Archived entries for Uncategorized

Part II: Q&A With Andrea V. Lewis

This is part II, the final part of a two-part Q&A with Andrea V. Lewis. See Part I to find out how Andrea got her start freelancing and a little about the type of work she does or check out Andrea’s blog for more about her.

Jargon Writer: Do you set goals for yourself? What goals are you working toward currently? If not, why not?

Andrea V. Lewis: I set monetary goals for myself per week. Demand Studios bases their payment structure similar to that of piece work–Meaning that for each article published I get X amount of compensation.

But, other than that, the goals I set for myself mainly pertain to the industry I hope to be a part of. Staying true to what it is I really want to do professionally and not taking similar positions I’ve had in the past, because that would just be the easy way out. Of course, the economy has made this transition more difficult than I would like, but I know the strong will survive and my perseverance and passion for social media, especially how it relates to advertising and marketing, will eventually pay off.

JW: How successful do you feel you’ve been as a freelance thus far? Why?

Andrea: Considering that I’m not in freelancing for the long-term, I feel that I’ve been successful at it because I’m able to generate income on my own. I think even after I commit to a position within a company that I will continue to freelance as way to supplement my income and keep my writing skills up. After all, communicating effectively through words is a talent that is revered in any industry. Continuing to write articles online and utilizing self-publishing platforms, like blogging, is a great way to ensure that I maintain this talent throughout my career, regardless of where it takes me.

JW: Do you have a top tip for others who want to freelance doing what you do?

Andrea: It’s important to do your research and know what you’re getting yourself into prior to taking on the location independent lifestyle of freelancing. Don’t get discouraged when your articles come back from editors. They are there to help you hone your writing skills. Remember that practice makes perfect. The more you write the better you’ll get.

Based in Los Angeles, CA, Andrea V. Lewis has been working at full-service advertising agencies and marketing firms since 2005. Her writing has been featured on Brazen Careerist, eHow, and about.com, among others. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in communications with a concentration in advertising, from California State University, Fullerton. Say hello to her on Twitter or visit her blog Hello. {Work}.

Part I: Q&A With Andrea V. Lewis

This is part 1, the first part, of a multi-part Q&A with Andrea V. Lewis. Check out Part II, or find out more about Andrea on her blog Hello. {Work.} for more about her.

Jargon Writer: When/How did you first become a freelancer?

Andrea V. Lewis: I became a freelancer after I left the traditional advertising world. I knew I wanted to transition out of traditional (digital) media planning and buying and into social media. Since, my agency was a full-service agency, there was little opportunity to gain knowledge in experimental or social media initiatives, which is generally handled by specialized agencies or by the client directly.

JW: What kind of freelancing do you do and within that field, what do you specialize in?

Andrea: I’m currently freelancing as a writer at Demand Studios. They provide online content to several branded websites. They offer writing assignments on a number of topics. I specialize in marketing and advertising topics because that’s where my educational background and professional expertise lies.

JW: What about the idea of freelancing drew you?

Andrea: Freedom is what initially drew me to utilize freelancing temporarily. It would have been very difficult for me to keep agency hours, working anywhere from 9 – 12 hours per day, in addition to commuting, and find time to devote to job searching too. I’m able to set my own hours based upon my schedule for that day and work in accordance with my needs instead of typical 9-to-5, or in my case 9-to-7, rat race regulations.

JW: How long have you been working freelance and what’s the biggest obstacle you’ve overcome?

Andrea: I’ve only been freelancing for a few months. Three months to be exact. My biggest obstacle is reminding myself that just because I don’t have clients to service, campaigns to launch, or metrics to analyze, doesn’t mean I’m not productive. Going from a fast paced environment to a secluded home office has taken some time to get used to. Also, the nature of my work has also changed. Now, I get paid to write creatively and produce content, which is so different from buying media, maintaining campaigns, and providing reports on ROI to the client.


Based in Los Angeles, CA, Andrea V. Lewis has been working at full-service advertising agencies and marketing firms since 2005. Her writing has been featured on Brazen Careerist, eHow, and about.com, among others. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in communications with a concentration in advertising, from California State University, Fullerton. Say hello to her on Twitter or visit her blog, Hello. {Work}.

