Blog to support the book "Creatively Self-Employed: How Writers and Artists Deal with Career Ups and Downs" by Kristen Fischer

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Location: Point Pleasant, New Jersey, United States

30-something Jersey gal working as a freelance writer. Starbucks addict, beach-lover, kitty mother.

Creatively Self-Employed Website

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Done. Finito.

My second book has been submitted. A HUGE weight off.

I keep saying I'll take a break, but just the other day I was browsing the children's book section in B&N. Yes, my husband wants me to write a children's book. We'll see.

I think my next step is to rest up, work and then start to try to get CSE to a publisher. I still want the help of having it in stores. I know if I did some events I could sell more books but I really need the PR backbone of a publisher. I'll do the legwork--just want their connections.

Hello, big fancy New York publishing houses:)

link | posted by Kristen at 3:11 PM | 0 comments

Friday, July 27, 2007

I think my hell week is over. Let's hope it doesn't pick back up on Monday. On top of working on resumes (I write resumes part-time, it's great regular work) I had to finish a website and some other assignments. I wrote 11 resumes this week and I am fried. I took small breaks, which helped.

The next milestone is TUESDAY.
That's when the first draft of my second book is due.

I hate to say it, but I can't wait to turn it in. I know the editing process will be hard, too, but it'll be nice to get it off my shoulders. I love the book. Not every aspect, but it is coming together. My publisher selected a title and is going to start to work on the cover. I'm excited. I'm ready to take a break from writing books until another idea hits me. But seriously, it's so hard for me to manage it all sometimes.

People always ask how my CSE sales are going. They're going--they're just not going as well as I'd like. One girl can only do so much. Hopefully with the help of Kelly from StartupPrincess.com, that will pick up. She's granting my wish to find some PR help---what a doll! So there's that. It's just so hard to do it all--be an author, a publicist, a copywriter, a wife.

Taking one thing at a time is key. I'm glad I'm learning how to do that. Slowly but surely...but indeed, surely.

BONUS: Bootstrapper blog lists 100 must-daily blog reads for entrepreneurs!

link | posted by Kristen at 6:30 PM | 3 comments

Thursday, July 19, 2007

I know, I know. Lately all I do is reprint articles. I'm way knee-deep in...my second book. It's due soon and I am trying to focus on that while keeping business going. It ain't easy. I didn't promise perfection when I set out to write my book or start this slow going CSE "movement"--just goes to show you that I'm real. My life is messy. Busy. Complicated. But awesome.

Lately, I've realized just how sweet my life is. Even though I get the blahs and I get overwhelmed. I love what I do. Not a lot of people can say that.

I've been reading the Ladies Who Launch book, you know, because $15 beats the hell out of those overpriced workshops. And yes, I'm a little disappointed with the "ladies," as they have left several emails unreturned. But there's some good stuff in their new book.

The book has become motivational for me. I'm not so caught up in doing the exercises, as I've already launched. But seeing the process others go through has helped me see how far I am. And not to sound overly confident, but this confidence is necessary and it's taken a long time to get here. And it's good to toot your own horn now and then! (Another plus of the book--how they compare the traditional work model to the model of ladies who launch. For so long, I thought it was something wrong with me that I dreaded 9-to-5 jobs!)

Below is my latest reprint from Michelle Goodman's blog. But everything above was Original Kristen Content:)

Ask the cubicle expat: How long should I save financial records?

A freelance pal called me mid cleaning frenzy yesterday, wanting to know how long she needed to save old pay stubs (back from her bad old 9-to-5 days), bank statements, utility bills, you name it.

I told her I’d always “heard” you should save everything seven years but that she should call her accountant to be sure, as that was a very unscientific, uncredentialed answer. Not satisfied, my freelance friend pressed on: “OK, but what do you do with all your old-and-moldy receipts and financial records?”

I told her I have everything saved in my office or garage for at least seven years and that she should still ask an accountant if she wanted solid advice. But seeing as it was a national holiday and she was hell-bent on spending the day shredding papers she no longer needed, I googled this ultra-helpful Bankrate table on how long to save what. Note that the table is not geared towards self-employed folks, so you may want to check with an accountant to make sure you’re hanging on to everything you need.

Some items I’ve hung on to that I’d be sunk without:

* All my previous income tax returns. If you’re making a big purchase — say, a home — and you don’t have a steady employer, the bank will likely want to see several years of these.

