Wednesday, August 27, 2014

The Truth About Rates and freelancing.

Oh boy, I am tackling a tough writing subject today.   The next few posts, I will attempt to tackle the subject of freelancing.  Not only am I a freelance writer, but a freelance artist and designer.  I design the following:
·         Scrapbooks-both using the commercial albums that are out there, and making mini books, journals, and folios, as well as art journals.
·         Greeting and note cards
·         Alternative items.  In case you are wondering what that is, most people call it Upcycling.  It is where you decorate something to make it a different piece to function differently or function the same.
Anyway, that is the basics of what I do, but lately, I have been feeling a little stuck.  My Etsy shop has the same old 5 items in it and I have not written for someone in about 2-3 months.   You would think that I have gobs of money in my account.  Nope, ask me later on how I cope.  If you are freelancing, sometimes it is OK to hit a dry spell, right?  Not really.  If you are a writer, a cook, or a crafter, you need to remember that you need to put food on the table.  You have bills to pay, people to entertain (for those with kids), and it would be nice to not work in your jammies every once in a while. 
So how do you earn that extra $1,000 a week, if you still have a job, or if you going at it full time, have the ability to buy at least toothpaste?   Simple, start small.  Sometimes, you have to except projects that pay low or nothing at all, and you need to build from there.  That is what I am tackling for the next few posts and the first one is on the rate you expect your clients to pay you for your services.
I saw this article in Carol Tice’s website, and it is called 113 things you can do to grow your freelance writing-now.  She covers writing, but after looking at this article, I feel that it would apply to any freelance job.   Freelancing, in case you are not familiar with the title, is just a fancy way of saying, self-employed.  You are working for yourself.  You have a time clock, but it is in your head, and you can report to work any time you feel like it.  I do not recommend it, because just like a 9-5 job, the money you earn allows you freedom to do anything you want.  Well not anything, but you get the idea.
With that being said, she gives 3 these tips on rates:
  1. Tell your clients your rates are going up.
  2. Raise your rates for new clients.
  3. Raise your rates every year in the fall, to take effect the following year.
OK, you are probably telling me, “Tricia, that is all well and good, but I am just starting out, and besides that, I am doing a project for Aunt Millie, and I really do not want to charge her.”   I thought the same way, and if you are just starting, I can see why you do not want charge a lot for work at first.  For me, it is ok to do a project for Aunt Millie, the neighbor you have been friends with for 20 years, or your church, but at some point, you cannot do every project at low-no cost.   Again, you have to eat and pay bills.  There is also nothing wrong with bartering either, just as long as it is equal to the amount of services you give a client.
Upon my own research one of the problems that freelancers have is “what is my work worth to my client?”  This means are your skills top notch to the point of charging a rate to begin with?  That is something that you have to ask yourself.   Start by listing your skills.   I will use myself as a guide:
1.       Creative in
a.       Needle crafts
b.      Candle making
c.       Scrapbooking
d.      Card making
e.      Altering items
f.        An eye for detail
g.       Music
h.      Dance
i.         Journal making
j.        Writing
2.       People skills
a.       Good listener
b.      Follows directions well
c.       Investigator
I only listed a few, but note that I did not list just the physical skills, but things that would tell a new client what they need to know about me.   So, the things that you learned in Preschool and Kindergarten do matter.
Next, check out the rates of people who do the same thing.   In the corporate world, it is called checking out the competition.  If you are new to this, you can call to ask questions on how that person charges similar services.   For example, when I started, I checked everyone in custom scrapbooking.  I looked at their websites, and made note of the basic rates.  I looked at the years of experience, comments, and if they charged by the hour or per job.   Most custom scrapbookers and card makers charge by the piece.  Most writers charge per word.  For example:  an 8.5 x 11” scrapbook could run $7.50 per page.  So a 20-page scrapbook, without the fluff (no embellishments) can run about $150 (USD).  An example of a 791 page doc (the point where I typed 791), at $.10(USD) per word, could run a client $79.10.

