21 January 2010

Freelancer on sick leave

For the last two weeks I've been battling the flu. Not the swine flu or anything, but the regular, nasty kind. You know, the usual: fever, headache, feeling as if you'll cough out your lungs... I'm all better now, thank you.

My point isn't what type of flu I had. It's more the fact that during those two weeks I have written... nothing. Zilch, Zero, Nul. Exactly 0 words in two weeks. No progress on my short stories, nothing new on the bigger project. No research done, no articles published.

I basically disappeared from the face of the Earth and am still recovering and trying to wrap my head around all the things that didn't get done during my "sick leave".

And while I recover it's unlikely I'll start writing with the previous speed right away. To be perfectly honest it's unlikely I'll write anything before February starts. And that means that the only money I earned was at the very beginning of the month and whatever passive income I made off of Helium and AssociatedContent.

Which, in turn, made me wonder, how would it all look like if I didn't have the full time job and income from that to fall on. It made me wonder about all those deadlines I would have to meet despite the high fever that made thinking seem like a superhuman ability. The image that appeared in my mind was quite scary, to be honest.

I don't get seriously ill too often. It's basically once a year, twice if I'm really stressed and tired. So it's between two and four weeks out of the entire year when I wouldn't be able to earn any money, not counting the passive income. Not factoring in the fact that I would work a lot more with actual clients, if I was pursuing the freelance career full-time, it means that four weeks in a year I would risk deadlines, disappointed clients and any future income they could've bring me.

All this paints a rather depressing image of what could happen to me and my career if I dare to have a flu while working fulltime as a freelancer. It does not encurage me in any way to quit my office job and switch completely to freelancing.

Are there ways to ensure that if you get sick your career won't fall into pieces? What failsafes one can instal into the business model to give oneself time to recover?


4 January 2010

Write what you know and how I had

If you start reading various sites that are designed to help writers, sooner or later all of them will mention one thing.

That you should write what you know.

Which is also exactly what I tell people when they are looking for inspiration for an article or a blog post (If they need help with fiction, I send them to the Almost Totally Random Prompt Generator). And I also followed that advice, always picking the article topics I knew something about. Mostly because it required less research from me, and we all know time is money.

After I gave it some thought, at the very beginning of my freelance adventure, I decided to write about something I know and what other people are no doubt interested in. Writing.

You can see my interest in that topic from the numerous posts at Scribophile (when I was still writing for them) and from my various articles at Helium and AssociatedContent.

But recently I decided to start sharing my knowledge about another topic I'm quite familiar with. Studying Abroad.
Apart from being a freelancer, I have a full time job at the University where I work with international students and help students of our University apply for different student exchange programs. That means I not only have the know-how, but I also know quite well what the students are most interested in.

So just to see what would happen, I wrote the first article in December (How important is studying abroad for your career?). I was surprised to see it become one of my top earning articles. So to continue with the experiment, I wrote three more articles (yes, an article a day. It happened without me realizing it):

Determining if studying abroad is right for you
Advice to people thinking of studying abroad
Studying abroad without blowing your budget

Each of them turned out to be among my most popular articles. I am THRILLED.

And just because I didn't want to slow down when I'm on the roll, I did something about one of my New Year's Resolutions and I created a Helium Zone connected to, you guessed right, studying abroad.

You can easily say that three days into the 2010 I'm rediscovering how awesome it is to track my statistics.

So when next time you read how you should write what you know, BELIEVE IT.

1 January 2010

First steps into the new 2010

I hope your holidays were relaxing and enjoyable. I know mine were. And even though I gave in to the general laziness and haven't written a word, I managed to actually sit down and think about where I want to take my writing in the upcoming year.

Resolutions for 2010:

- Write enough Reviews to finally get paid at ReviewStream.com
It's embarassing to say, but I completely ignored that site in favour of other revenue sources. But it feels like wasting the money I already earned there. So this year (hopefully sooner than later), I resolve to write enough reviews of pretty much everything to qualify for payment. The minimum payout is $50, which is the highest among all the sites I write for.

- Experiment and create a Zone at Helium
Zones are a feature that has been introduced at Helium this year and I have to say,I've been a little unsure as to what to do with them. But recently I got an idea for a zone that could not only work, but remain within my area of expertise and interest. I'll need to research the topic of zones a bit more before doing something, but it's definitely worth checking out.

- Publish an e-book
A few months ago I got an idea for a non-fiction e-book for newbie freelance writers with extra information for freelancers not located in the US. I then set myself a goal of finishing it by June 2010. But with writing my thesis, it appears it would be safer to assume August 2010 for the first draft and October 2010 for publication. Nonetheless, the idea isn't lostand will very much happen.

- Write at least 40 new articles
Last year, I've written 34 articles. With other writing projects (the e-book and fiction that I write) I think it's a very realistic goal. For full time freelancers this is of course not nearly enough to be able to support yourself on your writing, but if adding the passive income I have from articles already written, it should be a nice additional income.

I also reviewed the year 2009 using an article I've written in December 2008. 6 New Year's Resolutions for Freelancers. I was pleased to see that I managed to do most of what I invited other people to try.

And on that happy note, I hope your New Year's resolutions will come true. Good luck in the New Year 2010!!