Freelance Life

2015 by the numbers

2015 by the numbers:

Letters I wrote… 122
Poetry contests I won… 1
Days I spent outside the US… 52
Countries I visited outside the US… 3
Trips I took within the US… 12
Clients I worked with… 10
Projects I worked on… 36
Novels I read… 22

Like last year, I call it all good.


How I feel when I finish a big project:

Knowing what you don’t know: tax edition

When I filed taxes for my first full year as a freelancer, I was audited by the state of Massachusetts. (It was a strange and rather anticlimactic experience. They sent me a letter asking for full documentation of my income and expenses–both of which were, admittedly, pretty low in year 1. I sent in my receipts and 1099s and waited. Several months later I noticed a small refund in my bank account, but I never heard from them again saying that my case had been resolved.)

Last year I ran into my accounting professor from Smith, Chuck Johnson. I re-introduced myself to him as his former student. I told him I owned my own business now and that I’d learned a lot from his class. His reply: Keep reading…

Final day

I missed my Final Friday post this month, but for good reason: today I’m writing a final Friday post. 2014 was a big year for me and my company. A really big year. I did a lot of work for some truly wonderful clients. I didn’t take it all so personally. I got better at powering through the hard days, the kind when 5 hours produce 3 pages of work. I felt trusted and respected.

I learned a lot. I learned how to work better: how to write and edit and comment and liaise with clients. I learned how to work smarter: how to schedule and plan and figure out (sometimes the hard way) when to say yes and when to say no.

I stopped calling myself a freelancer and started calling myself a business owner. (You would think that as a professional wordsmith I would know how powerful such a shift in language could be. But like my dad, who runs a real estate company and underestimated what a difference it would make to upgrade his office to a professional space in a prominent downtown location, or my friend Matt, a full-time artist and creator whose apartment walls are bare, I sometimes forget to turn a business eye on myself.) When I changed my language, my behavior followed suit: I started running my business like a business. I hired an accountant. I stuck to my savings plan even when I needed the cash. I gave myself a real vacation.

Perhaps most importantly, I took risks. Just this morning a former client wrote to ask after my availability for a small project this month. I hesitated before writing back to say that I’d upped my rates. What if they sent the project to someone else and I lost out on good work? I sent the email anyway. (It reminded me of the title of a book my friend Dave read: “Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway.”) An hour later I got an email from a separate client from whom I asked for a rate increase last week: “Those rates work for us, and actually, we’d like to offer you a higher rate.”

So what am I taking with me into 2015? Confidence. Prudence. Fearlessness.

Thank you for a wonderful year.

2014 by the numbers








Work in 2014, by the numbers:

Pages I edited… 2,964
Editing projects I worked on… 36
Non-editing projects I worked on… 4
Longest editing project (by # of pages)… 475
Shortest editing project (by # of pages)… 1.5

Life in 2014, by the numbers:

Countries I visited outside the US… 5
Days I spent outside the US… 114
Novels I read… 16
Letters I sent to my 2-year-old niece… 6
Hours of tennis lessons I took… 40

I call it all good. I don’t have any particular goals for 2015. I am not fervently hoping and planning for more of this or less of that or as much of that other as humanly possible. Just let the new year be full and rich in ways that are measurable, and especially in those that are not. Happy new year!

Photo credit: Flickr/marfis75

Secret freelance shame

Readers, some real talk: I’m bad at talking on the phone with potential clients. And for the last year, I’ve kept a running list of things I’d like to blog about, but I haven’t written a single one of the posts from that list.

Why? I do not think you will be surprised when I say it is insecurity, plain and simple. Keep reading…

Yay for feedback!

One thing about being a freelancer that’s very different from working in an office is that you get a lot less feedback. Good, bad, constructive—you just hear a lot less about how your work is being received and what you could be doing differently.

I’m doing regular work with a client whom I’ve never met in person. I have a friend who works with her, and recently he told me that he overheard her raving about my work to another colleague. It was great to hear how pleased she was, but it felt a little strange, almost devious, that I hadn’t heard it from her directly. She had sent me an email that said, “Thanks! Your edits were really helpful.” And I appreciated getting that email, but six words does not a rave make.

Today I got an email from a managing editor of a project I’m working on. I’d emailed him to ask some clarifying questions about things like capitalizing run-in quotes and editing to create parallel structure in this particular text. He answered all my questions clearly and then wrote, “Yay for Janna and competence!!”

So maybe sometimes 5 or 6 words are enough, after all.

Project: Realignment

At midnight on September 30, I logged out of my Facebook account and removed the app from my phone. I’m not giving up Facebook forever. I’m just taking a month-long hiatus as part of a larger project of realigning my priorities and developing more mindful habits. The past two months have been a very exciting and very busy time for me as a freelancer, but I’m realizing that I need and want to adjust to make sure I can actually enjoy the flourishing of my business.

Keep reading…