

Husband, getting exasperated: "We don't want that. We just want a side-by-side comparison."

Admin: "You're not understanding me. I'm giving you a better service plan. Why are you changing that?"

Husband, voice raising: "You're not hearing me. We're not changing anything. We are looking for an apples-to-apples comparison. Nothing more."

Admin: "I don't understand why you want to lower your services. This makes no sense."

He tried one more time: "We want a quote based on her current plan. Nothing more. No permanent changes. Just a comparison. She's trying to determine her final cost."

Admin: "Well, I'm going to have to change all these numbers." Turns her back to us and starts typing. It took her all of two minutes to make those minor changes, yet it took her five minutes to get steamed, argue, and block all conversation. And she left a very bad impression, one I won't soon forget.

There was a point I wanted to pick up my current plan paperwork, wish her good day, and walk out. Had he not been there, I would have. Had her boss not come in and smiled and treated us like customers should be treated, I'd have never bought anything from that company.

My husband said, "She's a bit volatile, but she's excellent at her job. And she's only been like this in front of me twice in all the years I've been doing business with them."

Know what? That's twice too often. If I walk in that office again, she'd better be sweet as the day is long or I'm moving my business right back out of there. And I'll tell her boss why. Customers should be treated like customers, not like dolts who don't get it by people who don't listen.

That begs the question - is this woman, and others like her, in her current job because of her talent? If so, is that enough of a reason to keep someone with so few people skills? In the writing world, I've seen a few writers who barely hang on to careers - not because they're not talented, but because they're just impossible to deal with.

How about you? Do you think talent is enough? When was the last time you got lousy service from someone with supposed talent? Conversely, when did someone rock your world by acting professional AND doing a good job?

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Yes, We ARE Worth It

In a discussion on one of my newest forum haunts, the writers are discussing the obvious prejudice clients seem to have about writers. If you can design a website, more often than not your clients will see the value in your work and compensate you accordingly (not always, but I digress). If you write copy for that same site, you'll more often than not hear "Sorry! We blew the budget on site design, but hey, a good writer can handle this in no time for a hundred bucks."

Here's a news flash to all clients who think that's so - you couldn't be more wrong. Look at major sites - go on, pick your favorite. What stands out? The bells and whistles for sure, but what's the company's or site's main function? Do you know? Can you read it there and have little doubt? If so, thank the writers. If not, it's because your favorite site opted for the attitude you're trying to sell.

I'd give you examples of lousy sites that lose it in translation, but I won't embarrass the site owners. Let's just say the folks who have strong business models and even stronger brand images know enough to pay their entire creative team for their services, not just one segment. And I'm not saying all designers are compensated appropriately. Some of you who are designers have the same problems with people who don't value your work. I'm just saying in a crap shoot, you're more likely to roll sevens and we writers are stuck with snake eyes.

I had a client possibility not long ago where he did exactly what I'm talking about - he paid a designer top dollar (his words) to create a really neat site. It was strong, it conveyed a definite feeling, and the images were distinct. But what was his message? Damned if I know. The world won't know, either. He wanted to pay me, but in royalties. Are you kidding? And again, the reason he gave was that the design of the site cost so much.

I mean really - if I have my house painted, the roof replaced, the landscaping done, and then I tell the window installer "Sorry, I blew the budget on the rest of the house. But since you specialize, it should be an easy job for you" do you think he's going to do anything beyond telling me where I can stick my offer?

The point is we don't care. We can't. What the clients have spent their money on - or not - is of no consequence to the writer any more than it would be to my dentist should I tell him that my new car payment is the reason I can't give him more than $25 this visit. At any point in any client negotiation where the client brings up his or her financial constraints caused by outside factors beyond your control, it's time to bring up the obvious - "Sorry, but I can't give you a break in my fee because I just paid my kid's college tuition/bought groceries/booked a trip to a conference/had to replace the computer equipment." When they say they can't understand how your issues are relevant to the job, point out how their issues aren't relevant to you. Will you insult? At this point, it doesn't matter. Anyone who cannot separate the collective from one segment of negotiations isn't going to give you a fair shake - ever. If anything, your words may educate and the next writer won't be insulted as a result. Maybe.

How often are you told something like this? How do you deal with it?

