Posts filed under 'Balance'

How to hurt your freelance rep on social media

You know those days when you’re so overwhelmed by the 19 pressing tasks on your to-do list that the only logical course of action is to spend an hour posting squeal-worthy kitten videos on Facebook? If the client you just asked for a deadline extension is your Facebook friend, so do they. Ditto for the colleague you said you were too busy to lunch with. If you’re going to play the “I’m sooooo crazybusy!” card, you’d best not get caught goofing off on social media an hour later.

I wrote about this on this past week, listing four ways freelancers, telecommuters, and employees trash their reputation on social media. Read the piece here, and tell me what you think in the comments below. Have you committed any of these cardinal sins of social media? Have you seen other freelancers messing up their professional rep on Twitter, Facebook, and other social media sites? Do tell.

[ABC News: Four Ways You're Hurting Your Rep on Social Media]

2 comments August 19th, 2012

Freelancers, what’s your work mantra?


Sunday night, after a glorious weekend on the Olympic Peninsula, I came home to several hours of uncompleted work. Due 9 a.m. Monday, hard stop. After two leisurely days of beach strolls and sunsets, communing with my computer was the last thing I wanted to do. So I picked up the remote, switched on the tube, and landed on an episode of “Deadliest Catch.”

[Flickr photo by madame.furie]

One of the skippers was chewing out a deckhand who’d retreated indoors with a torn stomach muscle. With just a handful of crew on his Alaska crab fishing boat, the skipper needed all hands on deck, pain be damned.

“I’ve worked through torn muscles and all kinds of pain,” the skipper snarled. “Unless you have a bone sticking out, you suck it up and get back to work.”

Obviously, writing is nowhere near as grueling as fishing for Alaska king crab. Still, those were the words I needed to hear. So I switched off the tube, and with “Unless you have a bone sticking out, you suck it up” as my mantra, I slogged through my project and made my deadline.

When it comes to how we approach work, I’m a firm believer that each of us has our own mantra, motto, or credo. It may be a quote by a beloved author or philosopher. It may be something you heard a friend, relative, or reality TV star say. You may even have an entire theme song running through your head while you work.

[Read the rest of this post on Nine to Thrive.]

6 comments July 25th, 2011

Stressed and proud? Frantic freelancers, you’re not impressing anyone

You know those emails and status updates we frantic freelancers love to write about how we’re so busy juggling 11 assignments that we don’t know how we’re going to make it to Friday? We’re not helping ourselves — or our freelance friends — by playing the stress kitty. After reading a Women’s Health article on the topic, I blogged about this Stressier Than Thou phenomenon on Nine to Thrive yesterday. Here’s a snippet, complete with takeaways:

Don’t gloat. Stop bragging about how stressed and busy you are. It’s not impressive. Instead, you’re likely to repel those who’ve found better ways to cope with their own taxing schedule. Exude too much frenetic energy at work and you risk looking like someone who simply can’t handle the pressures of the job.

Don’t enable. The next time a friend or colleague boasts about their bloated workload, resist the urge to reply with, “I know. You should see what I have on my plate today. Seven meetings, a presentation I need to finish for next week, and a report due tomorrow morning. It’s madness.” Instead of playing the one-up game, say something like, “Wow, sounds like a hectic week for you. Any plans to relax after work tonight or this coming weekend?” In other words, encourage your pal or colleague to chill the heck out.

[Read the rest of this post on Nine to Thrive.]

3 comments May 12th, 2011

Five dirty little secrets of working from home

Last week my editor at asked me to write a column outing what goes on behind the closed doors of freelancers, telecommuters, and kitchen-table entrepreneurs who work from home. I had a load of fun collecting the confessions of virtual employees and self-employed folks who work from their domicile (catnap, anyone?). As you’ll see below, I’ve got a handful of confessions of my own. Feel free to chime in with yours in the comments below.

Last fall my significant other and I moved in together. Although he was no stranger to my feral freelancer habits — living in my robe, working late into the night, not leaving the house for days on end — I cringed at the thought of him seeing me daily in all my unkempt, agoraphobic glory.

So I did what any disheveled freelancer would do: I got an office job — one that required me to show up at approximately the same time each day, looking fresh and professional.

Three months into the gig, I began to miss my bathrobe. Six months into it, I gave notice.

Now that I’m back to full-time freelancing, I’m trying to prove to myself and my new husband that working from home doesn’t necessarily mean living a life devoid of structure. But it’s not easy.

