I often reevaluate my freelance writing rates at the start of each new year. For 2012, I took care of that this morning. And some of my rates were increased.
I raised rates for Web content writing, copywriting, and copyediting this year. Copywriting and editing were increased the most significantly as I opted not to raise those rates last year. In addition to raising most of my Web content rates, I also changed the rate structure. Rather than a set per-word rate (which many Web content clients don’t fully understand or like to work with), I set up tiers.
I have a set dollar amount for articles in certain rate ranges. For example, rather than charging a flat $.50 per word, I now have a single rate for articles 300-400 words long, a higher rate for articles of 400-500 words, and other rates covering other ranges. Some rates went up, some down, and some stayed the same. My hope is that they’ll be a bit easier for clients to understand and that they’ll minimize the need for custom quotes.
Do you evaluate your rates at this time of year? Did you increase (or decrease) rates for any of your services? Tell me what you opted to do and why in the comments.Read More
One of the best parts of moving is the fact that I get to reinvent my office space. For the last several years, I’ve lived in a one-bedroom apartment where my “office” is about a third of the bedroom. That has its benefits (like rolling out of bed and right into work) and its drawbacks (like struggling to separate a place for downtime from my work mentality). In my new place I’ll have a separate office, and that means I have greater flexibility.
I’m excited as I plan my new office space. I’ll have a simple standing work space when I need to get away from my regular desk. And I’ll have a big comfortable chair in there for when I want to curl up with my laptop for long writing stretches or my printed manuscripts for editing. In the past I had to go to another room for that — something I rarely do because then I can’t work without my cats crawling all over me looking for attention (sweet, but not conducive to work).
As much as I’m happy to change things in my work setup, much of it will stay the same for now, including my primary desk. My hope is that I’ll have just enough change to shake things up and just enough the same to keep me comfortable during the transition.
Have you recently overhauled your office space? What kinds of changes did you make? Did it rejuvenate you or did it take a while to adapt? Share your stories or suggestions on making the transition easier in the comments below.Read More
Every now and then the procrastination bug comes a-bitin’. Work can feel overwhelming. The sunny days might call to you. Regardless of the reason, you want to be doing anything other than working. And that makes the work day drag on even longer because you can’t focus to get things done.
When this happens to me, I have a simple solution: I turn work into a game.
How Games Help
The idea is to break down work into smaller segments that will have an easier time keeping your attention, and at the same time you make the work more fun. You don’t feel like it’s distracting you from having a good time when you can get into this frame of mind. Sometimes it also gets the adrenaline pumping where you’re racing to a finish line rather than meandering along. (Of course by “racing” I don’t mean churning out half-assed work — you’ll still edit and clean up anything you draft as usual. The idea is just to get the drafts out faster to get the sense of accomplishment to drive you even more.)
How to Turn Work Into a Game
I’m sure there are countless ways to turn work into a game as a freelance writer. Here are two examples of things I personally do:
- Set a timer for each task. Lately I’ve been using the online timer at e.ggtimer.com. If I don’t feel challenged, I become bored with my work. And boredom leads to procrastination in my case. With this tool I can challenge myself to write a blog post in a certain amount of time. I find that when I do this, I can tune everything else out. And this is where the adrenaline comes into play. I want to beat that clock, badly. I stay focused on what’s on the screen. I type a little bit faster. And I stop over-thinking every little thing I want to say. There’s time for that after it’s drafted. So far it’s worked well for me.
- Focus on long-term strategy. I’m a big fan of strategy games, especially those involving business strategy. And running a business is like a real-time strategy game with real money at stake. Sometimes all it takes is a bit of strategizing to get me back on task. Games that offer goals and achievements offer constant challenges and keep me coming back for more. And my business has the same potential. I just had to learn how to look at things a bit differently to get that “game effect.”
