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Taking the Plunge Into Freelancing

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Taking the Plunge Into Freelancing

  1. 1. Taking the Plunge Into Freelancing David Sheets, president, St. Louis Pro Chapter, Society of Professional Journalists; member, SPJ’s national Freelancing Committee
  2. 2. Freelancer:
  3. 3. Freelancer:• Coined in 1820 by Sir Walter Scott in the book “Ivanhoe,” describes a medieval mercenary not sworn to a lord’s service
  4. 4. Freelancer:• Coined in 1820 by Sir Walter Scott in the book “Ivanhoe,” describes a medieval mercenary not sworn to a lord’s service• Evolved by 1860 to imply a free worker
  5. 5. Freelancer:• Coined in 1820 by Sir Walter Scott in the book “Ivanhoe,” describes a medieval mercenary not sworn to a lord’s service• Evolved by 1860 to imply a free worker• Became what we know it today only within the past 40 years
  6. 6. Common freelance jobs:
  7. 7. Common freelance jobs:• Acting • Publishing• Consulting • Translating• Editing • Writing• Graphic design • Reporting• Photojournalism • Video production• Proofreading • Web development
  8. 8. Benefits of freelancing:
  9. 9. Benefits of freelancing:• You’re the boss
  10. 10. Benefits of freelancing:• You’re the boss• Home office
  11. 11. Benefits of freelancing:• You’re the boss• Home office• Comfortable clothing
  12. 12. Benefits of freelancing:• You’re the boss• Home office• Comfortable clothing• Choose your hours
  13. 13. Benefits of freelancing:• You’re the boss• Home office• Comfortable clothing• Choose your hours• Choose your topics
  14. 14. Benefits of freelancing:• You’re the boss• Home office• Comfortable clothing• Choose your hours• Choose your topics• Choose your clients
  15. 15. Drawbacks to freelancing:
  16. 16. Drawbacks to freelancing:• You’re the boss
  17. 17. Drawbacks to freelancing:• You’re the boss• Sporadic employment
  18. 18. Drawbacks to freelancing:• You’re the boss• Sporadic employment• Spotty income
  19. 19. Drawbacks to freelancing:• You’re the boss• Sporadic employment• Spotty income• No benefits (insurance, medical, vacation)
  20. 20. Drawbacks to freelancing:• You’re the boss• Sporadic employment• Spotty income• No benefits (insurance, medical, vacation)• Out-of-pocket expenses
  21. 21. Drawbacks to freelancing:• You’re the boss• Sporadic employment• Spotty income• No benefits (insurance, medical, vacation)• Out-of-pocket expenses• Market uncertainty
  22. 22. But with a little advance planning,
  23. 23. But with a little advance planning,Freelancing can become a rewarding, enjoyable experience
  24. 24. All you have to do to start is one thing:
  25. 25. All you have to do to start is one thing:Don’t Be Afraid
  26. 26. AndI know why you’re afraid:
  27. 27. AndI know why you’re afraid:
  28. 28. True, you can’t start outmaking the same money in thatcame with your first media job.
  29. 29. True, you can’t start outmaking the same money in thatcame with your first media job. But by following a few important steps, you’ll approach that same salary, or surpass it, in a short time
  30. 30. First, have a plan
  31. 31. First, have a plan • Find a niche
  32. 32. First, have a plan • Find a niche • Make source lists
  33. 33. First, have a plan • Find a niche • Make source lists • Study the marketplace
  34. 34. First, have a plan • Find a niche • Make source lists • Study the marketplace • Study potential competition
  35. 35. First, have a plan • Find a niche • Make source lists • Study the marketplace • Study potential competition • Ask friends, family for references
  36. 36. This assumesthat you canwrite andedit in thefirst place
  37. 37. This assumesthat you canwrite andedit in thefirst place
  38. 38. This assumesthat you canwrite andedit in thefirst placeIf not, fix these problems first
  39. 39. Next, lay the foundation
  40. 40. Next, lay the foundation• Create a dedicated workspace
  41. 41. Next, lay the foundation• Create a dedicated workspace• Have dedicated working hours
  42. 42. Next, lay the foundation• Create a dedicated workspace• Have dedicated working hours• Have a “personality” and marketing strategy suitable for freelancing
  43. 43. Next, lay the foundation• Create a dedicated workspace• Have dedicated working hours• Have a “personality” and marketing strategy suitable for freelancing• Separate your personal and professional budgets
  44. 44. Next, lay the foundation• Create a dedicated workspace• Have dedicated working hours• Have a “personality” and marketing strategy suitable for freelancing• Separate your personal and professional budgets• Have good working habits
  45. 45. Good working habits require:
  46. 46. Good working habits require:
  47. 47. Good working habits require:• Discarding distractions
  48. 48. Good working habits require:• Discarding distractions• Putting off procrastination
  49. 49. Good working habits require:• Discarding distractions• Putting off procrastination• Banishing boredom
