Buffalo Chicken and Reasons to Freelance Or Not

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Since we are approaching the big holiday known as the Fourth of July, I thought I would take a look at working in an office setting versus freelancing. I am sitting here partaking in the event at work that always makes my waistline expand – when a coworker brings food in the office to share. A couple days ago, my boss brought it the most amazing homemade cupcakes with homemade frosting. Yes, I had not one, but two. Today, I am having buffalo chicken dip (also known as “crack” chicken). Again, I can feel my waistline expanding. My dog will be happy to have that extra long walk with me as I compensate, I am sure.

I work full time while freelancing in the evenings. Continually, the idea of working full time from home thrills me. However, I admit that I would miss the office banter, picking on the coworkers, and the “merit badges” (given to a coworker when they do something clumsy or out of character), along with the recipes that would never come out as good if I were to try them and the variety of beverages the boss provides for the staff. Oh yeah, and paid holidays.

I would not miss certain things, however, if I were to start full time freelance and leave the office behind. Starting the list would definitely be the getting up early and getting ready to be seen by people. Also on the list would be the gas and mileage used along with the travel time to arrive at the destination office.

Although I have probably the greatest boss around (in all seriousness), I would not miss having a boss to regularly have to check in with to make sure I am on task. Deciding what task I feel like or do not feel like accomplishing in a day’s work would be my own decision.

What do you think about freelancing versus working in a corporate office? Anything you miss working at home?

Resumes: Should Writers Waive Fees?

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resume clipart

Considering the economy and how difficult it is to land a job in this economy, many highly motivated and qualified people are struggling to not only find a job in their field, but find a job at all.

I remember being unemployed for six months after a previous job had to close their doors. I applied for every retail and fast food job along with any other job I came across because I needed a paycheck to provide for my family. I kept getting turned away and rarely got an interview because I was considered overqualified with a college degree. Overqualified meant nothing to my growling stomach and bare cupboards. It was not for lack of trying. I consider myself a hard worker and do not feel I am above doing any job.

Fast forward to present day. Many people have hired me to either create or overhaul their resumes. I have three on my desk at this moment (along with many copyediting and technical writing projects). I had a friend email me this morning about a fourth resume for a friend who was in desperate need of a new job and broke. She asked me to either discount my rate and she would cover any charge. He had been job hunting for awhile now and no one is responding to his resume as it was currently. Of course I took this one on at no charge and already got it back to them both.

I took a look at his current resume and although it was 2.5 pages, it had a terrific look and setup to it. Proper spelling and grammar, along with specific details as to his achievements. Upon closer look, I realize this gentleman had an amazing plethora of talent and anyone should hire him on the spot with his skills. I cut his resume to one page, shortened his work history to only the past ten years, and took off information that was not relevent to general labor (fluent in 7 languages, and vast variety of computer program skills, upon other achievements).

It makes my heart sad to see that people (like myself at one time) have such an enthusiasm to achieve and excellent work ethic who are struggling to provide for their families because a resume cannot get them through the door. What also strikes me is that many charge so much to create a resume that many broke people cannot afford and the cycle continues. I know my resume charge is little compared to much, and I waive the fee on many occasions because I would like anyone succeed at getting a paycheck.

What are your thoughts about charging the unemployed? Do you ever waive fees?

Contracts: Now You Have a Client!

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contract signing
I realize I had not posted in a couple of days. I had a busy last couple of days with regard to freelancing. I had meetings and conference calls this weekend with potential clients. It seems the work all starts to come in at once and so my focus is working with these potential clients to come to agreement on terms for work. This is where my attention has turned to today’s topic of contracts.

Up until now, I have always had a contract of some sort for the other party to sign that includes terms of work and payment. I have done this for every client, no matter how close I know them. So far, this has suited myself and the client just fine. The difference is that these have all been individuals asking me to create a project for them.

This new client I have is a company that wants me to create help documentation for their new online forms. This is right up my alley with my skills (although I am transitioning to more of an editing niche since I am a technical writer all day long). The difference is that this client has asked me to sign their W-9. I definitely agree with the w-9 because there is a possibility they will have more work for me in the future and the tax man will come looking for his money.

I have also been asked to sign the company’s standard consulting contract. I have read this over and agree with the terms. However, this is new territory for myself. I have asked many on twitter what they think about signing a company contract versus their own. Here are some of the replies:

@KOKedit If the consulting contract passed the sniff test (i.e., no clauses that stink), I might sign it.
@Anzac sign both. Protect yourself
@katefrishman I’m used to scientists-they don’t care about contracts much 🙂

Although the last reply sounds nice to not have to worry about contracts, I definitely want to cover myself. I always want to be sure project terms are agreed upon before I work in the wrong direction.

What are your thoughts regarding contracts? Do you have a standard template or do you rely on the client to have their own contract for you to sign?

