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

Wednesday, January 30, 2008


Leo's article on his new blog, Write to Done, really got me thinking.

He talks about being honest with yourself in Your Art vs. Paying the Bills. Doing what you love while paying the bills. Taking on assignments you don't necessarily want to but need to in order to eat. I think we've all done it.

I certainly have.

Because I'm pretty practical about things. I don't expect to pop out a book each year and sit on my butt while sales come in.

Leo also says we should be honest, and passionate about our work.

I'll be honest, readers: I'm facing a struggle lately. Seems I'm in a famine, or what I perceive to be a famine. It's hard to even say that because many people regard me as that "successful writer." A famine doesn't mean I'm any less fabulous, but it just stinks. My perception is that the market is drying up, and I know that isn't true. But a few nasty encounters and ignored emails tell volumes.

I'm learning to shift my perspective. I haven't experienced this since I started, so I have to realize it can still happen to an established writer. I may have to take a few jobs I don't like to keep the money coming in, but I'll get there.

It's refreshing being honest. Admitting that I'm not perfect.
But also a little scary.

Overall, though, I am still learning that the "famines" I had during my early days as a freelancer have strengthened me. I now know that I'll get back on my feet. It may take a while, but I'll get there.

And if I have to take on a few doozers, I'll do it. After all, I'm not giving up my weekly trip to Starbucks.

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

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Wow! This made my day--a glowing review of the book from the lovely Erin Harris.

"The book isn’t a how-to in terms of how to set up a business, but it is something of a support group for creatives. The interviews highlight the good and bad of working for yourself and discuss the not-strictly-business side of things. There’s something comforting about knowing “it’s not just me,” in terms of feeling rejected or scared, and dealing with the ups and downs of working on your own (and often, by yourself).

There are some practical bits at the end, though, for those of you who are worried this book is a little too touchy-feely for your taste. Kristen includes excellent tips on e-mail marketing, and a great list of business and marketing-related Internet resources, as well as an extensive reading list."

Thank you Erin!

link | posted by Kristen at 9:48 AM | 0 comments

Monday, January 28, 2008

Courtesy of http://inkonmyfingers.typepad.com/

Expect Good Things

I was listening to a podcast from Joel Osteen. I know, I know...he's got a twangy accent but this guy is really great, helping people without preaching at them. He had a great podcast about expecting good things and making that good happen in your life.

I think there's plenty creatives can learn to help them at work by simply shifting their expectations. Instead of expecting things to go crummy, or even just not having expectations, it's vital to keep positive as a freelancer. No matter what or who you believe in.

When we stay positive, we open up opportunities for growth. Don't ask me how the Law of Attraction works, but I wholeheartedly believe in it.

Truth is, I've been going through a really low time the past few weeks. Work has been slow. A few clients are probably on the way out. (Actually, I'm probably on the way out according to them!) For whatever reason this is all coming down on me, I do trust that it's all for the good. I know new doors are opening up.

In fact, I expect them to.

Things may not be perfect, but when I expect the best, I know that things will turn around at some point. Joel says to say, "Something good is going to happen to me today" everyday. Even though some days nothing good happens, he persists. He says by doing this you can shift your thinking more positively, even if it doesn't always work. He doesn't promise good things will always happen, but this will make you more positive.

While you may not believe that thinking positively will help, what do you have to lose? You may even find that your life improves in other areas when you live with expectancy. Let's face it, freelancing can be hard. Choosing happiness helps make it better when the client list is slim, when you're creatively blocked--whatever. We choose our reactions. How will you react when things get a little tough?

Staying positive, especially during the hard times, is key to become a confident freelancer. And if you happen to get in touch with your spiritual side along the way, you may find a little something extra.

"Just as you can train yourself to expect the worst, you can train yourself to expect the best."

link | posted by Kristen at 12:42 PM | 0 comments

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Creatives, beware!

Yet another productivity-stifling disorder exists. MADD--Muse Attention Deficit Disorder. Read all about it here, from the wise wise words of Copyblogger!

Love this article. Describes me perfectly and offers some great tips to get back on track!

link | posted by Kristen at 11:11 AM | 0 comments

According to an article on Yahoo! Hot Jobs, they list "recession-proof" jobs in 2008.

"Many employment sectors are expected to remain strong despite a possible recession, and job-seekers may have more success if they focus on recession-proof professions," states the author.

According to John Challenger, CEO of outplacement firm Challenger, Gray and Christmas, careers in the following fields may offer a good chance of weathering a storm this year.

* Education. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has historically shown teaching to be relatively recession-proof. But demographics are important: High-growth areas like the Sun Belt offer much better prospects than the Rust Belt.

* Energy. "This is a major issue for the global economy, and jobs related to oil and gas, alternative energy and even nuclear are likely to see strong growth," Challenger said.