Monday, June 15, 2009

The Frugal Writer

Having come from a less-than-wealthy family, I grew up understanding there were limits to what one could have, what one should have, and what one really needed. We grew our own food (from beans to steaks), and we wore a lot of homemade clothes. I remember being so pleased with the dresses and pants my mother made us (especially the bell bottoms I wore as a young teenager - Mom rocked that pattern!), but I never felt lacking in any way. No, I had parents who made us understand that just because we wanted it didn't mean we'd get it. Never was it mentioned that we probably couldn't afford the indulgences. We were just thrilled with a few earned dollars each week that we spent wildly at the five-and-dime store.

Freelancing's a lot like that. You may be swimming in paychecks this month, but next month you're swimming in unpaid bills. After a while you learn - the money is not a given, and it's meant to be saved for those lean times.

For me, it's the lean times. There are a number of projects in the pipeline, but I never count on projects until I'm in the middle of them. So, time to live frugally. I will admit the indulgence of the convertible recently (lovely red number - used, of course) had me feeling decadent and almost embarrassed to own such an obvious indulgence. (I have since dubbed it my Menopause Mobile in an attempt to allow myself a little luxury.) And naturally, a week after I buy it, the first magazine job dries up. Then the following week, the other. That doesn't seem so awful, but these two gigs counted for $20K of my income last year, so yea, I'm nervous.

This is where my childhood training comes in. I know how to be tight with a buck because I know what I really must have versus what I really don't need. It's easier than you might think, especially when you look at your bottom line and realize something beyond your sanity has to give.

No more pedicures. Oh sure, it's a cheap luxury once in a while, but at $30 a pop, it's about $120 I'll save this year. (I did mention I'm tight - even my luxuries are few and far between.) I'll do it at home.

No more shoes. Just shoot me now. For me, shoes are sex appeal and confidence in heel form. I have plenty. I don't need more. I want more. Therefore, no shoes for now. I'll just enjoy the scads I have.

No mall trips. I go to get out of the house, and inevitably I'll buy something. So I change it up - I'm now getting out of the house and into the garden. Sprucing up the surroundings is just as uplifting as new peep toes. Well, almost.

No lunch out. My sanity has relied on at least one lunch per week somewhere else. Now I eat in. I do get out for my tea occasionally, but I won't pair it with muffins or biscotti. If I take along the laptop, I'll go somewhere there isn't food to tempt me, such as the library.

Cut back at the salon. I'm okay with the stray gray hairs. I'm not okay with fuzzy hair, so the cut has to happen at some point. The highlights? Not so much. With summer here, there's no need to go whole hog on hair that will just be windblown until cooler weather. If I invest in anything, it'll be more headbands.

Cheap vaca time. Luckily, the parents spend their summers in Ontario. Also, we're driving distance to the Jersey shore. No need to go abroad until August's planned pleasure/work trip. That I can deduct a portion of that Scotland jaunt is a good enough reason to still go.

How about you? What are you cutting back on?

Friday, June 12, 2009

Defining Your Basement

Having a conversation with a new graduate recently, I mentioned losing two of my big clients to the R word (I won't say it! I won't admit to it!). He asked what I was going to do. I spelled it out for him - "Market, send out proposals, contact the temp agency...."

Of course he asked what happened if none of that worked. My answer, "Head to the mall and get a job."

He said, "But that's beneath you!"

"Dude," I said (yes, I actually called him dude), "an honest job that pays the bills is never beneath you."

He needed to hear that since he's beginning his own search for a career. Mind you, he's heard me rant endlessly on the lousy jobs and disgusting, insulting "pay" some of these jobs quote as a "salary." So of course he was confused. I'd take a mall job, but not a job doing what I like doing that pays a few bucks here and there? What's that about? It's about all sorts of things, mainly dignity, not harming the writing world any more than others have already crippled it, not working myself to the bone for nothing.

It's the vortex we're sucked toward constantly - somehow we think writing ourselves sick and getting hardly anything for it is much better than making a low-but-respectable wage doing something outside our chosen field. But it's not so. Right now, I have writer friends who are working their tails off. My particular situation is rocky, but I'm still earning. That simply means I work harder at marketing.

I will admit when one of the most prolific writers I know said he was sitting idle, I panicked. But then I realized that like every other writer, he was going through the same feast-famine cycle we've all been through, will all go through. It sucks, but it's temporary. Unless, of course, we don't work at finding new clients.

