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Freelancing vs. Full Time: Which Should You Choose?

LifeAsAFreelancer

Becoming a freelancer is a brave transition for any professional. It involves leaving a stable job and routine and creating something entirely new on your own.

There are plenty of downsides to freelancing: You have no set routine, it can be lonely and your financial situation is in a constant state of flux.

But if you like the idea of being in control and getting out there to grab clients yourself, then maybe a freelance career is right for you. Plus, there’s the emotional satisfaction of a job well done:

It’s true there can be a lot of stress related to running your own business (rush jobs, late payments, etc.), but to me there’s nothing like the self-satisfaction it can bring. I once wrote a piece on health issues for adults ages 60+. It was real information, not just “Five Ways to Prevent Back Sprain.” One of the topics was on PTSD in older veterans. After the work was published, a widow called me in tears. She told me her husband, a vet, had changed and become violent in the last years of his life. At least now she understood why. Wow!

Fore more on the freelance life and advice from veteran freelancers, read: Pros and Cons of Life as a Freelancer.

– Aneya Fernando

The full version of this article is exclusively available to Mediabistro AvantGuild subscribers. If you’re not a member yet, register now for as little as $55 a year for access to hundreds of articles like this one, discounts on Mediabistro seminars and workshops, and all sorts of other bonuses.

Soledad O’Brien: Don’t Listen To Other People’s Career Advice

SoledadOBrien

Soledad O’Brien has had quite the year. After leaving the CNN morning show in March, the journalist launched Starfish Media Group. The company is “dedicated to uncovering and producing empowering stories,” and has formed partnerships with Al Jazeera America, HBO and CNN.

In the latest installment of Mediabistro’s So What Do You Do?, O’Brien talks about how motherhood prepared her to be a CEO and the importance of listening to yourself when it comes to your career:

In a commencement speech at Harvard earlier this year, you told grads not to “listen to others people’s take on the life you should lead” because “by not listening, you can figure out what your heart is telling you to do.” Can you give an example of when you had to follow your own advice?
Oh my gosh. I have to follow it all the time. When I was leaving NBC News to go to CNN, people would say, “What?! Why would you possibly leave the Today Show to go to cable?” If I would’ve listened to people, I would’ve been on a great platform but I wouldn’t have grown as a journalist. So far, most of the steps in my career have been really good.

To hear more from O’Brien, read: So What Do You Do, Soledad O’Brien, CEO of Starfish Media Group?

– Aneya Fernando

What’s Next for Scott Moore After Working for Deepak and Oprah

ScottMoore

Scott E. Moore wears many hats. He’s a filmmaker, musician, journalist and entrepreneur. He worked for MTV and VH1, produced five solo albums, started his own production agency and served as the creative director of TheVisualMD, a site that provides visual medical information.

Moore’s latest gig involved yet another creative endeavor — composing two hours of music for Deepak Chopra and Oprah Winfrey‘s 21-Day Meditation Challenge. In the latest Mediabistro feature, Moore tells what it was like to score music for two of the most famous people in the world, and what’s next in his varied career:

So what’s next on your agenda?
My own agency and a colleague of mine, Eric Feldman, we’re creating a passion project. Imagine an hour-long documentary on a fascinating individual [that's] only five minutes long. That individual is someone you know who you feel the world should know. The subject of one documentary is our friend Ray Levier, an amazing musician who found his passion for drums after surviving a serious fire [during] his childhood.

These videos aren’t released yet, but at the end of the year we are going to launch our site with five profiles and a profile about the project. Some of the characters are quirky and some have a lot of talent and some are just these beautiful human beings. [Eric and I] thought if we were going to make something for ourselves to showcase what we’re capable of, tell stories we’re passionate about and try to do some good in this world, this would be it.

To learn more about Moore’s diverse career, read: Hey, How’d You “Score” That Job with Deepak and Oprah, Filmmaker Scott E. Moore?

– Aneya Fernando

The full version of this article is exclusively available to Mediabistro AvantGuild subscribers. If you’re not a member yet, register now for as little as $55 a year for access to hundreds of articles like this one, discounts on Mediabistro seminars and workshops, and all sorts of other bonuses.

WaPo Columnist Michelle Singletary On Becoming a Brand

MichelleSingletary

Michelle Singletary has become one of the country’s leading personal finance gurus. She’s a multi-platform success story, and her Washington Post column “The Color of Money” is syndicated in over 100 newspapers around the country.