On any given day, my best-laid plans for a morning walk with the dog might be foiled by an urgent question from an editor about a story I’ve filed or an elusive source calling to say she’s available now, and only now, for that needed quote. Although I no longer skip the daily shower, I do sometimes skip out on date night with my sweetie when work gets too overwhelming. And while I’ve stopped working in my robe every day, I’ve taken to working in his.

Not all freelancers, telecommuters, and kitchen-table entrepreneurs are untamed insomniacs given to various states of undress. Many boast of adhering to professional attire and rigid work schedules. I’m convinced, however, that they’re in the minority.

To prove my point (or perhaps just make myself feel better), I informally polled dozens of self-employed professionals about their dirty little secrets of working from home. Here’s what they had to say.

[Read the rest of this story on]

8 comments April 28th, 2011

Artist at heart? 6 reasons to keep your day job

I’ve always objected to the notion that you need to take a year off to write a novel, paint a mural or record an album. Likewise, I’m equally bothered by the assertion that an artist with a day job is a sell out. Eating is a noble pursuit. So is learning valuable business skills you can apply to hawking your own creative wares.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m all for creative endeavors, be they full time or on the side. But I’m also for living like a grown-up, as opposed to, say, couch surfing or subsisting on Ramen-ketchup casserole indefinitely.

Of course, the rub is finding the time and energy to practice your craft while doubling as someone else’s employee. Same goes for keeping your resentment of that pesky day job at bay.

Summer Pierre, author of The Artist in the Office: How to Creatively Survive and Thrive Seven Days a Week, knows this dance all too well.

Before becoming a mother this year, the illustrator and writer supported herself with an administrative gig in the academic sector. But rather than view her day job as an obstacle to making art, Pierre came to appreciate it as a vital part of her creative life — and not just because of the paycheck that kept a roof over her head.

“Not everyone does well being isolated,” said the Brooklyn-based Pierre, who plans to return to part-time bread-and-butter work this fall. “I need structure. I need people. So the job for me was really providing that.”

But cash, colleagues and water coolers aren’t the only reasons published authors, gigging musicians and exhibiting artists cite for straddling the employee world. The next time you’re tempted to ditch your day job (or pooh-pooh another paycheck-earning artist), consider the following.

[Read the rest of this column on ABC]

2 comments August 2nd, 2010

Online class: Dealing with Nightmare Clients

By popular demand, I give you my online class for rookie and veteran freelance writers on how to handle clients from hell:

“Dealing with Nightmare Clients” is a four-week online course – starting Friday, February 5! — sponsored by the Editorial Freelancers Association (EFA). Although I’ll be delivering the lessons right to your inbox, you can follow along from anywhere, at your own pace, even if your own pace means working through the lessons at 3 a.m. on a weekend.

In this class, I’ll discuss how to tame those beastly clients and editors who seem all too happy to stiff you, mess with your deadlines, and contact you at all hours of the night. Specifically, you’ll learn how to:

  • Chase down MIA payments and ensure you don’t get stiffed in the future
  • Handle runaway revisions and keep scope creep at bay
  • Deal with clients who are always late with deliverables
  • Set firmer boundaries with editors, project managers, and creative directors
  • Bolster your contracts with clauses that can help prevent scope creep, deadline changes, and late payments
  • Determine whether a troublesome client relationship is salvageable

Since we can all learn from one another’s trials and tribulations, I’ll devote the last session of the class to answering all your burning questions about any nightmare clients you’ve been dealing with. Additional details about the class:
When: Fridays, February 5 – 26 (four online sessions).
Where: Your computer. Each lesson will arrive in your inbox (also accessible via Yahoo Groups on the web), which means you can follow along on your own time.
Cost: Editorial Freelancers Association members $134; nonmembers $159.
Register: On the EFA website.
Questions? Feel free to email me.

Add comment January 13th, 2010

New year, new goals

Feels like I’ve been writing holiday-themed articles for weeks and weeks. (Among my favorites: Survival Jobs You Never Thought You’d Be Thankful For and All I Want for Christmas Is a Layoff.)

With 2009 mercifully in the rearview mirror, I’ve joined the fresh-start bandwagon and have been furiously outlining my freelancing goals for the next 12 months. Not resolutions (habits you want to form or change), but goals (stuff you want to accomplish).

Reason I make this distinction is because while writing about how to stick to your New Year’s resolutions yesterday, I learned that humans are hard-wired to fail miserably if they try to change too many habits at once. So I’ve got one resolution for my freelance career this year: leave part of each Sunday open for work on my personal writing projects (books, essays, stories), something I’m doing with three other freelance writer pals for extra accountability.

