Many life changing events (both professional and personal) have been occurring and I apologize for not being more regular in my blog.

Professionally, I will be officially making the transition from full time to freelance. There had been some back and forth because the company I work for wants to keep me as a contractor, but it is a small company and there were many loopholes to work though. Now it is official.

Transition is sometimes the most difficult part. I am currently still working full time and freelancing at night. I have a few terrific clients I am working with right now and having a great time, but it is time consuming to work both gigs and exhausting while being very pregnant and all of that prep work. I am very excited about my regular clients and eager to get settled into full time freelance.

In the meantime, here are my freelance goals:

    Rework this website to have it better organized
    Consider splitting my blog and online portfolio into separate sites
    Blog at least twice a week
    Get my logo finally finished for my website and business cards

I hope to have everything ready to go sometime in May after maternity leave. In the meantime, please be patient. Feel free to give me freelancing tips or work at home mom tips in the comments below!


The Art of Negotiation: What You Need to Get the Gig


This past year, I have been moonlighting as a freelance editor/writer while still maintaining a full time job. This paycheck security meant that I could take or leave projects with no real financial burden. This means I slacked a bit when it came to 1.) Looking for new clients and 2.) Securing the contract.

As I transition now into full time freelance, I do find myself with more anxiety when it comes to finding enough work to cover the bills. Every freelancer goes through this phase as they are first starting out to make their brand known. The safety net is being pulled out and now I better step up the performance.

Freelancing means you have the ability to set your own price. However, clients do not have to agree to that price. Then it is up to negotiating to compromise on a price. Since I still consider myself a newbie in the freelance business, I tend to set my prices too high simply because I overestimate how long a project will take to complete. However, if you price to high, it could scare clients off where they will not bother to negotiate any longer and look for someone else.

On the other hand, if you price is too low, a client will not think you are skilled in your profession or that you fail to grasp what is involved in the project. I am guilty of both, and found that my best bet is to research what others in industry charge for similar projects and try to break down each project into each step involved. I add up a price quote from each individual task to get the overall price to charge.

My latest example:

Client needs a manual overhaul, but felt my price was too high. I decided to break down the project into steps:

1.) Phone calls, meetings, and any other correspondence to obtain materials.
2.) Learning the software program for basic understanding.
3.) Reviewing manual materials and compare it to the software to see where the breakdowns occur.
4.) Reorganize and edit the manual (Obviously, this should take the bulk of the time.)
4.) Updating screen shots to reflect any changes.
5.) Review and finalize the finished project and compare it to the checklist to make sure all client needs were met.

I learned that sometimes the client just needs a better breakdown of the total project cost to know where their money is going. Also, knowing that this client will have future work for me makes me work harder to keep the client, even if that means I might have to cut costs initially.

Freelancers, please feel free to add your tips and tricks below when negotiating with new clients.

Sprints: Freelancing with a Baby or Toddler Around


Katharine O’Moore-Klopf, ELS, a board-certified editor in the life sciences, has been self-employed since 1995. She has helped researchers in more than 20 nations get their articles published in more than 35 US and UK biomedical journals by removing language barriers. On Twitter, where she networked her way into coauthoring a book, Katharine’s handle is @KOKEdit. Learn more about her at

One of the best techniques for dealing with seemingly daunting projects is to break them down into a series of small tasks. When I went freelance full time at the start of 1995 just two weeks after giving birth to my second child, I intuitively used that technique. It worked so well that I employed it through that child’s toddlerhood and preschool years—and then used it again after giving birth to my third child. My workday logs back then read as if I were doing a series of sprints. My second child is now a high school senior and my third child is now a fifth-grader, and both they and my editing business are still thriving. Hey, childless colleagues who doubted years ago that I’d survive, are you listening?

When each of my two sons was a baby or a toddler, my workdays were spread out over a 12-hour period—though I got nowhere near 12 hours’ worth of work done—and ran something like this:

• Breastfeed the baby/feed the toddler. Get Child dressed for the day.
• Eat breakfast myself once Child is settled.
• Take a shower while my mother-in-law watches Child.
• Begin answering e-mails and editing.
• Stop to breastfeed, diaper, read to, or play with Child.
• Do some more editing.
• Stop to breastfeed, diaper, read to, or play with Child.
• Do some more editing.
• Feed Toddler lunch and eat my own lunch.
• Do some more editing.
• Stop to breastfeed, diaper, read to, or play with Child, or put Child down for a nap.
• Do some more editing.
• Stop to breastfeed, diaper, read to, or play with Child.
• Continue as needed.

