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Get good answers, advice or opinions on anything freelance

Wondering about something?  Fees, pesky clients, grand and weighty issues, irritating things that keep coming up?  Strategies or tactics?  Awkward situations?

Get an answer with the usual Freelancery viewpoint.

If we don’t have an answer, we’ll find one, fake one, or bring in someone who does know.

Ask in the comments below. Or email.

We can keep your name out of it if you wish.

Questions of wide interest and importance will be posted as soon as practical. Others may be answered privately, off-line if time permits.  (Please, nothing requiring math.)

Go ahead, ask.





  1. GSP

    Help me Obi Wan Freelancer, you’re my only hope….
    Thank you for The Freelacery and, most especially, The Freelancer’s Right To Bail ™. Can you help me out a little with how to invoke it? I have a client (my biggest, in fact) that treats me like shit. Sure, they pay on time, but I shouldn’t have to be abused in the process, especially when we’re talking about work that I don’t feel that great about in the first place (after 15 years in the reporting biz, serving as an aggregating Web monkey doesn’t feel so great, but like I said, they pay on time). Screaming on the phone, insulting emails, being assigned busywork, micromanaging… you know, all the things freelancers work for themselves to escape. In my head, I tell them to go to Hell and hang up the next time a phone call goes bad, but the truth is that I don’t really want this bridge to go up in flames like the one over the River Kwai. How do I fire a client gracefully?


    • Walt Kania

      Thanks for asking.

      Two options here.

      One is to bow out with honor, while leaving open the possibility of them coming running, asking you to reconsider if they promise to reform. “We really love you. All that yelling, it’s nothing.”


      Dear Dick:

      I think it’s time to fire myself.

      I’ve enjoyed the run we have had, but I’m apparently missing your mark too often lately, which obviously doesn’t make you happy. Nor me for that matter.

      It could be that I’ve just lost the edge, or have simply played out this string as far as I can. Such things happen.

      Anyway, no hard feelings. But you’d probably be happier with another writer from here on.

      Thanks. (And not to worry, I’ll be happy to give you a good recommendation)


      Or. . . if you really want out. Period. Just make it quick.


      I’ve enjoyed the run we’ve had, working on XXXX.

      But I’ll have to be moving on to other things, starting XXXX. It’s just time, is all.

      I certainly appreciated the chance to work with you. I learned a lot — although maybe it didn’t look that way from your end. : )

      Thanks for the opportunity,



  2. Melinda Venable

    Hi Walt,
    Love your posts which I subscribe to on email, but just wondering why you include the entire post on email to everyone instead of the first paragraph with a “read more” link? This way all of us loyal readers will click through and come to your blog and leave a comment, which you undoubtedly deserve after giving us all your sage advice, inspiration for new ideas and being in our corner on a regular basis.

    So that’s my question. Why no read more link? Don’t you want more reader comments?

    A loyal fan, but infrequent commentor,


  3. Matt

    I’m a writer — I won’t say I’m a freelancer because I haven’t come across anyone who will pay me for anything in the months and months and months I’ve been looking — but there seems to be a disconnect here. My professors in J-school talked about freelance writing as looking for submissions info and writing pitch letters, but you’re talking about getting clients who regularly hire you for jobs and making a living at it when the most I can find is a place like DemandMedia that pays pennies based on pageviews. What kind of disconnect is going on here?


    • Walt Kania


      We’re talking about a few entirely separate fields here.

      Nowadays, a freelance writer could mean about nine different things. (Hell, I’m one myself, and I bill myself all different ways, depending.)

      What your professors were talking about is journalism: freelancing for publications, and perhaps media sites.

      Freelancers (or, better, entrepreneurial journalists) develop relationships with various editors who may (or may not) assign stories as needed. Or maybe, maybe you land a recurring gig. One product or restaurant or ballet review per month.