Part III: Q&A With Ty Unglebower

This is part 3, the final part, of a multi-part Q&A with Ty Unglebower. See Part 1 to find out how Ty got his start freelancing and a little about the kinds of projects he works on, or part 2 to hear what drew him to freelancing and a little about his experiences.

Jargon Writer: Do you set writing goals for yourself? What goals are you working toward currently? If not, why not?

Ty Unglebower: I cannot control the market directly, and therefore outside of my regular weekly or bi-monthly gigs I don’t suppose I can set a goal as to what business I will or won’t have in thus and such amount of time­–That’s determined by the other people.

But as for writing goals in general, I do have them. I want to make sure I have written 5 pages in some form, at least, daily. It can be accumulative from several different sources of writing throughout the day (correspondence not included), but I like it to be about 5 pages average. So I make sure if I don’t have a column due, I am working on my new article. If it isn’t time for that, I will post to one of the blogs, or work on my novel.

The novel is a one goal I am working toward. I do have a goal to have a first draft of that complete before the end of summer. It’s just under halfway finished now. I also have a standing goal to write three times in the blogs a week, in any combination.

Finally, by the end of 2010, I hope to have published one single thing in one new publication that I have not written anything for yet. That will be the toughest one.

JW: How successful do you feel you’ve been as a freelance thus far? Why?

Ty: I would say I have met with moderate to high levels of success. I’ve been doing this officially for just over a year, and in that time, in addition to some private clients, I have become a regular contributor to a website and a weekly newspaper. Plus I have a magazine piece coming out in April, with an invitation to pitch something for the summer issue of same. I am not location independent or out of debt just now, but for someone who has only had his business card and portfolio printed up in the last year, I’d say I have nothing to be ashamed of.

Ty is a 32-year-old freelance writer living alone in Frederick County Maryland. In addition to keeping his own blogs he is a regular contributor to Showbizradio.net and The Brunswick Citizen. He has also contributed recently to FiND iT FREDERiCK Magazine’s Spring 2010 issue. When not contributing to those publications, he is searching out others to which he may contribute his work, creating ghost-copy for private clients, or engaging in writing his novel. When he is actually not writing, Ty spends most of his free time making use of his Minor from Marietta College by performing as an amateur actor on various local community stages. He has thus far made no direct use of his bachelor’s degree, which was in political science.

For more about Ty, check out his blogs, Always Off Book and Too XYZ.

To free or not to free. . .

This is a Guest Post from Danielle Bullen – for more about Danielle see below or check out her site.

For the past couple years, I’ve been building my freelance writing portfolio. Writing has always been a passion of mine, so I’m more than happy to do it for free. But is that a good business practice? Does contributing to publications, mainly websites, that don’t pay their writers hurt one’s freelance writing career?

Freelancing is not my primary job, it is a side gig. Of course, if it were my main source of income, I wouldn’t even be having this debate.  Even so, being compensated for my work is something I appreciate. But, there are types of compensation other than money.

Writing is a symbiotic relationship between editors and writers. Editors need fresh content. Writers need exposure. Let’s face it, no one starts at the top.  In order to land paying freelance gigs, writers need clips. In my experience, I’ve found that media outlets that don’t pay are more willing to let novice writers sink their teeth in. With each article I contribute, my research, interviewing, and writing skills get kicked up a notch. Then, when I present myself to paying publications, I have published clips.

Besides the holy grail of clips, writing for free has other benefits. I contributed monthly articles to a now-defunct online woman’s magazine, whose content was created entirely by volunteers. I came up with each article’s topic and sources, so I learned a lot about interviewing and thinking outside the box; “priceless” skills.

I write for a book review site and am “paid” in books, sometimes pre-publication advance reader copies. For a book-lover like myself, it is a pretty sweet deal!

