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Freelance Success Story
Profile of a Freelance Human Resources Communications Writer
by Lisa Beyer

Webmaster Note: See our complete schedule for this series here.

I'm a freelance writer, and I specialize in Human Resources communications, such as employee newsletters, enrollment guides, summary plan descriptions...anything a corporation can use to communicate effectively with employees about their benefits and compensation.

Background: For the first 20 years of my career, I worked in public relations in Chicago, for a hospital consortium, for a large chemical company as the manager of employee communications and with Hewitt Associates, a large HR Consulting firm. I also freelanced for a year, mostly doing features for the Chicago Tribune and my local paper.

We moved to Georgia and I had a couple of not too exciting jobs, so I decided to try my hand at freelancing again. My work is done at home through email, fax, phone and the Internet. That was four years ago and my income waivers between $22,000 and $50,000 annually.
Read here how I routinely make $250+/day as an SEO writer and you can too!

Freelancing: Making Contacts. At first, I contacted everyone I knew in past positions to market my services. That didn't get me anywhere, although one lead finally paid off in a big way in the fall of 2003, when a former coworker who now freelances and I teamed up for a large project in Ohio.

I also spent hours on the Internet, searching job sites and applying for freelance positions. That was a waste of time. Honestly, this is the only site [InkwellEditorial.com] that I'VE EVER gotten work from, and that happened within one day of my first application. I spent hundreds of hours applying for jobs, especially on one well known site that allows employers to accept bids from writers. I don't recommend those kinds of sites, but if they work for you, good. (Though you must be working very hard for very little money!)

I finally got the idea to take the names and email addresses from some of those sites and make contacts on my own. That lead to about 5 good clients and a few newsletters a year and that has remained steady...I lose a client and pick another one up soon after.

Pricing Your Service: I charge $100 an hour for corporate clients and HR work--and I'm worth it. I wish more good writers would charge appropriately for their services. However, I also do feature articles for small magazines and can spend 8 hours writing an article for $50 to $75. When work is slow, it's good to keep busy, otherwise you can get discouraged quickly.

The Ups, Downs & In-Betweens: I've talked to many potential clients though who made a lot of promises that never came through. Expect a lot of disappointments. It's not real until you are actually doing the assignment. And make sure you discuss their payment process up front, and don't be afraid to send out an invoice with a Net -30 days rider...I find that large corporations can either pay very fast or very slow...with smaller entities, I am usually paid within two weeks. Lately, I've had to remind people to pay me over and over...the waiting can be tough on your mental state, not to mention cash flow.

It's hard to be nice to a client who isn't paying you in a timely manner. Don't lose your temper. I've only been burned once, by a fly by night magazine publisher who had paid me up until my last five articles.

Freelancing: The Challenges. I think the most challenging aspect for me is paying for health insurance since my husband is also self employed. Also, I paid a lot to taxes for a couple of years until I got smart.

Know your self employment tax regulations. Track EVERY mile you travel--for health care, business, volunteer work, anything else you can legitimately claim. Keep every receipt. Your phone, cell phone, etc. can be written off in full or partially. Become a corporation or a DBA...that helps. Hire an accountant to help you at the end of the year. A good one can save you thousands of dollars...I couldn't manage without mine because he's on top of tax code I couldn't begin to learn about.

What else? Personal contacts and phone calls are still the best ways to obtain business. Emails can work at times, but face to face or voice to voice work better. If you live near a larger city, go to networking meetings, join the Chamber of Commerce, get out there and meet people. And, focus on what you want to do or you will be scattered in too many directions to get anything done.

If you can find a niche, do so. I'm trying to establish a small business writing a very specific form of communications at reduced rates...if I can accomplish that, I won't have to go out there searching for business any more. Good luck. Write if you have questions--Lisa Beyer, lbeyer@alltel.net.

About the Author: Lisa Beyer writes employee and internal communications for corporations, including newsletters, SPDs, enrollment materials and collateral, PowerPoint presentations, investment education and focus groups. Can work on site to make presentations. Excellent writer and speaker. www.benefitswriter.com, lbeyer@alltel.net, 478-457-4703.

Lisa Beyer
Cat's Meow Communications
478.968.0957 Phone/FAX
478.457.4703 Cell
113 Harbour Point NW
Milledgeville, GA 31061
URL: www.benefitswriter.com
Did you find this information helpful? I strive to bring concise, income-boosting information and opportunities to 
freelancers to help them maintain self-supporting careers. If you found this 
info helpful in any way,  donate. Any amount is appreciated.

Yuwanda Black, Publisher

How to Start a Successful Freelance Career Newsletter
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P.P.S.: Remember, at InkwellEditorial.com and InkwellEditorial.blogspot.com, you'll find everything you need to know about how to start, grow and/or maintain a freelance writing career (eg, writing for the web, blogging, forum posting, seo writing, freelance writing jobs, newsletter writing, article writing, ebooks on freelance writing and more).

Freelance Success Stories: There are freelancers who make very good livings at what they love. Inkwell Editorial's newsletter features these successful professionals who put to rest the phrase, "starving freelancer." Read the first issue here and subscribe to read all previous issues.

Freelance success stories, e-courses, advice on the business of freelancing, and more! Get the e-report, How to Make $100/Day as a Freelance Writer -- free! Log on to FreelanceWritingWebsite.com for details.

2005 Lisa Beyer. This article may not be reproduced in any manner whatsoever, in any form, for any reason, without the express, written consent of the author. Violators will be prosecuted.

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