How about you? What's your current situation? How's the immediate horizon looking? What's your lowest acceptable offer or situation?

Thursday, June 11, 2009

The Phrases That Do NOT Pay

While I'm out chumming the waters for new clients (is anyone else wondering where the clients went?), I thought I'd share some of the catch phrases in job listings that usually mean you're not getting paid. If you're a newbie or if you've been around a while, it never hurts to see them for what they are - dung.

Work from home! Gee, there's a benefit they can afford to give you, especially since you're already working from home. This usually comes coupled with

A great job for students and stay-at-home moms! Both basically mean you'll work like a pack mule and get a few grains (if any) at the end of the day.

An easy job for the right person. This little phrase is usually an out for the "employer" because if you realize it's too much work for too little pay, they'll claim you're not the right person. Then the attacks on your character usually begin.

We're a startup... I know a lot of you have worked successfully with startup operations. Consider yourself lucky. Each and every one I've been involved with has either folded, not paid, decided that pay was an option, or all of the above. And more often than not, this phrase comes attached to

....so there isn't any pay at the moment, but once we get up and running, we promise to pay. Really? You promise? My kids promise to clean their rooms, yet do they? The road to Hell is paved with broken promises. Let this be someone else's tar-and-chip.

Get free exposure! Wow! What a deal! While they rake in the ad revenue, you get to work your butt off and they promise to post it on their website for FREE! How lucky can you get? Please. Put up your own website, blog, or online sample page. Work free for yourself - not anyone else. Except maybe your mother.

We'll pay you a share of ad revenue. One step above the free exposure offer, they'll tack on the promise of some remuneration. Let's just say this little blog here, complete with ad revenue, has earned me a whopping 62 cents over the last two years. Assuming someone may actually promote that site and make some headway, your "share" of ad revenue may be more - say around $2. Per year. Right. That's worth it, isn't it?

Our budget is limited. Much more honest, but no less insulting. My budget is limited, too. Do you think anyone cares? They're telling you up front your work is being devalued at the outset. Next!

Payment will be a share of royalties. Oh great. This one is worse than ad revenue. At least with ads you stand a real chance of collecting a dollar. Royalties? On a book that may never make it to print? The math here is easy - one fraction of zero equals... uh huh. Even we English majors can figure that one out.

What phrases have you seen?

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

A Primer for Clients

Dear Clients,

I love you. Yes, I do. I love that you have faith in me to deliver your project your way. You know I'm bending over backwards to make you happy, right? No? Well, I am. It's not just my job - it's something I take seriously.

However lately, dear clients, I'm not feeling the love returned. Instead, I'm seeing more of you expecting my services for free. While I do adore you, I can't pay for my utilities with admiration and respect. They're not quantifiable commodities, nor can I write a check to the auto mechanic for one "atta boy."

So as of today, I'd like to mention a few things to keep in mind about my relationship with you going forward:

The price is the price is the price. Did I mention the price you receive is the price I charge? No? While I can maybe spot you a break once in a while, I have my services priced fairly and to allow me to actually make a living. It's okay - we live in a capitalist society. We're allowed to profit.

The contract must be in place. I've been burned, dear client. Not by you - not yet - but it's happened. My writerly heart's been toasted and my trust has been abused. For that reason, thanks to all the cads who came before you, I must insist on doing business properly - in writing. It's for your own good, too. I'm looking out for both of us.

My skill set does not include ESP. I love that you think I can know exactly what you want or what you omitted from your communications with me. It makes me feel good to know you have such faith in me, but really, I get so disheartened when you become upset because that service or product or accomplishment you failed to mention isn't included in your brochure. I can't please you if you don't help me out a little. Since I own no tarot cards, I'm going to have to count on you to supply the necessary info. Sorry. Nothing I can do there.

Your lack of organization does not constitute my emergency. Sure I'll help you get that late project going. I may even give up my weekend for it, but please understand why that involves a higher fee. See, there were three other people and projects in line ahead of you and I had to bump them and arrange for somewhat later delivery times in order to accommodate you, plus I'm now not going to the art exhibit/theme park/birthday party but spending my time off with your project. Wouldn't you expect someone to compensate you for that, too? By the way, this also applies to those of you who love to hand me a project that you need help with ASAP and oh my, you're going to miss your deadline! I work for a lot of folks, not just you. I want to please them, as well. It wouldn't be fair to drop their deadlines in order to meet yours, especially since they were kind enough to plan far enough in advance so as not to put additional pressure on me to get things done.

