Sod the fear and do it anyway

I’m pretty sure I was actually at this TEDxManchester talk: it was a few years ago and the presenter’s doubtlessly done it many times, but it stands out to me. Actually, it stands out most for the opening 90 seconds or so. Among all the other things that Carrie Green discusses in her talk, I took away the very first point about just doing something.

We are all remarkably hesitant about things we don’t know, experiences we haven’t had and about how we will appear to others. About whether we will cope with something. I can’t put words into Green’s mouth but what I believe she’s saying is that the time we spend hesitating is wasted and the fact that we hesitate blocks us from things we would enjoy.

Plus, if we then don’t enjoy them, we’ve got ‘me over with quickly instead of stewing about it.

Have a look at her whole talk but especially the opening minute and a half or so.

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Cope with loosing freelance work

Contently has a good piece by Marianne Hayes about what it’s like when you have a long-standing freelance job abruptly end.

Within the last couple of months, I’ve had two steady, decent-paying jobs fall through. One was a regular copywriting gig for a medium-sized company; the other was with a well-established news site. Together, these projects were netting close to $2,000 per month. When they came to a grinding halt, I was left scrambling to make up the difference.

Overcoming this hurdle got me thinking about the steps I wish I’d taken to prevent the panic that comes with unexpectedly losing work.

3 Things I Learned from Unexpectedly Losing a Gig – Marianne Hayes, Contently (19 December 2014)

Read the full piece for her three tips but I’ll tell you now, it’s number 2 that’s going to save your neck: “Diversify your client list”.

Video: How to Find Fulfilling Work

From The School of Life:

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Amazon to pay authors per page read

From next month, Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited and Kindle Owners’ Lending Library will pay out royalties “based on the number of pages read”.

So if your book is opened on someone’s Kindle and they leave page 1 on there long enough that they could’ve read it, you get cash. It’s not entirely 1 page equals 1 payment: instead, the money comes from a pot that is shared amongst all authors whose work gets included and then gets read. Says Amazon:

Here are some examples of how it would work if the fund was $10M and 100,000,000 total pages were read in the month:
The author of a 100 page book that was borrowed and read completely 100 times would earn $1,000 ($10 million multiplied by 10,000 pages for this author divided by 100,000,000 total pages).

The author of a 200 page book that was borrowed and read completely 100 times would earn $2,000 ($10 million multiplied by 20,000 pages for this author divided by 100,000,000 total pages).

The author of a 200 page book that was borrowed 100 times but only read halfway through on average would earn $1,000 ($10 million multiplied by 10,000 pages for this author divided by 100,000,000 total pages).

Kindle Unlimited Pages Read – Amazon

It’s that bit about a page not actually being read, there’s no way to know that, but it needs to be open on the Kindle for long enough that it could have been. There’s got to be a way to game that.

Read the full Amazon detail, though be warned it’s (possibly deliberately) the most boring thing you’ll see today.

Weekend read: Get better freelance work

I just liked this: it’s a pragmatic approach to steadily improving the quality and the quantity of work you get as a freelancer. I’ve been lurching about a lot lately, taking on fun things because they were fun and ignoring that they wouldn’t pay off until next year, so I need to balance that out with shorter term things. This article won’t solve the world, but it’s a good start.

Here’s a simple example from it about the scary part of asking for more money:

Approach your renegotiation one of two ways: either quantify how your workload has increased or how you’ve become more valuable to the client (if you’ve transitioned from an occasional writer to a regular contributor, for example), or simply say, “As we approach the next calendar year, I’m having conversations with all of my clients about my rates.”

Ask a Freelancer: To Get Better Gigs, What Should I Do This Week? This Month? This Year? – Nicole Dieker, Contently (9 June 2015)

Read Dieker’s full piece.

How to Work Out Your Hourly Rate

I read this ten seconds ago and rush to bring it to you. I’ll be off now trying this out for myself, will you join me? It’s an online hourly rate calculator for freelancers. Contently just covered it, saying in part:

Many people assume figuring out what your hourly rate should be is a simple task. If you’re a freelancer who wants to make $30,000 a year, just figure out how many hours you work per year and divide, right? Not quite. And as any veteran freelancer will tell you, calculating desired rates requires a much more complicated equation.

Basically, before you know thy employer, you must know thyself. BeeWits, a project management software company, wants to help you with that process, and the company’s new rates calculator is straight out of a freelancer’s dream.

Press “Calculate My Hourly Rate” and presto! Your rate, down to the cent, pops up. It would be great to have an explanation of the calculator’s exact formula, for transparency’s sake. And we’d also love if the calculator could save your numbers to refer back to in the future. But if you’re looking for a thorough tool that can take care of some multi-variable accounting, this is perfect.