Do you ever turn work into a game when you don’t feel like getting things done? How do you do it? What tools or games do you use? Share your own ideas and stories in the comments below.Read More
My boyfriend is a programmer. I’m a writer. And we’re working on calendar software for freelance writers and bloggers. Because of that, I’m testing other options to see what features we want in addition to what’s already out there, what works, and what doesn’t. For the last two weeks I’ve been using Microsoft Outlook in lieu of my typical index card to-do list system.
This week I’m going old school. It’s back to handwritten lists for me.
You see, I learned something over the last two weeks. High tech isn’t always more efficient. It isn’t always faster. It isn’t always better. With something as simple as task lists, I was sure existing software would have some benefits over my various sized index cards. But this example didn’t. While I still have two other software options to test in coming weeks, I need a break, and am going back to what already works.
Why Low-Tech Wins for Task Lists
I’m not one of those people who carries their lists around with them everywhere they go. I don’t believe in taking work with you when you’re out of your office (or wherever you go to work). So digital systems like those built into smart phones don’t work for me. I want something that stays in the office. Desktop software or online solutions then seem like a perfect fit. But so far they haven’t been able to beat simple cards. Why?
- Surprisingly, it was faster to jot down my weekly and daily to-do lists by hand than it was to type them up where I had to choose due dates for everything individually, set the initial status, etc. Without that information I couldn’t sort the task lists in an effective manner like I can when I do them by hand.
- It was annoying to have to keep a bloated software package like outlook open all day just to have constant access to my to-do list (considering I wasn’t using the email, calendar, or contact features).
- It was also slightly annoying that I had to lose screen real estate for other things when looking at my list. With an index card I don’t have to go to a new Web page or tab. I don’t have to open Outlook on top of something else to look and then lose the visual when I’m ready to get back to work. A basic index card system works because the cards are immediately visible whenever I glance at them, without interfering with anything else.
Sure, some people don’t like the idea of cards because they don’t want to “waste” paper. I don’t personally consider it a waste as long as it’s used for something productive. And saving me time during my work day (not to mention eye strain in that I can work on and look at things other than my screen a bit more often) is highly productive as far as I’m concerned. And if you don’t have a fairly regular schedule, maybe handwriting a list each week or day would take longer than hashing out details on your computer. It just didn’t turn out that way in my testing.
So what does this mean for the software we’re planning to release? We won’t stop just because I found that a low-tech option was superior so far. We still have other options to test, and maybe one of them will change my mind. More importantly, I’m able to see what takes too long using existing options so we can hopefully streamline and simplify the program we release.
The two other options I plan to test are Google Calendar and TomsPlanner.com. Have you used these tools or Outlook to manage your daily or weekly task lists? Why do you use the one you use currently? Do you do things by hand? Did you test different tools, or just find one you like and stick with it? Are there other areas in business where you’ve found low-tech options to be more efficient than their high-tech counterparts? Share your thoughts and comments below.Read More
I love technology. If I didn’t I couldn’t run a successful business on the Web, nonetheless work as a technology editor in the past or take on so many tech-savvy freelance writing clients. But I also love writing. And if there’s one thing I love even more than either of them, it’s finding ways to make them work together.
Here are some of the ways I use technology in my writing business:
- I’m involved in Web publishing / Web development. So I design, customize, code, and manage the IT side of quite a few websites and blogs.
- I spend all day sitting behind a computer, dealing with backups and more than my fair share of tech crisis aversion in addition to my writing work. I could scratch out my work by hand, but think about how unproductive that would be these days.
- I use a voice recorder and a decent USB microphone for recording notes, story ideas on the run, or podcast / audio play shows for the business.
- I use Dragon Naturally Speaking to write even more efficiently (although I’m still trying to fully train the program, so I hope it will get even more efficient in the future).
- I occasionally use cameras and video cameras to capture things that inspire me or that might be worked into a story down the road.
There are countless ways you can work with technology to run a more productive writing business. And there are probably just as many ways you deal with technology each day as a writer without even thinking about it.
Do you have any favorite gadgets, sites or software as a writer? What are your least favorite ways technology comes into play at work? Leave your thoughts in a comment below.Read More