Posts filed under 'Book'

How professional envy can help freelancers

green eyed monster.jpgWe’re told not to get hung up coveting the careers of those more successful than us, to stop getting bogged down by what we don’t have and focus on building up what we do. However, new research on envy shows that this advice may be misguided.

[Flickr photo by rileyroxx] 

Apparently, when we covet the lives of others, we not only study them carefully, but we’re more apt to remember the details of what they have and how they got it.

As John Tierney writes in the New York Times, “By paying more attention to these people, we might learn to emulate some of the strategies that yielded their advantages.”

So, exactly how does a freelancer use the green-eyed monster to advance their career? Herewith, some suggestions:

Research the career trajectory of those your envy. Study their bio online, and if you can, their LinkedIn profile. Read articles about them, interviews with them. Listen to their podcasts and watch their videos. What clients have their worked for? What training and job titles have they had? What professional associations do they belong to? What awards have they won? Where have they published or spoken publicly? What of this can you emulate so you, too, can achieve what they’ve achieved professionally?

Study their professional philosophy. Does the object of your envy have a favorite mantra? If so, abide by it. See which of their ways of thinking and working you can adopt. Read the industry blogs and publications they read. Go where they go to get inspired. Join the organizations they join. Learn who inspires them, who they envy. Then study the objects of their envy to see what other sage advice you can glean.

[Read the rest of this post on NWjobs]

2 comments October 14th, 2011

How to keep the conference high alive after you get home

hello my name is.jpgI spent this past weekend at the most inspiring writing workshop I’ve attended in I don’t know how long.

[Flickr photo by jemsweb]

No matter how energizing a professional event, though, my usual MO is to slip back into my hectic routine without acting on all the ideas, tips, and connections generated. So here’s the plan of attack I’m taking this time around.

By this time next week, I vow to do the following. You have my permission to ask me later if (a) I stuck to it, and (b) it made a difference.

Reread all my notes from the conference. Before too many personal commitments and professional deadlines get in the way, I’ll go over all the good stuff I learned so it’s less easily forgotten.

Make a to-do list. I refuse to let all those marketing, productivity, and career change tips I collected lay buried inside my inch-thick notebook. Instead, I’ll pull them into a nice, neat, one-page cheat sheet where they’re easily accessible. 

Take action right away. Rather than wait for that mythical “spare time” to appear, I’ll start chipping away at the aforementioned to-dos this week. If need be, I’ll schedule every last task into my daily calendar.

Use Skype, a listserv, or a social networking site to stay in touch as a group. The event I attended was an intimate 15-person gathering, with attendees from around the country. To stay connected and bounce ideas off one another, we’ve convened as a private group via the social networking tool Podio.

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

3 comments September 27th, 2011

More health care relief for freelancers

The good news for the self-employed, temporarily employed, under-employed, and other workers who buy their own health insurance keeps on coming:

As I mentioned in a recent post, starting this week, freelancers and other “businesses of one” in Washington state will be able to qualify for group health insurance plans.

In addition, last week marked the six-month anniversary of the signing of the new federal health care bill, ushering in a handful of welcome changes to U.S. health plans for employees and self-employed alike. (Goodbye, lifetime coverage limits and the ability of insurance companies to drop customers who are sick or to deny coverage to kids with pre-existing conditions! Hello, free mammograms, free cholesterol screenings, and free immunizations for kids!)

And this week, President Obama signed the Small Business Jobs Act, which among other small business tax breaks, gives freelancers, small business owners, and other self-employed folks a deduction for the cost of their health insurance — and that of their family members — on their 2010 self-employment taxes.

[Read the rest of this post on]

7 comments October 1st, 2010

Health care relief for Washington state’s self-employed

A recent news item from the Washington State Office of the Insurance Commissioner made my week. According to the OIC, come October 1, freelancers, sole proprietors, independent contractors, and other self-employed folks will have an easier time finding and qualifying for affordable health insurance.

Thanks to Senate Bill 6538, rather than being forced to buy health insurance on the individual market — if they can even qualify for it, let alone afford it — one-person businesses will be able to qualify for group health insurance coverage, with no health screening required. Until now, only small businesses of two to 50 employees could qualify for such group plans in Washington state. 

In case you’re new to the self-insurance game, allow me explain why this has the potential to rock a lot of freelance worlds: Group plans tend to offer more bang for your insurance buck; coverage tends to be far more comprehensive than the high-deductible, catastrophic plans those of us in the individual insurance market often get stuck with.

Perhaps even more significant, there are no 250-item health questionnaires to fill out and no infinite bans on pre-existing conditions, which is of course great news for self-employed people with chronic conditions or a less-than-perfect medical history.

[Read the rest of this post on]

2 comments September 17th, 2010

Ask the cubicle expat: I started freelancing by default. Now what?

My pals Lauren Bacon and Emira Mears, authors of The Boss of You book and blog, ran a Q&A with me this week. I loved that they asked me this question so much that I’m reposting it here. Before you read it, I’d like to point out that Amazon is currently running a deal where you can pick up both my books + Lauren and Emira’s book for just over $30 — in other words, you get all three books for the price of two. To snatch these up and start your year off right, see the Amazon page for My So-Called Freelance Life or The Anti 9-to-5 Guide.