Last, ask yourself, can I live off charging $150 for a scrapbook and $79.10 for a document, using the same examples?   Probably not, which is a good idea not to quit your day job just yet.  Keep in mind when charging your rates that there is no such thing as an overnight sensation.  You have to build up to the reputation, and that is why Ms. Tice suggest that you change your rates every fall to go into effect by January.  So how do you quit your day job?   Well, that is the next step in this process called freelancing, and the subject of my next post.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

How do you remember blog posts you want to write until you're ready to sit down at the computer? Do you have a system in place, why or why not?

(c) Disney
As a line from the song, Poor Unfortunate Souls (The Little Mermaid), goes, “The boss is on a roll”, I would have to say, yes she is, and that I am. I am on my third blog post of the night, and I am smiling.  I may not be a believer of playing catch-up, but I am doing pretty well, to say that I did not blog hardly at all in July.  (Love my birthday month)   It is bittersweet when you are the owner of 5 blogs, and I get comments from amateurs to experts saying, that I only need one, to how do you keep up with them?   This leads to today’s question about remembering what posts I want to until I sit down at my computer.  
It is funny, because I am on this computer all the time.   If I am not answering a social media question, I am writing a post.  If I am not doing that, then I am watching a video, playing a game, making orders for customers, or making or listing products for customers to buy. 
As for creating posts, I have to it right now.  I create a post on MS Word, and I tweak it.  I tweak it by doing research if it calls for it, upload the research into the post document and check grammar.   Lastly, I cut and paste it into either Blogger, WordPress, Tumblr, Hubpages, or BlogMutt, depending if it for myself or for others and the subject matter.  Once I am in the editing area, which is when I do photos and last minute spell and grammar check (because Google Chrome is like that)
I am now starting to keep track of blog post subjects on Outlook calendars, because I write so many, and for those who follow Google, knows how Google hates duplicate topics and posts.  Why?  Because I would be lost, and I do not want my blogs shut down by them. 
Getting back to the line from Unfortunate Souls, I find it funny that there are days when I do not want to write anything, and other days (like today), I am spitting them out like a fully automatic rifle.     Yes, the boss is on a roll, but this is my last one for the night, so, as character from “War Games” puts it….”Shall we play a game?”

So what do you think?  I would love to see your comments below.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

August 20, 2014-What is the single best thing you do to keep your career goals on track….

Today, I am back to writing prompts with Blogher, because when it comes to this blog in the last couple of months, my mind draws a blank.  They say in order to get readers to tune into your blog, you have to be consistent.    Consistency is the least of my problems.   I have worst problems than that.  There are the “Nephew needs a ride to X place, because he does not have his learner’s permit, let alone a driver’s license and a car” problem.  There is the “Sister needs a ride to work and other places” problem.  She rides the bus, but barely keeps any money.   There is the sales problem, probably because I am hardly in the house to make a sale.   There are the “social media distractions, needs a new website, but not enough money to hire someone to create one for you, but how are you going to attract someone so you can build a new one, but have little knowledge of HTML” problem. (This run-on sentence was intentional for rant purposes).  Do not misquote me, for the complaint is very real and very bittersweet.  This is what happens when you are an Aunt Entrepreneur, which is the same as a Mom Entrepreneur.  The only difference is the children do not stay with you 24/7.  That is about the change come September (more bittersweet drama - cues violin) I am turning into a Mompreneur.
So where was I…Oh yes, the single best thing I do to keep my career goals on track?  As with any writing prompt, I do not know how to follow instructions. (Giggle, giggle).   Sooooo, I am going to give you two for the price of one.  You did not come here for my rants, and if you have gotten this far without going to someone else’s blog, good for you.  You get an A++ sticker (it is the first day of school in Central Ohio)
My first way to keeping track is to plan out my goals.   With Longaberger, as well as with my scrapbooking and writing, I have monthly goals, and I try to remember to write them down.  Next with those monthly goals, I check to see if they are part of my bigger goal for my career.
Next, I do an accountability check.   One day I do hope I can hit the one million dollar mark, but I am not thinking about that at all.  My ultimate goal is to see that I help someone to either become an Independent Longaberger Home consultant to start, or learn how to become a freelance scrapbook designer, card maker, or writer for either themselves or as a business.   Who knows what a person can learn.   Speaking of which, I am also constantly learning what I can do to better myself.  I want to be certified in certain subjects that has to do with organizing, crafting tools, writing, and the internet. It takes time, and if my family allows it, and I do not allow them to distract me, it can be done.  (So sorry, I gave you three, my bad, giggle)