As for the other stuff I hope to accomplish this year, I’m calling those goals. In the interest of sharing, I’ll list some of the biggest ones here:

  • Give this site a much-needed facelift
  • Finish proposal for book #3 by spring
  • Pursue more custom publishing work (trade publications and the like)
  • Sell an article or essay to the print edition of a certain beloved national paper

How about you? What do you hope to accomplish in this brave new year?

8 comments January 4th, 2010

ISO freelancers with part-time jobs that offer health insurance…

…I’d like to interview you for my next column. The skinny:

If you’re a full-time (or nearly full-time) freelancer or small business owner who keeps a part-time retail, clerical, cashier, dog poop scooping, or other lowish-paying job because of the health insurance, I want to know. I’d like to hear about both your jobs and how much money you’re saving in health care premiums by keeping the part-time mercenary gig. I’m also curious about whether your customers know about your part-time gig at the grocery/shoe/pet supply store — and whether your part-time employer knows that you double as a self-employed designer/copywriter/programmer. Do you ever get the “You’re folding jeans? But I thought you were a bigshot author!” treatment?

Please note: I’m only interested in hearing from self-employed folks working at least 25 to 30 hours a week on their freelance/entrepreneurial gig and making at least half their living from it. Doesn’t matter how many or few hours a week you work at your part-time mercenary gig. It’s fine if you want to be anonymous. If interested, email me here by Monday please. Thanks so much!

2 comments September 3rd, 2009

Anti 9-to-5 profile: Erika Teschke, dog walker

With everyone talking about career change these days, I thought it would fun to examine the work/life balance of those who’ve transitioned to some of the most coveted careers out there. First up, Erika Teschke, who in 2005 left her 10-year career as a legal professional to start her own dog walking and pet sitting business. I recently interviewed Erika by e-mail. Highlights follow. 

[Photo courtesy of Erika's Pet Service]

Q. What’s your typical work schedule?

A. Mondays through Fridays I do dog park runs 5 hours a day, between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. I also do about 30 minutes of stopovers during the week, where I feed and visit a pet that’s home alone, either before 2 p.m. or after 6 p.m. On weekends, I’ll do about three hours of paperwork and stopovers. I try not to work before 9 a.m. and past 6 p.m., but I have to be flexible on this if I have a pet that needs medicine or a walk at a particular time.

Q. How has your work/life balance changed since starting your business?

A. I definitely have more personal time now. However, the anxieties are different. Whereas being in an office made me a slave to the man, now I am responsible for everything: income, business success, client development, dog safety, responsibility as a walker, giving back to the parks I use, to name a few. I also have to be available for clients. At first I made myself available at all times when I was trying to grow the business. But now, since my clients and I have well-established relationships and they trust I will get back to them in a timely manner, I feel more comfortable making the evenings my own. I still work many weekends doing vacation stopovers. It is just the nature of the business.

Q. Still, a 30-hour workweek sounds pretty great. What’s the catch?

A. I make about $25,000 less than when I worked at the law firm. [Read the rest at NWjobs.]

4 comments July 10th, 2009

Moonlighting: Should you tell your boss?

When fitness buff Amanda Furgiuele began teaching pole-dancing classes after work two years ago, she didn’t broadcast it to colleagues at her day job as a television producer.

“Although I know that pole dancing is a legitimate fitness pursuit, most people still refer to it as ‘stripping class,’” said the Maui, HI resident, who has never worked as a exotic dancer and does not allow nudity in her classes. “I was kind of worried about the social stigma. I didn’t want to appear unprofessional.”

Despite her discretion, it didn’t take long before Furgiuele’s coworkers found out.

“One of my student’s cousins was my office manager,” she said. From there, it was only a matter of minutes before her evening occupation was laid bare before the entire office.

“After a thorough round of teasing and a few moderately inappropriate comments, it’s mostly smoothed out at my day job,” Furgiuele said. “I’m glad everyone knew me as a person before they knew my ‘other profession.’ I’m not sure they would have been so understanding had they thought of me as a pole dancer first.”

According to a January survey conducted by The Daily Beast, 23 percent of those polled have more than one paying job. Some said their second job was a hobby that had morphed into a money-making operation. Others said they needed the extra income.

So does the fact that we’ve become a nation of cash-strapped moonlighters mean that your employer will support your after-hours vocation? Or could fessing up that you’ve been serving cocktails, driving a limo or designing canine outerwear on the side jeopardize your reputation, or worse, your day job?

The short answer is, it depends. [Read the rest at]

9 comments July 5th, 2009

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Hi, my name's Michelle Goodman and I've been freelancing since 1992. I'm author of My So-Called Freelance Life and The Anti 9-to-5 Guide. Read my full bio here.

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