Around the Horn: Week of January 26th

Posted: January 30th, 2009

The scoop in freelance for Super Bowl week.

Avalonstar:Distortion: Not everyone is cut out for freelancing.

A Blue Flavored Blog: Pricing a project is not always an exact science. Sometimes its a chess game of what you think a client can afford versus what they are actually willing to pay. Here is how a design agency approaches the touchy task of pricing.

Designers Mind: Freelancers are successful because they have the right habits. These good habits can be boiled down to the fact that they work hard.

Just Creative Design: The primary reason freelancers choose their profession is the freedom it provides in the direction we take with our careers. One of these freedoms is the ability to work wherever the hell we want to. It doesn’t matter whether it is at the local library or China, we shouldn’t take this for granted.

Freelance Folder: Making mistakes as a freelancer is normal. It helps to hear stories of other freelancing mistakes so you don’t have to repeat them either.

Freelance Switch: It is important for freelancers to give their very best service to their clients. You are also entitled to your own needs from your clients.

Freelance Switch: How does the sound of ultimate flexibility sound to you? Become a freelance “Web Worker” and you can work from anywhere in the world instead of nailed down to a single location. Skellie has the concise, but useful tips to be able to do this.  Here are Part 2, Part 3 and Part 4, too,  so you don’t get lost looking for them.

Freelance Switch: If you are a freelancer and work alone at home you definitely have had the “lonely freelancer syndrome” at some point or another. Here are some ways to beat it. Best tip: get a pet.

Project4Hire: An important lesson to all freelancers is do not take all jobs that come your way. Here’s how to spot those shady freelance jobs.

You The Designer: Ever bid on a project and thought you had it in the bag? Then you come to realize you never had it in the first place. Here are reasons why you didn’t get that project. This refers to graphic designers but applies to all freelancers, too.

As a added bonus, here are some funny work related jokes.

Is This A Booming Time For Freelancers… Or Not?

Posted: January 27th, 2009

It’s nothing new that news of the economy, wherever you are at, just gets worse as the year progresses. What I find interesting, though, is that I hear mixed news as far as the sutuation of freelancers in this crappy economy. If you get a hold of a report from a major player like CNN it’s easy to convince yourself that, hey, I won’t be affected.

On the flip side, I see a lot of news and advice from sites such as Freelance Switch and Freelance Folder that have tips on surviving the economic trouble. These all seem to conflict each other. I mean is this a time where freelancers should be celebrating or maybe worrying a little that they could become a casualty if they don’t act now?

Well, the answer is pretty simple. Prepare yourself but be optimistic. Does that mean we worry about the economy, too? Sure, but let’s not panic just yet.

As a freelancer, myself included, you should expect steady work from clients to slow down and possibly even stop. Even if things look peachy at the moment, everything can change in the blink of an eye. Preparations should follow suit. That means updating the resume, hitting the job boards, calling up old clients, and being prepared to find more work on a dime if need be. This doesn’t mean it’s time to scream Holy Shit! to yourself. First of all, yes, this is becoming a freelancer economy and, second, there will always be jobs available no matter how bad things get.

The bad economy is also a good time to take advantage of the slowdown, if you can afford to do so. You have to remember recessions are cyclical and a “boom” usually follows. So now is a great time to take up that project you had in mind or write that ebook you’ve always put off doing. Even a personal friend of mine is using all of this year to start up his urban clothing business in time for the expected rise in the economy next year. This is despite a looming threat of being layed off himself.

Now is a good time to be optimistic even though the good economic times seem far away.

Around the Horn: Week of January 19th

Posted: January 26th, 2009

Sorry, I’m a little late on the posting. The other day job took precedence unfortunately. So as we salute the pilot we all know as the U.S. Airways waterskier, I give you this week’s freelancing tidbits.

Arbenting: Ever think about what you give up when becoming a freelancer? Though it’s a little on the pessimistic side, they hold truth to them.

Being a Starving Graphic Artist Sucks: The best piece of advice I’ve seen in a while (not the part about being a starving graphic artist sucking). Short, right to the point and 100% true.

DESIGNM.AG: The 16 business lessons for freelancers and spoken from a wise man. Study each one because they all will be an issue with you at some time or another. Best one in my opinion: #4 Charge up front. Helps keep a steady cash flow.

Freelance Folder: One flaw of freelancers is their tendency to be a do-it-all to please their clients. For instance you may be a web designer and a client may ask you to write the web content which seems hard to pass up. This can get you in over your head, too.

Freelance Folder: Hey, I got on the bandwagon though fairly recently. Here are three reasons why every freelancer should have a blog.

FreelanceMagazine.com: So now you have have the hang of freelancing, are making nice income but want to take it to the next level. Here’s an article that outlines how to reach the top in what you do.

Freelance Switch: One of the biggest challenges to a freelancer is figuring out how to make themselves productive. Well, here are 46 tips for you, so take a few minutes to read through them. You may not get around to all of them but there are several that will be helpful to you. For me: Listing 3 – 5 things to do the next day and checking email just twice a day.

Freelance Switch: So you want to go about starting out in freelance the right way? Actually, even if you are a freelancer, have you done these 7 things to kickstart your freelance career? I know I don’t have my hand up but probably should.

Ink Thinker Blog: One thing that makes everything go smoothly in freelance work are contracts. They make sure you do the work you say you will (and no more) and you get paid what you were promised (and no less). They should be in use by EVERY freelancer, too. Here is a super resource for contract samples and tutorials. Have a look.

Innovative: You probably wouldn’t ever work for free but here are the only four times you should ever work for free.

