Half the month and almost all of 2012 is gone. Most will tell you (and I am sure you too believe) that this is the time for taking stock - analyzing your '12 successes and failures, highs and lows.

I differ.

 
 
If it’s an email, it has got to be from Gmail. 
I am a huge Gmail fan. I have five Gmail accounts, each for a different purpose. In fact, my official email id that sports this domain (kaziurooj [at] freelancewriterurooj [dot] com) is also on Gmail.

I don’t need to justify my choice – I am sure almost all freelance writers reading this share my preference. 

In this post I’ll share five simple Gmail tricks that will improve your productivity as a freelancer. All five tricks are very popular and you might know one, two or all of them. I still hope you will be able to take something away from this post.

 
 
Most freelance writers have their unusual hire stories – unexpected referrals, retracted rejections, chance meetings and so on. Often, these are the ones that turn out to be the most rewarding projects you’ll ever do.

In this post I’ll share some of the most unusual ways I have been hired as a freelance writer. The only lesson these unusual fall-in-my-lap-from-nowhere jobs taught me was that ‘Freelance opportunities can turn up out of thin air and you should be ready to grab them when they do’. Feel free to tweet that statement.

 
 
Information on the freelance industry is hard to get. I have been a freelance writer for over three years, but I know very little about where my 'competitors' are located, what they earn, what they charge, and how they land work. 

Ed Gandia's Freelance Industry Report 2012 has been an awesome resource. Those who haven't downloaded a copy already, here's the link: Freelance Industry Report 2012.

I've used some of the information in that report to create the infographic below (my very first!). It shows how freelancers are doing really well for themselves. The average hourly rate hovers in the $40 - $50 range. If you charge less than that, you might be selling yourself short.

 
 
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Are your email pitches not receiving the replies you want? 

Are your proposals on freelance bidding websites disappearing down the black hole of rejection? 

Do your letters of introduction (LOIs) fail to interest editors into replying?

If you answered yes to one or more of the above, you should probably take a step back and take a long, hard look at the email/pitch/proposal you send to prospective clients and editors.


 
 
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Are you always busy?

Do you have so many things to do that you find yourself wishing for more than 24 hours in a day?

That’s a state I love being in – I’d pick busy over bored, any day. Many freelance writers will have problems with my stand, but when you realize how many things there are to be done, learned and enjoyed, you’d probably come around to my way of thinking.

My freelance writing projects take up a huge chunk of my waking hours. The remaining hours are spent in reading and learning.

My last blog post, titled ‘One Powerful Justification for Increasing Your Freelance Writing Rates Today’ explored how learning can directly reflect on any freelance writer’s income. This blog post explores a huge (and free) learning opportunity that freelance writers can take advantage of.


 
 

How much do you earn as a freelance writer? Irrespective of the different figures this question receives as answers, one thing’s for sure – we’d all love to earn more.


 
 
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Have you seen the movie ‘Despicable Me’? I absolutely adore those minions. I am juvenile that way. 

Yesterday, I took a break from a three-hour-long stretch of continuous writing to watch a very funny video featuring the minions.  One video led to another, to another, to another….one hour of funny videos and Youtube refused to let up. I love and hate Youtube’s recommendations feature in equal measures – it is very accurate, but you end up wasting a lot of time. 

I decided that the next video I watch would be the last one for the day – back to my writing afterwards.  The next video was an academy award winning, five-minute long, animated film made by Pixar way back in 1997. Some of the freelance writers reading this blog post might have seen it. It is titled Geri’s Game. Here’s the video, for those who haven’t seen it yet (subscribers viewing this post in their emails will have to click through to the article to view the video): 


 
 
Searching for Freelancers
I am a scientist, or rather would have been one if I had pursued my Masters. I am also a freelance writer. Combine the two, and you get an individual who tries to dissect the art of writing and logically analyse it. That probably explains why I am forever coming up with weird queries related to freelance writing, with weird being a relative term. 

Lately, I have been wondering what clients look for in freelance writers versus what we, freelance writers, ‘think’ clients look for in us. Makes sense?

To get an answer, I posted in several forums, asking clients to share what they look for in freelancers. I received a few replies. Sam Botta shared the most unusual reply. He is (if my Google search is to be believed), quite a celebrity. As per his LinkedIn profile, he is an 'American television and radio host, documentary producer, published author and entrepreneur'. He’s also the director of a TV series, called Live Fearless. I loved this demo reel of the show: 


 
 
We freelance writers spend a lot of time online. We are either researching for our upcoming feature article, collaborating with clients, learning a new skill, interacting with other freelancers or marketing our freelance writing services. Wouldn’t it be great if we had resources that would ease some of our online burdens, so we could spend a little extra time with our families, our facebook accounts or with the latest novel?

In my last blog post I covered 5 Killer Websites Freelance Writers Will Love. This blog post covers five more websites in the same vein. Note that these websites don’t assist freelance writers from the inform/teach angle (ala freelanceswitch or freelancefolder), rather these are websites that help you ‘do’. You will understand what I mean when you read what each website does. I am a freelance writer and I love using them. I am sure you will too.

 

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