Friday, March 19, 2010

Freelancing for Australians for Dummies

"If you look six months down the track and there's nothing there, and that makes you feel extreme dread, then freelancing is probably not for you.

"If you look six months down the track and there's nothing there and you feel a bit of dread, followed by extreme excitement, than you are definitely cut out for freelancing."

Luckily I fit the second scenerio, but that's no surprise. I know that this is what I'm meant to be doing.

No, my 'aha' moment during the author talk with Monica Davidson (pictured), the co-author of the Aussie version of Freelancing for Dummies, came when she spoke of freelancers retaining an employee mentality.

"Even if you are working off your kitchen bench and they are a multinational, you are both in business, you're on an even footing and you can say, let's work something out that is equitable and fair for both of us," she reassured a group of small business owners and freelancers at a small business book club sponsored by Canada Bay Council in Sydney last week.

She also said she could guarantee that most people in the room charged too little for their services. "You don't want to be the cheapest carton of plonk in the bottle shop," she said. "People will think you're crap."

The Sydney-based writer, filmmaker and mother of three who says she has "never had a proper job" shared lots of pithy and useful bits of advice, including, "Don't listen to the Reality Police who tell you it's not a proper job and you won't make any money that way", and, "Don't be so busy working that you stop marketing".

"If you only start marketing when you've already run out of work it's like a dating when you're desperate. Everyone can tell that you're desperate, they can smell it on you and they will exploit you."

Monica placed looking after your money, understanding your tax situation, and getting contracts, among her top ten tips for successful freelancing.

Also important was finding like-minded people who support you. "Also, you need to educate your family and friends about how they can support you," she said. "You have chosen an unconventional path and you can't necessarily expect them to understand your life."

In this respect, Monica said she found her children easy to train to respect her work space and time.

"I hear that husbands are often a lot harder."

The book is an updating of the original Freelancing for Dummies by Susan M. Drake, for the Australian context.

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  1. Interesting ideas and suggestions... doing the WAHM thing off and on I've especially found it hard with other people not valuing what I do.. my MIL for example who thought I was just 'playing around' and thought I could/should be able to drop work any time...

  2. Hi, found your blog through Mummytime's friday follow. I'm trying to break into freelancing as well. Work FT w/ 2 kids so I'm writing around the corners of my life right now. Lovely picture of the Blue Mountains (I'm guessing) on your header. Signed up for your feed. I'm at

  3. Thanks so much for coming by and leaving comments guys. Ahh..mothers-in-law. Monica, the Dummies author, said that the 'reality police' often manifested as parents, in-laws, and strangely, taxi drivers!

    Yes, it's the Blue Mountains. I should really get back there soon, it's been too long. I admire anyone with kids working full time, much less freelancing as well! How do you do it?

  4. Hmmm ... I look forward to learning mmore about you- I am freelance write as well and I gotta tell you, lately the market has been pretty crappy for me- I hope things are well in your country :-)And Happy FlogYoBlog Friday- stop by my place when you get the chance!

  5. I am a freelance writer as well- it will be intersting to learn more from your perspective- my market is awful right now- hope your is better :-)And Happy FlogYoBlog Friday- stop by my place when you get the chance!

  6. Oops Aprodite, I published both versions of your comment.

    So glad you came by. I will check out your blog, and everyone's who came via FloYoBlog, soon. Meantime, you're welcome to look around!

  7. Hi Marilyn, I love your tagline, photo and blog. Just dropping by from the blog hop. Would love to hear how the freelancing goes for you. It's not something I'm considering for myself right now--I'm trained as a lawyer and hope to get a little more mileage out of that degree before I peter out--but I think it's an excellent option and wish you the best of luck.
    -Anne Marie

  8. Hi! Thank you for stopping by my blog. It's nice to meet you! I hope you have a wonderful weekend.

  9. Marilyn, " You can't live rent free in my brain " is a telling quote for justification for fees for creativity. Hope the freelancing helps the family finances.

  10. Thank you mummates!

  11. I think the "don't under sell yourself" is the most important part of this for me. Just re-entering freelance land and man, the angst I'm feeling about how much I should be charging.

  12. I know what you mean Kim. People (including my husband) say I could charge more, but I say I have to be comfortable with what I charge, and at the moment I am.

    As long as your hourly rate (including time spent on admin, marketing etc) doesn't work out at $5 an hour!

  13. Hi Marilyn!
    This is my first visit here at live first, write later, I'm looking forward to reading more.
    This year I have returned to university study via distance education. It's been 18 years since I was a uni student. My goal to complete a Bachelor of Communication (Journalism) degree and become a freelance writer.
    The road ahead is unknown. I'm finding my way and hoping I can make a career out of what some consider to be not a proper job.


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