Top Ten New Years Resolutions For Freelancers

Posted: January 26th, 2009

OK, January is almost over but we’re not suppose to forget our resolutions, right? Neither do the freelancers! So here  we have our best resolutions that we will get around to hopefully.

10. Tax time… time to file that overdue 2007 return.

9. Start counting surfing the internet and naps as billable time.

8. Start a “Ponzi” scheme thing for a little side gig (but don’t get caught like that Madoff idiot).

7. Finally replace sawhorses and door with a real desk.

6. Start adding invoicing inconvenience surcharge to invoices.

5. Stop drinking so much coffee. Start looking into nose candy.

4. Call up all my clients and ask for a raise.

3. Quit smoking (dope).

2. Start hiring interns to do all the damn work.

1. Shower more (or buy stronger incense).

Freelance No-No: How To Not Get Taken Advantage Of

Posted: January 24th, 2009

Every freelancer has gone through a trial period where they learn what works and what doesn’t work in order to make money in the business. The hardest lesson to learn is arguably how to keep your clients from walking all over you. I’ve experienced this myself and, unfortunately, still see this happening to some of my freelancing friends.

The result of having a client take advantage of you is obvious. You lose money, time and a bit of your pride. It’s usually not the intention of clients, however, to bilk freelancers. You have to remember, though, they tend to see the services of freelancers as costly and try to keep costs down to a minimum.

On that note, here are some ways to keep this from happening in the first place:

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Who Doesn’t Want To Hang Around Freelancers?

Posted: January 20th, 2009

I came across a blog article today by “Amy” at quietrebelwriter.com and read a funny little article. Here’s a bit I liked:

What, you think you can afford to be picky? Hallelujah and pass the ammunition, what the hell are you smoking? […] You can’t afford to be choosy! You can’t rely on your talent to pay the bills! You can’t negotiate! They’re all gonna laugh at you!!

Now, you may not see what I see what I do in this but the first thing that struck me was she (almost) used a rather famous quote that’s a personal favorite of mine. That I’ll save for some other blog though. What really struck me was that I finally realized this is the kind of community that freelancers are made up of: optimists and good humored fun people. People that could tap into your circle of friends and probably would fun to have a beer with.

I’ll admit, I’m pretty new to the freelance community. In fact I’ve really only begun to visit other freelance blogs within the past month. I can’t help, though, but to spend more and more time reading those I found and searching for new ones like Amy’s. All of them have the same thing in common, too. They provide good advice on how to succeed in freelancing and offer a little entertainment as a side dish.

I don’t think there is a better time than now to ride in the wave of freelancing. There are so many resources, stories, guides, blogs, you name it that you can already get an impression on how it will be like before even starting. The best part is that they are all overwhelmingly positive and helpful. You rarely find articles or stories of someone’s failed attempt at a freelance career.

Just surrounding yourself with optimism alone will take you far in anything you do. If your a freelancer, join in the community, read the blogs and take in the positive vibes. You’ll see what a change it makes in your outlook on freelancing.

Well, cheers to Amy and off to read more blogs…

The Monday Hangover No. 4

Posted: January 19th, 2009

History Happens

As you may of heard, the 44th president of the United States will be sworn in tomorrow. I can’t help but be proud that finally our society has made progress given the last eight years of  “What the fuck just happened” that left a trail of casualties from the States to Iraq. Coincidentally, (or not) there is finally a truce in Gaza and the damage is being tallied. Likewise, the new prez has a similar job to do tomorrow.

I can’t help but take one last parting shot at our outgoing leader.

The other historical events… the Arizona Cardinals made it to the Super Bowl.  How did that happen?

Well, here’s my theory: The Apocalypse is eminent and, in fact, will be on Super Bowl Sunday two weeks from now. In that time expect those four horsemen to be flying around your neighborhood anytime soon and Kurt Warner to be the second coming of Jesus Christ shortly after. If you haven’t asked Jesus to pardon you sins and become your savior, I’d suggest a trip to your local Protestant church between now and then.

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Around the Horn: Week of January 12th

Posted: January 16th, 2009

What’s going on for freelancers in this shitty economy for the week of Jan 12th? I’ll try and make this as positive as I can.

CNN: Are you a freelancer and want some good news for a change besides the economy? Well, freelancers actually benefit in this recession. Here’s a little proof.

Chris Blassternardone: Thought about being an escort at one time or another, but chickened out? Try being a virtual online escort then.

Fast Company: One of the most pressing issues facing freelancers is the need for health insurance coverage which is hell expensive for an individual. The Freelancers Union has created their own insurance company that serves thirty one states and is currently in a trial phase. Let’s hope for the best.

Freelance Folder: Good reality check for freelancers… do your own excuses hold you back? If you are not where you want to be in your career then you may want to dig in on why.

Freelance Switch: Generally freelancers don’t like to spend money for their own business needs. Its sensible to cut costs whenever we can, but as a business you have to dig in those pockets and make sensible purchases, too.

Freelance Switch: Here are the top ten signs you may be charging too little. Hopefully, none of these apply to you.

Jon Bergan: On a more serious note, the top ten reasons why many freelance designers and start up design firms fail. Most of these don’t just apply to freelance designers but to all freelancers as well.

Rubiqube: How to create an addiction to your services, instead of the other “services” you may have in mind.

TravelBlogs: Flashpacking.  Ever heard of it? Me neither, but a couple quits their jobs and set off travelling the world with their laptops. The key to them… travelling light and  “backpacking with bucks and toys.”

U.S. News & World Report: Podcast interview with Michelle Goodman. She mentions the benefits of freelancing in a bad economy and tips to start out even right now. Major point: companies may be laying off, but if they aren’t closing shop they still need work to get done. That’s where freelancers come in.

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