Communication: The Only Way to Get Clients

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Good communication is necessary for all types of jobs and relationships. As I am gearing up for another conference call today with a prospective client, I began thinking about the pros and cons of meeting a client face to face versus over a phone line.

Face To Face

Pros

  • An easy way to see facial expressions during the conversation.
  • Easy to tell when another party wants to chime in with a thought.
  • Generally faster than waiting for a response to email or IM.
  • Commute time can cut into how long a meeting can last.
  • Cons

  • Points are not remembered as easily due to outside distractions.
  • Someone may be too shy to state what they truly think.
  • Conversations can vear off into other tangents.
  • Meetings can be a waste of time for freelancers if the other party has no interest in committing to a project.
  • Shy people might get tongue-tied and come across as incompetent.

  • Conference Call

    Pros

  • A person feels safer without the chance for rejection by the other party.
  • The other party can not see nervousness.
  • Ability to hide physical differences so the other party is not bias.
  • Lower cost than traveling to visit for a face to face.
  • Feedback is instant, as with face to face.
  • The availability of each person involved.
  • Cons

  • A person stuck behind the computer tends to forget social skills.
  • Difficult to get a physical impression of how interested the other person truly is.
  • The agenda can be too limited.
  • Personal relationships or understanding are not created within a business interaction.
  • More uncontrolled distractions than in a restricted office setting.
  • Comments can be stepped on by another party during the conversation.
  • If the facilitator is not a strong personality, the call can deteriorate if someone takes over.
  • Please add your thoughts in the comments below and state which you prefer.

    Coming Out of the Woodwork?

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    Coming out of the woodwork
    Admittedly, I am falling into new territory with juggling a full time job along with the numerous freelance clients that have come across my desk over the last few weeks. Up until now, clients have been coming in once in awhile and most of my time has been devoted to creating my brand and marketing. Since I have stepped out of my shy comfort zone, things have changed. As I type, enough projects are filling my inbox to keep me busy for awhile.

    Even though my time is not devoted to marketing, this does not mean I have stopped. Although it has given this shy freelancer more self confidence to start seeing results in the form of actual contracts. Let this be a lesson, stepping out into the great unknown is scary, sure. However, through all of the prospects not interested, there are many who are in need of my brand.

    For myself, I have found that giving myself small goals of sending just a few brochures or networking with just a couple people at each event, networking is becoming much easier than when I initially started. I look to see who out there is in need of a service I provide, but I am not trying to “sell myself” by pushing my service onto someone. Making it known who I am and what I do seems to be all that is needed to result in multiple contracts.

    Now is the time to get to work!

    Freelance Lessons From a New Pet

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    I must tell you that this little guy stole my heart when I first saw him over a week ago. This past Friday, he was adopted into our little family and stole my heart. He is quiet and shy to new people – that is, until he warms up and decides you are buddies.

    Here are a few lessons I have learned so far into pet ownership:

    Pre-planning: After you decide to meet and before a contract is signed, you must purchase all supplies, get all paperwork in order, and mentally prepare yourself for your new contract.

    Contract day: Show up at the schedule time and do not be tardy. Reiterate terms of the agreement so both parties are in sync with what will and will not happen.

    After the contract meeting is over: Stop and take a deep break. Remind yourself that although you might be apprehensive to start a new project, the other party has their faith that you will be able to handle the job.

    Enjoy your new project and reap the benefits of a job well done.

    The Book Every Freelancer Should Own

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    Selling Your Services by Robert W. Bly

    As a shy marketer, this book has been a blessing to me during my freelancing career thus far. Robert W. Bly is widely known in the field of Copyediting, freelance writing, and marketing. He writes from experience and uses specific examples from his career to enhance understanding for the readers. Although Bly writes from his personal experiences as a copyeditor, the book itself is not specific to the writing and editing field. The tips and tricks he uses are important for anyone who is looking to expand their freelance career through marketing and networking.

    Bly explains in this book how society is changing from employees working to make products to sell, to individuals working to provide a service to other businesses and individuals. The book describes easy steps and then builds on the previous step in each new chapter. While reading this book, there is a real sense the author knows what he is describing because he has been in the same position. Templates are provided that he has used to accomplish task.

    While reading Selling Your Services, I initially read through this book over the course of just a few days because I was excited to delve deeper into the book and discover more knowledge of the author. My personal copy of this book is littered with post it notes throughout the book that are labeled for me to reference, as I do on a fairly regular basis as I grow my own business. This book is starting to show wear as I continually refer to the tidbits of information.

    I purchased other books by Robert W. Bly because of the knowledge he portrays and how universal his methods are to handle marketing the business and interacting with new clients as well as handling client objections. I highly recommend anyone who is interested in having a successful freelance career to get a copy of this book.

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