This Saturday we are pleased to welcome Richard Held to the Mess. Richard “Tony” Held is a freelance editor/proofreader and ghostwriter. He also writes fiction and nonfiction. You can find him at www.tonyheld.com where you can discover all about his editing business and other works. You can also view his sample edit offer on Writer.ly. He also has a short story, A Memory at Midway, that you will want to check out, as well.
I can understand what Tony is going to share with us having begun my writing career with freelance work, although not in editing. The world of magazine publishing can be just as treacherous to navigate.
So, sit back and enjoy that morning coffee as Richard shares with us some of the problems he has faced in the world of freelance.
The Three Biggest Problems of being a Freelancer
I have edited six books, two short stories, and several other texts while working as a freelance editor/proofreader.
If that sounds like a piece of cake to you, well, it wasn’t. Finding work as a freelancer is fraught with problems. Here are the three biggest ones.
The scam artist
I have netted several gigs via Craigslist. I have also hooked a couple scam artists via Craigslist too.
The first scam artist was an unidentified man who asked me to edit a short story. It was a very badly written piece that I brought up to snuff. He claimed I did a terrible job which he would not pay me “one penny” for, which was a bald-faced lie on his part. He was an awful writer, and I had given him a terrific copyedit from start to finish.
The second scam artist was more brazen. I met a man who called himself “Michael Russels” who claimed he had a dissertation he wanted me to edit. We agreed to a flat rate of $600. He would pay me half to start, half upon completion. Instead, he sent me a $3,200 check in the mail! Since he did not list his name on the envelope, or the check, I assumed it was a retainer from another client, and I deposited it. The day after I did this, “Russels” e-mailed me, said he had sent the check, and claimed: “Please confirm to me if you have received the check or not. I need your fast response in order to validate details with the issuer of the check while I pose further instruction regarding the check.” Too late: The check bounced within 48 hours. Soon after that I discovered “Russels” was bogus and severed all contact.
I now do not take anything on trust alone with clients from Craigslist. All potential clients are now vetted by me before I agree to do any work for them.
And “Russels”? I reported him for mail fraud.
I might have an impressive resume, but so does the other freelancers I compete with. So far places like Elance and Writer.ly have been murder for me. I have not yet won a job at Elance, and I have only one at Writer.ly so far. Every other bid I made at those two venues has been rejected.
Some say freelance venues like these are not the best way to find work. They may be right. Sites like Elance attract freelancers like moths to a floodlight. The result is a line of bidders at each and every gig listed!
How do you stand out in such a crowd? The answer is simple: You can’t. All you can do is plug away and hope for the best.
Lack of self-promotion
I recently learned from a fellow freelancer that the only way to be a success is to promote your talents constantly, even when you are busy working.
I have not yet mastered this. So far it has been something I’ve played “red light/green light” with. It is now time for either “green light” all the time, or I go back to working nine to five at a dull but steady “real” job.
How can I self-promote myself better?
For one thing, I have not yet fully tapped all the job sources on the Internet. For example, freelance editors/proofreaders call forums at places like CreateSpace home, so why not me? And why not submit more guest blog posts? I once read about one freelance editor/proofreader who got his work entirely from clients who contacted him after reading his guest posts!
Another thing I have not fully tapped yet is “real world” self-promotion. I need to get on the ball about that, too, by either posting ads in the paper, promoting myself guerilla-style with homemade flyers distributed all over town, or other options. The Internet is a great resource, but the “real world” is nothing to sneeze at either.
Problems or no problems, I still like being a freelance editor/proofreader. It is the most fun job I ever had! All I need to do is stay alert for scammers, come up with winning bids at Elance and company, and self-promote myself frequently.
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Thanks, Tony, for joining us here at the Mess! I greatly appreciate you sharing your experiences with us and hope you'll come back again.
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Other posts you might enjoy ~ The Mess Welcomes Sherry Rentschler
Thanks for visiting The Mess! Keep chasing your dreams!