The Care and Feeding of a Freelancer

I have been a freelance writer/book editor/developmental editor/manuscript reviewer/indexer/copy editor/proofreader/several other hats for many years. I won’t say how many. Suffice it to say that when I started, cuneiform was the hot new mode of communication.

Being the kind and considerate person that you are, you probably have questions about freelancers. Perhaps a stray freelancer followed you home and you’re wondering how to take care of him or her. So glad you asked me to provide tips.

Handy Tips
• Always brush with the fur and not against.

• Be quick to offer chocolate, doughnuts, cake, cookies, other kinds of candy, and salted snacks of all varieties. The freelancer undoubtedly is house trained and won’t make a mess.


• Keep your freelancer hydrated with coffee, tea, and especially water during work hours.


• Homecooked meals are appreciated, especially during weeks when deadlines keep your freelancer chained to a computer. But don’t be surprised if your freelancer tells you, “I only have eight minutes to eat, so I’ll have to eat and run.”

• Encouragement/affirmations of any kind are welcome. Here are a few if you can’t think of any right off the bat: “You are the most interesting person on Planet Earth.” “Pajamas are a good look for you.” “That book should win a Pulitzer simply because you edited it.” “Don’t worry. I’m sure your client didn’t notice your bedhead in the last Zoom meeting.”

Things to Avoid
• Calling in the middle of the day to ask, “What are you doing?” with the assumption that “Nothing, because I’ve been waiting for your phone call” is the answer. The middle of the day (and sometimes the middle of the night) is prime working time. If your freelancer is anything like me, he or she probably works around the clock and doesn’t get weekends or paid holidays off. (If you don’t work, you don’t get paid.) Also, freelancers often are hired to take on fast-track jobs that regular staff members don’t have time for, hence the tight deadlines necessitating long work hours.)

• Saying things like, “You must get paid a fortune since you are freelance.” Freelancers have things like self-employment tax, equipment replacement, and other worries. Though many freelancers may have a number of projects to work on, the income is not often steady. I waited three months one time to get paid.

• Telling a freelancer, “Get a job with a steady income.” You might think that sounds logical. But have you checked the unemployment statistics lately? Need I say more? This piece of advice is about as welcome as “Snap out of it” is to someone depressed.

And there you have it! Just keep chucking chocolate and affirmations at your freelancer and before long, his or her coat will be glossy, and he or she will continue to thrive.

Now onto the winner of War of Nytefall: Ravenous by Charles Yallowitz. (See this post for more information.) That winner is Jill Weatherholt!


Jill, please comment below to confirm. Thank you to all who commented.

P.S. Thoughts and prayers are with the people on the West Coast in the wake of the terrible fires.

Freelancer image from Peace dove from No cell phone from No money sign from Other photos by L. Marie.

31 thoughts on “The Care and Feeding of a Freelancer

  1. If I were closer to you, I’d definitely put together something for a ‘drive by dinner drop off’ to leave on your doorstep during the week! HA!
    I’m happy to hear you are in a streak of work right now. Freelancing/contract work seems to come in waves.
    Oh and BTW: Yay for fashionable PJs – I’ll bet you’re just the cat’s meow!

    • I love the drive-by dinner drop off concept, Laura! 😀 Some friends have dropped dinner off multiple times so I can attest to appreciating it!

      Freelance work does indeed come in waves. There were months when I had next to nothing to do.

      I do love my pjs!

  2. Thanks for this. I still do freelance work, but I have a part-time job now too. It makes me CRAZY when people think that I have a “real” job now, and that what I was doing before didn’t qualify as real. Before I got a lot of, “Well, you could take this (volunteer) project on because you’re home during the day.” Now that I have part-time work at an establishment, that has stopped.
    However, now that more people have to work from home during the pandemic, I expect freelancers will get a lot more respect. 🙂

    • I hear you, Arlene! I also had a part-time job in-house several years ago and heard the same comments. As if a “real job” is one you do away from home. 🙄 We were all laid off, so back to 100% freelancing for me. And I’m sure you’re right. Now that more people are home, maybe they see what freelancers go through.

  3. Hats off to you, L Marie, for this informative post. If I had three hats, I’d take all three off to you for your industry, reliability, and humor: “. . . when I started, cuneiform was the hot new mode of communication.” Haha!

    More than one of your readers offered a home-cooked meal. Well, I’ll offer our guest room for a visit to Florida in the dead of winter. Along with it comes a vote of respect for freelancers, in my books, an honorable career. Yay! 😉

      • Thanks for asking, L. Marie.

        I’ve come to the end of the formal signings on the calendar since the beginning of this strange year. Now, I’m experiencing a lull, not unexpected in the “life” of a book. My book club has asked me to do a demonstration of How to Build a Blog. It’ll be gratis, of course, but who knows what connections I’ll make. My stance: Total dependence on God to give direction while doing “the next thing.” 😉

  4. I love this. Words of wisdom here. I’ve always tried to brush with the fur, but I’ll admit I’ve never thought to say to anyone, freelancing or not, who’s working from home: “Pajamas are a good look for you.” Thanks for bringing a smile to my day.

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