How Clients Get Away With Not Paying Freelancers (And What You Can Do About It)

piggy-bankAs I mentioned earlier this week in a post about why writers need to list more skills than just writing, it’s not uncommon for businesses to undervalue communication to cut financial corners. Many businesses will add company communications to other positions as a way to save money, especially if it’s not the businesses primary product or focus. Please keep in mind that I’m not talking about writing reviews or blogging here, because there may be instances where writing for free makes sense to build your online presence.

As writing and content strategy professionals, we may specialize in fiction or non-fiction because that is what defines us. Writing is our “product” that we deliver to clients in a timely fashion. We expect to get paid for what we do, because we don’t want to work for free.

Unfortunately, there is a darker side to writing that I wanted to share with you today. That darker side is what happens when we isolate ourselves from one another and don’t do our homework on the businesses we work for. It’s what happens when we chase the rainbow because we want to get those elusive writing credits and get ahead. The result? We don’t get paid.
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Job-Hunting? Writers, List Additional Skills!

One of the things that happens in a tight economy, is that employers want to get more for their money. It makes sense, right? Not only are there are number of people out of work, but employers are looking for that value-add so they save money in the longer-term. In my experiences, this has meant that employers are willing to sacrifice the quality of writing for those “extra” qualifications that they might be looking for.

Unfortunately, those “extra” qualifications might not be easily apparent when you’re applying for a job. Give too much information up front, and you may qualify yourself out of a job. Don’t reveal enough about your skills, and you might find yourself overlooked.

Now more than ever, you’ll have to show not only why writing as a specialty is so important for effective communication, but you’ll also have to list your other skills. Whether you’re technologically-savvy or not, writers often incorporate other skills that are important to list. For your convenience, I’ve come up with a sample list of skills other than writing that may help you promote yourself.

  • analytical – Do you know how to analyze small details and glean insight from them? Are you familiar with web analytics?
  • proofreading – Can you spot punctuation and know grammar rules?
  • content editing – Are you a natural editor? Can you look at the bigger picture and restructure content?
  • web copywriting – Do you know the basics of web copywriting? Or how about search engine optimization?
  • social media-savvy – Are you on Twitter? Facebook? MySpace? It’s not a bad idea to mention that you know how to use the tools.
  • community-builder – Do you know how to generate great discussion and get people to interact with one another?
  • reviewer or critic – Do you write reviews of books, CDs or movies? You never know when someone might be interested in that skill.
  • presenter – Have you written speeches or presented at a conference?
  • style-format editor – Are you a master at word processing and know how to format reports quickly and easily?
  • indexing – Do you know how to index automatically or manually?
  • coding HTML, XML, etc. – Familiar with the ins and outs of coding? Even on a basic level this can be a real plus?
  • blogging – Different from web copywriting, pointing out to clients where you blog can help them glean a little insight about your personality
  • technologically-savvy – What kinds of tools do you know? While a long list of everything that you’re familiar with might not be the best, definitely let your clients know you’re not afraid of tech.
  • photographer or video creator – Do you know how to take a great picture? How about creating short videos?
  • coaching or advising – Have you ever offered other professionals advice? What about non-professionals?
  • bookkeeping – Do you keep excellent books for your freelancing business? Have you thought about expanding that skillset?
  • project management – Have you ever managed a project that you were working on?
  • photo or image editing – Do you know how to edit a photo to make it look great?
  • graphic or web design – Artistic? Know how to design flyers or websites?

Another thing to think about when you’re putting together your skillset, is that the skills you share will also help break down some of the common stereotypes that non-writers have about us. Blast those misperceptions of writers being anti-social and snobbish right out of the water and let your personality shine. The easier you appear to work with, the better your chances will be.

Good luck!

Who Owns Your Content When You Blog? Facebook? Twitter?

After reading this article Facebook owns your content. All of it. Forever, I am reminded of the virtual lack of control content generators have over their content online. This is one of the reasons why I am very careful with not only what I publish online — but where.

Here’s a breakdown of the services I use, how I use them and their “content ownership” policies.
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Happy Valentine’s Day! Enjoy Your Love Haikus!

two-heartsHappy Valentine’s Day! Today’s the day to celebrate all things love and I can’t think of a better way than to share with you the love poetry from Twitter.