* Health care. Almost half the 30 fastest growing occupations are concentrated in health services -- including medical assistants, physical therapists, physician assistants, home health aides, and medical records and health information technicians -- according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

* International business. "If you have a strong knowledge of other cultures, and an ability to work in another country, you'll find plenty of opportunities," according to John Challenger. "If you're first generation Chinese, with business skills and Chinese language skills, you're in good shape.

* Environmental sector. There is a huge and growing industry geared to combat global warming. "Not only will professionals with skills in sustainability issues be in demand through the end of the decade, we are likely to shortages of professionals with 'green' skills," said Rona Fried, president of sustainablebusiness.com, a networking service for sustainable businesses.

* Security. "Crime doesn't stop during a recession, and police officers, port security specialists and international security experts will continue to be in demand," Challenger emphasized.

Maybe I should have stayed in the environmental field, eh?

Naaa. All the craziness of freelancing is just too much "fun."

link | posted by Kristen at 9:16 AM | 0 comments

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Courtesy of Tangled Wings

Creativity Across the Web
Some cool links and other inspirations for an otherwise regular Tuesday...

  • Snaps to Penny (a CSE contributor) for getting her designs on Target gift cards! I'm stoked!

  • Marketing Mentors Ilise Benun and Peleg Top teamed up with FunctionFox for a webcast titled, “What Every Creative Professional Must Know About Hourly Rates,” which I sadly missed. Here’s a link to an article by Ilise, though!

  • Collis takes the guesswork out of finances with his article Everything You Need to Manage Your Money Online over at FSw!

  • Ali Edwards gets creative over the weekend!

  • Lovely Christine gives a little KLF love on Sparkletopia. What on this blog doesn't sparkle? I'm all a-goo with mushy inspirational art love!

  • Get your freak on with words at Friday Fill-Ins!

  • And something so beautiful (tea included) over at Tangled Wings.

link | posted by Kristen at 6:08 AM | 1 comments

Thursday, January 17, 2008

How to Promote Yourself as a Freelancer—Free of Charge

by Kristen Fischer

If you're a self-employed person or a freelancer, you know that marketing yourself isn't a one-time thing. You have to constantly put yourself out there to ensure that your next client is always lined up around the corner. That's why self-promotion tips are so vital. So I thought I'd bring you some things you can do that will cost little--if anything--to implement.

Get listed. You don't have to pay to get listed in every directory--so hit up the freebies. You can always upgrade a listing, but should certainly cover all cost-free bases first. This includes phone directories and Web directories. And there are plenty of them out there!

Optimize referrals. Offer your clients an incentive for passing on referrals. This could include a discount on future projects, a gift certificate or a gift. It won't take you much to advertise this--you can note it to clients in emails or on the phone, and put a note up on your website.

Speak up. Positioning yourself as an industry expert looks great for your business, and it can get you some bacon. You can start locally by contacting schools and associations. Ask them if they have the need for any speakers at meetings or lectures. All you'll have to do is prepare a message, practice your public speaking tips and wear a nice suit.

Give up your time. If you don't offer free consultations and you're just starting out, why not? Take inquiries from clients over the phone or offer to meet in person. Most of the time for me, if I can get my foot in the door in front of a client, I land the deal.

Be a guest star. Even if you already have a blog, it's a great idea to approach other blogs with your content. Make sure what you write is related to the business you're in, and you approach blogs that are too. Include a tiny footnote with up to three lines of information about you, and a link back to your website.

Get online. You do have a website, right? I can't stress this enough for any business--small, large, freelance--whatever! Getting on the Web is easy and vital if you want to approach more potential customers.

I post career-related articles every month at http://www.ehow.com. To see more of my articles, click here.

link | posted by Kristen at 9:00 AM | 0 comments

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

A new newsletter is out! Lots of good links and news in there, including this article I just wrote:

Making Your Creative Goals Stick
by Kristen Fischer

Creatively self-employed people have a diverse array of ways to help ensure that resolutions and goals for the new year come to fruition.

True, everybody can use these tools. But I think they're more effective for the creatively self-employed because we have a unique setting and extraordinary abilities to create our own destinies.

1. Incorporate goals with a decorative flair. Sure, you can display your goals in a cubicle, but you've got a whole studio as a creatively self-employed person to help you stay reminded of your goals. Make it funky and use your personal style to convey your hopes. Start a cork board to display your goals, paint a banner or design a poster. Go beyond what someone in a day job could do and integrate your creative capabilities into goal-savers. I have a scrapbook that I keep on my desk to define my work goals. A flip-through reveals tons of inspiration and pretty images to keep me motivated.

2. Break it down. This is key to making goals happen. Jot down the baby steps you need to take to get to where you want to go. If your goal is to get five new clients in the new year, map out what you'll do to make it happen. Will you use direct mail? Job boards? Or target the clients and approach them on your own? Will you follow up via email or phone? Will you set up a meeting and bring in a new portfolio to secure the deal? How will you make it happen? Think of the everyday things you can do and pair them with some deadlines.

