Wednesday, April 30, 2008

May 2008 Goals

Ack, it's after 8:00 pm on April 30 and I haven't posted my goals for next month yet! (I haven't filed my state taxes yet, either. Delaware gives you until April 30 to do your state taxes, which really just means you get an extra 15 days to procrastinate. Don't worry, I'll get 'em out the door by midnight.)

Okay, so without further ado, here are my May 2008 freelancing goals:
  • Apply for at least FIVE new freelance jobs per week. That's one per weekday. I should be able to handle that. Of course, if I end up getting too much work (isn't that a problem we'd all love to have?), I'll ease up, but that's my starting goal.
  • Blog at least THREE times a week. On both blogs. Oh, that's right---I don't think I've mentioned yet that I have a shiny brand-new blog! I've started a workout regiment this week, so I created a fitness blog to document my progress (or lack thereof). Should be interesting, as I'm staunchly refusing to change my diet in any way. What's the point in going through life if you cut out the mashed potatoes and gravy?
  • Start researching computers. I'm typing this blog post on a dinosaur of a laptop, and I'm really in need of something smaller and quicker. Preferably with wireless technology. And cheap-ish, since I'm currently in the process of refinancing my entire life in order to put gas in my car.
  • Continue to be an awesome copy editor at my regular job and an awesome freelancer for my existing clients. I'm not one to let a good thing go to waste. What's the point of chasing down new leads if I'm letting the ones I already have fall by the wayside?

The beginning of a month is so exciting, isn't it? It's a blank page just full of potential opportunities. I can't wait to see what happens in May.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Fun Assignments

The ink was still drying on my last blog post (where I said I was antsy for new work) when I got two new assignments to complete over the weekend. Sweet! I love it when that happens.

I spent a much-needed relaxing day with the hubby yesterday, watching movies, eating pizza and playing Yahtzee. Everyone needs a lazy day ever so often, especially those of us trying to balance a full-time job and an on-the-side freelancing career. It's made for a busy day today, though. But I don't mind, because the job's interesting.

The client I'm working with is a regular, and definitely one of my favorites. It's a content-article gig, and what's great about it is that I get assigned very specific articles so that I don't have to spend time figuring out what I'm going to write about. They even give me a few links to get started with my research. The editor is very sweet and friendly, and each article only takes a few hours to research and write.

Best of all, because they assign me articles, it means I get to research topics that I probably wouldn't think of otherwise. That rocks. I love researching and learning new things. Since I started writing for this client, I've researched and written about wedding planning, ghost hunting and marine biology. For this assignment, I'm learning all about the history of gin and tequila. It's fabulous.

All of this is great, because when you're juggling a fledgling freelance business on top of your regular job, you'd darn better like what you're doing. Otherwise, you'll never stick with it. I've been pretty lucky, and I'm looking forward to future assignments.

Fellow freelancers: What do you like best about your favorite client?

Friday, April 25, 2008

What Have I Been Writing?

It's Friday! And I'm eagerly anticipating the arrival of the weekend. To pass the time, here are a few links to some writing I've done recently.

I'm getting antsy for more work, though, and looking forward to putting together some goals for May. More details next week.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Why Freelance?

It’s been a rough couple of months for me. I’m not going to go into details, but a lot has happened since February to mess around pretty badly with my personal and financial life. When stuff like that happens, it’s all I can do to concentrate at my full-time job—much less put in the extra time to hunt down freelance leads and write.

But earlier this week, one of my favorite bloggers announced that she was making the leap to full-time freelancing. After I toned down the raging jealousy that flared up in my heart, I realized that it’s time to buckle down and get serious. May is going to be another JHS month. It paid off nicely the last time I participated, and I have high hopes for this month, too.

Before I start working on goals, though, I need to remember why I want to do this. If I can remember exactly why I want to become a full-time freelancer, I can return to this post on days when I’m just not feeling up to putting in the extra hours.

I love writing and working with words. Seriously, I do. I currently work in an office that’s a 70-minute round-trip commute from my apartment. And that’s if I drive—if I take the local rail (something I’ve been considering now that gas prices are so ridiculous), it’s two hours each way. And yeah, I could get a job closer to home. I actually tried that about two years ago—but I hated it. I live in a very industrial town, and there’s not a whole lot here outside of banking and retail. I make that 70-minute commute because it means I can be an editor. But it would be absolutely glorious to cut my commute time down to zero and write from home instead.

A freelancer can never be laid off or downsized. When you work for a corporation in a time of recession like this, there’s always the fear in the back of your mind that your company might need to cut costs—and that your job will be the one to get snipped. As a freelancer, part of your job is reaching out to potential clients and drumming up new business, so that you’ll have something if one of your clients decides he doesn’t need your services anymore.

I can set my own hours. I have a lot of outside interest, not the least of which is acting. At an office job that requires you to work specific shifts, it can be difficult to finagle leaving work early or taking a day off for a rehearsal here or a weekday performance there. Freelancing offers a certain degree of flexibility that an office job can't touch.

