This Valentine's Day, I received an unexpected gift. Entrepreneur and founder of the Cambridge Satchel Company, Julie Deane published an independent review into self-employment in the UK.
Having now had time to read the 40-something page review, several pertinent points were raised with regards to the 4.6 million self-employed Britons. We are a diverse and motivated group, enabled by technology and form a significant chunk of the UK workforce - some 15 per cent. Self-employment figures and optimism in the sector are at an all-time high, but the treatment of freelancers and contractors is not.
Here's a snapshot of the recommendations made by the review:
So, what opportunity has this report missed? I must admit a little poetic licence here, the report has not missed an opportunity. The Government has.
Page four of the review says it all: "choosing to be self-employed should not mean that people are disadvantaged in the support that they receive from Government". I could not agree more.
Instead of Julie Deane spending her time writing recommendations that, in my opinion, should already exist; imagine this.
Imagine she had the opportunity to use her brilliant business mind to speak to fellow entrepreneurs and work out how we could help the Government dig its way out of the diabolical financial situation the nation finds itself in.
Imagine the Government listening to the small guys and girls that work tirelessly to succeed, despite all the obstacles they seem to throw at us.
Julie and the Cambridge Satchel company are one shining example of how entrepreneurs can succeed during adverse times. I applaud her review and its recommendations.
But, if the self-employment sector can thrive in one of the nation's worst financial times, surely the Government should listen to how we have found such success, instead of side-lining us?
What advice would you share with the Government, if you had the chance? Let me know in the comments below.
I have seen a huge surge in ghost writing requests recently. It's something I love to do. It involves polishing and producing copy for some fascinating people.
The ghostwriter and client relationship is different for every business or individual I serve. Some clients just need me to proofread and edit their blog posts. Or turn their dictated notes into an engaging article. Others want me to produce books, brochures, media outreach articles, press releases and other such materials.
One question I get asked time and time again is - how does the ghostwriter and client relationship work? Well, it works really well. The client gets the professional copy they need, I get to work with some brilliant minds and businesses. Here are a few questions I regularly get asked by those interested in hiring a ghostwriter:
1. Who owns the content?
The client. It is your content. You have 100% ownership. You can use the content whenever and wherever you wish.
2. What content do you produce?
Anything. I have produced books, ebooks, feature articles, news items, blog posts, website copy, event write-ups, brochures, competition entries, media outreach articles and press releases during my time as a ghostwriter.
If you need words, the format does not matter.
3. How does the relationship work?
It really depends on the specific work a client needs. The majority of my ghostwriting work seems to revolve around blog posts, so let me give an example.
You, the client, want a blog that is updated on a weekly basis with interesting posts to expand the reach of your brand and improve your site's SEO. You hire me as a ghostwriter to write posts, based on your notes and suggestions.
We have an initial conversation and I do a heap of research. I will open up a shared folder, usually on Google Drive, where we can work together. Each blog post is produced in a standalone Word document, where you can suggest a title and a few bullet points on the topics you would like the post to cover. I fill in the blanks and produce a post, based on your ideas and input. We then go through an editing process where you can change the copy and make further suggestions until we have the perfect post.
That's just a typical example. I have worked with clients who are happy for me to suggest, research and write posts without their input - and those that just want me to proofread their almost-ready posts. I have worked with clients that prefer to dictate notes and for me to write them up. I've worked in a range of scenarios, mediums and with a range of businesses - I will do what works for you.
4. How much do you charge?
Drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will send you my pricing options and current rates. I can charge on an hourly or project-by-project basis, depending on how you prefer to work.
Finally, there's one other aspect of the ghostwriter and client relationship. It's great fun. I love meeting new clients, bouncing around ideas with them and getting an insight into their work. It's a huge honour to be your business's voice.
To find out more, drop me a line at email@example.com.
Special thanks to Sebastien Millon for letting me use his awesome "ghost bear" image.
You've got a fantastic idea for an article. You even know which publication or website to target with your winning prose, but there's a problem.
Who should you pitch to? How can you get in touch with them? Figuring out who to contact, and finding that editor's contact details, can be the most frustrating and time-consuming part of the pitching process.
Don't despair: there are a handful of tricks to help this process. You just need to do a little detective work.
Pitching is one of the major components of my daily life as a freelance writer. I'm not claiming to be an expert - but here are a few tips to figure out which editor to pitch to and how to find the relevant contact details so you can place and get paid for more articles.
1. Be specific
Don't pitch to the editor-in-chief, unless you're targeting a really small publication. Your email will probably just get deleted.
Try to find the editor that oversees your story's beat. If this isn't obvious on the publication's website do a little digging around the site at past stories on your topic and see which name pops up regularly. If you can't find that information, go for the associate, deputy or senior editor. They will usually forward your query to the correct person.
And don't waste time bothering contributing editors or copyeditors - they are unlikely to be responsible for assigning stories.
2. Pick up the phone
I was unsure whether I should include this point. When I worked as a technology journalist and then science writer, I was constantly picking up the phone to PRs with "the best story since sliced bread". Some pitches were great, but most were just irritating noise.
So, if you're convinced your article is the perfect fit for a publication, then give them a ring. If they don't sound keen, try to get an email address and contact name to pitch to the right person in the future. But don't ring a publication constantly with "the perfect article" - they'll be blacklisting your number before you know it.
3. Ask your contacts
Try to source information from fellow writers. Facebook or LinkedIn groups can be a great resource here, as can old writing colleagues. If they're familiar with your work, they may even give you an introduction over email. They can also give pointers for other publications to target. Get involved in the wider writer community, we're very nice!
4. Use Twitter
Twitter has been a great, and somewhat surprising, pitching resource. If you're trying to find an unlisted editor, Twitter can be a good place to look as many users list their place of employment in their bios. In the Twitter search tool, type in the word "editor" plus the @handle of the targeted publication.
Some editors prefer Twitter - it cuts down the waffle and produces quick pitches. If your idea is good, an editor will continue the conversation via email.
5. Google it
It's an obvious one but try searching “John Smith email address” and it could pop right up. You could also try searching “firstname.lastname@example.org” to see if you get any hits. If you want to further exploit Google, don't forget to use the advanced search tools. These advanced tips for using Google search from Lifehacker offer further advice.
I'm not entirely pro this tip - but many hacks I know swear by it. I'm worried I may be encroaching into stalker territory here - and if an editor doesn't have their contact details readily available, then it may be best to leave them alone.
And this leads me onto my final tip...
6. Network, don't pester
There are various other practices I've heard of to find an editor's email address. They're sneaky and they don't sit right with me. I'd much rather approach an editor face-to-face, build a relationship and have a chat than hunt for hours to find their email address.
Freelancing and networking go hand-in-hand. My most successful pitches are thanks to a human relationship and conversation with an editor, not a shifty dig to find their email address. So network within an inch of your life, be friendly, be professional and listen to any feedback an editor gives you.
And remember this key point: editors are a freelancer's lifeline - don't piss them off with pointless pitches.
If you have any other tips for figuring out which editor to pitch to, please share them in the comments below!
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I'm the freelance writer who gets tech. So, I blog on three core topics:
Science and Technology