Abra Goes

on theatre, running, writing, and looking up

Archive for the ‘freelance life’ Category

How not to design biz cards

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It is almost irresistible, the temptation to design my own business cards. My website is coming together. And by ‘coming together’, I mean ‘I’m working on it…get off my back, boss.”

Still shooting to go live by the end of May. Business cards are absolutely ‘doable’ in the next week or so. Once I have a design that is. I’m thinking: Pizazz. I want my audience to pick up my business card and commit my number to memory for fear dropping my card or mistaking it for a tissue and losing my contact information forever.

Wiser freelancers than I advise me to Keep It Simple.

Boo.

I want to use paste. I do. At the moment, I’m most tempted to do life-size cut outs of my profile, folded down into the size of a business card. I realize this would be annoying because there’s nothing special about my head. I would simply be proving to people that I have a head, and possible calling attention to how unspectacular said head is…

Old fashioned as they may seem, I know I flip through my rolodex frequently when a friend asks if I know any designers or I have an idea to pitch…so I may as well make every effort to get myself in other people’s business rolodex.

I’ve come across a few memorable business cards. And have associated that person with style, creativity, good taste, putting in that extra effort. And I want that association.

Too bad I haven’t actually saved any of these supposedly memorable cards.

How ’bout it? What strikes you in a business card? Or do you prefer clean and basic?

Help an ordinary head out. I’ve consulted small businesses on their business cards, branding, etc, but like writing, I don’t think I’m objective enough to go with my first impulses when it’s my own business.

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Written by abragoes

May 20, 2008 at 7:59 pm

Get out of my head, you

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In less than a month I’m off into a void… losing sleep watching the clock. And it seems like everyone else in the world knows where they’re going.

Running is keeping me sane. It’s not getting me anywhere, but it’s keeping me sane. I’m burning off the nervous energy, which replenishes itself in full each morning. My distance has plateau-ed at about 15-20 miles/ week, for now. Once I get past the turbulence of going from full time employment to freelance, I plan to step up my training and actually follow a program. I’m not sure when it happened, but running is essential.

Pictures from Ocean City are on their way. You know how unreliable these digital cameras are- always late on delivery.

Written by abragoes

May 15, 2008 at 8:34 pm

Posted in freelance life, running

On your mark-

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Only a handful of weeks remain until my current contract is up, and I launch my freelance business.

Three years of freelancing prior to said contract taught me everything I can imagine about what not to do. The biggest lesson learned is that good work does not guarantee success. You have to define what ‘sucess’ means to you and how that will develop. I’ve had to educate myself on contracts, sell myself, and not neglect ‘business’ maintenance.

Suffice it to say that I never imagined writing a business plan when studying theatre. I’m starting to wish I did. I wonder if theatre students were forced to figure out how to put on a show without losing money by writing a basic business plan, young-ish / new / independent theatre professionals would enter the industry empowered with the skills they need to make a show viable.

Until realizing that everything is ‘business’, I hated the mention of the word. To have a livelihood that enables you to pay the bills and afford a place to live requires one (or most) to partake in business. What I’m starting to love are the numbers. Once you wrap your head around the numbers, or at least get over your fear of them, creating, growing and maintaining a business becomes more and more a challenge of creativity and determination.

Working on a business plan forces you to ask questions every time the optimist’s voice sings ‘It’ll work out’. It won’t work out unless you work it. Apparently, all businesses are a risk – no matter how small. Freelance writing fortunately requires little overhead, but there are still many cracks to fall into as you go.

It’s going to be difficult, but I’m energized.

First Step – evaluate strengths and weaknesses

Written by abragoes

May 6, 2008 at 8:46 pm

Posted in freelance life

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Writing and Taxes par-tay

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Am I the only freelancer who procrastinates doing taxes? It seems everyone was giving tips back in February, when I still had a glorious month and a half to procrastinate.