In the latest installment of Mediabistro’s So What Do You Do? Singletary talks about the declining newspaper industry, how she handles criticism and accidentally becoming a brand:

We know a multimedia platform is necessary for journalists and media personalities, but how has it helped you build your own brand?
Well, people keep telling me I’m a brand but I never thought of myself as one. I have a unique perspective on how to handle money so I want that platform because I want to get the information out. I’m a huge advocate of financial literacy. I want to bring something different to the table to help people understand how to deal with their money. It’s sort of like, people talk about Oprah and they say, “Oh, she’s this great media mogul.” But when you think about it, while she definitely is a skilled media person, she got where she is because she had a passion to talk to everyday women. The fame and the fortune followed that mission.

To hear more advice from Singletary, read: So What Do You Do, Michelle Singletary, WaPo Columnist and Finance Guru?

– Aneya Fernando

How To Be A Successful Writer

Terry McMillan has had the kind of success most aspiring writers only dream of. After two semi-successful first novels, McMillan hit the jackpot with her 1992 classic Waiting to Exhale, which remained on the New York Times Bestseller list for more than nine months and cemented her status as the queen of contemporary African American literature. She went on to write five more acclaimed novels and served as screenwriter/executive producer on three films based on her work (How Stella Got Her Groove Back, Disappearing Acts and Waiting to Exhale). In the latest installment of So What Do You Do?, she tells Mediabistro how she creates unforgettable characters and why up-and-coming writers truly need to love the craft:

You’ve had such a long and successful career, what advice do you have for a new writer who wants to break into the industry and have the kind of longevity that you’ve had?
Well, I think first and foremost, they don’t need to think of it that way. I think that’s a big mistake. Do you think when I wrote my first book, Mama, in 1987, that I was thinking, “Oh, I want to have a long writing career?” No. This is not a job. It’s not that. [Writing is] not a career to me. It’s what I do. And to me there’s a difference, you know? But I would suggest that young writers take the craft very seriously [and] not worry about fame. But read. Everything. And I do mean everything. Take some writing classes. And they’ll know if this is what they really are compelled to do. But it shouldn’t be an ambition. “I want to be a famous writer;” “I want to be a bestselling author.” Those are the wrong reasons for doing this. And if those are your motives, chances are it won’t happen.

To get more advice from McMillan, read So What Do You Do, Terry McMillan, New York Times Best Selling Author?

–Aneya Fernando

How To Balance Your Freelancing Life With Your Personal Life

There are a myriad of reasons people choose to freelance. Although it can a be a difficult and often isolating profession, some writers prefer it to the monotony of office work. Gossiping colleagues, an unfair boss, a tediously long commute: all understandable complaints of working a 9-to-5.

But the downsides of freelancing are just as overwhelming: no benefits to speak of, an unconventional schedule and the difficult task of separating your home and work life (when they are arguably one in the same). In the latest Mediabistro feature, a freelance writer shares her experience of the challenges:

One of my favorite books is by Marcia Golub, and for all of its chapters on the distractions of working from home, it’s ironically titled, I’d Rather Be Writing. We often choose to become freelance writers because we’re invigorated by the idea of doing what we love all day long, only to realize that, as Golub puts it:

No sooner would I sit down to write than I’d find myself going into the kitchen to brew coffee or defrost something for dinner. I’d force myself to get back to my desk and sit there, splitting my ends or examining my eyelids in the mirror. I’d put the mirror away and the phone would ring. With a theatrical sigh of impatience (knowing full well how delighted I really was at the interruption), I’d answer and get into a long conversation about skin cancer with a friend who was trying to put off something she was supposed to be doing.

When there’s no boss hovering over your shoulder, and you can’t get that vision of the overflowing laundry basket out of your head, and you don’t really have any immediate deadlines, it’s difficult to stay on task.

To hear how she overcame the challenges, read Balancing Your Freelance Life with Your Personal Life

Aneya Fernando

The full version of this article is exclusively available to Mediabistro AvantGuild subscribers. If you’re not a member yet, register now for as little as $55 a year for access to hundreds of articles like this one, discounts on Mediabistro seminars and workshops, and all sorts of other bonuses.

7 Mistakes Every Freelancer Should Avoid

freelancer mistakes

Humility is a virtue that shouldn’t be forgotten at any stage, in any profession — including freelance writing.

In the latest Mediabistro feature, veteran freelancers talk about mistakes they made and learned from:

Assuming you’re so brilliant that readers will just fall into your lap.