The Freelance Rates Calculator We’ve All Been Waiting For – Gabe Rosenberg, Contently (20 May 2015

Read the full piece for their take on it and then use the calculator itself online.

The Paper Round Problem

This is you. I know this because this is me too. You have an idea and moreover you have a raging need to write it – but you also have a mortgage and bills and at times it is all very scary. The last thing you do is write.

Everything I’ve ever done, every job that has become a key part of my working life, has begun as a sideline desire. All of it. Whatever I was doing, whatever I am doing, there is something else that I fancy and I’m working at it late at nights. No question: late night tinkering leads to life-changing opportunities. Sometimes to life-changing necessities.

But late nights also lead to doubt. And the days that follow the late nights can be bad. Nothing happening, not with this tinkering, not with the day job, and the pressures are a wall with a mirror on it. It’s a mirror telling you that you should not be doing this thing, you should not be writing that thing.

It’s the mirror telling you that you should get a paper round instead. Something to bring in even a little bit of cash now is better than frittering away your life with this stupid idea of writing. What cuts so deep is that this is true. Often enough, anyway.

You can tell yourself that you are investing in your future – because you are – but that is a tough sell when your present is tough going. You need to pay the bills now but you need to do this tinkering because that will pay the bills in the future and because it is the tinkering that you’re here for. I don’t believe in souls because I’m not religious at all but I do believe in a need to be more than we are.

I’m here to write. I think you are too.

So let us do that, let us recognise the necessity of it in every sense. And, okay, sometimes we’ll see each other down the newsagent’s.

Don’t rob banks

I adore this. The economic reasons why you shouldn’t rob a bank. This is only the introduction, the full piece has the figures:

The UK’s banking trade organization decided it wanted an analysis of the economic effectiveness of adding security measures to bank branches. The professors did that, but in the process, they also did an analysis that looked at the economics of bank robbery from the thieves’ perspective.

The results were not pretty. For guidance on the appropriateness of knocking over a bank, the authors first suggest that a would-be robber might check with a vicar or police officer, but “[f]or the statistics, look no further. We can help. We can tell you exactly why robbing banks is a bad idea.”

Economists demonstrate exactly why bank robbery is a bad idea – John Timmer, Ars Technica (14 June 2012)

Read the full piece.

Quickie: Apple offering 0% finance again

I don’t like debt but two years ago I bought my office iMac throughly Apple’s finance deal because it was 0% and I decided I would rather the money stay in my account than theirs. I was still glad when the monthly payments were over but it was a handy thing for my business.

Handy enough that I did look into it again when the iPhone 6 came out. This 0% finance deal wasn’t available then – but it is now.

It may have been for some time: I just had a notion it might be there as a certain big holiday is coming. And yep, there it is. The cost of Apple gear with this is significantly lower than with typical finance options from Apple and others.

Editors like you to negotiate your fee – within reason

Flashback. Some time in the 1990s. I was doing copywriting for various firms and one rang up with an emergency. What would it cost them to do this right now and send it back? I could hear the desperation and I’m ashamed to say I upped my regular rate by some vast amount. (I’m not being coy, this is ages ago, I can’t remember the figures.)

“Sold,” she said.

Instantaneously.

So much so that I knew I should’ve asked for more. But I did do one savvy thing: having upped my rate for this one emergency job, I never lowered it again for the ordinary ones that followed.

On the other side of the deal, though, I can tell you that I have never had a freelance writer question a fee or ask for more money.

The website Contently has good piece now about exactly what editors can do financially – short answer: not a lot – and what they think of writers who do negotiate – short answer: quite a lot.

Sometimes, asking for more money is a dead-end; but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try. “Most of my clients have a specific budget for content,” said content strategist Jessica Ashley, a former senior editor at Yahoo! Shine who now works as editor-in-chief for TapGenes.com. “I lobby hard to get writers fair compensation, but I appreciate when writers negotiate their fees. It’s just good business, and I appreciate writers standing up for what they can offer to the site.”

However, standing up for fair compensation does not mean you should pretend to be a hardline agent. The way you present your request will definitely have an impact on how it’s received.

“It’s important to be both confident and kind,” Ashley said. She suggests explaining what you can offer for your proposed rate using “ands” instead of “buts.” For example begin with a direct stance: “My current rate is $200 per post, and I would be thrilled to contribute to this site because…”

How Do Editors Really Feel When You Negotiate Rates? – Meagan Francis, Contently (10 November 2014)

Read Francis’s full piece for more.