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    Home Columns

    Too Much Freelance Freedom?

    It was destined to happen: My "freelance freedom" finally caught up with me. Spoiled by too many months of working in my boxer shorts, mid-afternoon movie matinees, and an "Iím a freelancer, hear me roar" mentality cost me a client. And all because I didnít wear a tie!

    Striding into my "meet and greet" after a full week of sending brochure samples back and forth, I shook the hand of my client-to-be in his cushy office at a local tourist resort, where I was to write a series of brochures/newsletters to improve employee morale. His first question: "Can you give me one good reason why you didnít wear a tie today?"

    After that, it was all downhill! By the end of the meeting, it was obvious that I was not the freelance writer heíd imagined. When he didnít call back after another week, I could hardly blame him. I had gotten carelessly, and it had cost me a large chunk of change.

    So, how do you avoid my unprofessional folly? Here are a few pointers:

    Workin' 9 to 5

    Yes, we freelancers revel in the fact that we can burn the midnight oil, slurp coffee in the luxury of our bedroom/den/office, all the while listening to the endless strains of The Price is Right in the other room. But sleeping away the morning, tying up your one phone line using the Internet to get another freelance gig, or chatting with your online buddies, and spending a little too much time by the pool is one sure way to give off an unprofessional air.

    After all, the businesses, clients, and firms you work for are, for the most part, still doing that whole 9 to 5 thing. So why shouldnít you? Hey, donít get me wrong. I do some of my best work before 9 and much, much later than 5. But that doesnít mean I canít respond to a clientís Email in a speedy fashion, answer the phone instead of letting my machine get it, or fax something before the close of day. Remembering to be available, for the most part, during the typical business day is one sure way to satisfy your current clients, and show new ones just how professional you can be.

    Dressing Up

    Admittedly, most of my clients are simply Email addresses or phone numbers passing in the dark. After a few, brief "meetings" conducted through conference calls or Email attachments, I donít hear from a client until my work is turned in. However, the occasional local client will usually require a face-to-face meeting or two before sending you home with their precious project. Therefore, itís best to dress the part.

    While you donít have to wear a three-piece suit or floor-length gown every time you meet with a client, itís a good idea to start stiff and relax later. I always do the whole khaki slacks, Polo shirt, crisp tie thing until I get to know a client. But even then, I rarely dress too casually. Ironing those slacks or dry-cleaning that blouse is a simple price to pay for spending the rest of the week in your jammies!

    Equipment Shipment

    I have a small secret: I donít have a fax machine. Oh, Iíve got the rest of the package. The Email addresses, the Internet hook-up, the second phone line, the printer, the cartridges, the good paper, plenty of discs for clients who want hard and soft copies, the whole ball of wax. However, Iíve just never gotten around to getting a fax machine. Most likely, because I havenít had to. Yet. And, my apartment complex has an office center that boasts a pretty good fax machine for free. They even run and get your incoming faxes if you call in advance and let them know itís coming. So Iíve been able to skate along this far, but the day I get a client who prefers to fax articles, brochures, or chapters back and can bet Iím zipping out to Office Depot and picking up a fax machine at opening time the next morning.

    Your career as a working freelance writer is an investment. An investment in your future. As such, it will often require certain pieces of equipment that are usually expensive. My advice is to buy what you can, and fake the rest. Many business today, such as Mailboxes, Etc. and Parcels Plus act as surrogate office buildings for their clients. Why, you can even get a P. O. Box that reads Suite 1036, for a price. Check into such services if you canít quite afford to build your own home office yet. Or use a friendís fax machine. Whatever. By hook or by crook, make sure that youíre prepared for any eventuality--and chances are--you will be!

    Copyright © Rusty Fischer

    Rusty Fischer is the author of Freedome to Freelance, available at

    The Authentic Self: Journaling Your Joys, Griefs and Everything in Between by Shery Russ

    WEEKLY WRITES: 52 Weeks of Writing Bliss! Kick start your imagination, ignite your creativity, and begin your journey towards becoming an outstanding writer.

    Grab a copy of WEEKLY WRITES: 52 Weeks of Writing Bliss! from and receive 2 free e-books to encourage and nurture the writer in you. You'll also receive Write Memories, a journaling workbook available for free only to WEEKLY WRITES book owners. And finally, as a WEEKLY WRITES book owner, you'll have free access to e-mail courses such as JOYFUL WRITES: Celebrate Your Life through Writing

    For excerpts, reviews and what you need to do to receive the 2 free e-books, Write Memories and sign up for free e-mail courses, just head on to the Weekly Writes Book Official Site. (Clicking on the link will open a new window.)


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