3. Speaking of deadlines, set some--even if you're a procrastinator! While waiting till the last minute to act can be a great motivator, it's good to take into account the numerous things that can happen to stand in your way. You may want to set up a client meeting by the end of the first quarter. Don't wait till March 25th to make that happen. Someone you need to land a deal could be held up with a huge project or out of town. Start early. Work ahead--you could get swamped and not have time in February and March to work on the details.

4. Carve in time. I know you have tons of work to do, so devoting even 20 minutes a day to your goal is not too much to ask. You don't have to set aside a week to take charge--start small. Figure out how much time you need and when it works best for you. If you're super creative in the mornings, take a morning to work on your goals. It doesn't have to be every morning, either, but it's good to recognize when you work best.

Discuss it: What are your creative goals for the year, and how do you make them stick? Chat away and swap ideas with other creatives over at our message board!

link | posted by Kristen at 8:05 AM | 1 comments

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Courtesy of http://happythings.typepad.com/happythings/

I have a couple clients that are a little...well, sour.

As in, they can be kind of nasty. Or they send me useless emails asking me to explain myself on things that don't really matter. One even sent me a message to complain about a client of theirs.

Now, I know that the mind can go naturally not-so-positive, but I must ask--why all the negativity? Isn't living in this world enough?

As creatives, we have to overcome so much of our own negativity, so when you have a client that likes to vent or get on your case, you've got to decide how to approach the situation. I have nicely told my "complainer" client to focus on the positive and don't encourage him to keep talking or "vent" when he starts to.

As for the client who likes to point out my mishaps after their made with the supposed intention of bettering my work, I'm letting him keep thinking that. I've learned to briefly explain myself and stick up for myself. I don't apologize profusely or beg forgiveness anymore. Point is, I'm working for him, so I don't exactly need it. But I don't exactly just absorb what he, sometimes very rudely says.

I don't want to foster a post to encourage bitching on our clients, but sometimes it's good to release your opinion on the silly-minded people who can try to bring you down. In some cases, I've stopped working with clients because of this, but mostly find the majority of my clients to be pleasant. Some, like those I've mentioned, aren't so positive, but I need the work. (C'mon, let's be practical--you can't just quit every job!)

Certainly, there's enough negativity the world. We don't have to take it from our clients either!

link | posted by Kristen at 1:30 PM | 0 comments

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Courtesy: http://sparkletopia.squarespace.com
Christine Mason Miller

inspiration in·spi·ra·tion [in-spuh-rey-shuhn] noun
1. an inspiring or animating action or influence: I cannot write poetry without inspiration.
2. something inspired, as an idea.
3. a result of inspired activity.
4. a thing or person that inspires.
5. Theology.
a. a divine influence directly and immediately exerted upon the mind or soul.
b. the divine quality of the writings or words of a person so influenced.
6. the drawing of air into the lungs; inhalation.
7. the act of inspiring; quality or state of being inspired.

[Origin: 1275–1325; ME inspiracio(u)n <>

As creatives, I think we all need a little inspiration from time to time. That's why I am so proud of Christine Mason Miller's new inspirational blog, Sparkletopia. Packed with inspiring interviews and art, it's sure to pick you up when you need some ummmph!

Check it out!

link | posted by Kristen at 6:56 AM | 0 comments

Saturday, January 05, 2008

One of the shear joys to doing what I do is podcasting. It's a nice break from writing and the audience loves the show. Ever since I joined the FreelanceSwitch.com team, I've been met with awesome people who understand the self-employed lifestyle. And keep me laughing while we record every other week.

There are four in particular---Cyan, Collis, John and Dickie. They're my homies.

And now we're up for an award for our podcast, Freelance Radio. Go vote today and share some love for the other nods, too!! And if you haven't, listen to the show on iTunes, etc.!

link | posted by Kristen at 9:50 AM | 0 comments

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Get hot for teacher.
(I'm the teacher!)

NEW Creating Your Freelance Career
Did you ever dream of setting up your own freelance business? Whether you’d work part-time or full-time, you’d have the flexibility to focus on work while making time for family and personal commitments. And you’d be your own boss! In this course, you’ll learn everything you need to know to set up your own freelance business. Covering topics such as contracts, taxes, marketing, business development and time management, the instructor will present an overview of relevant topics.

Cost: $59
CEHE 381-01 CSP
Jan 19-Jan 26 • 2 Sessions • Sa • 1-3pm • Kristen Fischer • Register by Jan 10
CEHE 381-02 CSP
Mar 5-Mar 12 • 2 Sessions • W • 7-9pm • Kristen Fischer • Register by Feb 26
Location for Section 02 only: Pt Pleasant Boro HS, Pt Pleasant

Register here:)

link | posted by Kristen at 8:22 AM | 2 comments