No one but me can limit how much money I can make. The possibilities that come with being a freelancer are limitless. I set my own hours, I decide which clients I work with, and the work I put in should (in a perfect world) reflect how much money I make. One of my other favorite bloggers averages about $5K a month with his freelancing business, although I know that’s a pretty extreme example. The opposite is also true, though—if I don’t put in the work, I won’t make any money and will soon end up crawling back to the cubicle.

For any freelancers who read this—what’s your favorite part about self-employment? What was the single biggest factor in your decision to make the leap from the cubicle to the home office?

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Pictures From NYC!

I'm getting off-topic from writing a little today because Kristyn Robinson, the playwright and director of The End, sent me pictures from Monday's tech rehearsal. I'm still giddy over the fact that I got to perform off-off-Broadway, so I'm indulging a bit and posting those pictures. I'm incredibly proud to have been a part of this cast and this play.

I can't even begin to go into what a great experience this was. I'm used to doing musicals--with the singing and the dancing and the million-watt smiles and the sheer cheese and everything else that comes with musical theatre. To come down from that and do a straight play was a real challenge and something I've never really done before. And I'm totally grateful for the experience, which is why I can't help posting these photos.

These pictures were taken at our tech rehearsal the morning of the festival, which explains the lack of makeup (ugh) and costumes. I'm the counter girl. The other girl is Heather Ferrel, who played the lead role of Rachel; the guy is Brian Couch, who played ex-boyfriend Benny.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Progress Report: April 2008

This month got off to a slow start for me. I took a couple of weeks off for a much-needed vacation in Florida, which was absolutely fantastic. Now that my sunburn's starting to wear off and I'm just about caught up at my full-time job, I'm finally starting to settle back into a freelance routine.

I'm still on the freelance roster for MoreFocus and DemandStudios. I'm waiting to hear if I made it to the next round of interviews for a freelance trivia position with (More on that later if it works out.) And I just applied for four more freelance jobs today. So all in all, I'm feeling really good and productive.

I know I haven't talked about my acting endeavors on this blog since Beauty and the Beast closed in December, but yesterday was a very big day for me. I made my off-off-Broadway debut! I participated in the 15-Minute Play Festival at the American Globe Theatre in New York. Our play ("The End" by Kristyn Leigh Robinson) didn't advance to the finals, but I'm okay with that. It was a phenomenal experience to get to perform in NY, especially in such a great short play.

"The End" is about a woman named Rachel who's trying to get over a painful breakup with her ex-boyfriend, Benny. Rachel sits in a coffee shop and imagines situations where she runs into Benny (and his new wife), and works through her feelings while she tries to figure out what she would say to him. I played the Counter Girl—a seemingly extra character who ends up helping Rachel work through her issues and gain some closure.

Rehearsing and performing "The End" with Kristyn and the rest of her insanely talented cast was so much fun, and such a great opportunity. And hey, now I can say I've performed off-off-Broadway!

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Finding Ideas for Articles

One of my current gigs is writing how-to articles for To date, I've written 30 articles. Believe me when I say that coming up with subjects and titles is the hardest part of the assignment---especially when there are already so many articles on myriad topics on that site.

Still, as a freelancer, I don't get paid unless I deliver the goods. So how can you continue to generate new ideas?

Take a cue from your own life. There's truth in that old saying: Write what you know. If you look at the articles I've written for eHow, you'll notice that most of them are about guinea pigs, careers and food. Since I'm a guinea-pig owner, a full-time corporate copy editor and I love to cook, these subjects come naturally to me. I'm able to churn out several articles in very little time since I already know a lot about these subjects and don't have to do any additional research.

Take a look at how you spend your day. What are you passionate about? What are you an expert in? These areas are ripe for article ideas---take them and run with them.

Be an Internet lurker. Yahoo! Answers is a great jumping-off place if you're stuck for article ideas. Take a look at what people want to know. Then do some research and write a how-to article about it. Google one of your favorite topics and see if one of its smaller subtopics can give you an idea for a tightly focused article. Check online message boards---if you want to write articles about baby showers, for example, you might find a forum discussing party-planning tips, food or games that could lead to an article.

Ask around. What do the people in your life want to know about? Any time someone asks a question, the answer could be fodder for an informative article. Try to carry a small notebook with you at all times. You never know when an innocent question or snippet of conversation could spark an idea for an article.

Slant, slant, and slant again. Most articles, and especially Internet articles, are tightly focused and short---usually only 400-600 words. To go back to our baby shower example, you couldn't encompass everything involved with throwing a baby shower into that small a space. Instead, you can break it up into a bunch of smaller ideas. Try writing an article about booking a venue for a baby shower. Or do a write-up about popular baby-shower games. What about gift ideas for guests at a baby shower? Or recipes for hors d'oeuvres? You could even slant those ideas into a totally different genre---the same ideas would work for articles about birthday parties, poker nights or other gatherings. The only limit is your imagination.