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Freelance Blues

Meet the Woman Who United Over 170,000 Freelancers

When Sara Horowitz was hired as a lawyer, she was made an independent contractor and wasn’t given any benefits. Since then, she’s created Working Today, a nonprofit for uniting freelancers, Freelancers Union, an organization that promotes the needs of independent workers, and Freelancers Insurance Company, which provides health insurance. She also authored the recently released Freelancer’s Bible, a practical guide for the self-employed.

In the latest installment of Mediabistro’s So What Do You Do?, Horowitz talks about the best and worst parts of freelancing, and gives advice on networking, budgeting and getting ahead. Here’s an excerpt:

What advice would you give to someone who wants to take the dive into working for themselves?
Really pay attention to your network. By network, I mean the people you care about. So when you go to a networking event, don’t just take your card out and shove it in somebody’s face. Look to find the one or two people you like and can relate to and nurture those relationships. Your network is going to be everything. The second thing is look at your consumption and stop overspending. It’s bad for America, but you’ve also got to keep your expenses down. People become very anxiety-ridden because they try to maintain a standard of living, but when you’re starting out, you don’t know what your standard of living is going to be. So be frugal.

For more, read So What Do You Do, Sara Horowitz, Founder and Executive Director of the Freelancer’s Union?

Mediabistro Course

Travel Writing

Travel WritingStarting September 23, learn how to turn your travel stories into published essays and articles! Taught by a former Vanity Fair staff writer, James Sturz will teach you how to report, interview, and find sources, discover story ideas and pitch them successfully, and understand what travel editors look for in a story. Register now! 

Toure on Pitching, Getting Assignments, and That R. Kelly Interview

Every. Writer. Hates. Pitching. (Imagine you’re a puppy waiting at the dinner table for just one morsel of meatloaf to fall. “Can I work for you? Huh? Can I? Can I?”)

But Toure, who regularly appears on MSNBC and has penned features for Vibe and Rolling Stone, says freelancers better get over that aversion if they want assignments.

“Oh, I pitch a lot. I do,” the Who’s Afraid of Post-Blackness? author explained in our Media Beat interview. “I mean, I wanna let people know generally ‘I wanna work for you; I wanna work with you. I wanna do stuff, so keep me in mind.’ So, just that general, you know, sort of selling yourself… And even if those two, three, five things are rejected, you are top of mind for that editor.”

Toure also detailed his strategy for getting big names like Adele and Beyonce to open up on the record (he likes “question clusters”) and revealed what he was really thinking during that BET R. Kelly interview.

“It was about being a cat burglar and not letting him know that he played himself.”

You can also view this video on YouTube.

Part 1: Toure Lights Up the Twittersphere with a Debate on… Tipping?

Part 2: Toure Tackles Watermelon, Fried Chicken and Post-Blackness in New Book

Craigslist Ad: ‘Possible Compensation for Acquired Jobs Will Be Discussed’

I think we have a new euphemism for intern, folks. “Possible compensation for acquired jobs will be discussed.” Thank you Fidel Films for giving us a lot of words to maybe acquire possible compensation discussions…something.

Full ad below:


Date: 2011-06-02, 1:15PM PDT
Reply to: [Errors when replying to ads?]


Fidel Films is currently seeking motivated and ambitious copywriter to join
our team.

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Google Behind Sudden Demand Media Pay Boost

If you’re one of the writers chosen to be among Demand Media’s new roster of feature writers, who DM CEO Richard Rosenblatt said would be paid up to $350 a story, you probably have Google to thank for your salary boost. Recent algorithmic changes at Google deprioritized “content farm” stories from the likes of Demand Media and other sites like in its search engine results. According to The Wall Street Journal, those changes hit DM’s bottom line hard.

[T]wo “major” search algorithm changes in February and April affected Demand Media’s prominence online, resulting in a net decline in search-engine referrals for eHow of roughly 20%, and a 12% reduction in total page views.

“This was a real impact to our business, and we take it very seriously,” Mr. Rosenblatt said, though he stressed that Demand Media isn’t entirely dependent on search-engine traffic.

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