Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Don't. Stop. Me. Now! (I'm having such a good time... having a ball...)

I wasn’t sure where to put this post – here or at my other blog, International Mama. But I guess it’s most appropriate here since maybe other expat freelancers can relate.

In my last post, I mentioned how living abroad means working around an unfamiliar vacation schedule. I was pretty cheery about it in that post, having just spent 10 days in the sunny climes of Biarritz. But now it’s the middle of June and my real summer vacation is looming in front of me like a black hole. I know that as much as I’ll fight it initially, come the start of July I’m going to get sucked into that hole and not fully emerge until the beginning of September. It’s making me sad.

People who don’t freelance don’t really get it: “Just enjoy!” they say. Or, if American they say, “I wish I had so much vacation.” And I respond: “I wish someone would continue to pay me during my vacations!”

But, you know what? It isn’t just missing out on a paycheck. I hate losing momentum. I’ve had some great breaks in the past two months and I want to keep riding on that high you get when people like – and pay for - your work. Vacations make me happy but so does getting an email that says: “love that story idea…will be sending you a contract shortly.” My husband thinks I’m a workaholic. But really I just love writing. I love building a career from scratch. I love feeling increasingly confident about my work and taking on bigger challenges.

Right about now, you might be saying: so, don’t take such a long vacation. Uh-huh, I hear through my computer. Well, the thing is, my other job requires me to go on vacation: my mom job. The tots need to spend time with my family in the U.S. They need to see their family in Germany. They need to spend time with me and my husband, when we’re not sneaking glances at our cell phones or “just quickly checking” something on the computer. To accomplish all this traveling takes time – and thank goodness for our kids – time is something we have.

I know that once vacation starts, I won’t be worrying too much about the work I’m missing. I’ll get a chance to do some personal journaling. I’ll get lots of article ideas. And I’ll get my writing groove back in September. Still, as vacation inches ever closer, I can’t help but feel as if I’m preparing to say goodbye to a good friend for awhile.

Readers - what about you? Are you reluctant to stop working? Is this an expat problem or a freelancer problem? Or maybe a mom problem?

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

5 More Ways to Make Money as a Freelancer

Sorry for the radio silence! In France, May is packed with holidays and I – along with about a quarter of the population – was on vacation. One of the funny things about being an expat is that you adopt the customs of the country that you’re living in, which creates a culturally unfamiliar vacation schedule. A couple of years ago, an editor asked me to write a feature that required tons of research just before I was leaving for a month-long vacation in Italy. I recall being excited about breaking into this particular magazine, but shocked that he expected me to work in August! In France, pretty much nobody works in August! Only the essentials. I had to remind myself that in the U.S. I wouldn’t have blinked an eye at the timing of this assignment (I wouldn’t have been on vacation for four consecutive weeks anyway), and dragged several thick books to Italy with me.

Anyway. A while ago I wrote a post about 5 ways to make money as a freelancer and promised to come up with a few more ideas. Here they are!

1. Write an email newsletter

I am currently subscribed to some 15-20 email newsletters (no, I don’t read them all). Somehow it only dawned on me a few months ago that the authors of these newsletters aren’t merely writing these things for publicity or out of the goodness of their hearts – they’re getting cash money for them! Some make their money through advertising…others have sponsors…and a few, have readers willing to pay for the news.

Having never written for an email newsletter, I’m not sure how to begin. I do know that you can either start your own newsletter on a topic that interests you, or you can try to find a job as a newsletter writer for an organization that might like or need one. has some good information on how to start your own.

2. Teach writing

This is a variation on the standard “teach English” job that many of us expat have done (or thought about doing). I imagine that if you’re not in an English-speaking country, there are plenty of people in your adopted country who want to improve their written English as well as their spoken English. Think business people who have Anglophone clients, people who want to find a job in an Anglophone country, or those who are staying put, but want to make themselves more marketable. Students, too, might be willing to cough up a few Euros (yen, pesos, dinar, etc.) to receive instruction on a certain type of writing. You could even set up a one-day seminar, where you teach several students at once.

Even though we’re abroad, we’re not limited to teaching the locals. If you’re a reasonably established writer, you may be able to find a teaching job on the ‘net, or even at a local university. Non-expats: think about contacting a community college with an idea for a course.

3. Ghostwriting

This has been on my mind since seeing Roman Polanski’s “Ghostwriter.” How strange is it to write an entire book and never see your name on the cover? Not being able to admit that you wrote it? I don’t think I’d like that. But hey – not only books are ghost written. Articles, columns, and even some blogs are ghostwritten. And from what I understand, the pay can be quite good. Here’s a website by British ghostwriter Andrew Crofts about how and why he got started in the ghostwriting business.

4. E-books

E-books are the wave of the…present. They’re here. They’re now. They’re an excellent way to make a tidy residual income, if you pick the right topic and market it well. For more thoughts on why and how you should write an E-book, take a look at Remarkablogger’s post: How to Write an E-book that Doesn’t Suck. It's funny. And very true.

5. Translation Services
For you lucky expat freelancers that have mastered the language of your adopted country, you can make good money on the side by starting up a freelance translating business. My husband just had to have his birth certificate translated – and that single page cost 52 Euros! Of course, these translators are long-time pros recommended by the American Embassy for official business, but still. It’s an indicator of the kind of money you can make. If you’re interested in learning more, check out the American Translators Association. Even though it's for American residing in the U.S., it’s full of good tips on starting a translation career.

So there you go. I'll try to post more regularly now...well, until August.

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