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, November 25, 2008

Some fabulous creative blogs to check out!

Love Life Inspirational!
Marta Writes: Her designs are lovely
Bread and Honey: If you're a foodie!
SouleMama: She takes gorgeous pics
Heather Bailey: She's gotten some great press for her creative designs

link | posted by Kristen at 9:21 AM | 1 comments

Monday, November 24, 2008

I was in a little bit of a work funk today. Feeling like life is a little monotonous working at home. Then I had that, "What if I go get a regular job?" thought and cringed.

After a trip to the bead store, I was reminded how interesting solo work can be. I was greeted by the bead lady and her huge dog, George. The shop was quiet and I remembered that even "regular" jobs can be slow. At least I'm not "trapped" behind a schedule. When I'm in a funk, I can leave and go do something else. Beats the heck out of being stuck in a time-constricted job.

Still, she was content running this shop that wasn't overly busy and she was making a living doing what she loved. Just like me.

Instant gratification.

link | posted by Kristen at 8:29 AM | 2 comments

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Breakin’ In the New Guy

Kristen Fischer

It’s inevitable that many freelancers will watch the people in the companies they work for come and go. You know, turnover. But as a freelancer, you may be the one sticking around while others leave, and the transition can be difficult.

That’s because many freelancers love an ongoing gig—so when you get a new contact at a company, the shift can be unsettling. What if they use another freelancer? Will they communicate as well as your old representative did? What can you do if they’re not performing well? Is it your job to intervene when you’re a contractor?

As you watch a client’s organization change as a freelancer, you’re not always privy to the who, what, when, where, and why of it all. Who knows why Chuck left the company—he may not even send you an email to let you know that he’s moved on. You may not hear from him for months and contact the company only to realize that he’s left. The worst is when he doesn’t pass along his freelance contacts to his successor. Then you could get lost in the shuffle and you could lose the client!

While you may be happy to be the veteran when a new contact comes on board, the change can also make you feel a little on the offense (or defense). It’s crucial to approach the new contact with caution and not let your emotions about the shift affect the new relationship you’ll need to forge.

Here are some things to consider when you meet the new replacement.

Be polite

Whenever I hear that my contact at a client’s office is changing, I am always polite to the new person. Whether they email you an introduction, you send them a note, meet in person, or talk on the phone; it’s best to be respectful. I always stay away from telling them things I didn’t like about their predecessor. If asked I can offer feedback and am more than happy to tell them how things worked with that person in the past and how we can improve it, but I try to give them time to show me how they operate before I rush into anything. Most importantly, being courteous is a huge first step. Chances are that new person will appreciate you giving them time to assimilate.

Accept change

The new guy will never do things exactly like your old contact did. You’ll either find the new person is swamped and overloaded and unable to handle the workload, or you’ll find that they’re 110 times better than your last contact and you’re happy about the change. In many cases, you may not get the best vibe at first, but you’ll eventually mesh well and the new person won’t be worse or better—just different. Regardless what kind of relationship you have with any new company representative, you should expect some change. Hopefully the switch is as smooth as can be.

Observe their form

It’s easy to say that you want Mary to come back, but Mary’s long gone and you’ve got to move forward. The best way how to gauge the new guy’s manner is to observe. Does the new contact email you when projects come in, or will you need to call? Is he or she better reachable by phone? Will she let you interact directly with their customers? Is he or she a micromanager? Do they fill you in on why the company does certain things that affect your job? What needs to be done to make working with him or her easier? Before you can figure it out, give the person a chance to show you how they operate.

Step up, nicely

So, in the case that the new guy isn’t working out to well, it’s time to step in or you could be phased out. For example, if your new contact tells you about things last minute when Mary used to give you two weeks notice, it’s okay to ask him or her for more notice. I wouldn’t mention how kind Mary was, but I would politely ask if it’s possible to give you more notice so you can be sure to accommodate the project. In one instance, I had a “newbie” come in and cut out half of my work. After a few weeks, I had to gently ask her what was going on. I simply let her know how many hours I previously had and asked if I could expect the same—they soon after resumed and it turns out she wasn’t sure how much she was allowed to give me. Point is, don’t rely on Mary to have relayed everything to your new contact. Once you see how they work, you’ll have to ask for the adjustments you need.