* At least seven years of rental agreements, utility bills, credit card annual statements, expense receipts, and anything else that can be deducted as a business write-off.

* Annual retirement fund and social security statements. (Duh.)

Again, don’t take my word for it. Talk to your tax professional, financial planner, or business manager. Meanwhile, that Bankrate chart is a great place to start.

link | posted by Kristen at 6:55 PM | 2 comments

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Freelancers, Unite!

FreelanceSwitch.com is conducting a survey for freelancers.

Freelancers by nature usually work on their own, as such we often don’t really know what others are doing, charging and thinking. This survey aims to compile our collective knowledge for the benefit of freelancers everywhere! It takes about 10 minutes to complete.

All participants will receive detailed report and statistics of the survey, to know more about the freelance world. Moreover they offer prizes (with random draw), including a Nintendo Wii!

Take the survey...

link | posted by Kristen at 6:16 AM | 0 comments

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Since I'm still a 20-something, I figured I'd spotlight this article by Ryan Healy, who publishes his column on Penelope Trunk's blog, about the changing corporate climate and how 20-somethings are making an impact.

Twentysomething: Start a company in 3 days with 70 friends
By Ryan Healy

According to adults the world works in a centralized, hierarchical structure and that’s the way it will always be. They say young people will eventually adapt and accept things for how they are, despite the fact that decentralized websites and organizations have defined our childhood and early adult years.

I don’t buy it. We grew up with open source websites like Napster and Kazaa. Now we use Wikipedia and Craig’s List daily. All of these sites have one thing in common; users control them. I don’t need permission to post an apartment for rent on Craigs List and I can make up any word I want and create a definition in Wikipedia.

Now there is undeniable proof that Gen-Y is bringing decentralized organizations mainstream…

After turning down $1 billion, 23 year-old Mark Zuckerberg took the user controlled Facebook to a whole new level by allowing everyone to create applications without pre-approval. If you really think about it, Facebook allows anyone to work for them without the hassle of reporting up the ladder, attending pointless meetings or even leaving their living rooms. With a good idea, a little programming knowledge and a small amount of money, anyone can make money through Facebook while simultaneously increasing the company’s bottom line.

Facebook’s revolutionary new concept is just a glimpse into the all inclusive, non-hierarchical, “out of the box” future that generation-Y will continue to invent and embrace. My friend and web designer, Devin Reams reaffirmed this thought when he told me about his experience at Startup Weekend.

The event began on a Friday, when 70 people showed up above a bike shop in Boulder, CO to vote on their favorite previously submitted business ideas. They decided to create a business that allowed people to take quick polls of their friends’ opinions.

”We broke into groups based on ‘expertise’: business development, PR/marketing, user experience, design, front end development, back end development, and legal. The groups allowed for quick action,” says Devin. “We had seven-minute update meetings every hour and the each hour flew by. On Sunday night we had a business model, website, and marketing campaigns ready to go for a product launch.”

The company was successfully started but no product had launched to the public. “This was frustrating,” says Devin, “since the world was every move on live video from Ustream. But, the project has continued beyond the weekend and a launch is expected next week. We’ve been playing with it internally and it’s amazing what a decentralized group can accomplish.”

After this amazing weekend, the group ended up with a “fast polling” website called Vosnap. The site allows you to send out a quick poll to friends via email or text messaging. For example, if a bunch of friends want to meet up for lunch, but all work in different places, they can send out a poll and meet at the restaurant that receives the most votes. Sounds pretty cool to me!

Sure, Andrew Hyde is technically the “CEO,” but he doesn’t have to approve everything, and the majority can vote him out at any time. This is strangely similar to Wikipedia’s structure of open source use based on a community of trust, rather than checks and balances. Can you imagine a typical company trying to agree on a product, design a website, create marketing campaigns, and draft contracts and legal arrangements in three days? It would take me three weeks to jump through the bureaucratic hoops just to pitch an idea to the person in charge. On a weekend; forget about it.

When you put a group of talented, motivated young people together for three days without bosses, titles or egos, things seem to magically run very smoothly. Watching Facebook evolve and hearing stories like Devin’s excite me. They are proof that young people are not only motivated and capable of working together, but they show that we don’t have to adapt to the status quo of the corporate world to succeed. Hopefully big business starts taking a few lessons from these progressive young leaders.

