Freelance news roundup

Hear ye! Hear ye! Read all about it! Here’s some of the interesting press related to freelancing from the last week, along with commentary by yours truly. A lot of quality tidbits in here.

I included this in order to make a point, which is that as a freelancer you should beware of people telling what they “need to succeed.” You do not need the majority of apps on this list to succeed. In fact, you can actually succeed with none of the apps on this list. Sure, some of these apps will make your life easier. Some of them, like Google docs, sheets, and calendar, may be basically a necessity in some freelance professions. But I am on a mission to tell freelancers this: You can make a business that works for you using the apps that work for you. Don’t get wrapped up in needing to have all the latest tools. Get wrapped up in using the tools that help you procure clients, deliver good work to them, and get paid by them.

Freelancing is becoming more mainstream even outside of major cities, as this piece from an Upstate NY newspaper details. Here are some interesting quotes from one of the sources:

“Those who actively choose freelancing seem drawn to freedom, flexibility and a sense of mission,” said Maureen Sager, executive director of the Upstate Alliance for the Creative Economy. “They’re willing to give up the security of a traditional job — along with stability and benefits — in order to follow their dreams, set their own schedules and forge a new path.”

Also: “The future of freelancing will likely be determined by access to affordable health care,” Sager said. “Whether it’s the Affordable Care Act or some new iteration, freelancers need access to health insurance.”

More info about AB 5 (which was covered heavily last week). Why aren’t journalists exempted like fishermen and travel agents?

“AB 5 specifically exempts about a dozen work categories from its provisions, such as doctors, accountants, fishermen, stockbrokers and travel agents. But not journalists. Writers and photographers who submit more than 35 published works per year to a publisher must be treated as an employee of that publisher.”

Also, one important thing to note is that this only applies to California freelancers, and since freelance journalists can work remotely, the practical effect of the law will likely be to simply encourage California companies to hire freelancers from elsewhere.

“If I’m a publisher from out of state,” says David Swanson, a San Diego writer who is the outgoing president of the Society of American Travel Writers, “and I have a choice of hiring a writer from California to do a job, or somebody from Colorado or Texas or Canada or India — and I’d have no chance of being sued — who do you think I’m going to hire? AB 5 simply makes it unattractive to hire writers from California.”

While I personally hate the elevate the WSJ, I have to say this take on the idiocy of California’s AB 5 law as it pertains to freelance journalists is pretty spot-on. And the author makes one of the most salient points at the very end: The law purports to limit journalists to writing 35 pieces of content a year for each media company, but what is to stop a weekly columnist from sending one single article – or one each month – that is intended to be carved up into 52 weekly columns?

The writer would not explicitly indicate that it is to be carved up and how, leaving that to the editors at the paper, though it may be patently obvious from the flow of the text how the pieces should be divided. In this case, the publication is not technically paying the writer for 52 articles; the publication is paying the writer for 1 article or 12 really long articles. Then they are doing what they see fit editorially to the content provided. That neat and tidy workaround easily negates the law’s intended effect while allowing writers and editors to continue working in mutually beneficial ways. How do the authorities plan to police such reactions? Are they really going to be telling editors how they should or shouldn’t carve up their contributors’ work?

A couple notable findings from a very non-scientific survey is that it’s common for freelance designers to be working  parents and for them to be treating freelancing as their main job instead of doing it as a side gig. How accurate is this picture? Impossible to tell…

This is actually an article about investing (how to calculate a P/E ratio), but the reason I include it here is that it uses the stock of the website as an example for the investing advice. There is a growing industry of companies that are trying to capitalize on the dynamics of the freelance economy. There is theoretically much money to be made in the act of connecting companies with freelancers and vice versa, though many have tried to succeed at this and failed. It is a tricky business model. But it looks like a crop of companies are finally making a profitable go of it — the fact that there are publicly traded companies that are used as mainstream examples in investing advice articles says it all. Freelancing is entering a new era.

Yet another report from the freelance universe detailing how very possible it is to build the life you want as a freelancer. This writer raises two kids as an extremely hands-on parent and also makes six figures as a freelancer. You don’t have to try too hard to find other stories like this. This is why freelancing is one of the best careers for women, assuming you’re ready to hustle and be extremely self-motivated.

The important thing about this article is not the fortunes of Carl Camden, former longtime CEO of Kelly Services Inc., but the fact that his next project is growing the U.S. affiliate of a British organization called The Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed (iPSE). I have long found that the organization and general cohesion among freelancers in the UK, at least in the writing domain, far outstrips that of the U.S. community. One of the reasons is the existing if iPSE. We have a similar few organizations, most notably Freelancers Union, but few seem to have the activity and reach of iPSE. The fact that someone is creating iPSE-U.S. is one more indication that freelancing is increasingly mainstream and freelancers can become increasingly influential.

“Findings show that, overall, the freelance design workforce is thriving. Creative freedom and personal flexibility are the primary motivation for most freelance designers, and just 5% said they freelance out of necessity.”

6 thoughts on “Freelance news roundup”

  1. Having read this I thought it was very enlightening.

    I appreciate you spending some time and energy to put this information together.
    I once again find myself spending a significant amount of time both reading and
    commenting. But so what, it was still worth it!

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