After 5 years of freelancing full-time, I've been feeling a little burned out lately. I haven't been hitting my monthly income goals consistently and the endless hustling that comes with being a freelancer has started to wear on me a bit. I've experienced this feeling before and know that it's temporary, but sometimes it helps to focus on why I wanted to work for myself in the first place. Being my own boss as a full-time writer and editor is not perfect (no career is), but it still beats punching a clock every morning. Here are the top reasons I love being my own boss:
1. I'm in Charge of My Schedule
You know those mornings when you could really use an extra hour or two do deal with life stuff before heading into the office, but you don't have that option? After ten years of office jobs with rigid schedules, I reached a point where I just couldn't deal with that level of inflexibility anymore. I felt that as a responsible adult and dedicated, hard-working employee, I should have some say in my schedule. My supervisor disagreed, telling me that if I was allowed to set my own hours and occasionally work from home, everyone else would want the same freedom. And what was so wrong with that? I feel so strongly about the importance of flexibility in the workplace that I wrote a portfolio piece for Blogmutt called 5 Ways Flexibility at Work Helps Your Staff (And Your Bottom Line).
Being treated like a child who couldn't be trusted to have any autonomy began to eat away at me until I knew traditional 8-5 office life was not for me. Instead of waiting for my workplace to join the modern movement toward flexibility, I became my own boss and took control of my schedule. I work a lot and I work hard, but I work when I want to. If I want to take a morning off to go hiking with my dog, spend time with my nephew, or simply decompress with a good book or my yoga mat, I do just that. And I'm a better writer, editor, and business owner because of it.
2. I Don't Have to Work for Assholes
Is that too blunt? The truth is that I am not a very confrontational person. As an INFJ, I crave harmony and detest conflict more than most, which means I tend to be kind and easygoing, but also means I've sometimes been taken advantage of by bullies who do not share my distaste for confrontation. When I worked in a traditional office setting, I worked with and for many lovely souls, but I also had more than my share of abusive bosses. I had one boss who loved to scream and throw things when things didn't go his way, leaving me feeling powerless and scared. No one should ever feel that way at home OR work, but I needed the job and my boss held all the power in this situation.
One of the most empowering moments in my life came early on in my freelance career. After a slew of glowing reviews and great feedback from clients I encountered someone who didn't seem to know what they wanted, was impossible to please, and constantly tried to get away with not paying me for my work. I had an "aha moment:" I could (diplomatically, of course) fire them as a client, making space for a new client who valued my work and my talent and didn't make me lose sleep at night. I have been very lucky to almost exclusively attract writing and editing clients who are honestly delightful to collaborate with, but should another bully come my way I LOVE knowing I can cut them loose. They're a client paying me for a well-honed skillset, which is a very different thing from a boss. I'm my only boss, and I'm pretty great to work for. ;)
3. I Get Paid to Do What I Love
I've been obsessed with books, words, and telling stories since I was a tiny little girl getting lost in Laura Ingalls Wilder and my own made-up characters. I won contests and scholarships for my creative writing in high school and college, and have never gone long without putting pen to paper as a way to make sense of the swirling confusion of my imagination. At all of my office jobs, my bosses knew I could be counted on to proofread their reports and draft clearly worded memos and emails. I studied English in school and was recognized by my professors for my writing ability. And yet, the thought of calling myself a writer and getting paid to do what I loved seemed so damn audacious at first. Who did I think I was?! Five years later, supporting myself with my own talent and love of words feels just as miraculous as it did the first time I submitted a client invoice. I have a bad habit of being self-deprecating about my work, and completely separating the creative writing I work on for fun from the business writing I do to pay the bills. The truth is though, that I use my creativity and analytical abilities to craft fresh, engaging pieces that wow my clients every single day. And if you're a self-employed writer you do the same thing. How amazing is that?
4. I Have the Power to Make Things Better
When you work for someone else's business, you follow their business model, their business ethics, and the work-life balance they impose upon you. You get paid the salary they decide you're worth, you show up when they tell you to, and you take vacation when they decide you can do so. When you work for yourself, you are in charge of all these things and more, and that's the main idea that I need to remember and focus on right now. My main problems lately with freelancing full-time have been 1) not getting paid enough (I lost my highest paying client when they went in-house for copywriting and my replacement clients don't pay nearly as well) and 2) feeling isolated. The great news is I have the power to solve both of these problems. I can re-negotiate my rates and seek out clients with bigger marketing budgets. I can get back into networking and go to meetup groups. I'm even thinking about starting a happy hour for self-employed folks in my part of town, because even introverts need to be around like-minded souls on a regular basis. If you are also going through a phase where you feel a bit defeated, just remember to take your power back and change whatever isn't working. After all, YOU'RE THE BOSS.
