Archive for May, 2008


Question

I’d like to share this question from SPJ’s discussion board about freelancing.

Having just heard the perils of libel cases at the Region 1 Conference this weekend, I’d gotten religion and want to get libel insurance. It would be very nice if the SPJ offered a group policy for freelancers. What do other people think?

Thanks for your comments.

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Links

This month Writer’s Digest publishes an annual list of 101 best Web sites for writers. On the list are a few that looked good for freelancers. Thanks, Writer’s Digest!

  • fundsforwriters.com. Freelancers on the prowl for jobs and cash need to look no futher. This site offers up the big four — grants, contests, fellowships and markets — that pay. Plus, C. Hope Clark’s free e-newsletter is a must read for all who freelance.
  • fwointl.com. With more than 11,000 registered members (membership is free), Freelance Writing Organization-Int’l offers thousands of online resources and job offerings. It also gives members a free blog listing (as long as the blog deals with writing).
  • theurbanmuse.blogspot.com. The Urban Muse is populated with excellent tips on writing, marketing and staying creative. Don’t miss the “5 Ways to Promote Your Blog” post; great advice.
  • worldwidefreelance.com/writing.htm. Sign up for this site’s e-newsletter and receive access to a list of more than 500 magazine market listings. There’s also a European market listing available through a subscription.
  • writergazette.com. In its fourth consecutive year on the list (sixth overall), this site lives up to its tagline: “Bringing you free writer-related articles, paying call for submission and freelance job postings, contests, resources, tips, and more to help induce, improve, and promote your writing career — every week.”
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Don’t forget gas mileage

A few weeks ago I made a huge mistake.

A new client called and asked whether I was available for an assignment that afternoon. Business was slow and the pay sounded fine, so with a deadline looming off I went. It wasn’t until I filed my invoice a week later that I discovered my mistake.

I forgot to negotiate the pay rate for gas mileage.

With gas prices climbing this is an expense we can’t afford to overlook. It often is a small expense, $5 for a drive across town for an interview, one that is tempting to let go during a busy week to save us the work of filing an invoice. But these small expenses add up, and if you’re driving across the state for an interview you should be paid appropriately.

I’ve been paid anywhere from 38 cents to a dollar a mile. Fifty cents a mile feels about right. In 2007 the IRS increased its deduction for business-related miles to 48.5 cents a mile. But with gas prices expected to climb even higher in the coming months we need to remember to negotiate for rates that reflect the surge. This is only fair.

Make sure you talk this over with your editor at the start of an assignment. Don’t make the same mistake I did and wait until you’re filing your invoice. You may end up getting paid an appalling 28 cents a mile. Bleh.

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SPJ gets a new freelance chair

Hi, guys. My name is Amy Green, and I’d like to introduce myself as the new freelance committee chairwoman for the Society of Professional Journalists. I am eager to bring a fresh start to the committee, but I need your help.

In SPJ there is a place for every freelancer. Members undergo no selection process. And so whether you make a living or hobby out of freelancing, whether you’re a pro or beginner you are welcome here. In this sometimes lonely line of work we are your team. Come here with questions and problems about how to get started, how to pitch and how to get paid. We want to learn from your triumphs and your mistakes. We are your coworkers. We are your community.

I’m a freelancer based in Orlando, Fla., for Newsweek, PEOPLE, The New York Times, The Christian Science Monitor and many others. I specialize in faith, ethics and social issues, and my work also has appeared in Christianity Today, Sojourners, Charisma and with Religion News Service. I’ve been in the business 10 years, starting as an intern at PEOPLE in Miami and then at The Associated Press in Nashville, Tenn. I am an active member of the American Society of Journalists and Authors and SPJ. This spring I traveled to Taiwan with an SPJ delegation of working journalists to foster a professional exchange with journalists there. I am a journalism graduate of the University of Florida.

I need your help because I need to know how to make this committee work best for you. This is a tough business. It’s important we freelancers stick together. Learn from each other. Support each other. Together we can strengthen our foothold in an industry that in a large measure depends on our work.

I look forward to hearing from you.

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