Freelancer tip: Avoid clients who pay… later.

Payment can be a tough subject for many of us who are freelancers.  Yet, it’s important!  After all, why are we working?  Sure, we truly enjoy our craft, whether it be writing, visual art, graphic design, crafts, or whatever the case may be.  But we don’t do it purely for love.  We do it because we need something to pay the bills and put food on the table.

That’s why today’s post is dedicated to that most uplifting of prose, “pay to the order of.”  We’ll talk about pay, getting paid, and things to do to make sure you get paid!  If anyone has questions, feel free to ask and I’ll probably add it on as another question.

Tips for Freelancers:

Set clear expectations.

Have a place on your website that explains when you expect to be paid, how much, and when.  Then you will have a leg to stand on when someone starts to argue.  For an example, check out my commissions page:  http://rohvannynshaw.com/commissions/

Have a contract.

This helps both client and creator understand the terms of the deal, and protects both if something goes wrong.  When is pay expected?  When is the work supposed to be complete?  What is the scope of the work, and how many rounds of editing are allowed before the client needs to pay more?  This prevents clients from adding extra things or deciding to pay… later.  Keep all copies and send the contract in a PDF if you have to email it, that way nothing can be changed.

Price fairly.

This means not pricing too high, but it also means not pricing too low.  Do research in your field, and see what other people doing similar work get paid.  If you price too high, you may not get customers.  If you price too low, you devalue other people’s work and you also may drive customers off.  After all, no one likes to buy at a fire sale.

Keep all records.

I said it above, but it bears repeating.  Don’t just keep the contract.  Also keep all emails (preferably archived in PDF format) related to the project, all materials provided to you, and any other correspondence.  Keep it in a separate folder and if possible archive it on a thumb drive, just so you have it ready to hand in case you need it.  This way, if someone takes legal action against you, or you need to do the same, you’ll have everything and won’t have to go hunting around.

Don’t discount.

Family and friends are famous for asking for “buddy discounts.”  The trouble with this is, they often start offering that same discount to their own friends.  Pretty soon every available client seems to think they should get the family rate.  I didn’t think this would happened to me and it did – so it can happen to anyone.  It can happen to you.  So price fairly and then if they give you static, calmly explain that this is the going rate for professional work.

Don’t “do it for the clicks.”

Doing work for exposure only goes so far.  I write for free on this blog and I feature artists and authors for free.  However, I never do art, editing, or manuscripts for free.  You can’t eat clicks, you can’t pay bills with exposure.  Not only that, but every time someone does something for free it drives down the value of what other freelancers do!

Fire clients if you have to.

It can be scary to fire a client.  You may think “I’ll never find another,” or “how am I supposed to work if I fire my clients?”  So I’m not saying to fire every client, or to do it quickly and easily.  However, some people are just not worth your valuable time or stress level.  If you have a client who keeps trying to get you to lower your rates after you’ve agreed on a price, or if they treat you badly, or if they make it impossible to do a good job, fire them.  Do it simply, do it calmly, and you don’t have to explain why.

Set limits on how much you will do for a certain fee.

If you write, put a clause in your contract saying “includes three rounds of editing.”  You can do something similar for art.  If you build websites, find out up front  how many pages you’ll be designing.  Think similarly for any other project.  Otherwise, you may have a client who creates a seemingly endless project for one low starter fee.

Don’t undersell the competition by too great a margin.

If everyone is designing book covers for $200-$500, don’t say “hey, I’ll do just as good a job for ten bucks!”  You’ll see this all over DeviantArt.  People will do amazing work for five or ten dollars, or even for free.  Now, the artists are just thinking about having fun and not considering the effects of what they are doing.  However, you have a choice.  For every freelancer who offers services at rock bottom prices, other freelancers can’t put food on the table because people are using the ultra-cheap options offered by the irresponsible freelancers.  Sites like Fiverr.com, by offering extremely low prices, are ultimately harming the industry.  Don’t be part of that trend.  Remind your clients and potential clients that they get what they pay for, and can rely on  you to provide professional, responsible service at a fair price.

Be responsive to questions.

