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Advice From Successful Freelancers: Starting and Maintaining A Freelancer Career

For the e-book, Advice from Successful Freelancers: How They Built Their Careers & How You Can Too!, I asked ten questions of freelancers who were living their dream life. Following are some of their answers. They cover successful marketing techniques, how to get clients and more!

1. Why did you start freelancing? Yuwanda Black, Writer, Editor, Small Business Columnist

My sister and I worked at the same company. We were freelancing on the side. Once we realized that we were making more as freelancers than as full-time employees, she quit and started Inkwell Editorial. Once the business was able to support two salaries, I joined her, which was one year later (1997).

2. How long have you been a full-time freelancer? Eileen Coale: Marketing & Corporate Communications Writer

I don’t work full time. On average, I work about 15 hours a week, sometimes a bit more. I work mornings until my youngest gets home from kindergarten, and sometimes I’ll put in evenings and Saturdays as well. Sixty to 70% of my work hours are spent networking and marketing to get assignments. The remainder is spent writing. In another year or two, I expect that ratio to flip.

3. How many years of experience do you have? Marcy L. Brown: Cataloging, Indexing & Information Management

I have five part-time years of indexing, but 10 years of library employment including cataloging, some indexing, and information management.

4. Do you specialize in a certain area, e.g., legal, medical, production? If so, what? Cathy Moore: Writer, Instructional & Marketing Copy

Instructional writing and marketing copy. I write appealing text for any readability level, including kids.

5. What specific marketing tips have you personally tried that worked? Jennifer Lawler: Writer, Editor

I tried a direct mail letter to editors that included the type of editing I could do, a few companies I had worked for, and my business card printed in such a way that it could be popped right onto someone’s rolodex. This letter generated so much business for me that I never had to do another direct mail package.

6. How do you get most of your clients? Katharine O’Moore-Klopf: Editor, Copy Editor, Factchecker

When I first started freelancing, I got them mostly by word of mouth, and some were former employers. Now, I get them mostly by word of mouth and via my Web site.

7. Under what circumstances would you turn down work? Jennifer Dirks: Journalist, Editor, Writer, Speaker

I’ve turned down work if the pay (or potential payoff) won’t compensate me for the work I’d put into it. I also once turned down work from a magazine publisher who in the past has asked for several rewrites without explanation and I was unsure if anything new I did for her would ever please her.

8. Approximately how many hours a week would you estimate you work? Nan Yielding: Copywriter

Anywhere from 50-60. I pretty much work a 9-hour day … weekends included. However, I do allow myself some time off every so often to just ‘play,’ so it averages out.

9. If offered a well-paying, full-time position, would you accept? Please explain why you would accept/refuse. Richard Adin: Desktop Publishing & Copyediting Services

This cannot be answered yes or no; there are too many factors that I would have to consider. “Well-paying” is important but also important, perhaps more so, are matters of responsibility and challenge.

10. What is the number one piece of advice you would offer to freelance newbies? Rachel Goldstein: Web Developer, Graphic Designer, Muralist

In order to assure your chances for the greatest success, you should do some self-evaluation before you leap into freelancing. Not only does it take a special temperament to run a successful business, but it also takes talent and expertise in your field. This includes some or all of the following personality features: self-confidence, common sense, innovation, and ambition.

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