My existing samples are all you'll see, thank you. Remember my saying I was burned? Part of that frying included people who expected free samples and then never hired me (and probably used the samples verbatim). I've been at this for over 15 years now. I have samples from nearly any industry or job you can name. Just name it - I'll give you one. That should suffice. If not, my small fee for that sample should be paid upon receipt. Otherwise, I'm not your writer.

I've heard it all before. You're not paying because it's A) a labor of love for you; B) a startup company with limited cash (but you paid your designer, I bet); C) an easy job for the right person; D) a ground-floor opportunity; E) the chance for free exposure for my work; F) a revenue-share opportunity from a company I've never heard of on a site I've never heard of that promises big money from revenue generated from out of the blue; G) your family has no money but you know your story will sell and you'll share some of the royalties with me; H) all of the above. Again, refer to my first point in this letter.

I have a consistent, strong collection process. Again, I've heard much of what you're going to say before: you never received the invoice, you processed the invoice and the check's on the way, you decided months later you hated what I've produced, you need more edits, you can't get legal/accounting/the CEO to cut that check and you're looking into it, your relative's been sick and you're just now back in the office, or you simply stopped responding to my invoices/litigation notices. Referring once more to being burned in the past, I have long since stopped reacting and have become proactive in the collection of what's due me. While I'm happy to help you work out payment plans, I'm not happy to have you reduce my work to a pile of rubbish in an attempt to avoid payment. It won't work. I make sure I get at least one note from you saying things are fine before I invoice. And I keep a very thorough paper trail.

I know it sounds harsh. Please don't think I don't still adore you. I do. I'm just practicing what any good therapist would advise - I'm stating my boundaries and asserting them. Now let's just file this under Good to Know and get on with business, okay?

Much love,
Your writer

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

I Surrender

That would be a white flag I'm waving. I'm giving up, and it's only Tuesday morning.

After losing those two great regular jobs this month, I was hopeful because here came a new client just on the heels of the old one leaving (literally seven minutes between their emails). As you read yesterday, I was happy over the weekend (I often write my posts ahead of time). Well, give it 24 hours and watch it all go to hell in that proverbial handbasket. In fact, it was a subconscious thought that made me bolt upright in bed yesterday morning. That client has no clue I expect money for my work.

Strange as it is, this didn't occur to me right away, nor did the client realize I was being hired by him. The company asked me to write something similar to what they'd seen in a publication. I talked with the contact, explaining who I was (including the word "freelance" in the conversation a few times). We agreed on a time and a subject, but it wasn't until I woke up so suddenly that I realized the lack of discussion on my rates was just too coincidental. I think they thought I'd be paid by the publication. It never occurred to me that they'd not know what freelance writers did or who paid them. Oy. There goes that gig. I sent a carefully worded email reiterating my services and including my price. Silence. Oh boy, silence.

I should've tossed out my rates from the outset, I know. However, we were in the middle of trying to determine the scope of the work. I expected to get to rates today. Well, in a way, we just did.

It happens. Wires get crossed. Clients don't know what to expect and we assume they do. Or they think everything's free and are shocked to learn otherwise. I can't say they came to me offering me nothing out of some heinous desire to capitalize off my hard work. No, they had good intentions. Okay, misguided ones, but good ones from the start. I suspect there's a big "Whoops" going on somewhere in that company, and I suspect if they really want the work done, I'll get the call. But I'm not expecting it.

Anything this weird ever happen to you?

Monday, June 08, 2009

Close the Door, Open Another

Last week I heard from another one of my regular clients and yes, the news wasn't great. I'd sent out the "can I help with anything?" email, and heard what I'd expected - the budget went south and there aren't the funds for freelancers there once was. I feel bad - two great clients in as many weeks. I sent a conciliatory note back, for I really do understand tight budgets, and was surprised to get another note. See, they only want to feel heard sometimes, like all of us, and my sympathies caused them to ask if I'd give them temporary price break. Hell yes I will. I adore working for you people. I'm happy to. I can help you out and earn a little cash. You can get your work pile reduced. It's a win-win, especially when things ease up economically and we're back to business as usual.