When someone asks a question about you or your business, be friendly, informative, and respond quickly.  This is especially true if they contact you via your contact link on your website.  One of the great things about hiring a freelancer is being able to communicate openly with them, so help people see that advantage by being there.

Be punctual and professional.

Similarly, if there is a time expectation set, meet or exceed that expectation.  Use good business style in all your communications.  Be unfailingly polite and cheerful.  Explain things clearly and answer all questions.  If there is a misunderstanding, be as clear as you can and try to help your client understand.  Sometimes misunderstandings can be as simple as a different use of language, and easily solved with a few questions.

Being a freelancer can be a lot of fun and a very rewarding career.  Following these tips will help it be even better!

via Daily Prompt: Later\

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Legitimate Author Loses Amazon Publishing Account

There’s this indie author I know a little bit from the Kboards.com forum. Her name is Pauline Creeden, and she’s an ordinary midlister, like so many of us. I remember PMing her some time ago and gushing about how particularly beautiful one of her book covers is—the one for Chronicles of Steele: Raven. Here, I’ll include […]

via THINK YOU COULDN’T POSSIBLY LOSE YOUR AMAZON PUBLISHING ACCOUNT? THINK AGAIN. — Adidas Wilson

New eBook: “Self-Publishing Made Easy.”

Within the next few days, my new eBook will be available.  In it is all the material on the “Self Publishing” tab on my main site, plus a lot of additional information, clarification, and suggestions.  I hope everyone likes it and finds it useful.  It’s short, easy to read, and to the point.  Best of all, it’ll be sold for only 99 cents!

Stay tuned, I’ll make another announcement when it’s available for everyone.

 

self-publishing-cover-900

When you want Exposure – don’t use ads!

I’m going to tell you a secret.

I don’t buy anything I see in ads.

If you make something and want to share it with people, or have a business you want people to use, ads generate very little business.  These days, most folks have an ad blocker up anyway, or even if they don’t, the ad blocker in their brains is working full force.  That’s one of the reasons why my blogs and websites are ad free.

Sometimes I’ll share something in a post that I think my readers might like to know about, or I’ll let them know about a good deal, but I do not allow outside advertisers to put up ads.

If you want exposure, what does that mean for you?  

It’s really good news when you think about it.   Engagement is the key to building trust and getting sales.  Posting on forums about something OTHER than your business, whatever it may be, but including a discreet signature link can work wonders.

Guest posts, blog reviews, casually talking to people, those all work too.  If done well, it can be very successful.  Spammers are now trying to copy this technique, with little success.  Now they are trying to make their responses topical!  This shows that it does work, and you can be far more successful by being honest, engaging with people, and discussing things they are interested in.  Once they like you, they want to know more about you.

A note:  I’m not talking about saying something in a forum such as “I really liked your post.  It was interesting.  By the way, I have a book to sell…”  That’s just crass and intrusive.  What you want to do is go to forums/blogs/message boards of people who might be interested in your book.  Enjoy discussions, give advice, help people.  Then let them notice your signature.

I wanted to share this secret because I know there are still people out there who can use it.  Honest, sincere engagement helps everyone.  It improves the quality of forums and message boards, it helps those who have services to offer, and it reduces reliance on annoying ads too.  It’s more work to do it right, but it’s far, far cheaper.

Happy Communicating!

 

via Daily Prompt: Exposure

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How to Self-Publish: eBooks and Kindle

Most of my discussion so far has been regarding paperback books. However, it’s pretty simple to also offer eBooks, and a great way to increase your readership, as well as give more value to your customer.

Converting files to eBook

It’s not hard to use a converter like Calibre and convert your existing PDF to ePub, and offer it as a file on your own site.  Calibre is free and simple to use.  It’s just a few mouse clicks to do most conversions.

However, Lulu.com and Kindle Direct Publishing also offer ways of doing that, as do many of the other self publishing sites.

CreateSpace makes it especially easy to offer an eBook of your work. At the end of your publishing process, they will ask if you want them to convert your existing work to Kindle. Then they send you over to Kindle Direct Publishing, where you can set your prices and territories. You have to wait about a day for review on those as well but it’s not a big deal. There is no fee for that either.

