overcommitting freelanceDear Dr. Freelance: I have a freelance client that I’ll describe as a “phantom client”—I’d had some challenges with him, but he recently paid me for everything he owed. He’d been a steady source of work, so I was reluctant to just sever the relationship. While I was waiting, I was contacted about another project, but I had a fear of overcommitting: If the phantom client came back, I was going to be stuck without enough time to do either job right. I ended up sending the polished, customized resume and letter very late, and it was pretty much moot since the potential #2 client had already submitted a bid to the end user. How do I strike the balance between getting good projects, ensuring quality, and not driving myself crazy?—Rachel

Rachel, I look at occasionally being “too busy” as part of the reason I’ve succeeded in my freelance business—in fact, I have a chapter titled “Why I Love Emergency Clients” in The Science, Art and Voodoo of Freelance Pricing and Getting Paid. Last week, I worked 7 long days in a row, late into the evening (which I hate, because I’m a morning person). On top of my freelance jobs, I was trying to finalize a webinar on referral strategies for the Editorial Freelancers Association—not to mention having a car at the mechanic and playing nurse to our dog after he had a bunch of teeth pulled! [read more…]


freelance referralReferrals—given or received—can be among the most powerful business-builders in your freelance arsenal. As today’s guest post illustrates, however, they come with their own set of responsibilities and conflict resolution requirements.

A former client (let’s call him Jim) contacted me and wanted me to work on a new project with him. I didn’t have time and didn’t have a great experience working with him before, so I referred him to a colleague (let’s call her Abby), someone I had recently re-connected with after many years. They worked out a contract, and Abby began work. As the referring business, I was to be paid a 10% referral fee. [read more…]


The hole in my office

It’s been a hard week. We put our loyal Labrador retriever, Bagheera, to sleep on Saturday. There is a hole in my family, my life, and my office.

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4 rules of face to face meetings for a freelancer

I know what you’re thinking: “I hate meeting face to face.” And I also know why: Face-to-face meetings take time and energy. You need to get dressed up. They break up your day inconveniently, especially for a freelancer on deadline. You need to drive to the client’s office or agreed-upon offsite venue, and there will be […]

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Phoenix Holiday Author Event

A quick plug for the Phoenix Holiday Author Event this weekend, December 6th, 10 a.m.-4 p.m., at The Pressroom in downtown Phoenix  (441 W. Madison Street). I’ll be among nearly 70 local authors from a wide variety of genres—fiction, children’s, spiritual, business, personal development, and more—signing books and talking books. It’s a great opportunity to meet […]

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Academic malpractice in freelance pricing

Busy day, so just enough time for a quick rant. I met with a colleague for coffee yesterday. She’s a lawyer by trade, with plenty of courtroom experience and a solid background in the technical aspects of writing, but happens to be new to the freelance writing and editing business. At one point she mentioned that […]

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The best way to run a freelance business

I was honored to be the keynote speaker at Communication Central in Rochester, N.Y., in late September, and I was struck, as I networked with the assembled writers, editors, designers, and publishing experts, by the myriad ways people successfully operate a freelance business. (If you’re interested in attending next year, there are roundups of the event here and here, with lots […]

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The wrong way to get freelance jobs

There are countless strategies and places to find freelance jobs, but this week, I received a note that represents a classic example of the wrong way to go about it: soliciting work from other freelancers with whom you have 1) no relationship or 2) no understanding of their businesses. Exhibit A is a pitch I received from out of the […]

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Writing revisions and doing the right thing

I ran into a sticky situation with an editor a few months back over writing revisions for a freelance magazine assignment. I’d written a short travel piece featuring three different locations, and received approval for the text. The art director wasn’t able to secure a free photograph of one of them, however, and I got a call asking for […]

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WordPerfect and other blasts from the freelance past

I met up with my friend, Chuck, at a local watering hole the other night, and he sarcastically called me Mr. WordPerfect. (He’s a finance guy, so I wish I’d had the mental agility to have called him Mr. Lotus, but that’s how l’esprit de l’escalier works, doesn’t it?) As I’m notching my 15th anniversary in […]

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