What's equally interesting is that as that door was closing, another one opened. I got a new client from an article in that very publication. He'd read it and wanted me to take on a project for him. I'd say that's just coincidence, but damn if the same thing didn't happen last week when my other magazine job went bye-bye. I heard from a long-ago client and now I'm happily employed with her again.

Where's all this work coming from? It may be that I'm networking well. I did put up notice on LinkedIn of my status and current projects, and I did get a few job possibilities from Twitter (okay, I'm SOLD on Twitter now). I've been so busy putting out feelers and reminding the world that I'm here for a fee that something had to give!

How are you spreading the news these days? Have you seen any new work as a result? If so, what has been your most effective approach?

Friday, June 05, 2009

Meet the Author: Colin Galbraith

What a nice way to end the week; I'm pleased as all get-out to introduce my readers and friends to a truly neat individual. Colin Galbraith, whom I first met in a cyber way (and yet to meet in a real-time way) about 5 years ago. Details of our first acquaintance are iffy - it could've been when Anne Wayman was the stellar hostess of the About.com writing forum, or it could've been on her current About Freelance Writing site.

Either way, Colin has enjoyed much freelance success since that time. His latest novel, Stella, which is being released June 7th, chronicles the story of Randolph Lowe, hired to assassinate the world's least accessible, yet most-wanted assassins. Little does he know his target is the beautiful Stella. The story takes many twists and turns as Randolph falls in love with his target, who isn't at all what she seems to be, for she's hiding her own secret.

What was the inspiration for Stella?

The idea for STELLA first came to me in 1988. I was listening to an album of the same name by Yello, and I developed a series of images to certain songs in my mind as I listened to the album. I always promised myself I would one day write these images down into a cohesive text, but it wasn’t until 2007 that I felt my writing had developed enough that I could give it a bash.

I began by writing down these images, and from that I used the music to further inspire the gaps in between. Slowly, a story began to unfold until I had a first draft. It took a lot more work to make it into what it is today and I’m delighted with how it turned out.

Why write a paranormal mystery; you’ve never written in this genre before?
It wasn’t meant to be a paranormal book. My original idea was for the book to be a spy novella, something with its roots in the mysteries of underground eastern Europe. As the ideas began to develop on paper, though, the book began to take on its own form and it made sense for a paranormal aspect to come into it. I can’t honestly see it working without it now.

Did you enjoy writing in the paranormal mystery genre?

Very much. Looking back, my writing has diversified naturally over the past couple of years. My favoured “genre” is crime, but I have found the two other most enjoyable types of writing I have indulged in has been paranormal (through STELLA), and children’s poetry, through my e-chapbook, Silly Poems for Wee People Vol.1.

At the start of 2009 I vowed I would write more about the things that made me happy, and since making that decision and sticking to it, I’ve had more success and fun with my writing than any other year.

What research went into writing Stella?

Not as much as you might think. Most research concerned the locations in the book that I hadn’t been to, but which I wanted to appear in the book. It’s fast moving story and takes the reader all around the world, so while I could write vividly about Prague, Amsterdam and London, I knew little of San Francisco, Brooklyn NY and Fes, Morocco.

There was also a bit of research into demons and black roses, but mostly it’s all made up - the kind of writing I enjoy most.

Will we see more of Stella and Randolph?

STELLA was originally meant as a personal writing experiment and I never meant, or expected it, to ever be published. However, now it has been, and having enjoyed working with Stella and Randolph so much, I want to do more with them.

Both Stella and Randolph are such strong characters and there are so many questions I have now STELLA is behind me, that I want to find out more about them. And where the author has questions, so too I expect will the readers.

I’ve already begun work on the sequel and am planning on making their story into a trilogy. The book I am writing just now – the sequel to STELLA - is called BACCARA BURNING.