This year, about ¾ of my income was from freelancing. The terms ‘1099’ and ‘huge stack’ do not belong in a happy sentence together.

You can avoid this fate and continue writing in your home office IF you set your rates right, among other things. This is a biggie for me this year.

Granted, when it comes to pitching I’ll be more than happy to take any assignment because I only query pubs I want to write for. But when it comes to taking on copywriting and other business writing related clients, the fee scale is as wide and low as the skill level of every freelance writer vying for business.

This week, in addition to knocking out my taxes, I’m researching ways to find and target the best clients for me:

-updating and polishing portfolio, with a spin on the services I am quickest with

-calling through the first quarter of my rolodex

-industry specific inquiries

And as for my website? It’s coming in May, though it may be the equivalent of a bad-ass stick figure waving.

Tax tips for procrastinator-aficionados anyone?

Written by abragoes

March 31, 2008 at 9:24 pm

T – 14 weeks

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In theory, I’ve been working on rebuilding my freelance career since November, but actually, while I have been writing and writing, I have also totally neglected to consider the business side.

 

With 14 weeks to freelance lift-off the business side of things is piping up. 14 weeks is not a long time at all. I’m hoping it’s enough time to increase my freelance income to at least match what I bring home from my current full time commitment.

 

From what I gather, most people preparing to go freelance either wait until they have 6 months of income saved, or they manage to match their current full time salary. This is an essential challenge because one of my primary goals this time around is to treat my work as a business, not a means to avoid working in an office. Though my previous 3 ½ years as a freelancer taught me to sell myself, I rarely felt in control of my own livelihood, and I never stopped hustling. I’m not looking for easy street, I’m looking for control.

 

Realistically, based on past numbers, article sales will account for 10% of my freelance income to start. While my intention is to aggressively shift this balance, I do need to address where this other 90% will come from.

 

Here’s what I’m working on this week:

  • Drafting Business Plan
  • Outlining components of website and creating a time line for construction (launch in May)
  • Brainstorm how I can specialize and pitch my experience and skills

I’m curious to know, dear freelancers, what was/is the most important thing you did to make your freelance business viable?

RUNNING UPDATE – 107 / 500 MILES FOR 2008

23 / 42 MILES FOR MARCH

Written by abragoes

March 18, 2008 at 3:13 pm

is this my notebook or a pillow?

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My mind and body are not working in sync. I don’t have a formal education on physiology, but there’s a definite parallel between my physical health and the quantity of joy I get from my livelihood.

I want the livelihood to be my writing so this two weak streak of physical grossness motivates me to spend more hours a day at my desk writing. The only time I ever got sick when I was freelance full time was upon returning from trade shows, where I was a hand-shaking, client hugging germ fest. Now there’s always something wrong.

Common sense hopefully reminds us that quality of life is not synonymous with steady pay check. Pay checks are essential, too. But in the beginning of our careers, writers, we have to put everything into our writing. That’s what I believe will get us all to where we want to be.

Still, it’s nice to know that when common sense doesn’t pipe up loud enough, there are: migraines, coughing, sneezing, insomnia, sore throat, fevers, tooth aches and so much more to keep us within reach of a hot drink and our work.

I take my health for granted – when I have it.

Written by abragoes

March 8, 2008 at 1:37 am

A mantra for all seasons

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Are you eating chocolate, too?

 

Good Hershey’s.

 

A story on a wall at Ellis Island lingers on this beautiful Thursday in which most of us would probably like to be someplace other than where we are:

 

An Irish Immigrant girl of 18 or 20, upon reaching the shotgun examination officer set to determine if she would be a burden to society, was asked:

 

Man: How many stairs can you wash in an hour?

 

Woman: I didn’t come to this country to wash stairs.

This is my new Mantra for every time I doubt myself.

“I didn’t come to this country to wash stairs.” – I know what I mean.

 

Written by abragoes

March 6, 2008 at 7:58 pm

Posted in freelance life, why i hate offices

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