The worst kind of creative feedback and what you can do about it

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creative feedbackYou’re not going to last long in the creative world if you can’t give and accept criticism gracefully—or at least without sparking conflict. That’s not guaranteed, however, when you’re working with clients outside our field. It can be a struggle for them to convey creative feedback about projects in an actionable fashion, simply because it’s a skill they’ve rarely or never had to use. That results in profoundly unhelpful comments such as “Just let your creative juices flow,” “It’s missing something, but I’m not sure what,” “You’re the (writer/editor/designer),” and the worst offender of all, “I’ll know it when I see it.” [Read more…]

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Do luck and superstition affect your freelance business?

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luck superstition businessI’d originally planned to post on this topic for Halloween, but the World Series dovetailed into my thoughts about the role of luck and superstition in freelance business success, so here I am. I’ll confess, I was chronically superstitious as a kid, due to growing up as a Boston Red Sox fan back in the days when their pattern was to get to big games…only to lose in spectacular and heart-breaking fashion. I had lucky (and jinxed) shirts and hats. If a traffic light turned green before I got to it or if my favorite song came on the radio, that was an auspicious sign. I stuffed a four-leaf clover in the middle finger of my baseball glove. Alas, none of my efforts altered the fact the Sox were quite simply and thoroughly cursed. [Read more…]

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When heavy editing weighs you down

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heavy editingDr. Freelance: I recently acquired a new client who hired me to edit her blog posts, which she writes herself. Let’s just say she’s not the world’s greatest writer, and I did some heavy editing to the first few posts. It was obvious her feelings were hurt, and she chose to return a lot of the copy to the original (including the lead, which was terrible). I saw your post “There’s no crying in freelance editing” and was hoping you could provide some thoughts on how to address my situation. I really want to help her make her blog posts better, but I’m going to lose her as a client if we can’t agree on what “better” is or how we get there.—Better You Bet [Read more…]

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A guilt-free approach to freelance client boundaries

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freelance client boundariesOver the holiday weekend, I received an urgent email from a client asking about the status of a newsletter that needed to be sent out before the end of the month. The only problem was, I hadn’t gotten the original email. Thanks to autofill, she’d accidentally sent it to another Jake in her address book. My decision was easy: She’s a fantastic long-term client who’d made an honest mistake, so I took a break from repairing the deck and completed her job. This event coincided with several discussions I saw on Facebook with freelancers talking (and some complaining) about having to work over the holiday weekend, which brings me to today’s topic: setting freelance client boundaries. [Read more…]

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File naming conventions when you have tons of revisions

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file naming
In a world where everything is final, nothing is final. Tweet this image.

Doc, do you have a method for file naming that makes it easier to track document revisions? Every time someone tells me s/he has a great system, it turns out to be including the date in the file name or creating a new folder, which doesn’t help with multiple versions per day. On occasion, I will go back-and-forth with a client and create a half-dozen iterations in a day and need to keep components from each. Any suggestions?—Gilberte [Read more…]

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Freelance links: Impostor syndrome, clients, and entrepreneurship

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freelance linksDeadline and invoicing day, so this is going to be a speedy one. As a follow-up to last week’s post on freelance creatives and impostor syndrome, the first of today’s freelance links is from another freelancer who’d gotten the same sense that chatter on the topic had increased: In “Imposter syndrome and editing,” Katherine Trail suggests using a “win jar” to boost spirits or dispel moments of doubt. I’ve got a bulletin board that serves the same purpose: When a freelance client pays me a compliment, I print it out and tack it up. [Read more…]

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