Colin's bio: Colin has published many short stories, poems, articles and reviews, in both print and online publications. His novel, Hunting Jack, was serialised in 2004, and his chapbook, Fringe Fantastic: The Poet's Experience of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, was published by Smashing Press in December 2005 to critical acclaim. Poolside Poetry soon followed, published in March 2007. He has published three e-chapbooks: Brick by Brick (2005), Silly Poems for Wee People Vol.1 (2006), and Selektion (2007). He edited his first anthology, Full Circle, in 2007 and his hugely popular children's poem, River Monkeys, appeared in the anthology, A Pocketful of Fun, published by Forward Press in 2006. He is proud to be the Chief Editor and Publisher of The Ranfurly Review literary e-magazine, and an Associate Editor at The Scruffy Dog Review.

Want to host Colin on your blog? Give him a shout.

Do you have any questions for Colin on the writing process or on his book? Feel free to leave comments here!

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Random Wastes of Time

Don't you hate when you spend time crafting a killer query sure to attract attention only to find out the employer failed to fill you in on the most critical details? Like last week, I spent some quality writing time answering an ad that passed my BS Litmus Test (or BLT). The test parameters:

1. Must contain a hint or a direct statement of the going rate (or ask me to state mine).

2. Must not contain phrases like "an easy job for the right person", "perfect for college grads or stay-at-home moms", "we are a new company destined for greatness and a great place for you to showcase your work!" and other phrases that indicate they're not going to pay squat.

3. Must not require a PhD or Masters degree in order to apply to write blog posts (seriously, are you asking too much of us here?).

4. Must sound like a legitimate job offer, not a "we need writers" call for numerous underpaid helpers.

5. Must state the job description fairly clearly (not hint at what it may or may not be).

So last week I answered a carefully vetted advertisement. The ad stated business writing. It stated also the ongoing work factor and stated enough info to pass my test.

Then I get the email - "Can you give me examples of your writing from XYZ industry?" I paused. Huh? Did I read that ad incorrectly? I went back over it (when I send out a query to an ad, I always paste that ad at the bottom of my query so I know what I'm looking for later). Nope, no mention of this industry anywhere in the ad. No hint of it. In fact, many wouldn't consider this trade writing, but consumer writing. So of course what I'd sent wasn't going to fit.

I hate that. Wasted my time and makes me think this would be a bad match. If this person is that unclear from the start, how's that going to translate in the day-to-day dealings? Mind you, if I get another response I'll press forward. I don't write people off too quickly, and there's always the chance I can impress upon them a clearer communication style. But at this stage, I'm annoyed that I couldn't provide what they needed because they didn't clearly indicate what that was. If you're keeping such general info a secret, uh, why?

It's why I'm less and less inclined to answer ads. Seriously. The minute few who do have a real purpose beyond getting free labor out of you aren't worth the struggle of weeding through the crap to get to them. And in more cases than I care to think about, they turn into wastes of time for both sides.

What wastes your time these days?

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Where is the Love?

Riddle me this, Batman - if you're a salesperson and you come upon someone who isn't buying what you're selling, what do you do? Do you A) automatically turn off the sales pitch, the charm, and leave that person standing? Or do you B) continue to treat that someone as though he or she is a potential customer? If you answered B, I want to know you.

I ask because as my kid and I were standing in a local car dealership last week waiting to transfer a title, the salesperson came up to me and started going on about the features of the car in front of me. I explained that we'd come in to transfer a title. Gone went her smile. Gone went any interest beyond shouting over to her manager, "Hey Lou (names changed). Can you get Patty? They need a title transfer." Then as I commented that the car in front of me really was nice, she turned and walked back to her desk. Big mistake.

However, her coworker, who'd heard we weren't looking, took the time to come over and talk with us. He carried on a nice conversation with me about about muscle cars and about how he thought his company's new Camaro compared to the Mustang. Okay, he was biased, but he was engaging. As we left, he came over to my car and handed my daughter and me both a business card. If I ever buy another Chevy, who do you think is getting my business? And my daughter's too, for she said, "He was really nice." More to the point, if I run into this guy at another dealership, or in another sales position, I'll remember him. He spent ten minutes with me, knowing full well I wasn't buying. He didn't care. I was a person. I was a new contact who may some day buy something he's selling. That, my friends, is how to network.

We're all in sales. We have to take the same care with clients that we would with friendships. These are real people, not just clients attached to projects and checks. They have interesting lives and they enjoy someone paying attention to them beyond how much we can get out of them (or vice versa). You can't turn off the charm just because you think this person isn't going to net you anything.

