Modern Journalist Toolkit 15: For freelancers who are worth the money

Modern Journalist Toolkit 15: For freelancers who are worth the money

When I started freelancing, I was 100% DIY. Pitching, researching, writing, editing–that was me. Tech support, print cartridge buyer, office cleaner–that was me too. One of the tricky things about making a good living as a freelance writer is getting a feel for what to do yourself and where to spend–or invest–time and money. Some […]

Modern Journalist Toolkit 7: Three-minute marketing makeover

Modern Journalist Toolkit 7: Three-minute marketing makeover

The humble email signature is one of the overlooked workhorses of your marketing efforts as a freelance writer. You are more likely focusing on the brilliant idea you’re developing and pitching, but the contact details you provide give you an opportunity to come across as thoughtful and professional—or not. In the worst-case scenario, your signature […]

Pay Me!

Pay Me!

In a strange twist of my-fish-that-got-away-was-bigger-than-yours, freelance writers sometimes like to play the game of my-deadbeat-client-owes-me-more-than-yours. Who said bigger was better? While occasional late payers are inevitable, I’ve had very few over the years, even though I’ve written for many clients all over the world. Do you want to know the steps I take to […]

Modern Journalist Toolkit 2: Getting paid electronically

Modern Journalist Toolkit 2: Getting paid electronically

It continually surprises me that in the United States, one of the most technologically advanced countries, it’s still a widespread practice to send paper checks to freelance writers. This is true even at companies that have been paying staff via direct deposit for a decade. In most other countries, electronic funds transfers are secure and […]

How to boost your earnings

How to boost your earnings

When reviewing your annual income, it’s hard not to look at whatever you earned and wish it had been a wee bit more. Some years, an awful lot more. With this in mind, here are three ways to increase your earnings this year: Grandfather in prices for most of your existing clients, and raise rates […]

3 Quick Online Portfolio Solutions

3 Quick Online Portfolio Solutions

Once upon a time, in a decade long, long ago, I hand coded my own writer website. To save money. (You’ve probably already heard that time is money, but apparently I hadn’t.) Back then, the site looked pretty good–for somebody who did it via HTML for Dummies. Problem was that I forgot to anticipate that […]

Are you up for a writing challenge?

Are you up for a writing challenge?

The 12×12 Write Now Challenge 2016 begins next Monday, 11 January. Despite the deluge of tweeted resolutions and planning widgets that proliferate at this time of year, I’ve yet to see a plan or process that really meets the unique needs of freelance writers. Over time, I’ve created my own approach to reviewing what I’ve done and […]

Keep calm and follow up

Keep calm and follow up

A fellow writer asked for the best piece of advice I had for freelancers. Follow up, follow up, follow up.  As soon as I send something (a story pitch, a request for an interview, whatever), I schedule the follow ups on my calendar. This diffuses any emotional reaction to nonresponse/silence, and keeps things moving along on schedule. […]

Coffee coffee buzz buzz buzz: What’s brewing?

Coffee coffee buzz buzz buzz: What’s brewing?

US alternative weeklies were still in their heyday back when I began writing for a living. Shortly after I left my day job (i.e., went from part- to full-time freelancing), I pitched a couple of arts ideas to an editor at The Washington Blade, who in return asked if I would be interested in a […]

The other B word

Posted in business, journalism
The other B word

My latest for Balanced Life is a piece about the hot B word, Bossy. As one of the women I interviewed said, “It’s not a case of being bossy. I am the boss.” Bossiness can sometimes be confused with bullying, which is psychologically more challenging to deal with–think sabotage, humiliation, and intimidation. According to the […]

The reporting for this story stinks

The reporting for this story stinks

Move over, grass-fed beef. Insect-fed fish have arrived. Standing in a room of one million flies, my senses were at full alert. Each cage undulated with wriggling waves of the buggers, and the stench was powerful. Ostensibly all the insects were secured into compartments, but if even a half a percent were free, that’s a […]

Conference call

Posted in business, freelance

Conference calls are a part of a freelance writer’s life, but often they leave me feeling like I should have received hardship pay. This little video, “A Conference Call in Real Life,” transforms every bit that is super unfunny in real life. In the sequel, I’m guessing there will be somebody getting dressed or eating […]

Face in the Kenyan Crowd

Face in the Kenyan Crowd

These have been boom years for cartography geeks, and talking with Juliana Rotich–the Kenya-based, MIT-trained innovator behind crowdmapping sensation Ushahidi, as well as many other BAFA projects–was one of those interviews that makes it easy to love being a journalist. The creation of a healthier ecosystem in Nairobi’s Silicon Savannah where entrepreneurs can thrive depends […]

Better successful than sorry

Better successful than sorry

I grew up in the US, and to South Africans I sound, as I am told, “very American” (more specifically, as if I’m from the Northeast). But I have picked up some local South African/English usage, such as saying “sorry” when I’m not actually sorry at all, but want somebody to move out of my […]

The In Thing

Posted in backstory, business
The In Thing

One of my business decisions back in January was to write more often about, well, business. When Balanced Life magazine (which goes out to Foschini account holders in South Africa) asked me to write about introverts and extroverts in the workplace for their careers section, I found it to be a hotter topic than I […]