But, the biggest benefit to “pro-bono” freelancing is the relationships I’ve formed. I wrote blog posts for a web site dedicated to green small business practices. When my editor and her business partner launched a different site, she knew I was a trusted contributor and asked me to write for it. This second site has a completely different focus and audience–college students seeking internship advice. I jumped at the chance, because it would let me expand my portfolio in terms of what I can write about. My editor there, and actually, several of my freelance editors, wrote lovely recommendations for me on LinkedIn.

I have written for a few places that pay and of course, I would love to be compensated monetarily for more of my work. I’ve begun to send more queries out to places that do pay. Hopefully, the effort I’ve put into building my writing brand will be rewarded.

So, the rather complicated answer is no, I don’t think writing for free dilutes your brand. Poor writing dilutes your brand. The important thing is to treat each client with the same respect and give energy to all your outlets.

Danielle is a marketing professional and writer from the greater Philadelphia area. You can read her writing at www.daniellebullenwriting.weebly.com and follow her on Twitter @daniellewriter.

Freelancers: if you don’t know, say so

This is a Guest Post from Tom Albrighton, founder and principal consultant at ABC Copywriting– for more about Tom see below or check out his blog.

‘To know what you know, and know what you don’t know, is the characteristic of one who knows.’ Confucius

A while ago, I carried out some SEO work for a client. The work included all the key elements of SEO – on-page changes, directory submissions, article marketing, PPC – but in a fairly shallow, small-scale way. Essentially, I was replicating the SEO I’d done on my own behalf for my client. That suited them, because they wanted to learn about SEO rather than simply outsourcing it; to some extent, we could learn hand in hand while building up their search profile at the same time.

After a while, we arrived at the limits of my knowledge. There were problems with their search profile that I couldn’t fix. I’d overcome them on my own site, but I couldn’t honestly say how. (SEO is often like this – you’re pursuing a number of tactics in parallel, and there’s no way to confirm which has been effective.)

I probably could have carried on bluffing it – claiming to know best while trying out random tactics in the hope that one of them would bear fruit. But since I’m essentially a copywriter, and the bulk of my work is content creation, there didn’t seem to be a great deal of benefit in chasing work where I could add little value. And I also wanted to keep the relationship simple – as Mark Twain said, “If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything.”

So I decided to admit that I couldn’t take the client any further, and suggest that they contact an SEO expert.

In fact, they decided to continue with me. I guess they valued the working relationship more than the actual expertise being offered – a strange position in a way, but in another it makes perfect sense.

Because a supplier who’s genuinely on your side is somebody worth keeping around.

For a consultant, suggesting that the client needs to buy more consultancy from you is always slightly suspect. Even if it’s actually the right course of action, it can seem self-serving. After all, it could be a cheap ‘all or nothing’ shot at getting more work or, failing that, letting the relationship go.

But suggesting that the client use someone else is not cheap. It’s potentially very expensive, if they take the advice. And that counts for something. It indicates to a client that, yes, you always tell the truth – even when it doesn’t benefit you. It’s the ultimate honesty.

I’m not saying all this to blow my own trumpet. I probably shouldn’t have got myself into such a position in the first place. I’m simply observing how powerful those three little words can be: ‘I don’t know.’

Summary: If you’re a freelancer, admitting you can’t help the client might seem like madness. But it’s also the best possible way to build trust.

Tom Albrighton has over fifteen years’ experience in writing, editing and project management, including work for Westminster Abbey, the Houses of Parliament, London Business School and Dorling Kindersley.

Tom is founder and principal consultant at ABC Copywriting, which provides writing and editing services to businesses, organizations and academic institutions in the UK and around the world. He writes regularly on copywriting issues for the ABC Copywriting blog, which is read and commented by many leading copywriters.

Weekly Round Up

What I learned at the Newspaper: the Power of ObservationI have said the most important part of writing is research. Mehul clearly disagreed with me in the comments the other day, so I offer up this piece as conciliation: I have revised my opinion. The most important part of writing is NOT research; instead, it’s observation. Seeing what you are looking at, rather than just looking past it. In this piece Lindsey explains how her job at a newspaper in Mexico.

If you like reading my stuff, you may like reading Freelance Switch, a site about all things writing and freelance based. I found their pieces interesting, well written, relevant and well… helpful. One article I particularly liked was 7 Tips for Marketing Your Freelance Business Offline, which is about how a trip to Wholefoods can get you some business.