      Or, as you said, you develop story ideas on your own. Growing from things that interest you. Or new trends you notice, questions you have (“So who actually goes to barbers these days?” or “Do people really believe campaign commercials?) You pitch an editor on the idea. She buys, or not. In time, you carve your own niche. Like Gladwell. You have to cultivate editors, build a rep, post a ton of your own stuff on a blog. Get practice. Get known.

      There’s also a huge market in so-called ‘commercial’ writing. You work for big corporations, PR firms, marketing firms, ad agencies, video producers, training companies, retailers, web-based businesses, publishers, software companies, tech start-ups, non-profits. Clients here buy stuff all the time from freelancers.

      You write commercials, white papers, web sites, case studies, brochures, ads, movie trailers, executive presentations, PR stories, speeches, ‘how-to’ manuals. You write scripts for promo videos, ghost-write articles and tweets for CEOs who can’t write, product descriptions for online retailers, product reviews, tutorials, brochures, or captivating email newsletters.

      Or, you’re a freelance writer in entertainment. You write TV shows. On-air promos for radio stations. You write stuff the hosts say on award shows. . .

      Then there are publishers. . . religious organizations. . . political campaigns. . .

      I’m thinking (keep me honest here, readers) that ‘journalism’ accounts for maybe 10% of the tonnage generated by freelance writers, considering all markets. Although it gets more prestige points, probably.

      But then, I don’t know everything.


  4. Marcus Perez

    Fractured Atlas sent out an email today about the pay debate–which I am keenly listening to. I am very interested in the thoughts of people who have an opinion about artistic pay.

    I am not an artist, writer, or musician, but appreciate those skills. I am actually a computer nerd and I make a good living doing that. My friend, however, is an artist who married another artist and struggled making a living or even finding a job. After many conversations with him, I decided to use my nerd skills to create a site to increase demand for paid artwork *as a job* until the artist is able to be successful on their own.

    For someone trying to influence the demand/paying side, what is your advice on a well rounded pay structure. I absolutely don’t believe in free work. I also think that ego’s drive pricing up and scare away consumers. So my model right now is going to be this: Start artists off at a burger-flipping pay. Let their popularity (number of paid drawings) drive their pay up.

    Can corporate-ladder economics be applied to artisans are is there a better structure in your opinion?


  5. Marcia


    What do you think about individuals as INC asking for NonDisclosure Agreements?
    As a freelance person, who is only told what they choose to tell me, I don’t want to expose myself by signing these long, all-inclusive NDA’s. Living in the land of frivolous law suits!
    Your thoughts? Are you asked to sign them?


  6. Dan Knauss

    Hey Walt, your work here is invaluable. I come back to it periodically when you write something new, or to confirm some piece of wisdom I want to share with someone else. It’s probably the single best freelancer resource, even better than the books and courses others are selling that I’ve checked out in the past. You’ve nailed the no-BS core of what any other honest book or course will teach. And as a writer, I think your insights are more valuable for freelancers who design and code for the web than their own usual sources of wisdom. They ought to think more about the big picture — the content, the client, and the client’s audience — but then tend to think more about “design” and “code.” I think it would be awesome if you pitched a book to the good folks at A Book Apart. Whatever you do, please keep it coming and don’t ever go away.


  7. Sam


    I wanted to know how I can take my first steps towards learning copywriting and scoring clients. How did you first start out in the field of copywriting or what would you do differently looking back?




  8. Jim Matteson

    It occurred to me recently that I am happiest, at ease, reflective, and in general peacefully content while writing. I launched a simple blog a few years ago and those who read it tell me, “More! We want more!” My writing genre interests vary from current political events to religion (the blog address is for a Christian audience). Over the years I have had various articles printed in our local newspaper.

    Here’s my question: I would like to transition to freelancing full time but don’t have a clear path as to how to make that happen. It seems to me that the greatest obstacle is getting work syndicated. Your insights will be appreciated.

    Thank you


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