You can even offer a package where someone can get an ebook version of your book, either cheaply or for free, when they buy a print copy.

Kindle Select

When you tell them to bring your book over to Kindle, I highly recommend taking a copy of your book and converting it to .doc. That makes a much better looking product and the Kindle software has an easier time converting. LibreOffice does that easily, it’s just a matter of hitting “save as” and selecting “.doc” in the file dropdown.

You will also be offered to join Kindle Select. I usually do this as it offers some great benefits. It lets you run promotions for your book at no cost to you, lets you take a bigger cut of the profits, and gives you more sales options. The only tradeoff is you are agreeing to only sell your eBook on Kindle while you are a member of Kindle Select, but it’s a limited term in case you change your mind later. I’ve never regretted it.

Kindle Select also makes your book free to people who have Amazon Prime. You’re still paid when they read it – you are paid a proportion of the profits, which usually works out to be about a half a cent per page. It’s great to be able to say to your buyers “check out my book for free if you already have the Kindle subscription.”

If you end up using CreateSpace, your paperback and Kindle versions will show up on the same Amazon listing and that makes it really easy for customers to pick what they want.  It also means that if a person reviews your paperback version, that review will be visible on the Kindle version, and vice versa.

eBook covers

The only other note about eBooks as opposed to print books, is the cover is a little different. You only need the front half of the cover. I generally go into Gimp, use rectangle select to isolate the part I want, hit “crop to image,” save that new file, then boom. Done.

Some people do the Kindle or eBook version first, then set up a paperback later, some do the other way around.  Either way is fine.  Kindle Direct Publishing is starting a feature where they convert your Kindle boosk to paperback without you having to use CreateSpace, but that option is currently very new and I haven’t used it yet.

Self Publishing – Selling Your Work

Now that you have a book, you want to sell it, right?

CreateSpace does some limited marketing even if you don’t pay for the marketing package. I remember how happy I was when I had just bought some Joel Rosenberg books and got an email saying “If you liked Joel Rosenberg, you might like The Dice Of Fate by Rohvannyn Shaw!” That was truly awesome.  Recently I randomly found an ad for my new comedy book on a Hubpages post about customer service!  Not sure who put the ad there, Amazon or the writer, but so far it’s found me about ten customers.  If you put your work out there, it’s entirely possible that others might find it and decide to promote it.  There’s a lot you can do to improve those chances.

 

Basic Marketing Steps:

Announce on your social media.  That one’s pretty easy to guess.

Create a website or put a new page on your website for your book/s.

Fill out your author page on Amazon, or your profile on Lulu.

Join Goodreads, get an author page, fill it out.

Blog about it if you have a blog.

If you join Goodreads, check out the author communities. Often you will find people willing to host author interviews or feature new books on their blogs.

Do a promotion – CreateSpace lets you make coupons and do giveaways.

Don’t stress over reviews too much, but if you can get them, great.

You can do a Goodreads Giveaway too, they are pretty helpful. They only cost the price of whatever book you are giving away, plus postage.

Make little placards and leave them up places where readers gather. Bulletin boards at coffee shops, libraries, bookstores, etc. I make mine when I see those promotions for penny prints at Snapfish, Shutterfly, or similar photo sites.

Buy a few books and sell them on Ebay or Etsy. You might be surprised at who wants one, and it helps put them in front of more people.

Go to craft fairs or holiday bazaars with some copies. There aren’t many authors at craft fairs, so you will have less competition.

 

Note about blogging:  If you have a big following, it can be perfectly fine to say “hey, I have a new book, come check it out!”  But if you’re still trying to attract new readers or you’re starting out, try to think of some really interesting angle to write about.  Offer a chapter of your book, write an article about something you learned while writing it, something like that.  Give people a reason to click into your blog and then let them know the book is available within that posting.  Let them see why they should put down money to read more of your work.  It really helps!
There are a thousand other ideas out there, some of them quite creative, but I think you get the idea. Notice that most of these ideas are cheap or free!

Check out my page “self publishing” for the other parts to this series, and more.