  50. 50. Good working habits require:• Discarding distractions• Putting off procrastination• Banishing boredom• Setting aside surprises
  51. 51. Good working habits require:• Discarding distractions• Putting off procrastination• Banishing boredom• Setting aside surprises• Giving up generalizations
  52. 52. Good working habits require:• Discarding distractions• Putting off procrastination• Banishing boredom• Setting aside surprises• Giving up generalizations• And 3 more things ...
  53. 53. Research,
  54. 54. Research,Research,Research
  55. 55. Because what you know is moreimportant than what you think
  56. 56. That means:
  57. 57. That means:• Looking deeper than the first couple pages of a Google search
  58. 58. That means:• Looking deeper than the first couple pages of a Google search• Interviewing people, in person as well as online or through social media
  59. 59. That means:• Looking deeper than the first couple pages of a Google search• Interviewing people, in person as well as online or through social media• Getting out from behind the computer and experiencing things first-hand
  60. 60. You don’tlearn byimagining
  61. 61. You don’tlearn byimagining
  62. 62. You don’tlearn byimaginingYou learnby doing
  63. 63. Qualities every freelancer should cultivate:
  64. 64. Qualities every freelancer should cultivate:• Curiosity — Stay interested in your niche
  65. 65. Qualities every freelancer should cultivate:• Curiosity — Stay interested in your niche• Enterprise — Keep looking for work even when you already have it
  66. 66. Qualities every freelancer should cultivate:• Curiosity — Stay interested in your niche• Enterprise — Keep looking for work even when you already have it• Good health — Exercise regularly, eat well
  67. 67. Qualities every freelancer should cultivate:• Curiosity — Stay interested in your niche• Enterprise — Keep looking for work even when you already have it• Good health — Exercise regularly, eat well• Professional demeanor — Understand the value of deadlines, story lengths; dress as if you’re heading to the office
  68. 68. Look like this:
  69. 69. Look like this:
  70. 70. Look like Not like this: this:
  71. 71. Look like Not like this: this:
  72. 72. Because how you feel affects how you act
  73. 73. Develop a marketing strategyhighlighting your talents, skills
  74. 74. Develop a marketing strategyhighlighting your talents, skills• Word of mouth — Talk it up with former colleagues, professionals in your niche
  75. 75. Develop a marketing strategyhighlighting your talents, skills• Word of mouth — Talk it up with former colleagues, professionals in your niche• Direct mail, email — For a personal touch
  76. 76. Develop a marketing strategyhighlighting your talents, skills• Word of mouth — Talk it up with former colleagues, professionals in your niche• Direct mail, email — For a personal touch• Social media — Establish yourself on Facebook and Google Plus, Twitter, Pinterest, etc.
  77. 77. Develop a marketing strategyhighlighting your talents, skills• Word of mouth — Talk it up with former colleagues, professionals in your niche• Direct mail, email — For a personal touch• Social media — Establish yourself on Facebook and Google Plus, Twitter, Pinterest, etc.• “80/20” plan — 80% promotion, 20% work
  78. 78. Please, don’t diminish yourwork’s value by doing it forfree. Set a rate and be firm.
  79. 79. Please, don’t diminish yourwork’s value by doing it forfree. Set a rate and be firm.A good guide for setting payrates is available through the Editorial Freelancers Association
  80. 80. Speakingof which,we come to the main topic ...
  81. 81. Speakingof which,we come to the main topic ...
  82. 82. Financial planning
  83. 83. Financial planning• Don’t quit your day job
  84. 84. Financial planning• Don’t quit your day job• If you do, have 1-2 years’ worth of salary socked away
  85. 85. Financial planning• Don’t quit your day job• If you do, have 1-2 years’ worth of salary socked away• Review 2 years’ worth of monthly income
  86. 86. Financial planning• Don’t quit your day job• If you do, have 1-2 years’ worth of salary socked away• Review 2 years’ worth of monthly income• Budget for health, life insurance
  87. 87. Financial planning• Don’t quit your day job• If you do, have 1-2 years’ worth of salary socked away• Review 2 years’ worth of monthly income• Budget for health, life insurance• Set aside 20% for taxes, 40% for savings, 40% for emergencies / extras
  88. 88. And don’t push aside thebookkeeping until the last week of the month, orworse, the last two weeks of the year.
  89. 89. Help with finances:
  90. 90. Help with finances:• IRS.gov• Freelancers Union• NerdWallet.com (compare credit cards)• QuickBooks online (30-day free trial)• LegalZoom.com• SPJ’s Independent Journalist blog• Other freelancers
  91. 91. Taking the Plunge Into Freelancing David Sheets, president, St. Louis Pro Chapter, Society of Professional Journalists dsheets@post-dispatch.com 314-971-0073 Facebook: david.sheets Twitter: @DKSheets

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