Compare that with my current schedule:
In 2002, I posted to a freelancers’ e-mail list some tips for surviving self-employment when you’re a new parent. I wrote:

I work 25 to 30 hours a week, without using day care, and I have an 18-year-old daughter, a 7-year-old son, and a 4-month-old son. I’ve done things this way for my last two children, so I’m thinking my system works. In case some of these things work for you, I’ll give you my tips. Take what works for you and chuck the rest; the best advice I can give you is that you are the expert when it comes to the needs of your child. I’m not trying to be preachy here; these things just work for me:

1. Purchase a baby sling-type carrier. (If you want a list of businesses—and their web-site addresses—where you can purchase one, let me know. I have it set up as a Word document.) “Wear” your baby in the sling as you work. I’m doing that very thing as I type to you right now. Your baby will nap and be calm in the sling because he or she knows you’re right there. Your life partner can also wear your baby for great parent–child bonding.

2. If you’re female, breastfeed. It’s the healthiest thing you can do for your baby, and it’s the easiest and cheapest way you can feed him or her. My 4-month-old nurses in the baby sling while I work, as did his brother before him. Bottle-feeding in a sling can work too.

3. Don’t answer the phone if you don’t have to during working hours. I have a dedicated work phone line and keep the answering machine on. The tape says I’m “either editing right now or away from my desk. Please begin speaking after the tone, and if I’m available, I’ll pick up the phone.” If you really, really need to communicate with a client but your baby’s fussy, which means you can’t talk on the phone, settle Baby in the sling, let Baby latch on if you’re breastfeeding, and then call or e-mail your client.

4. When you sleep at night, sleep with the baby in bed with you and your life partner. You and Baby will both sleep better because you don’t have to stumble groggily out of bed to go get Baby from the crib to feed him or her, and Baby will be secure, even while sleeping, in the knowledge that you are right there. While you’re sleeping, turn the alarm clock away from your line of sight. If you don’t really know how long you’re up during the night, you won’t feel as sleep-deprived.

5. Get your life partner to take over care of Baby when he or she comes home from work (if your partner isn’t self-employed), except for breastfeeding if you’re the one who’s breastfeeding. You need physical space to rejuvenate yourself so you can do intensive parenting during the work week.

6. Know that your workday will stretch throughout the day. I start work sometimes at 8:30 a.m. and don’t finish until 7 p.m. But I do only 5 or 6 hours of work total, taking breaks for meals, playing with my kids, supervising homework time, showering, etc.

7. Avoid working weekends whenever possible. You need this time for fun with your family. Your life partner needs you and you need him or her.

8. Get relatives and friends to help out with care of Baby. My in-laws live in the downstairs apartment of the house that my husband and I own. Now that my mother-in-law’s retired, she comes upstairs in the morning so I can do a few household chores, get out for a 1.5-mile walk, and shower. Before that, my father-in-law is outside waiting at the bus stop with my 7-year-old son so that I can give the 4-month-old his first nursing of the morning. Then at lunchtime, my mother-in-law comes back up and plays with the baby for a while so I can have the use of my entire body for my own lunch. Getting your own physical space is very important for recharging your emotional batteries. I didn’t have the luxury of help from my in-laws before they retired; I just did it all myself when my second child was a baby. That was when I hugely appreciated my husband’s taking over the second child’s care when he got home from work.

9. Make sure you have plenty of friends and mentors—live and in person or online—to vent to and compare notes with. Support is critical.

10. Become very, very good at multitasking.

And when my third child was a toddler, I added these tips for my colleagues:

11. Occasionally, when cash flow is good, my toddler will spend three hours, three days a week, at the in-home day care center that my next-door neighbor runs. He doesn’t really need the care, but he gets to play with friends there. If you can make similar arrangements, you’ll get in some good working time.

12. Track your working time, which you’ll get in fits and starts, with time-tracking software that allows you to add up your work periods each day.

13. My office is in my kitchen [and it still is, in 2012], which flows into the living room without any interrupting walls. My husband put up baby gates so that the kitchen–living room area was like one giant playpen containing me and my toddler. This allows the toddler to run over to me and ask me to read books to him at my desk and then run off back to the living room to play. He naps right beside my desk. I nurse him to sleep on my lap as I work, and then when he’s soundly sleeping, I lower him into the rocking baby seat next to me. If you can set up your working space so that you and your child have quick access to each other, working with your child around will be much easier.

An Announcement


I hope everyone has had a wonderful holiday season! 2012 will be an exciting year for myself and my family as we have a few life changes coming along this year. I will take just a moment to reminisce of what happened in 2011, both personal and professional.

    Started More Specifically freelance editing/writing business, along with this online blog and portfolio.
    Moved into our very first home.
    Paid off the last of our Credit Card debt.
    Met wonderful colleagues on Twitter – I highly recommend this tool for every freelancer.

As 2012 starts, I am planning big changes for the year as we get ready to expand our family with our first born due in March. I am also looking forward to becoming a work at home mom (WAHM) as I transition to full time freelance.

I am officially taking the leap! My current full time job has graciously agreed to allow me to work with them on contract and that means I will work from their office two days a week. I am blessed to be able to continue working with them as well as take on more freelance editing clients. I will admit that i am nervous about the changes, but excited.

Thank you all who have encouraged me throughout this decision, especially those work from home moms who have gone before me and have been successful.