That may even go for jobs that are low-ball in nature. I ran into an old client's cohort a few weeks back when he asked me to consider working with them. I left their employment on contentious terms (long story involving a missing contract and no intentions on their part of signing one). I knew I'd acted professionally. I knew I'd not get the job because the person I'd dealt with was still at the helm. But some day I may, only if the management changes and I've been fair in my dealings and my communications. If I don't, that's fine. These people talk to other people who hire. If I make a stink unnecessarily, that's going to get around. If I quietly walk away from a raw deal, that's going to be forgotten much sooner, and there won't be any water-cooler stories to tell.

What do you think? Have you come across charmers who lose the love the minute they see you're not responding? Have you done it yourself?

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Fake It Until You Make It

Having once survived a divorce, I picked up a little mantra we divorcing people repeated to deal with the onslaught of divorce-related depression: Fake it until you make it. Fake like you're okay until that day when you wake up and don't want to stay in bed. Paste that smile on your face until the day when it comes naturally again. Drag yourself through your routine until you regain the strength to pick it up again willingly. I guess the same could apply to the career, couldn't it?

I've seen people with impossible ideas turn those ideas into profit. I've talked with enthusiastic people who had a better chance of getting run over by a train AND struck by lightning simultaneously. Yet there they are a short time later, leading the way. Years ago I talked with a guy at a trade show who was telling me all about this new gadget designed to streamline your life. I looked at it, the size of a calculator, and thought "Right. I don't get it." I didn't get it, but I wanted one. They had cool marketing stuff and the sales guy was just infectious in his enthusiasm. Years later, even President Obama carries a BlackBerry.

It's attitude, isn't it? It's painting on that face, screwing up the courage, and diving in headfirst. Mind you, there's a fair bit of preparation involved, but for the most part, it's what Eddie Izzard contends - only part of it is what you're saying. The rest is in the delivery.

And in reality, you do have to be confident in what you do. Otherwise, how can you possibly convince clients you know what you're doing? If you're new to it, sure. Faking it is an option. If you're up against a tough market or you've got life issues interfering with your work, why not fake it? Why not pretend your life is in perfect order just long enough to get through your day and score those jobs? It's envisioning taken to the action phase. Imagine yourself being successful, then go out and do it.

Have you had to fake it lately? I'll admit to a few bouts of "poor me" recently, but I'll be damned if I'll let this market win. You?

Monday, June 01, 2009

Monthly Assessment - May

Many thanks again to Devon Ellington (aka Jenny Storm) for spending time last week with us answering writing and publishing questions and sharing her process with us. If you have any more questions, you're free to ask them here or visit her on her blog.

Another month, another assessment of how things went. May was only slightly better than April (minus the IRS, as well). I was busy, but not overly so. I marketed more, including putting together a mailing list and a new sales letter for a specific target market. I've yet to mail them, for as slow as things are, I'm kept busy with the steady gig. It's a case of one job causing me to slack off on the others. No more.

Queries -
I was determined to get circulating more, so I sent out a number of queries to different industries and publications. I made the acquaintance of a few more editors who need specialized writing on occasion - never a bad thing. No new work - yet. I'm determined and hopeful, though. I did manage to get out a group of brochures to that list I'd made in April, but no takers yet.

Job postings -
I responded to a few hand-selected postings. Two gigs as a result. I'm pleased with the result as I spent much less time writing useless queries for low-paying work. I decided if price wasn't stated in the ad or if anything seemed off, I wasn't going to bother. I'm content with that choice.

Existing clients -
The bad news - one of my favorite "quick" gigs has lost its freelance budget for the remainder of the year. Other existing clients haven't responded to my email queries, though I'll keep in contact. When clients don't respond, I suspect it's because they don't have anything at that moment. I refuse to believe otherwise until told differently.

Earnings -
Dismal. I invoiced just over half of my earnings goal. That's not acceptable. I know there's a recession, but that's no excuse. There's work out there. I need to shift focus or approach in order to find more.

Bottom line -
More marketing in new ways. The follow-up calls I should be making I'm not. I blame lack of time, but I need to budget the time. I did bring in two more regular clients, and that helps. It won't bring me to the earnings level I need, but I like both clients and the work.

How was May for you? What are you doing going forward?
Words on the Page