If your new contact person isn’t all that you’ve dreamed of, try not to fret. With a little thoughtfulness, time and professionalism, you can most likely pick up your regular working relationship where it left off—and hopefully make this one even better.

link | posted by Kristen at 8:23 AM | 0 comments

Saturday, November 15, 2008

As thanksgiving approaches, most of us tend to think of what we're grateful for. One of the things I constantly remind myself of is how lucky I am to have a creative career.

Not only do I love what I do, but I get to work at home. And although I tend to get cabin fever almost daily, it doesn't take me more than a second to remember that it sure beats the heck out of a daily commute and cubicle rot. When I think about all the time I used to waste during a shift, it amazes me. Now, even though I can work more than eight hours a day, I usually don't have to because I'm pretty efficient when I work. I'm focused on the jobs at hand, mostly because I'm doing what I enjoy for clients I appreciate.

What little reminders help you to stay grateful for living the creative life?

link | posted by Kristen at 4:17 PM | 0 comments

Friday, November 07, 2008

How to Not Lose Yourself in a Steady Gig

by Kristen Fischer (FSW)

Most of us rely on steady jobs to help us make it financially as freelancers. Whether your steady client is a “bread and butter” client, or is a bit more watered down in pay, these gigs can be valuable to tide you over between larger projects.

I’m a big believer in steady work, also known as part-time jobs. They provide a constant cash flow, and give you valuable exposure in your industry that you may not get while project-hopping.

But there are downsides to working for clients on a regular basis. Especially if you want the diversity of freelancing but somehow find yourself “stuck” in a job that financially supports your freedom to freelance but doesn’t give you the time to explore projects and promote yourself. Read on to learn how to combat these trials.

Problem #1: You’re fried after working the gig on a day-by-day basis.
While most of my steady gigs don’t require me to work every day, there are some that have regular hours. I’ve always tried to keep a habitual gig. Most recently, mine involves waking up much earlier than I’d prefer. By the time I’m done with my day’s work, I don’t want to do anything else.

The easiest way for me to battle this was to get in a routine. Since I’m up earlier in the day and exhausted when I’m done with a three- to four-hour shift, I use the time after to get things done around the house or run errands. I don’t delve right back into work unless I have to. Knowing that I need that break is essential and has helped me get a second wind to tackle more work later in the day. Also, I found a gig that I don’t do every day. This way, I get days to sleep “in” and focus completely on random projects on days off. It’s the perfect balance for me, because I want a steady job but also like to keep freelance projects rolling in.

Problem #2: You don’t have time to explore other work.

Read more!

link | posted by Kristen at 6:07 AM | 1 comments

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Five Cool Creatives to Follow on Twitter

If you're not on Twitter, you're missing out! This site lets you give short status messages and it's cool to chat with others and see tidbits into other people's lives.

With that, I'd like to post five people that I think you should add when you set up your account. Because you are gonna be a Tweet, right?

Calvin Lee
Cal is a California-based designer and marketing guru that always has something entertaining to say. He's got a vibrant personality and likes to "retweet," which in Twitterville means that he will repost important messages you post. He'll pimp you out when you need votes online for contests or more people to Digg your blog.

Evan Calkins

For an entertaining Tweet, Evan's the guy. He can somehow create witty posts in, of course, 140 characters or less.

Claudine Hellmuth
Step into the world of a mixed-media artist and jack-of-all-trades creative gal. She'll talk about her kitties and new products, and give you other tidbits about living the creative life!

Deborah Ng

This writer offers insights into the writing industry, as well as useful links and resources for all creatives. She also talks about her family in entertaining 140-character messages!


A web and print designer with something interesting to say. She talks about work and her personal life, which offers a nice mix.

link | posted by Kristen at 1:42 PM | 3 comments