How to Use Weasel Words to Bend the Truth – Words aren’t so much about what your write as they are about what the reader reads. Words mean a lot more than their definition, especially in marketing. This is a great piece that breaks down some marketing lingo and clarifies the difference between its definition and it’s connotation. A Great piece. (Tom may be doing a guest post in the near future!).

Three Mistakes You Should Avoid Making – Even writers aren’t perfect. But Lindsey’s tip for getting one step closer is to realize where you commonly fail, and actively work to correct those flaws. A great read for freelancers everywhere – know that even creative jobs require equal parts inspiration and skill. Also, check out the book I recommended in my comment on the piece – Woe Is I by Patricia O’Conner – it’s a great read for refreshing your grammar!

Design Better Websites By Thinking About Your Kitchen Cabinets – Designing a website is like organizing your kitchen cabinets. It’s all about UI, and you have to work within the space constraints. A quick read, but well worth it. This metaphor is simply perfect – and this piece, while driving home the idea of web design, also represents creative endeavors at large in a way that’s both simple and brilliant.

Marketing Plan Step 2

I’m currently working on market research, via the methods I described yesterday. So far I have waded through a list of potential companies and begun compiling a list, which I’ll cold call, ask a few questions and then politely thank for their help. Once I’ve compiled that data from 12-24 small businesses (my target market) I’ll move onto step two of creating my marketing plan.

Once I’ve finished doing market research (at least once I’ve finished with my initial market research – it’s always a good idea to continually develop your research) the second step is to create a marketing strategy. In other words, look critically at the information your research provided, and decide what you will be doing to get your name and brand in front of those potential clients.

For example, one of the questions that I’ll be asking as part of my research is where these business owners look for services. So the first part of my marketing plan will be to get my services listed in the places my interviewees mention – places like Google yellow pages, or chamber of commerce websites, for example. I’ll also make a list of any general business publications the interviewees say they read and consider querying those publications with business article ideas. By writing in places my potential clients are already looking for advice, I’ll be able to quickly establish myself as an expert.

I’ll look at my results to determine what angle I should take in my marketing materials, and I may survey potential customers with some of the naming options I’ve come up with to see if any are particularly popular. I’ll ask how many of them attend small business networking events in the area and which events they attend. I’ll try to determine if they’d respond better to cold calling, direct mail, or some other means of approach.

And above all, I’ll try to keep an open mind.

A big part of research is to determine, before investing a lot of time and energy into a marketing strategy, that there truly is a need for the services you want to offer among the demographic you hope to work with and that it is financially feasible to work within that market. That will be one of the biggest things I attempt to obtain information on in my research – will small business actually pay what I believe I need to price my services at for the services I offer. And will they see that payment as worthwhile.

If the demographic you had hoped to turn into potential clients isn’t interested in the services you offer and you don’t think you can make them become interested, it’s time to go back to the drawing board and possibly rework your initial idea. After all, that’s what research is all about.

Part 1: A Q&A with Ty Unglebower

By no means is my opinion the only valid one. By no means are my strategies and ideas the best. So, in an attempt to show you how others have/are going about building freelance businesses, I will be habitually posting Q&A pieces. This piece is part 1 of what will be a multi-part Q&A with Ty Unglebower.

Ty is a 32-year-old freelance writer living alone in Frederick County Maryland. In addition to keeping his own blogs he is a regular contributor to Showbizradio.net and The Brunswick Citizen. He has also contributed recently to FiND iT FREDERiCK Magazine’s Spring 2010 issue. When not contributing to those publications, he is searching out others to which he may contribute his work, creating ghost-copy for private clients, or engaging in writing his novel. When he is actually not writing, Ty spends most of his free time making use of his Minor from Marietta College by performing as an amateur actor on various local community stages. He has thus far made no direct use of his bachelor’s degree, which was in political science.

Jargon Writer: When/How did you first become a freelancer?