Ryan Healy’s blog is Employee Evolution.

link | posted by Kristen at 5:09 PM | 0 comments

Monday, July 16, 2007


Freelance writer, Melissa J. Gallagher, has released a free guide entitled, CREATIVE FREELANCING, that helps cash-strapped college students, home-bound moms, and aspiring freelancers earn extra income in their spare time by freelancing from home. Her free guide is available at http://www.writingcareer.com/creative-freelancing-book.php.

Creative Freelancing introduces readers to various part-time and full-time freelance opportunities, including: freelance writing; freelance graphic design; freelance programming; freelance photography; and many other freelance opportunities.

With the rising cost of commodities, many people are forced to look for other ways to earn money. Extra work is no longer an exception but a rule, especially in cities where the cost of living can be high. Now, people hold two or three jobs just to pay their bills. This is not just a trend for students, according to Ms. Gallagher, but also for people who have established careers. Nowadays, everyone has an extra job to earn extra income.

According to recent studies, freelance jobs account for 25 percent of contracted writing, graphic designs, web designs and software development in the world. Freelancing full-time or part-time is a career choice, and freelance jobs offer plenty of opportunities and benefits.

"One of the most popular sources of extra money on the side is freelancing," said Gallagher. "Unlike many part-time jobs, like babysitting on weekends or doing some hours at the local movie house after work, freelancing allows you to practice your profession. This way, you are able to use what you already do in your regular job and earn extra cash for your current skills."

Freelancing also affords the person more free time compared to other side jobs. This is because freelancing does not require the person to render a specific number of hours. Jobs are often per project basis. The schedule is given at the start of the contract. It is up to the freelancer to manage or budget his time so that he can finish the job on or before the deadline. This is a benefit to freelancing. The job is finished when the freelancer is finished with it.

Another benefit of freelancing is that you can freelance without being physically present. The World Wide Web and the speedy transfer of data allow people to telecommute. Although they would still be doing the job, they don't have to be in the same area, location or country as the company they are freelancing for. They can work from home and do the transactions over the Internet.

Today, freelancers can easily find work through the Internet. The Internet has become a good facilitator of freelancers and employers around the world. These jobs can range from writing short articles to language tutorials to architectural designs. The demand for freelancers is very high, as shown by the thousands of projects posted on the Internet.

Creative Freelancing is based on Melissa Gallagher's own experiences as a freelancer over the last five years. She has freelanced as a writer, graphic designer, and coder to earn extra money while attending college, and she continues to freelance to earn extra money on the side to help pay the bills.

Download her free guide, Creative Freelancing, at http://www.writingcareer.com/creative-freelancing-book.php

link | posted by Kristen at 3:41 PM | 0 comments

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Over the past few days, I've been learning one lesson hard: Being creatively self-employed isn't so glamorous. In fact, you can be just as miserable in this job as any other. Why?

Because even though you're your own boss, there is still the hand that feeds you. An editor. A gallery owner. Someone there to oversee you and critique you. But again, compared to other corporate jobs where you perform a mundane function, this seems to hit home more during times of criticism because creatives manufacture the product ourselves.

Lately, I'm getting nailed on one of my "products." The comments have been brash and the reactions (not on my part) have been unprofessional. It amazes me how people get to where they are when they are rude and blame others for their mistakes.

But it's part of it. Any job. You have jerks and you have fabulous co-workers. And while we can pick and choose our projects, sometimes you have to deal with the hand that feeds you and slaps you across the face at the same time.

I'm just happy I know not to hit back. And the clients are fortunate in that respect!

link | posted by Kristen at 3:32 PM | 3 comments

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

I suppose I picked a good day to work. It's cloudy and breezy outside--hardly beach or BBQ weather. And I had an assignment due today. The Internet is quiet, though. I was starved for some interaction but no one's around. Everyone's like, lighting sparklers and eating burgers.

Ah well. I'm hoping for a four-day weekend--huge accomplishment for me. Happy Fourth!

link | posted by Kristen at 12:01 PM | 0 comments

Monday, July 02, 2007

There's a cure for times when you feel overwhelmed. Prioritizing.

I'm super busy this week with less than 30 days to finish my 2nd book and a huge project done. I feel overwhelmed and frustrated. What's getting me through? Making a list. I'll work on Project X for X hours, and then work on the book for X hours. That sort of thing.

How do you prioritize?

link | posted by Kristen at 6:02 AM | 0 comments