“Magnum opus to ‘filler article about diaper rash’ writing is 100 percent reader driven,” said editor and writer Suzann Ledbetter Ellingsworth. She reminds new writers that even when professionals speak about how they really only “write for themselves,” they’re usually saying it at a promotional event, with the intention of selling their writing. Truly successful writers write with their audience in mind: Their readers’ needs and wants always come first.

For more veteran tips on navigating the freelance world, read 7 Mistakes Every Freelance Writer Should Avoid.

Sherry Yuan

The full version of this article is exclusively available to Mediabistro AvantGuild subscribers. If you’re not a member yet, register now for as little as $55 a year for access to hundreds of articles like this one, discounts on Mediabistro seminars and workshops, and all sorts of other bonuses.

What Freelancers Should Do When A Publisher Doesn’t Pay

Money

Paychecks are not meant to be elusive; they’re meant to be in our bank accounts.

Alas, this is often not the case for freelance writers, who may resort to various tactics ranging from gentle prodding to angry shouting, in order to hunt down that check.

Well, what if none of that works? One writer was stiffed on payment for over year, from a pub that she had been consistently writing for. In her case, it took bringing matters to court:

The papers were filed in the morning and an attorney for the magazine called me by early afternoon. I’d since landed another day job, but I’d never given up on getting that money. I worked for it, I earned it and I was never, going to turn down a lump sum of three grand. After all of the time that had elapsed — by now, more than a year since I sent that initial email to my editor — it was just as much about the principle.

To hear the rest of her story, read Lessons in Freelancing: What to Do When Stiffed on Payment

Sherry Yuan
The full version of this article is exclusively available to Mediabistro AvantGuild subscribers. If you’re not a member yet, register now for as little as $55 a year for access to hundreds of articles like this one, discounts on Mediabistro seminars and workshops, and all sorts of other bonuses.

The Walking Dead’s Gale Anne Hurd: ‘My Odds of Failing Were Pretty High’

Gale Ann Hurd

Thankfully, “fear of being eaten by a zombie” ranks pretty low on our list of daily concerns right now. But sometimes, workplace negotiations can be just as terrifying as flesh-eating monsters.

In the latest Mediabistro interview, Gale Anne Hurd, executive producer of AMC’s The Walking Dead, talks to us about how she negotiated with legendary filmmaker Roger Corman to get the gig she wanted — even though she was offered a different position.

Most people don’t feel comfortable laying out stipulations to their superiors. Why did you feel entitled to make your own rules? How can others follow suit?

I wasn’t given a choice. It was, “OK Gale, I want you to be the marketing department starting Monday.” (And this was a Friday). I had no training period, so the odds of my failing were pretty high, especially since I was taking the place of two people who had significant experience. I think you have to take some initiative and show that you have the potential to be a leader. I was about to take a position heading a department and negotiating with him proved that I had a degree of the skill set that I needed in that position. If you want to prove that you can take on more responsibility, take that responsibility and be willing to also take the consequences. I knew I wasn’t prepared and I had that conversation up front with Roger. And, if it didn’t work out, my fallback position was going to law school. I think it’s really important to have a fallback position.

For more of Hurd’s thoughts on the fine art of negotiation, film vs. television and a moratorium on slow dying gender roles, read: So What Do You Do Gale Anne Hurd, Executive Producer of The Walking Dead?

Sherry Yuan

Be a Boss at Building an Online Reputation

Google

We all know by now that filtering the content you share on social media sites is crucial to maintaining a professional reputation online.

For media pros though, building a reputable online presence goes beyond basic filtering; censorship is good and necessary, but it can only get you so far. If you want to really impress potential employers with your personal Google search results, understanding the site’s algorithm can go a long way.

In the latest Mediabistro feature, we talk to brand strategists and SEO pros to find out how they manage to keep content fresh:

If your domain is YourFullName.com, Google will rank it higher when people search for you.

“It really boils down to keywords for the homepage optimization,” explained Collin Jarman, SEO technician at Click Optimize, LLC, a North Carolina-based Web design and Internet marketing firm. “So, in this instance, your keyword is going to be your own name because that’s what you want to rank for.”

For more on optimizing your personal search results, read Google Yourself: 4 Ways to Fix Your Online Reputation.

Sherry Yuan

ag_logo_medium.gifThe full version of this article is exclusively available to Mediabistro AvantGuild subscribers. If you’re not a member yet, register now for as little as $55 a year for access to hundreds of articles like this one, discounts on Mediabistro seminars and workshops, and all sorts of other bonuses.

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