Ty Unglebower: In one form or another I have been a freelancer since I was in college (about 9 years ago). I’d be asked to write a little bit of copy for a flyer or newsletter or something like that. My friends knew [I wrote], so I helped out with such things when I could. I did it for free, because that’s how college tends to be. That led to me doing a few writing gigs here and there during summers, mostly the same sort of smaller projects I did at college.

I was looking for volunteer positions about two years ago, and was chosen to write some radio ads for the historical society, which got on the air. That encouraged me to continue looking for other such opportunities. Not many showed up on the volunteer front, but eventually I got paid small sums for various gigs, even though I wasn’t truly a full-time freelancer. Just helping a few acquaintances punch up reports, or write letters, which they didn’t feel they could do justice–one-shot ghost writing sort of things; obtained through word of mouth. But still nothing that made me consider being a “Freelancer Writer” per se.

Then just over a year or so ago I organized a portfolio of sorts, ordered some business cards, set up the separate email account, and went “official” with it all. In the mean time I kept up my blogging (At the time, just the one blog, about my theatre adventures). Not long after, things began to fall into a pattern.

First, the editor of a local theatre website stumbled on my acting blog, (www.offbook.blogspot.com) and asked me to contribute a column to his site. Just a short time later a letter to the editor I wrote to a local paper encouraged the editor to offer me a part-time job as a freelance reporter. And finally, a local magazine editor, who had been an actress in a previous life also stumbled across my blog, and contacted me asking for a pitch. It was around that time that I figured that I may actually have something here, if I built on it.

The fact that my luck has been lousy in the 9-5 job market my whole life helped with the decision as well. That square peg’s feeling of not fitting into the way things work in the workforce, but still having a lot to offer led to the creation of my other blog, Too XYZ. (www.tooxyz.blogspot.com)

JW: What kind of freelancing do you do and within that field, what do you specialize in?

Ty: At present, I do ghostwriting for smaller documents like letters or simple reports for small business people, or other freelancers who don’t write–mostly people I am somehow connected with. But I am not doing as much of that as I once did.

Currently my writing trends toward what I would call human interest journalism; almost by default, as those are the gigs that I have found myself offered in the last years. But I have, and I am sure will do, other things in other genres many times over before I can declare myself exclusive to one specific field.

However, I would define my specialties as both explanatory writing, (I am good at taking a lot of information and condensing it down for a general audience) and opinion/advocacy writing. My goal is to blend my writing passion with my theatre passion and become focused on the arts in my work–Education, advocacy, and examination of the arts.

See here for Part II: A Q&A with Ty Unglebower!  Or, check out Ty’s blogs, Always Off Book and Too XYZ.

Partnering for Success – How I’ve Done It & You Can Too

As I’ve mentioned before, collaboration is essential to succeeding as a freelancer. I’ve been capitalizing on that idea a lot this week.

I recently networked with the folks at Dsgnr Unlimited, which offers, among a wide variety of other things, website hosting. In return for doing a few projects for them, they are helping me by hosting my site. Which leads directly into the next way that I am collaborating.

One of my dear friends is a web programmer. So last night I spent several hours on his couch while he helped me buy my own domain names (I bought www.melissabreau.com and www.jargonwriter.com) and began setting them up. At the moment there isn’t anything at my namesake website, but we started to set up jargonwriter.com – the content isn’t all set up over there, but eventually we’re going to transition from this free wordpress blog to a self-hosted blog running a wordpress blog (I’ll let you all know when it’s up and we’ll transition gradually… for at least a week or two I’ll be posting new content on both sites).

In the past I’ve worked with a graphic designer, trading a sales letter (the one included in my portfolio) for a few business card design ideas. The other thing I’m currently working on is doing guest posts on other blogs – hopefully to increase my exposure. On Monday, I’ll have a guest post up on Andrea Lewis’ blog, Hello. {Work}.

Ideas
With the exception of my web programmer, who I’ve known since high school, all these connections were made in the last few months. So How did I do it?