Are you self-employed or aspiring to be your own boss in the near future? I'd love to hear what you think and if any of these reasons resonate with you . . . and possibly commiserate over an adult beverage if you happen to live in Denver.
No, not Tony Danza. YOU. Duh.
Part 1 is here.
A Well-Edited Book Gets Better Reviews
As a self-published author, glowing reviews on Amazon, Goodreads and other platforms will be your lifeblood. Before someone shells out the cash for your book they want a little reassurance that they won't regret their choice. If you spend any time perusing reviews for new authors on Amazon, you will see plenty that go something like "The story was interesting but all the typos were distracting," "This book could really use a good editor," or "Way too confusing. Story hopped around too much and I couldn't follow it."
After reading a review like that, most book shoppers will look elsewhere for something better to read. Plus, most savvy readers can tell the difference between genuine good reviews and unethical spam reviews that the author paid for. Instead, it's so much better to wait to publish your book until it's the best book it can possibly be. Only then can you enjoy the immense gratification that comes from readers who LOVE your book and can't wait to tell everyone they know about it, often in the form of a public review.
You know how you can tell a book had an editor? If none of the reviews even mention the lack of typos, grammatical errors, continuity issues, etc. Because when a book is edited properly, it flows so well and is such an immersive experience that readers don't even notice those things.
On the other hand, a book that hasn't been edited will take the reader out of your story, no matter how compelling it would be otherwise.
The truth is, hiring an editor costs money and is a luxury. Not everyone has an extra $1200 or so to spend on editing services. But if you are on the fence about hiring someone to professionally edit your novel, you may want to look at it as an investment. Your editor will help polish your book until it is something you are truly proud to publish. And you just might find that doing so results in more and better quality reviews, which in turn translates into more sales.
There is something so uniquely painful about reading a self-published novel that had a ton of potential but was published too soon, before it was professionally edited. Massive plot holes, inconsistencies, typos galore- these things flat-out ruin what could have been a great read.
There are a lot of reasons you should consider hiring an editor, and rather than make my first blog on the topic a million words long I thought I’d break it up into a few short posts.
So, here is reason numero uno:
Friends and Family Won’t Be Thorough Enough
Before I started my editing business, friends and family constantly asked me to proofread or edit their various writing endeavors. Here’s a little secret- I didn’t do nearly as thorough of a job as I do now that I’m paid for these services. Sorry guys!
When I was just “your friend with an English degree who’s picky about grammar” I simply didn’t have the time or incentive to dedicate the amount of thoroughness a book edit requires. I’d skim your manuscript, point out obvious errors, and be on my merry way. I had a full-time job and a million other things to do, and after all, I was only doing you a favor, so how much could you really expect?
Would your book be better than it was before I looked it over? Sure. Would it be thoroughly and professionally edited? Ha ha, not even close. Now, when I edit your book, my livelihood and professional reputation is at stake. This is my career. I pride myself on doing the most thorough, perfectionist and professional editing job possible. I’m constantly seeking out more copy-editing training. I love to zoom in eagle-eye style on the smallest of errors while always simultaneously keeping the big picture in mind- how your story feels, what it means, how it could be better while remaining 100% your story.
I want your repeat business and referrals, and I want the satisfaction of knowing I’m very good at my job. Every professional freelance editor I know feels this way. That cousin of yours who’s a good speller, on the other hand? Probably not.
So, how does this whole hiring an editor thing work, anyway? Here’s what you can expect from the editing process in 5 steps:
1. You send me an email with your project details and any questions. I will respond within 24 hours.
2. We establish project terms over email or in a short phone call. For more substantial projects I require a standard contract. Deadlines are mutually agreed upon based on your own needs as well as my schedule. Typically, projects of less than 7,000 words can be returned within 48 hours. Longer works, such as novels, can normally be completed within two or three weeks.
3. Once all of your preliminary questions are answered, it’s time to get started. Send me your document if you haven’t already done so and I will then send you your first Paypal invoice. I require a 50% payment up front to begin work and the final 50% after work is completed and you’ve had a chance to review.
4. I do my magic. I send two documents back to you- a clean copy with all of my suggested edits already made, and a track changes version with comments and edits red-lined. This gives you the opportunity to see exactly which changes have been made, and even accept/reject them individually if you wish.
5. After I complete the work you have a full week to review, ask for clarification as needed, discuss changes, and pay your final invoice.
That’s it! Throughout this process and even afterward I am always available by email to discuss your project. And sometimes just to discuss life or whatever, because I work from home and am therefore starved for human contact. ;)