Okay, enough with the Billy Mays impersonation. Here’s the post…

Lauren and Emira ask: We hear from a fair number of freelancers who got into their careers unconsciously — it’s like they woke up one morning and realized they’d become a freelancer, without necessarily planning it that way. What advice would you give someone in that situation?

I answer: I agree. So many people find themselves freelancing in the wake of a layoff and before they know it, they’re running a full-fledged business. If you too are an accidental freelancer, take stock of the work you do and the clients you do it for. Are these the types of projects you want to be working on and the types of people and organizations you want to be working with? If not, list the kind of freelance projects that interest you most and the names of at least ten organizations you’d love to work for. Then tap your professional and personal networks to see if you can find a way in. If you need to acquire any additional skills or portfolio samples to make yourself attractive to these organizations, get cracking.

Even if you are happy with your clients and workload, it’s important to revisit your freelancing goals – income, creative milestones, client wish list, and so on — at least once a year. (January is a great time for this.) Get too comfortable and you’ll quickly get bored, burn out, or start to feel like an employee all over again.

4 comments December 20th, 2008

How to reign in runaway negotiations

My Global Career ran a short excerpt from My So-Called Freelance Life last week. Here’s the start of it…

Clients who don’t know what they want can chew up countless hours of your time with exploratory emails, phone calls, meetings, and requests for more details if you let them. Ditto for blood-sucking zombies who milk you for free advice but have no intention of ever hiring you. Here are some suggestions for “training” indecisive clients and weeding out the bloodsuckers:

Cap getting-to-know-me meetings. Bloodsuckers are fans of meetings with agendas like “let’s spend the next four hours talking about how you’d execute our project were we to actually offer it to you.” For this reason, I have a rule about complimentary getting-to-know-me meetings: One hour max is all you get — by bat phone, webcam, or in the flesh — and then I’m billing you for it. Likewise, I don’t dress, drive, and give up my morning for just anyone. Unless there’s big money, repeat business, or real PIE potential, I phone it in.

Use templates. Although I have a bio and work samples on my website, I still need to email interested clients my references, additional samples, and a more detailed bio or resume from time to time. The materials I send vary wildly, depending on whether I’m talking to an arts organization that wants me to teach, a potential copywriting client, or a news website that wants an article written. Rather than reinvent the wheel each time, I have a nice collection of templates I employ: ShamelessInstructorPromo.doc, Fortune500Bait.doc, and MediaWhore.doc.

You can read the rest of the excerpt here.

Add comment December 9th, 2008

My Seattle events this week + volunteer(s) wanted

This promises to an action-packed week. First the mediabistro holiday party I’m hosting on Tuesday, then the DIY-tastic Urban Craft Uprising holiday fair this weekend, where I’ll be signing books both days.

I’m looking for a volunteer or two for Tuesday’s party, to help me greet guests at the door and take a few photos. Could be a fine opportunity for a freelance or media newbie to meet some of Seattle’s most seasoned writers and editors. I’ll throw in a free copy of one of my books too (your choice!). If interested, see event details below. If still interested, email me by Tuesday afternoon. Thanks for playing.

Mediabistro holiday party – December 2
6 to 8 pm
What: Holiday party for freelance, staff, and laid off media professionals. mediabistro‘s sponsoring. I’m playing hostess.
Where: Grey Gallery & Lounge, 1512 11th Avenue, Seattle
Cash bar: Happy hour prices till 7 pm
RSVP: Required. RSVP on

Book signings @ Urban Craft Uprising – December 6 & 7
Saturday signing 12 to 1 pm. Sunday signing 1 to 2 pm. Craft show open from 11 to 5 pm.
What: Fourth annual Urban Craft Uprising, a rocking indie craft show with 130+ vendors
Where: Seattle Center, Exhibition Hall
Info: Free admission. More scoop at Urban Craft Uprising.

Add comment December 1st, 2008

Event mania

I have loads of events scheduled for the next couple of months. In Seattle, I’m hosting mediabistro‘s holiday party for freelance and full-time (and pink-slipped) media professionals, signing books at Urban Craft Uprising, and doing one last book reading at Third Place Books.

In the new year, I’m giving a couple of teleseminars, including one on dealing with hell clients, sponsored by the Freelancers Union. And in February, I’m heading down to San Francisco mid-month for a couple of talks and signings. (I’m open to more Bay Area events if you have something in mind. If so, email me.)

Event details follow. To stay up to date on my events, visit my Events page or subscribe to my mailing list.


Mediabistro holiday party – December 2
6 to 8 pm
What: Holiday party for freelance, staff, and laid off media professionals. mediabistro’s sponsoring. I’m playing hostess.
Where: Grey Gallery & Lounge, 1512 11th Avenue, Seattle
Cash bar: Happy hour prices till 7 pm
RSVP: Required. RSVP on

Book signings @ Urban Craft Uprising – December 6 & 7
Saturday signing 12 to 1 pm. Sunday signing 1 to 2 pm. Craft show open from 11 to 5 pm.
What: Fourth annual Urban Craft Uprising, a rocking indie craft show with 100+ vendors
Where: Seattle Center, Exhibition Hall
Info: Free admission. More scoop at Urban Craft Uprising.

