On Facebook, I am part of several communities focused on freelance writing and editing. Most days, these groups focus on job postings and advice on navigating issues that arise with clients. However, something more out of the box was posted a little while ago in one of my Upwork groups.
The poster asked how often we Google the content in our profiles to see who is plagiarizing us.
Up until that moment, my answer was never. I had never once considered that someone would be stealing my profile information and passing it off as their own. But you can bet that I instantly set about Googling, and what I saw shocked me.
It wasn’t just one freelancer who had stolen my profile. Not even just a handful. No, my results filled three Google pages, all of other freelancers around the world who had taken the text from my profile and were passing it off as their own.
In in some cases, they didn’t just stick to the text. I found profiles with my portfolio samples, my name, and even my photo.
Emily W. here is just one of the many freelancers who plagiarized my profile.
I wasn’t the only person in my group who had this revelation on that morning. Nearly every freelancer who took part in the discussion found at least one person who had stolen their profile.
So, what did I do? Well, most of the Upwork profiles were already changed when I clicked on the profiles themselves, indicating that sometime between the last Google crawl and my viewing, the users were told by Upwork to change their text. Big points to Upwork for being on top of that.
As for those on other platforms, I reached out to some of the companies. A couple removed the profiles and apologized, but most never replied.
This may have you wondering what you should do if you find yourself in the same situation. Honestly, beyond the steps I took, I’m not sure there is much recourse. On your website, if you have one, list the platforms you are active on and link directly to your profiles, making it clear that if your profile is found on a site not listed, it isn’t yours. This will at least make it easier for people directly seeking you out not to be fooled by imitators.
Have you had your freelancer profile plagiarized? Tell me about your reaction.
What do you need in a home office to be a successful freelancer? The answer will vary significantly from person to person. For some, all that is needed is a laptop. For myself, it’s a bit more complicated than that.
in fact, I’ve spent the last year working to get my home office space tailored to my wants and needs. So, what does my home office look like? Take a look below! And do forgive the lack of professional photography.
Here is where the magic happens. My custom made desk offers space for both computing and writing by hand. I use an all-in-one desktop computer with a 23.8 inch monitor to make editing as easy as possible for me. The keyboard is an ergonomic design, as is the mousepad. I switched to them after I started having significant wrist pain and they have all but eliminated any issues.
One of my my newest purchases is the desk chair, which is a racing style gamer chair. I chose this over executive options because it was more ergonomic than those within the same price range. It is fully adjustable and is currently my favorite office feature.
On the wall, I hung up various art pieces. Some are free digital prints, a few are designs I made myself, and there are also pieces courtesy of my son, who is currently going through a Pokémon phase. The “white board” is an old picture frame the previous owners of my home left behind. I spray painted it, filled it with scrapbook paper, and use it to write myself little notes from time to time.
This is a shelf I had custom made by a local metalworker. Originally, I saw it filled with various decor items and books for myself. However, my son has pretty much taken it over.
Here is the sitting area of my office. This chaise lounge was quite the lucky purchase in that, due to a shipping error, I ended up getting it for free. While it wasn’t exactly a custom made piece, it did give me customization options, so I got exactly what I wanted. I often use this when researching for work on my tablet. My son also spends a lot of time here when I’m working and he doesn’t have school for the day.
Finally, we have my tea station. It isn’t the prettiest, but I could not live without it. Aside from the computing section of my desk, this is easily the most essential part of my office.
Now you know what my home office setup looks like. Tell me about yours in the comments!
If you want to write professionally, you need an editor. No matter how good you are, even if you are an editor yourself, when it comes to your work, you need another set of eyes to point out errors, give feedback, and brainstorm ways you can improve.
But if you have never worked with an editor before, you may not know exactly have to navigate this relationship. To help, here are my tips for working with an editor.
Clarify What You Are Looking For
What are you wanting the editor to help you with? As a writer, you should hopefully have a pretty good idea of what your weaknesses are. While you will likely want your editor to do a lot of general work, you should also ask for specific feedback. Things like pacing, quality of characterization, overuse of certain words or phrases, and use of passive voice are all specifics you might want feedback on.
Clean the File Up Before You Send It
Sending your editor a file that you have not gone over yourself is insulting. Even if you are a writer who churns out a manuscript every week for eBook publishing, read what you wrote before sending it off and run the spellcheck in the version of English it is meant to be published in.
This is perhaps my greatest frustration as an editor. I am constantly sent files where the language is set to other forms of English, so I must change it and run the spellcheck to change the spellings, punctuation, etc. Another common problem is being sent files that were written using voice-to-text software that are not cleaned up first; this usually results in hundreds of sentences that I cannot make sense out of because the software chose the wrong words, plus significant punctuation errors that take up far too much time to correct.
Show you respect your work and your editor and take the time to go over the file before you send it.
Do Not Get Offended When Mistakes Are Noted
Pointing out your errors and offering feedback on ways you can improve are all part of an editor's job. A job you are paying the editor to do. Still, it is easy to let your ego get in the way.
For example, I once worked with an author who could not keep verb tense straight. In one sentence, the narrator would be relating the events like they occurred in the past, then in the next, as if they were occurring right now. Throughout the entire manuscript, the verb tense switched on and off like this. When I sent it back to the author asking for the author to correct this to the desired tense since the error was too heavy for me to edit at the rate we had agreed to, the author wrote back to tell me that all of this was purposeful and then went on to state that I clearly did not know what I was talking about because I just used the terms past tense and present tense (in an effort to keep it simple), and verb tense is more complicated than that.
