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A Freelancers Journey, Part One

Today it begins.

I have always known I was a freelancer. The phrase my family uses to describe me is "not a nine-to-five-er." That said, nine-to-five does carry some not-so-romantic but comforting benefits. Health insurance. Travel reimbursement. Gas mileage. A regular paycheck.

But alas, I'm the daughter and granddaughter of entrepreneurs, and I'm also of the "ownership society."

I love to write. No such thing as retirement--writing is who I am. But with that ideal and that passion comes every writer's downfall. Running a business. Getting paid.

We right-brained people with our horrendous filing cabinets and hard drives/Zip drives full of e-mails have to spend time organizing, like any businessperson. I had a conversation with a fellow writer/content provider in which we both confessed neither of us knew how to charge for our services. Although University of Southern California master of Professional Writing Program does give great training in the business side, most writing programs in my experience don't teach marketing, recordkeeping, fee-charging, and work-for-hire contracts, let alone publishing contracts.

Today while tracking two possible freelance jobs (I'd like to give a plug to David Copeland's Freelance Daily,, a terrific daily newsgroup with tons of freelance leads, also PayingWriterJobs,, AbsoluteWriter,, Writers Weekly,, and of course, my local paper,, I found my e-mail inbox inundated with back and forth e-mails. While I admit my e-mail organization system resembles my filing system at times, I finally wised up.

On my computer, in Windows, I have a folder with subfolders for e-mail. I created a separate directory, "freelance". Then I assigned every potential or actual freelance job its own folder with a client identifier number where appropriate and otherwise the name of the client/publication.

I also created a Work For Hire agreement today. My own--usually when I work with a publication I'm required to submit an invoice. However, a publication you have a relationship with is different from a client that doesn't know you and vice versa. This is new ground for me. I've signed three book contracts, entered into three royalty agreements and two bona fide collaboration agreements, signed screenplay, magazine, fiction, and poetry release forms, sent more contest applications than I can count...but my own Work For Hire I feel I've passed the "novice" mark and can proudly call myself a full-time freelancer. Freelance entrepreneur.


Writer always works. To quote Harlan Ellison's business card, "I write."

But will I stay organized?

Continued next week...

Kristin Johnson is co-author of the "highly recommended" Midwest Book Review pick, Christmas Cookies Are For Giving: Stories, Recipes and Tips for Making Heartwarming Gifts (ISBN: 0-9723473-9-9). A downloadable media kit is available at our Web site,, or e-mail the publisher ( to receive a printed media kit and sample copy of the book. More articles available at

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