Poetry is a great way to get those creative juices flowing, especially if you need to flex those “descriptive” muscles. Here are the love haikus from the event, and I hope you enjoy reading them no matter how you choose to celebrate Valentine’s Day. I linked to the Twitter profile of everyone who contributed as well, so if you’re on Twitter — be sure to check them out.

Enjoy Reading Love Haiku Poetry

@coffeesister careful consideration / opposing opinions offered / eros expressed

@coffeesister friendship found / communication deepens / love is born

@J_Dalgliesh blazing grass behind / they emerge from smoke and flame / handclasped and alive

@J_Dalgliesh brushed skin quivering / burning trails of wild desire / molten body yields

@J_Dalgliesh the back of his hand / gentle on her autumn cheek / their golden wedding

@kaliphonia My dear you’re the bomb / mushroom cloud of destiny / love’s a battlefield

@ldydisney Second time around – Deeper love, pure honest love – Love my Valentine

@debsoul Love ever present/Illusion washes away/Light filled brand new day

@bigbookofyou You are the pebble, In the Center of your life, The source of ripples (From the Big Book of You)

@kimfalconer Dark wings touch my face/ when a shadow flees the heart/ love has come at last

@carliepaiva The sweet lovers sigh / thumping hearts fill their ears / together as one

@coffeesister sun sparkles / hope joins in / heart warms

@mlvalentine Show a writer love / read a book today and smile / we love our readers

@madkane Love Haiku / St. Valentine’s Day— / One day each February? / No. Daily each year

@ielliott Come the day of rest // Saturday will have then passed // Did you show your love?

@tombedell Saturday, is it? // A day-long dip in the stream // Of raging currents

@music_notes fall in love again / music fills our hearts and minds / thanks to songwriters

@mlvalentine music of the spheres / angelic voices singing / faithful, loving hearts

@_justen_ crisp air, chilled wine / she is out with her best friend / this Valentine’s Day

@_justen_ so many roses, / candies, and expense to say: / I love you, baby

@slacey Noble tetanus // Oh where have your eyebrows gone? // Stolen by an attorney

@_justen_Oh powerful wind/ weathering worlds, lives, and hearts:/ terraforming love

@mlvalentine delicate, pale Spring / knocks Love’s door to awaken / slumbering lovers

@suburban_cat Crepe myrtle petals / Dance in the summer breeze as / Tears run down my cheeks

@mazzycat the familiar/comfortable feeling of/knowing each other

@mazzycat the sun in your eyes/a glance, a turning away/the slowest of smiles

Spread a Little Love with Haiku Day on Twitter! #littlelove

twitter-haiku-dayWhat is Twitter? And what the heck is a haiku? A haiku is a form of poetry that is really short. I mean, really short. This form of Japanese poetry is based on syllables. In English, a haiku would be written in three lines, with the first line containing five, the second seven and the third five.

Jane Reichold offers really great resources for reading and writing haikus on her website, if you want more detailed information and articles to read.

Twitter is a “micro-blogging” service that allows you to set up an account and follow interesting people. I use it for link-sharing, networking and friendship; one of its benefits for me is that it connects with my Facebook and LiveJournal accounts.

When you “blog” on Twitter, you are limited to 140 characters which can make some “tweets” quite challenging but can make for some interesting bouts of creativity.

After putting some initial feelers out there, many fellow writers were interested in my idea for a “haiku day” on Twitter. With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, I thought we could have our first #haikuday next week and have a love theme.

For those of you who are new to Twitter, when you put the “pound” sign on Twitter in your tweet, it allows other people to references your topic of conversation. Using #littlelove will ensure everyone’s haikus can be read, regardless of whether or not you are following that person.

First Haiku Day is Thursday, February 12, 2009

Join me in spreading a little love next week on Thursday by sharing your own love-themed haiku poems. If you aren’t already, I invite you to Follow Monica on Twitter. I don’t auto-follow new people because I’d like to get to know you, so be sure to introduce yourself and say “Hi.”

Here’s a sample 5/7/5 format using that love theme:

red flowers remind / cold, blue winter is melting / warm hearts all year round #littlelove

Let’s see if we can get the word out there so we can all get our creative juices flowing for a Haiku Day on Thursday, February 12th! In the meantime, I’ll definitely work on my haiku writing skills!

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