Social Media – not facebook and not twitter, though I expect twitter will be useful for creating these kinds of relationships in the future (when I get it set up – I know, I know, how can I not have a personal twitter account yet?) – at least Andrea’s post on social media ROI certainly seems to suggest it can be. Mostly, I’ve used Brazen Careerist, which is still small enough to make real connections and via their network system set up it’s VERY easy to find people with similar and tangential interests. So, use social media, make connections.

Talk to people – As I mentioned in my last post, talking to a freelance art director and a freelance photographer I learned about a number of interested services. In addition to all the things I mentioned learning about in that post and how mutually beneficial it was, I gained a sense that I could do this – I am struggling in some ways, but after talking to two other freelancers (even though they are in other industries) I felt relieved that my obstacles were no bigger than anyone else’s.

Craig’s List – Yeah, believe it or not, applying for jobs on Craig’s List lead to the great opportunities I have with Dsgnr Unlimited. And that’s how I found the graphic designer who needed a sales letter. Don’t be afraid to response to a listing with, “I can do x, would you be willing to trade services?” – most of the people on CL are excited about the idea of doing something that they enjoy doing (ie. their business of choice) in exchange for getting what they need (ie. the services YOU offer, by choice).

Networking Events - While I STILL haven’t attended any of these, I’m planning on doing so. And I anticipate making a number of connections. With any luck, at least one new job will come from this! (My goal is to attend one event this month, but we’ll see – unfortunately, I have to travel to Fla. for work this month and that’ll take me out of commission for a while).

Registering a Sole Propietorship (in NYS)

Parker includes several links to check out: www.entrepreneur.com, www.smartbiz.com, www.nolo.com and some IRS website that didn’t load.

www.entrepreneur.com – I like their magazine, so I started here. Unfortunately, however the link I clicked on their site led me to state-by-state business guides for sale on www.smallbizbooks.com, which cost money and then have to be mailed to you. No fun. I’ll consider buying one, but I wish either 1) they were free and online (or at least a detailed summary was) or 2) they had an e-book available for about $10 because then I probably would have bought it right away (the NYC guide was $24.95). I found a ton of great articles on their site (like this one on how to create a logo or this one on the ABC’s of business cards) but nothing about the paperwork I need to do to become registered as a real business.

www.smartbiz.com – Despite having a google summary that matched my needs, the site wouldn’t come up. I kept getting an error message. Not sure if it’s just temp. down or if it no longer exists.

www.nolo.com – The site had an interesting piece that explained really well what a sole proprietorship is and gave me the closest thing I have come across so far to a list of possible things to do (though I still had no idea how to do them).

The site says you have to do register the general registration requirements for any business, which will likely include registering and paying a minimum tax (a self-employment tax) and getting a business license or tax registration certificate. If you’ll have employees (I won’t) you might need to obtain an employer ID number from the IRS. You may also need a seller’s permit from the state and a zoning permit from the local planning board. Oh, and that DBA I mentioned earlier.

My Research

Since Parker’s links didn’t turn up anything particularly useful, I did some of my own research and found this site. It’s a government site – who knew they could do something THIS right?

DBA – HERE they have a list of requirements BY STATE for registering a fictitious name (a dba). It says in NY a Sole proprietorship using a name other than the owner’s name should file a Business Certificate with the County Clerk’s Office in the county where the business is located.

EIN – Employer Id Number requirements are neatly explained, and a link is included to this handy chart to determine if you need one (I don’t).

The “State Taxes” page listed the most common types of state taxes and links to each state. This lead me to a document download, which lead me to a wizard NYC apparently has to help you find out what you need. Who knew? I was very impressed.

According to the wizard in order to be a legally operating business in NYS I need to file:
- With the county: a DBA
- With the Federal Gov.: for a EIN  (the fed gov. site disagrees)
- With the city: Documents on Zoning
- With the city: Portable fire extinguisher requirements
- I have to comply with: smoke free air act & waste removal & recycling
- With the city: unincorporated business tax (UBT)
- With the Federal Gov.: IRS Business Tax (which as a Sole Proprietorship should be on my personal taxes, I believe)

The site also provided me with a few other links it thought I might find useful… and it took under 5 minutes to fill out the wizard and have it feed me back my results. As I said, I am impressed!



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