The author was wrong, and the author was aware of this, but having the errors pointed out upset this particular author, resulting in some very uncomfortable exchanges.
On the other hand, I recently worked with an author who made similar errors. This particular author was very open to learning how to spot this error and making the corrections. All went well, and the end result was a truly excellent book.
Follow Up with the Editor
Rather than just taking the corrected file and reading through the comments, follow up with the editor regarding any comments that you felt uncertain about or comments that you want to put to use in your work as the editor can provide you with tips for doing so. While you do not want to bother your editor or ask them to do work for free, a quick follow up is fine, and shows you are paying attention to their work.
Many people want to switch over to working from home, but what does that look like? For every individual, it will look a little different. To help you get an idea of what might be possible, here is my average daily schedule.
5 AM: Starting the Day
I like to get an early start to my days because my goal is to always be finished with work by the time I need to get my son from school. I wake up at 5 each morning and start by reading a bit online, just to wake up my eyes and get them to focus. From there, I go through the typical morning routine items we all have.
5:30 AM: Into the Office
By 5:30 each day, I make my way to my home office. Once I am at my desk, I go over my schedule while my computer starts up, making certain I know what my day looks like. I have made a planning file that works for me and plans out everything from work tasks to meals to chores.
After seeing what I need to tackle for the day, I check my email and respond to clients before I get into my work tasks.
7 AM: Yoga with Down Dog
While it might be better to start my day with yoga, this is the time that works best for me. Actually, it is the time that works best for my friend, Eri. To keep each other motivated, we work out at the same time each day. I do a 30-minute session and then spend some time working on mindfulness, which I am admittedly not the best at.
7:45 AM: Getting My Son Ready for School
Since my husband gets him dressed each day, I just need to handle breakfast and packing his bag. We spend some time chatting while he eats and then get ready to head out the door.
8 AM: The Walk to School
I walk my son to his school each day since it is nearby. We use this time to play educational games or to kick bottles and rocks down the road to help him practice his soccer kicks.
8:30 AM: Back Home
As soon as I am home, I head upstairs and get back to work. During my work hours, I try to take a break once an hour to do a short workout routine--one between five and seven minutes long.
9:30 AM: Breakfast
I use a meal delivery service, which makes this nice and easy on me. The meals are always healthy and tasty, and since I live in Mexico, incredibly affordable.
9:45 AM: Back to Work
Once my meal is finished, I dive right back into things.
12 PM: Lunch Break
Lunch I make myself instead of using the meal delivery service. I use the 8Fit app to plan my lunches, dinners, and snacks.
1 PM: The Day Is Done
On most days, one is when my workday ends. I do not get my son from school until three, so I use this time to catch up on chores, start dinner prep, and relax.
Is this the perfect schedule? Not for everyone, and even for me, it could use some tweaking. However, it works pretty well for myself and my family.
A big part of the appeal of freelancing is that it is flexible. However, this tends to work better when applied to known variables: you know you have an appointment Tuesday, you know that next Monday is the class party for your son. When it comes to unknown variables, such as getting sick, things are not so easy.
Why Sick Days for Freelancers Are Problematic
Simply put, when you are a freelancer, you either work or you do not get paid. This is also true of many other jobs. However, those jobs also often come with unpaid sick days and in many cases legal protections that prevent you from being fired for being sick. For freelancers, not finishing a project on the scheduled date can result in the permanent loss of a client, meaning that it won't just be that day's income gone, but the termination of at least part of their income stream.
However, sick days are inevitable, which means you as a freelancer need to be prepared to handle them. Here are some strategies you can use.
Give Yourself a Buffer in Your Schedule
Ideally, this buffer should be about one week. So if your project is due on March 16th, schedule it to be completed March 9th. If you are worried that you clients will start expecting all work early, in effect destroying this sick-day strategy, just do not send in the work until the due date. You can use email scheduling apps to take care of this so you can send the work the day you complete it, but the recipient won't get it until the scheduled date.
Personally, I would love to use this strategy. However, my clients often only send me work the day before it is due, sometimes even the day of. So for me, this one doesn't really work.
Work Extra Hours When You Feel the Illness Starting
Now here is a strategy I do use. In general, when I get sick I am not hit hard right from the start; I usually have about 12-24 hours before I am knocked off my feet. When I first get the inkling that things are not going to be going my way soon enough, I put in extra hours, trying to clear my schedule for the next day or two so I can take those days off without consequence.
Talk to Your Clients
If a client is new to you, this may not work out well. However, if you have established clients, just be honest: you are sick and you cannot complete the work today. You will keep them updated and complete the work as soon as possible. Chances are they will work with you. If they cannot miss the deadline, then you may need to look into another solution.
Get Help from Other Freelancers
This is my alternative solution. I always get the okay of the client first, but if they agree, I outsource the work to a freelancer I trust. Thanks to Facebook groups, I know freelancers who are more than happy to take an assignment on short notice. I do handle everything through me rather than sending them to the client directly in order to prevent client poaching.
Getting sick is inevitable, so be prepared for when it happens.
Freelance writer and editor with an education background, working from home and living abroad.