I am 73 words over at this point, so I am going to leave you with this tip:  never stop learning something new.  You will never know if it is the pentacle of starting something great in your career. 

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

My bout with Suicide

(c) National Suicide Center Logo
All this talk about suicide and Robin Williams made me do a little soul searching.  Everyone who knows me always see me as this bubbly person, and I have been all my life.   I think God for this amazing life, with an amazing family, and He has blessed me with so many things, including being able to sell for a great company like Longaberger and own my own company, and He has given me all this talent. 
I am here to confess that at age 22, I almost took my own life.  Yes, I was so upset that I was not in school, I did not have a job, and I was still living with my parents.  I had problems with the constant itching from Eczema, and the doctor prescribed for me Atarax (Sp?).  So one day, I was sitting in my room, on the floor, and looked at them.   I poured them all on the floor, and thought, "If I took 10, which would do the trick, my parents will never have to worry about me anymore."  God dispatch his angels to stop me, and I all of a sudden heard myself say, "What the heck am I doing?"  So I picked them, and put them back into the bottle, and never thought about taking my life again.
It only takes a second, and if you really think about all the amazing things you have in life, and if they outweigh that one bad thing, then your life is not half bad.  You are going to have some problems, because I have them now, it is called life.  I know what I thought about at age 22 was nothing compared to what Robin Williams went through.  He had all this amazing talent, but after the cancellation of his show, rehab, and whole host of things that only he and God truly knew what he was going through.  I just hope and pray that he did make peace, although it does not sound like it, because if he did, this would turned out much, much differently. 
Please, if you even for a second thought about taking your own life, like I did, please get help.  I should have, because those thoughts can easily creep on you again.  Thursday, at Longaberger's consultant's convention, there was not a dry eye, when the story of Jackie was played.   
Jackie, (I am not sure if I can reveal her last name, so for privacy, I have deleted it) had gone through so much.  First, she had a stroke, then her husband left her because of the stroke.  Next, her sister, her only sibling died.  My guess was that her parents were already deceased, they were not mentioned in the video.  Her son, who had been serving in the Navy in Texas, had come home from a tour.  While he was at home, he showered his mom so much, Jackie never knew the pain he was harboring inside.   He even told his mom, that his dad was not worth keeping and for Jackie to not go after him.  Her son spent 9 months at home, and one day, Jackie found him in his room, and he had taken his own life.   She knew why.   After the funeral, she mentioned that she did not want to live at that point, and went into a bout of despair.  She said that if it wasn't for her team, her faith, God, and Longaberger, she would not be here today.
I wish that Mr. Williams could have heard this, and say that despite my problems, I am so glad that I am still here, and that this too shall pass.  That is what I always tell myself before thinking the worst.
If you know someone, who may decide to take their own life, the National Suicide center suggest you to look for these signs:
  • Talking about wanting to die or to kill themselves.
  • Looking for a way to kill themselves, such as searching online or buying a gun
  • Talking about feeling hopeless or having no reason to live.
  • Talking about feeling trapped or in unbearable pain.
  • Talking about being a burden to others.
  • Increasing the use of alcohol or drugs.
  • Acting anxious or agitated; behaving recklessly.
  • Sleeping too little or too much.
  • Withdrawing or isolating themselves.
  • Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge.
  • Displaying extreme mood swings.
There is a hotline for you to call, and that number is 1-800-273-8255

I hope that this will bring you some comfort, and if you are contemplating taking your life, please get the help you need.  Your life is much more precious then you will ever know, and so much more.