Reading, Q&A and book signing – January 15
7 pm
What: New year, new president, new job for you? Come ask me all your burning questions about freelancing.
Where: Third Place Books, 17171 Bothell Way NE, Lake Forest Park (North Seattle)


Reading, Q&A and book signing – February 10
When: 7:30 pm
What: Go ahead — try to stump me. Bring your toughest questions on freelancing during a recession.
Where: Books Inc. in the Marina, 2251 Chestnut Street, San Francisco
Info: Books Inc. or (415) 931-3633

Business tips for professional organizers - February 11
When: 6:30 to 8:30 pm
What: Seminar, Q&A, and networking for professional organizers
Where: The Doubletree Inn, 835 Airport Boulevard, Burlingame, CA
Info: National Association of Professional Organizers, San Francisco Bay Area chapter
Registration: $20 members, $25 guests
Co-sponsor: Books Inc.


Freelancing teleseminar – January 21
Time pending
What: Lecture and Q&A for new and seasoned freelancers of all industries
Where: Your telephone
Sponsor: Downtown Women’s Club
Registration: Details to come

“Dealing with the Client from Hell” teleseminar – February 25
7:00 to 8:30 pm Eastern Standard Time (EST)
What: Lecture and Q&A for new and seasoned freelancers of all industries
Where: Your telephone
Sponsor: Freelancers Union
Registration: Details to come

Add comment November 14th, 2008

Recession tips for freelancers, part 119

I posted about freelancing during a recession last month. Then I wrote an ABC News column about it, did a podcast on it, and gave some advice on mediabistro’s GalleyCat blog about what freelancers can do to stay afloat right now. Some of my top tips follow, all of which I discuss at length in my new book:

Diversify your markets. Have your two or three niches, sure. But make sure that if you’re a health and fitness writer, you’re not just relying on the health magazines and lifestyle section of newspapers. Worm your way into online media outlets like AOL or iVillage. Write for trade and alumni publications. And don’t turn you nose up at writing newsletters for the wellness and medical industries or writing marketing copy for companies selling vitamins, fitness equipment, or any other products in your area of expertise. Even if you just do one trade publication article or copywriting gig a quarter, it’s a foot in the door with another type of revenue stream should the bottom fall out and you lose the bulk of your preferred work.  

Diversify your skills. Adopt or beef up any peripheral skills you can. If a writer can edit, project manage, broadcast, podcast, design, code, or teach, she’s just greatly expanded her marketability and income-earning potential. Ditto for the illustrator who also does web coding and design. Or the bookkeeper who prepares taxes.

Stay in touch with all clients you value, past and present. An editor or manager who jumps ship or gets forced out of her current job may very well be willing introduce you to her interim replacement (if there is one) and ”take you with her” to the next company she works for.

If you can’t name at least 10 other freelancers you know, it’s time to make some new friends. Yes, even in your own line of work. As I’ve said before, your fellow freelancers are one of your best sources of referrals. If someone offers me a job I’m not interested in or available for and a trusted freelance pal (note the word “trusted”) is looking for work, you bet your hide I’m going to refer her. Only a scrooge wouldn’t.

For the record, in the past three weeks I’ve had one client close their doors to freelancers, another lay off 10 percent of their staff (no news yet on what, if anything, this means for their freelance budget), a couple projects that were supposed to start early November get delayed indefinitely, one of those delayed projects come back to life with a vengeance (supposedly with three to four times the workload than originally anticipated), two former clients offer me a fair amount of new work, a couple periodic clients say they didn’t have any work for me at this time (I’d called to check), and a three new contacts say, “Yes, yes, yes! Please send me your bio/samples. I need to increase my freelance pool.”

I could have written the above paragraph two years ago, pre-recession. This is the way it always is for freelancers. Clients come, clients go, and the self-employed soldier on. They key to not going hungry is to keep as many pans in the fire as you can and never get too comfortable.

7 comments November 9th, 2008

Me, you, Seattle’s Elliott Bay Book Co — this Saturday, 10/25

If you’re in the Seattle area and missed my big fat book launch shindig last week, don’t fret. We’ll have the opportunity to meet this weekend at my Elliott Bay Book Company reading and Q&A.

The agenda:

  • Elbow-rubbing with like-minded indie professionals and creative types
  • Your best attempts to stump me with “freelancing during a recession” questions
  • Talking shop about the freelance life in the Pioneer Square pub of our choosing after the reading

The details:

When: Saturday, October 25, 2 p.m.
Where: Elliott Bay Book Company, 101 South Main Street, Seattle
Co-sponsor: Hedgebrook

Can’t make this event? Check my events page for others. Or join my mailing list to get notified about future events and classes.

7 comments October 23rd, 2008

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Who I am

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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